And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
- D&C 18:15
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Signing the Guestbook
Last night the relief society president of the Old Settlers Ward asked us to come by for cake and ice cream and to discuss missionary work in the area. Her husband travels five days out of the week and most weeks of the year, so it was one of the few times we have ever been in her house. The cake was delicious, the ice cream was fine. The message we shared with the family was heartfelt, and the work we got done there was perfect. However, the moment I remember the most came from signing her guestbook. She asked us to put our names and contact information with our note, so her family could contact us after the mission, but I added one more piece of information. How many days I've been serving in the ward. After counting them all up in mind I signed off with "Elder Hall, day 296 of serving in the Old Settlers Ward." Yep. I've been officially been in this Ward longer than I went to my ward in college. Fun times! All of my missionary friends like to joke around about it. We had a zone conference a few weeks ago in South Austin, and it was so strange to see some people. Even in the tight knit community of missionaries, when you're in an area for a while, you lose track of some of your friends.
Not that I'm complaining. I love this area! It's been great. This week we had a great amount of success with working with the members. As a missionary, you may be susceptible to the notion that members of the church aren't allowed to participate in missionary work as we do. Not so! Every christian on earth has a commission to preach the gospel. As a missionary, I am in the interesting position of being their leader and servant. I lead them to people that we found that they can invite and teach alongside us, but I also serve them when they have friends and family that they want to share the gospel with. I've been able to teach families and families of latter day saints valuable missionary tools, such as practicing sharing the gospel with friends, teaching them how to pray for missionary work, inviting them to hand out Books of Mormon, and sharing the principle that no effort is wasted when you are serving the Lord.
One of my favorite stories starts with my first Sunday of my mission, and ended with my first week in Old Settlers Ward. The S Family invited us to dinner, and they asked us how they can be better missionaries. We practiced inviting a coworker to meet with missionaries, and bearing your testimony. For the rest of the weeks I was in the Cibolo Ward, they didn't give us a referral, or let us know if they did it or not. They did invite us back to dinner after their vacation to California, and bought me an A's jersey. I was transferred, and months passed, and I forgot about that dinner with the S. I was transferred again to Old Settlers Ward, where I was shocked to see the S family sitting in the chapel, an hour and a half away from Cibolo. I asked them what they were doing, and they said, "We're meeting an old friend. She is giving her first talk in sacrament meeting." On the stand was V, a 17 year old who was baptized only months before that sacrament meeting. After that dinner I had with the S, they prayed about how to ask to meet with missionaries, and remembered some family friends from long ago. They invited V's family to meet with the missionaries. The parents denied, but V said yes. With the parent's permission she was baptized not too long later, and today she has taken four trips to the San Antonio temple, filled out temple work for dozens of ancestors, and now is the Laurel Class President of over 13 young women. She plans on attending BYU next fall.
Who knew that the hour or so of time spent with the Ss would touch the lives of so many others? It is the miracle of faith. Having the faith to extend an invitation, having the faith to ask missionaries for help with your own missionary work, and having the faith that something good would come of it. Out of small and simple things shall great things come to pass. V and the Ss are just one of the many stories that I have been a part of. To me, I have felt like I've been writing my name in the guestbooks of many families, leaving behind my witness of the gospel to add upon the testimony that is there. Flipping through a guestbook is like dumping out a jar of memories. They come fast and there's a lot of them. I may be one of many, but I am proud, because that means that there are thousands- maybe even millions- of people who are able to share such sound testimonies and stories as mine. May God ever be with you.
Elder Richard Hall
1. A good day of soccer 2. Me and the other Elders with S, an awesome youth in our Ward that loves missionary work. 3. A set of missionaries with a man who was baptized on Saturday. After his baptism he testified of the church- specifically of the restoration- for almost 15 minutes.