When President Russell M. Nelson announced ministering as “a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others” (“Ministering,” Ensign, May 2018), Bishop Wallace Tollestrup counselled our ward members “to grasp onto this concept.” He reminded us that we should not just focus on those individuals or families to whom we were assigned, but if we felt prompted to minister to someone else—we should do so.
Allen and Deb Robertson felt prompted to move to Raymond. Deb came to church meetings, but Allen was not a member of the Church.
Welcome to the Neighborhood
When Allen and Deb moved into the new Raymond 10th Ward (only a couple of years old), neighbors noticed. Within the week of moving in, they responded to a knock on their front door and saw a child from across the street holding treats and a card. It was made and signed by the eight children of Stephane and Erin Roy, saying, “You’re going to love Raymond.” A few days later, they heard another knock on the door. This time it was Lowyn and Heather Hardy with their five children (and one on the way) from two doors down with homemade bread. Later, they received an invitation to attend a ward activity from a senior couple who lived up the block. All of these members were “seeking the interest of his neighbor” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:19). Allen and Deb felt welcomed to their new neighborhood.
An Invitation to Learn More about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ
As the ward mission leader, I was looking for families who could feed the missionaries. As I pondered this responsibility, I felt impressed to call Deb and ask if she would be willing to have the sister missionaries over for dinner. She was both surprised and elated. Within a week of that dinner, the missionaries felt prompted to invite Allen if he would be willing to have them teach the missionary lessons. He replied, “Yes.”
Allen had lots of questions. To help answer his questions, the missionaries involved not only me (the ward mission leader) but also the bishop, the elders quorum presidency, and other members of the elders quorum. Working together, members would support what the missionaries were teaching and help answer Allen’s questions. When a ward gets involved by becoming one with the missionaries, the Lord's work becomes much more successful.
Allen was baptized on October 20, 2018. It was a wonderful experience for him, for Deb, for me, and for the entire ward.
Blessings of Family History and Temple Service
While Allen was taking the missionary lessons, he was also doing family history research with his wife. Three weeks after his baptism, they attended the temple and were again accompanied by leaders and members of the ward. They completed proxy baptisms and confirmations for six members of his family. It was a day filled with very tender moments for Allen and many ward members. They felt the power of Elijah “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers” (Doctrine and Covenants 27:9).
When Allen began taking the missionary lessons, other members of Deb’s family felt impressed to come to Church. They attended both Allen’s baptism and the subsequent new member lessons that Allen was taking. On December 1, 2018, the ward missionaries—Barbara Nickle and Sheralee Hardy—hosted a family history day as their way of participating in the Church’s worldwide day of service. Latter-day Saints worldwide were encouraged to do simple acts of service in their neighborhoods and communities (“2018#LightTheWorld Asks Members to Give as Christ Gave”). Allen and Deb attended this family history activity.That night one of Deb's children worked on their biological father’s line until 3:00 a.m. and found information going back four generations. They noted that they had felt their grandmother’s spirit close by along with other members of the family.
Blessings of Attending Primary
Deb’s grandchildren would come visit every weekend, and when they did, they came to meetings with Allen and Deb. Every Sunday they would come home and excitedly share what they had learned in Primary. After attending several meetings, they asked Deb if they could be baptized. On December 23, 2018, Jace and Ella were baptized by their Grandpa Allen.
At Jace and Ella’s baptism, members of their Primary classes along with the Primary teachers and members of the ward came to support them. Jace was excited to learn that in one year and one week, he could be receiving the Aaronic Priesthood and be able to go to the temple and perfom baptisms for the dead. His face just lit right up.
Ministering Is Missionary, Temple, and Family History Work
At stake conference, Allen and Deb were asked to speak, and they humbly shared their testimonies with the stake members and President Stephen Keung and Sister Cindy Keung of the Canada Calgary Mission.
Their experiences exemplify the Lord’s counsel when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on April 06, 1830: “All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:37).
All this came to pass because many members of the ward strove “to grasp the concept” of ministering to their neighbors through the promptings of the Holy Ghost. They knocked on their neighbors’ doors, shared food, invited them to serve and attend activities and meetings, assisted the missionaries, encouraged family history, and supported temple attendance. As Elder David A. Bednar counselled new mission presidents: “Preaching the gospel and seeking after our dead are complementary parts of one great work—a labor of love intended to change, turn, and purify the hearts of honest seekers of truth. The artificial boundary line we so often place between missionary work and temple and family history work is being erased; this is one great work of salvation” (“Missionary, Family History, and Temple Work,” Ensign, Oct. 2014).