Stopping For a Stranger

Jesus Christ and the Woman at the well
Portugal sister missionaries

Story #1 Submitted by: Sister Tonnie Krystal Brown, Kingston Jamaica Stake

My companion and I were looking for ways to better follow the promptings of the Spirit—no matter how small. The opportunity came on Saturday morning, May 26, 2016. We were on our way to an appointment, and we were going to be on time. We were feeling really good with ourselves. Things were going well that day.

As our car sped down the road, I saw a girl sitting in the grass on the side of the road. She seemed pretty sad and despondent. The Spirit spoke quietly to me that we should stop and help her. I voiced that thought, and my companion immediately pulled a U-turn. She didn’t question—she simply acted.

We pulled in a parking spot near the girl and went to speak with her. We told her that we noticed that she was sad and asked if there was anything we could do for her. She cried and explained that our stopping was the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for her. We were able to help her know that we cared for her, and we were able to help her feel Heavenly Father’s love. We stopped!

As Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated in his talk “Let the Holy Spirit Guide” at General Conference: “First promptings are pure inspiration from heaven. When they confirm or testify to us, we need to recognize them for what they are and never let them slip past. So often, it is the Spirit inspiring us to reach out to someone in need, family and friends in particular. ‘Thus … the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things,’ (Doctrine & Covenants 85: 6) points us to opportunities to teach the gospel, to bear testimony of the Restoration and Jesus Christ, to offer support and concern, and to rescue one of God’s precious children.” Ensign, May 2017

Jaxon Toly family

Story #2 Submitted by: Elder Jaxson Toly, Lethbridge Alberta Stake

I had been stressed out of my mind. I received a call from the Mission Office that I was staying in my area for a fourth transfer, and I was also training a new missionary. The last two transfers had been extremely hard for me, and the work was progressing slowly. I longed for a change in my assignment. But I decided to be obedient and work where the Lord had left me. Like Nephi in the Book of Mormon, “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth…” (1 Nephi 4: 6-7).

I picked up my new companion, and we continued focusing on trying to contact late or missed callback appointments. During that first week together, we both felt like we needed to tract. In fact, we felt directed to tract the street where the Church meetinghouse was located. This was something that I had not usually thought of doing.

We knocked at the door of the first house, but no one answered. So, we went to the next door. We were about to knock when I looked over into the backyard of the house where there had been no answer. There stood a man about 20 years of age who was smoking. I felt like we needed to talk with him, so we went back the way we had come and started a conversation with him. He invited us to come back, and we began to teach him.

After I left that area, I kept up on what was happening with that young man. It took 13 months for him to resolve some family issues and set a baptismal date. The week he was getting baptized, I was informed and even able to Skype with him and see most of the baptism. I have stayed in contact with him, and he is doing well. His whole life changed.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to this young man if I hadn’t been obedient in staying in the same area as directed by the inspiration of my Mission President. It blows my mind to think what might not have happened. I am so glad that I stopped to talk with that man on that day. It changed both of our lives.

Sister Missiolnaries and Joe Wierda

Story #3 Submitted by: Sister Alicia Holmstead, Lehi Utah Jordan Willows Stake

My companion and I had just finished teaching a less-active family in our ward. We felt pretty good about our visit and discussed how we could improve as we walked to our car. As we talked, a utility van pulled over to the curb about a half a kilometer ahead of us, and two men in bright safety Workwear got out of the vehicle. I instantly began to analyze the situation, wondering whether or not we should try to talk with them. My head tried so many times to justify leaving them to do their business, but my heart knew I was called to serve all of Heavenly Father’s children—and that included talking to everyone.

“Hello,” I said. “My friend and I are local missionaries.” One of the men turned around and saw our nametags. He responded, “Oh, I know you. I was baptized into your Church.” Immediately, questions popped into my head. I had met people several times on the street who thought the same thing, but it was often not true. So, my companion and I began to ask him several questions. He recalled passing the sacrament and could even remember where the old Church used to be. He told us that he hadn’t been to Church in over 50 years. We continued to talk, and the Spirit completely took over. It was one of the most spiritual contacts I had ever experienced. At that end of our conversation, we asked if we could meet up some time to help him remember a little more about the Church. He graciously declined. We left him with a card, gave him our contact information, told him the Church meeting times, and invited him to call us if he ever needed anything.

