Missionary moments: Don't give up

In the 1940s, I met two missionaries serving in Southern California. They were stationed in Oceanside, Calif., and had a long walk to my place in Escondido, about 20 miles to the southeast.

We were very poor and lived in a cabin. We also had a big tent in which we had to store much of our furniture. My oldest boy, who was then 15, had a bed out in the tent, and we set up a second bed so the missionaries could spend the night when they came.I worried how I would feed my family of five, so when the missionaries came, I cried. I was a Christian, but was not LDS.

As time passed, I began to notice that when I went to a nearby meat-packing plant to order what I could afford, I returned home with more than I paid for. The owner told me he couldn't sell the meat, and thought I could use it.

And after going to the grocery store, I'd find many vegetables I never paid for. The owner said he couldn't sell the items and would discard them at the end of the day. I'm now sure the missionaries told the businessmen we were feeding them.

I considered joining the Church many times, but family situations delayed my baptism. One of the missionaries who taught me at that time was Elder David Berbert. He had a glow and never pressured me to his way of believing. I only knew I wanted what he had.

For years, Elder Berbert prayed for me, and finally in 1962 I again took the discussions and decided to be baptized. And one of the new missionaries was a former high school student of Elder Berbert. I thought how small our world is.

The night I was baptized, I called Elder Berbert with the good news, and a few years later, I visited Elder Berbert and his family.

His oldest son was preparing to leave on a mission. I told the young man it took his dad 20 years of prayer for me to join the Church - so don't give up easy on investigators.

Today, I hold three callings in the Church, and I love every one for the service I give.

Elder Berbert is now a member of the Springfield (Missouri) 1st Ward. He and his wife, Geraldine, recently returned from a full-time mission to the Philippines. - Florence Palmer, La Grande (Ore.) 2nd Ward

(Another in a series of "Missionary Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)

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