Early-Morning Missionaries

“Early-Morning Missionaries,” New Era, Jan. 1997, 12

Everyday Heroes:

Early-Morning Missionaries

Talk about feeding souls! Breakfast leads to baptisms in Monrovia, California.

Who would have known that serving a breakfast burrito, a sweet roll, and some juice to some friends could lead to the waters of baptism?

The senior and junior seminary class from the Monrovia California First and Second Wards found out. The 12 students in the combined early-morning seminary class were planning some activities for the year. They had planned some parties and worked on some service projects, but their teacher, Sue Cornwall, encouraged them to think of an activity that might include some of their friends from school. Instead of serving breakfast one morning just to themselves, they decided to invite a few of their friends just to show these friends where they went and what they did every weekday morning before school.

“In October, we each invited a friend,” said Jenny Dequer. “We had about 25 total. We just sat around, talked, and had breakfast.” It was supposed to be such a simple thing. They had an opening prayer and a spiritual thought. It was low key, just a chance to let friends see where they met and what they talked about.

Melissa and Mary Grace Moore had invited a friend who lived near them. Their mothers were friends. Doug Silcock’s parents had once been active members of the Church but hadn’t attended meetings since he was a little boy. Now, after going to the seminary breakfast, he started asking questions, wanting to learn more. He met the missionaries, took the discussions, and was baptized. Now he too attends seminary every morning.

“He gets all of the credit,” Melissa says.

Nora Graham adds, “That’s how I feel. Doug was just ready and wanted the Church in his life. Now we pick him up for church every Sunday. Our class introduced him, but the conversion really had nothing to do with us.”

It worked once, so why not try again? By February, the seminary students held their second Bring a Friend to Seminary Breakfast. This time they wanted to see how many people they could get to come. Many in the class weren’t shy about inviting friends, acquaintances, anyone they ran into from school. They wrote notes to people and made it the topic of conversation around their lockers. And if they hadn’t mentioned the breakfast to their friends, the friends were soon asking what was going on. “My friends came and asked me about it,” said Chris Miller. “I hadn’t said anything to them. But they wanted to come.”

“We tried to get as many people as we could,” said Nora. “Everyone invited a lot of people. We had about 70.” What Nora didn’t mention was that she had invited 30 or 40 people herself.

This time they prepared a fun, lighthearted video. The class had been studying the Old Testament, so a Bible story seemed a natural. They made a rather humorous and certainly unique version of the story of David and Goliath. David Vaughn seemed the natural choice to play David, and new class member Doug played Goliath. The audience loved it. Some of their friends, who had little religious background, asked, “Who were David and Goliath?” The class members were glad to fill in the more serious details of what can be learned from this story.

Again, good things started to happen. Rebecca Silcock, Doug’s sister, sought out the missionaries. Then she informed her delighted brother that she was going to be baptized. Now, in addition to church on Sundays and activities, they were both attending seminary.

Brian Furuya was another who used this introduction to study a little more about the Church. He admits that he started out his study of the gospel with an idea that he would prove it wrong. But that didn’t work out. Instead he found a witness of the Spirit that spoke to his soul. “I didn’t know I was racking up a debt. God told me that much. There is a debt; there is a tab, and someday there would be an accounting. Then I would find my pockets empty. After joining the Church, what made my life easier was knowing that I had a loan [through the atonement of Jesus Christ].”

After Brian joined the Church, he said, “Don’t expect me to go to seminary. I value sleep way too much.” But, as he now admits with a shrug of his shoulders, “The next day I found myself in seminary, and every day since, I’ve found myself in seminary. There has to be something good happening, or I wouldn’t be doing it.”

The third and final Friend Breakfast was held right before school let out. They went all out, cooking a full-fledged breakfast with the help of some members of the two wards. More than a hundred people attended. This time, the video was more personal and direct. Each class member was interviewed about the things they believe. The humor was still there with baby and growing-up pictures mixed in with each class member speaking from the heart.

Did anyone listen? Was anyone fed anything besides fruit, sausage, and eggs?

Apparently so. Since that final breakfast of the school year, four more of their friends have joined the Church. Although seminary isn’t held when school is on vacation, the students pull these new members into their Mutual activities and into their Sunday School classes.

These seminary students started with a simple plan just to explain to their friends what seminary is. It turned out that when they presented what they had, those who were hungry for direction in their lives feasted on the words of Christ.

Who would have thought inviting their friends to breakfast would feed them something far more satisfying and filling than just food?

Photography by Craig Dimond and Janet Thomas

(Far left) Nora Graham, left, invited dozens of friends. (Left, top) Seminary students wore matching shirts to stand out in a crowd of 110 friends. (Left, bottom) Melissa Moore invited Doug Silcock, who became their first baptism.

(Left, top) A lot of people pitched in to help serve and cook. (Left, bottom) Jenny Dequer invited Brian Furuya, who was the class’s third baptism.

(Right, top) All that some got out of the seminary breakfast was a good meal, but a few found something more satisfying when they were introduced to the gospel. (Right, bottom) Chris Miller is one of the original 12 in the seminary class, but the number keeps growing.