That night as I was reflecting on that experience, I knew that I had felt the Spirit so much, and I knew that he had too. I wondered why he didn’t accept our invitation to help him. Before I went to bed, I got down on my knees and pleaded for this man. I prayed that the Spirit would soften his heart and that he would come to Church, meet the missionaries somewhere down the road, or respond to whatever God’s will for him may be.

And that was the end of that. Or so I thought. About two weeks later, we received a call from an unknown number. The caller had left a message, but I couldn’t really make out who had called or what they wanted. Nevertheless, we returned the call, and a nice man answered, “Hello, this is Joe. you met me a few weeks back while I was working on an electricity pole. Ever since I met you that day, I can’t seem to get our conversation out of my head.”

I think my jaw hit the floor. At first, I couldn’t believe that this man had really called us. We had a long conversation on the phone, and this time he accepted our invitation to meet with us. We set up an appointment to meet at Tim Horton’s the next day. When we arrived, Joe was already sitting at a table waiting for us. Our first meeting consisted of us listening. Joe had experienced a pretty hard childhood, and we believe he just needed someone to talk to. He also told us what he remembered about the Church. At the end of our meeting, we gave Joe one of our missionary pamphlets and invited him to read it. As a follow-up question, Joe asked, “What could someone expect if they went to Church on Sunday?” We paused for a moment and gave him a quick overview. Then, we went our separate directions.

Sunday came, and my companion and I were going around the Church greeting people. We were both silently praying that Joe would come. Well, about 15 minutes before the meeting started, we were walking towards the chapel, and in walked Joe! I think my heart hit the floor and sheer joy fell over me.

Joe really enjoyed Church that Sunday and experienced a lot of things he remembered. The following Sunday, Joe again came to Church, but he wasn’t fully committed to coming back yet. The lesson we had with him after that second Sunday was a huge turning point for him. We again met at the same Tim Horton’s, but when we sat down for our lesson, Joe opened right up to us. Over the past few weeks of being at Church, he was beginning to recognize things in his life that weren’t in harmony with the Church’s teachings. He was truly feeling Godly sorrow. We later came to find out that he was planning on this being his last visit with us. As he shared his concerns with us, I had a scripture come to mind. I asked my companion for her Book of Mormon and opened up to Mosiah 26: 29 and invited Joe to read it. This scripture testifies that no matter what we have done, if we change now, God will forgive us. Joe read it, and my companion and I bore our testimonies of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.

For my companion and me, we thought this was just another lesson with Joe, but later he told us what really happened that night. The scripture we read with him hit him to the core. That night, he knelt down and asked Heavenly Father to forgive him of all the mistakes he had made in his life up to that point. Joe said that he immediately felt the burden lifted off his shoulders and felt truly forgiven.

From that day forward, Joe made up his mind about coming back to the Church. He hasn’t missed a Sunday since then. His progression and testimony skyrocketed. He was given the Melchizedek Priesthood manual Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, and he finished reading the whole thing in a few weeks. He started recognizing things in his life that were not in line with God’s will and changed them. He came to all five sessions of General Conference. Plus, he continues to participate in all ward activities. Finally, he recently received the Melchizedek Priesthood and is preparing to go to the temple.

Joe eventually told us his side of the story. A few days before he met us, he was really struggling. He was feeling depressed and alone. He didn’t know what to do, so he poured out his heart to God—asking for direction and help. The next day after his prayer, we stopped him on the street and talked with him.

I know that Heavenly Father is so aware of his children. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it, and will supply all our needs “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Philippians 4: 19. Joe hadn’t been to Church for roughly 53 years. But when the time was right, God used two simple and weak missionaries to show Joe where he could go to find lasting peace and happiness.