When I found out I would be serving in the Canada Calgary Mission, I learned I had ancestors from Alberta. Shortly before I entered the Missionary Training Center, my grandmother provided me with a history of my great-great-grandparents’ lives written by one of their daughters. I read the account, interested but not engrossed. I was fairly certain I would not end up in the little town of Taber, where they had settled.
As it turns out, my first area, Coaldale, is in the Taber Stake. My companion and I drove to Taber twice a week. A member who recognized my last name, and identified herself as a relative, encouraged me to stop by the Taber Cemetery. On a preparation day, my companion and I did, and I took a picture with the headstone of my ancestors: Ransom and Minnie Van Orman.
A Heritage of Service
When I took that picture, I did not notice the inscription at the bottom of the headstone: “They Helped Others.” Since then, I have pondered what kind of life they led together to merit such an inscription.
When the Van Ormans settled in Taber, it was just a fledgling settlement without even a ward. Ransom was called as the first bishop of Taber and served in that calling for ten years. Similarly, Minnie was the first Relief Society president and served for 20 years. While that kind of life was undoubtedly exhausting—especially with twelve children to raise and a carpentry business to run—it provided plenty of opportunities for the Van Ormans to serve others.
Later, the Van Ormans moved to Raymond, where Ransom’s position as constable made it difficult for him to serve in callings. Nevertheless, at his funeral, the speakers still commented on the service he rendered. As President Russell M. Nelson counseled, “it really doesn’t matter where one serves. What the Lord cares about is how one serves” (“Ministering with the Power and Authority of God,” Ensign, May 2018).
Helping Others Become More Christlike
So what did Ransom and Minnie do to serve effectively? The transcript of Ransom’s funeral helped me learn how we can serve “with all [our] heart, might, mind, and strength” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2). Ransom and Minnie had others’ interests at heart. Often the speakers at Ransom’s funeral commented on his helping others, especially young people, along the path of righteousness. As W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, advised, “Our efforts [to serve] should be guided by the desire to help others achieve a deeper individual conversion and become more like the Savior” (“Just As He Did,” Ensign, May. 2019).
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, service is a sacred duty. Alma invited people in his day to be baptized in order to “bear one another’s burdens, …comfort those that stand in need of comfort, …as a witness before [God]” (Mosiah 18:8-10). Recently, Elder Neil L. Andersen was quoted as saying: “A person with a good heart can help someone fix a tire, take a roommate to the doctor, have lunch with someone who is sad, smile and say hello to brighten a day. But a follower of the first commandment will naturally add to these important acts of service” (“The Purpose That Will Change Our Ministering,” Ensign, January 2019).
When a missionary teaches without Christlike love, it shows. My first lesson as a missionary was a rough one because I recited information rather than truly ministering. When my companion and I returned to teach another lesson, we focused on loving and listening. The difference was marked; the Spirit was evident. I am glad I learned early on how love makes a difference in our teaching and our service.
Repent and Be Humble
I found it both touching and amusing that every speaker at Ransom’s funeral talked about how he made mistakes. He was humble, though, because they added that he continually strove to repent and fix whatever mistakes he had made. At the April 2019 general priesthood session, President Nelson instructed: “Daily repentance is the pathway to purity, and purity brings power. Personal purity can make us powerful tools in the hands of God” (“We Can Do Better and Be Better, Ensign, May 2019).
When I have repented each day, it has strenthened my commitment to serve. It has helped me to feel greater Christlike love for others. I am increasingly seeing those whom I teach the way our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ see them. Missionaries are instructed, “As your understanding of the Savior’s sacrifice, also known as the Atonement of Jesus Christ, grows, your desire to share the gospel [and to serve others] will increase” (“What Is My Purpose as a Missionary, Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service , 2).
Serve Within Our Limitations
My grandmother Minnie once helped a sick family while her own family was sick. I assume that she did not just abandon her family to their illness. She most likely received divine inspiration about where she could take some time out of helping her own family members and reaching out to aid others. We need to realize our own limitations in ministering, “for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27). We need to seek the Lord’s direction. Bishop Waddell explained, “As we seek the guidance of the Spirit and trust in the Lord, we will be placed in situations and circumstances where we can act and bless—in other words, minister” (“Just As He Did”).
I am so thankful for the opportunity I now have to serve the Lord as one of His missionaries. I hope to continue serving God the rest of my life. I am grateful for the lifelong example set for me by my ancestors. I am in awe of Jesus Christ’s matchless life and great atoning sacrifice. His humble acts of service have inspired millions to do and be better. As we emulate Him, we also will truly be able to care for and help others.