As a missionary you see many changes in the lives of others. Changes come big or small, good or bad. Some of the biggest changes you see as a missionary are ones within yourself. Some of these changes come over time, slowly, and we don't often realize that we are changing. The changes that come from the inside are hard to notice; however, changes within others are often far easier to recognize.
Importance of Member Missionary Work
One of the greatest changes from good to better that I have ever seen in someone was with a person I taught. This man, whom I will call John, was a member referral. John and his Young Single Adult (YSA) friend met at work. As a missionary I thank all the amazing members who strive to represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at work, school, or wherever they may be. The example of this YSA member had touched John, and curiosity was sparked. Eventually, the two started talking and a friendship blossomed.
The time came when John asked the member why he is the way that he is; in response the YSA member mentioned the restored Church of Jesus Christ. Fueling the spark of interest, the YSA member started to teach this man about family history. Knowing the significance of family history helped bring this man closer to God and to his ancestors; it even prepared him to receive the lessons by the missionaries.
Missionaries entered into the picture after nearly a year of the member and John talking. Thankfully, he already had a copy of the Book of Mormon that was given to him by his friend.
We were very grateful for this. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we could never visit him or even have the opportunity to drop off a Book of Mormon during the time we taught him. Working with him was, for me personally, the first time I had a member teach alongside us who had a strong friendship with the investigator. Member work is the best work—friendship is what started this big change in John's life. Everything went well in the lessons. He followed nearly all the commitments that we extended.
Learning to Worship God
As we taught him, we realized there was one problem preventing him from moving on to baptism—keeping the Sabbath day holy (see Exodus 20:8-11; 3 Nephi 18:1-25; Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-15). Before my mission I had never thought this commandment would be a hard one to follow. It wasn't until I served a mission and talked to lots of people in Toronto, Canada that I realized Sunday is the day for many to go shopping. I had never realized that lots of people work every other day in the week. This commandment was hard for him as he enjoyed going shopping and using Sunday to exercise. We tried to teach John the best we could: inviting him to Church services and personally reading the Book of Mormon. We even decided to set a baptismal date with him, but keeping the Sabbath day holy was stopping John from progressing. We were not sure what the future held in store for him.
As the 2021 Easter weekend neared, we invited John to watch multiple sessions of general conference. We promised him that he would receive personal answers to his questions and concerns. After the Saturday afternoon session, we were preparing our dinner when we received an unexpected phone call. We were even beyond shocked as it sounded like John had just had an amazing spiritual experience. He told us that as he viewed the last speaker—President M. Russell .Ballard (“Hope in Christ,” Liahona, May 2021, 53-56)—he had received an answer to a question he had been grappling with for a long time. It was as if President Ballard had spoken directly to the man we were teaching.
Hearing Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ
President Ballard is a special witness of Christ along with the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. John felt the power, authority, and the sincerity of this wonderful Apostle. President Ballard had brought the Spirit to John and the Spirit testified of the calling of the Apostles and the truthfulness of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
Over the phone, John told us that he would go out and buy groceries that evening, instead of waiting for Sunday. The Spirit has the power to change lives. Sometimes it changes people little by little, line upon line, precept upon precept (see Doctrine and Covenants 128:21). John experienced a powerful and immediate spiritual change. After his experience, he was super willing to follow the commandment relating to the Sabbath day.
A week after John had this marvelous general conference experience, he was baptised. The Lord has called the Apostles in this generation, and they are here for us. They share Christ's words and testify of his divinity as special witnesses. I am grateful for their work and dedication because their counsel changes lives for the better.