Simply trying

It's tough to put your finger on it, to zero in on the core cause. Speeches and sermons have eloquently addressed it. But, for many, it remains a struggle.

What?Inviting those not of our faith to explore what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has to offer.

A Church-sponsored open house - with well-planned displays and activities and a satellite address from a General Authority that originated in Salt Lake City - was the perfect opportunity for Valerie, a newly called stake missionary, to introduce others to her faith. Yet, like many, she struggled with deciding who to invite. She, of course, would invite some less-active neighbors, but, she thought, it would be nice to also include someone who knew little, if anything, about the restored gospel. But, she wondered, did she really know anyone like that?

Then she thought about Kimberly.

A non-native English speaker in an English-speaking country, Kimberly worked in a family-owned ethnic restaurant - a restaurant frequented by Valerie and her family, not only for its great food, but because of her friendship with Kimberly.

Shy by nature, Kimberly was nevertheless the definition of human sweetness. Those who knew her were sure she had nary a single contentious bone in her entire body. Some thought that if you were to pull out a dictionary and look up the meaning of kindness, you'd find Kimberly's picture. Yet she felt obvious discomfort if thrust into a crowd.

Surely Kimberly would appreciate learning what the Savior hopes and wants for His brothers and sisters in these times.

But, almost as surely, Kimberly would find it difficult to venture into not only a new religious culture but also to do it in a land where she was just beginning to learn the secular culture.

Obstacles are many and varied, but rarely are they insurmountable. Never are they reasons for not trying.

So Valerie tried.

Her first invitation wasn't rejected. But, then, neither was it accepted. It was obvious that Kimberly appreciated Valerie's interest in her, but her shyness was, in fact, an obstacle. Perhaps, Valerie thought, Kimberly would be more comfortable if other members of her family also attended. Valerie had never met Kimberly's brother, but Kimberly always spoke highly of him.

Valerie asked. Kimberly said maybe. They kept in touch. They exchanged phone calls. Through it all, Kimberly knew that Valerie's interest in her was genuine and that their friendship would be unaffected by her decision.

The day before the open house, the two friends talked again. Kimberly had decided.

"I try," she said in her most confident broken English.

A most-fitting ending to this story would, of course, be to explain how Kimberly loved the open house and has since accepted membership in the kingdom. That hasn't happened. It might yet. But, it might not.

A most-fitting lesson to the story, however, is the personal joy that comes - in this case to both Kimberly and Valerie - from simply trying. For each woman the effort was difficult. But for each it was more than worth it.

Though the context is different, Nephi taught the same principle.

Almost immediately upon leaving Jerusalem, Nephi's brothers started their habitual complaining. Nephi suffered through their roller-coaster-like adherence to - and rejection of - gospel principles with patience and faith. At times, the brothers did OK. At other times, they did, well, less than OK.

At one point, the brothers complained to Nephi that he had "declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear."

As he always did, Nephi exhorted his brethren "with all diligence, to keep the commandments of the Lord."

Then, a few verses later, Nephi tells us that his father was diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord and that Nephi, too, "had been blessed of the Lord exceedingly." (See 1 Ne. 16:1,4,8)

Laman and Lemuel stumbled and, ultimately, stopped when faced with an obstacle. They found it to be too hard. Nephi, on the other hand, persevered and found a way to succeed - and then enjoyed the blessings of the Lord.

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