“Fields Ready to Harvest,” New Era, May 2001, 28
He blames it on a short attention span, but it’s more likely the spirit of missionary service that doesn’t allow Brandon Fields to sit still. He’s always wanted to go on a mission, but just wanting to go wasn’t enough. He needed to prepare. When he was 16, the constant urgings of full-time missionaries and a talk he had to give on missionary service in sacrament meeting prompted this Seattle, Washington, priest to do some thinking.
Brandon thought, You know, I should probably start praying for missionary experiences, because that’s what I’m going to be doing for two years, so why not start now? He hasn’t sat still since. And his prayers for missionary experiences have definitely been answered. Between visiting the less-active families in his ward, going team teaching with the missionaries, attending school, and working, it’s a wonder this first assistant to the bishop even has time to breathe. He says he’s able to fit it all in because he just never stops moving.
Brandon’s momentum started to build when he and his best friend, Steve Wells, started to go teaching with the missionaries in their area. “We volunteered a couple of times, and it turned out we were the only priests who could go. So it was us for five months.” Now that he’s only six months away from his mission, Brandon is still helping the missionaries, but he does get a break every once in a while, since there are now a few more priests to help out. Steve is now on a full-time mission in the Philippines.
The gospel is like a favorite recipe, Brandon says, because you want to share it with everyone. “I share it because it makes me happy. And why wouldn’t you want to share what makes you happy?” His enthusiasm is contagious, says Marti Grisham, Young Men president of the Federal Way Washington Stake. “He’s got a real missionary attitude about him.”
But missionary work can sometimes be discouraging, and Brandon says he knows that. Team teaching with the missionaries helps him to overcome, or at least grow accustomed to, occasional setbacks. “It’s showing me how they get disappointed—like appointments not showing up. Just seeing that will help me be able to cope like the full-time missionaries do.” He’s learned to laugh, even when people slam doors in his face. “I’m usually pretty calm and just let stuff go.”
Though his attitude during hard times may be calm, his outlook on missionary work is pure excitement. Brandon has taught discussions with the missionaries a few times and is working hard to memorize as many discussions as he can before he goes into the Missionary Training Center. His study habits need some work, he says, but he hopes to improve with time and practice. “It makes you feel the Spirit and strengthens your testimony when you teach,” he says.
One of Brandon’s best experiences teaching the gospel happened when he was teaching with a full-time missionary. They were teaching a woman who was addicted to drugs and who was reluctant to live the lifestyle of Church members. One night she would not let Brandon and the missionary into her home to teach her, even though she had listened to discussions before and been receptive to their message. They wouldn’t give up on her; so they stood outside her house and sang hymns. Finally, she came out to listen to them. She was baptized a short time later. “I loved seeing the change she made and seeing her baptized,” Brandon says.
“We come to know Christ by following Him,” Brandon says as he teaches a part of the first new-member discussion to Armand Nicholas, 22, who has just joined the Church. Brandon had previously taught Armand the fifth missionary discussion. Brandon flips to scripture after scripture about Christ as if he were in a seminary scripture chase. “He knows his scriptures,” says Elder Mithona Seng, one of the missionaries with whom Brandon works.
After teaching Armand, Brandon and the missionaries visit a young man who had seen a documentary about the Prophet Joseph Smith and wanted to know more about the Church. Brandon helped the missionaries teach the first discussion with the aid of some study cards he had made.
You might think all this future missionary does is race from house to house sharing the gospel. But he also finds time to earn money for his mission, working as a floor supervisor at a movie theater. When movies arrive at the theater, the film is on a few small reels. Brandon “builds up” or combines the smaller reels into one big reel and adds the movie previews. Normally, he might have to watch many R-rated movies as part of his job, but, he says, “I build up the movies, and you’re supposed to watch them. But the people I work with know I don’t, so someone else comes and does it.” And when he puts on his uniform at work, the mantle of member missionary remains firmly in place. He still tries to tell the people he works with about the gospel and has given copies of the Book of Mormon to some of them.
Although he has to get outside his comfort zone, he says trying to be a good example comes more easily when you don’t worry about what others think of you. “Yes, a mission is hard, but it’s fun, because the missionaries have fun. … Just try teaching with them and pray about it. It’s not like Heavenly Father’s going to say no, because we’re supposed to go.” Brandon says he’ll keep sharing his favorite recipe—for happiness that is—the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“A most significant evidence of our conversion and of how we feel about the gospel in our own lives is our willingness to share it with others and to help missionaries find someone to teach. The likelihood of lasting conversion greatly increases when a nonmember has a friend or a relative who radiates the joy of being a member of the Church. The influence of members of the Church is very powerful. I believe that’s why President Hinckley asked us to see that everyone has a friend” (Ensign, Nov. 2000, 75–76).
—Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve