Tonight, I experienced the most remarkable missionary message in the history of missionary messages.
We had just finished having dinner with the missionaries. The wife and I made a commitment at the beginning of our marriage to help the missionaries whenever we can, and so we had gone out with them several times teaching and had gotten to know especially a young couple who lived two blocks from us. As we sat back after eating, they asked if they could share a message. “Of course!” we say, obligingly.
I settled into my seat, waiting for the general “Who do you know that we can share the gospel with?” message that missionaries often give at dinner appointments.
Elder Graham pulled out a talk and began to read a short excerpt about how hope is the motivator of faith and action and how hope, not technical skill, is more important in missionary work.
He then turned to us and said simply, “I know you as a family have hope in missionary work. We greatly appreciate all of the wonderful work you do with us, and the help you offer us. We want to sincerely thank you for your willingness to help in building the Lord’s kingdom.”
That was it. No commitment. No gentle reminders to do our duty. Just pure thanks. You could see it in their weary faces; they were grateful that we would go out with them for even just a couple hours a week, no skin off of our noses. The appreciation just shined from their expressions.
I was deeply touched. I glanced over at my wife, who admitted as much in the past that duty, not a desire to grow the Church, motivated her missionary work. I could tell that she was visibly touched as well (and somewhat taken aback).
They got up and left. We said our goodbyes. And as we cleared the dishes that night, my heart was full. Sometimes, Mormonism feels like a non-stop checklist of tasks, obligations, duties and commitments. However, two missionaries that night expressed sincere gratitude for our feeble offering — real gratitude. It felt good.
Conventionally speaking, for all intents and purposes, their lesson was a failure. There was no commitment at the end. It was mercifully short — less than two minutes. They didn’t even really teach a coherent gospel principle they could check off on a teaching record. But I hadn’t felt the Spirit so strong in the room after a missionary lesson in a long time.
And you can bet your socks that the next time the missionaries ask us to go out with them to teach, we will say yes in a heartbeat, even if it means clearing our schedule to do so.