Attempting to live the second great commandment, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," through missionary work is a formidable challenge. Throughout our 17 years of marriage my wife, Marvel, and I have been surrounded by good neighbors; people not of our faith, but honest, hard-working and caring friends. We have been eager in our efforts to share the gospel.
Early in our missionary endeavors, we concluded that simply living the gospel would attract the honest in heart. Many a year was concluded without any families being introduced to the Church. Our faith was continually tested as we employed the cottage-meeting approach to capitalize on the statistic that two out of three join the Church if taught in a member's home. Several discussions were held and much information was dispersed, but few of our friends progressed toward the waters of baptism.As we matured through gospel study and experiencing life's challenges, it became clear that our motives were not pure. Our eyes were not single to God's glory. We wanted to baptize another family because that is what "good" Latter-day Saint families do, and we were seeking the praise of our fellow members.
These insights have led us to a new approach with friends and neighbors. We recognize like never before the essential plan God has prepared. Agency is a key player in this plan, but so is the truth. This truth we should share through our example, but also through our invitation to learn and feel of our Heavenly Father's love.
We are quick to invite as the Spirit dictates, so our home is filled with missionary moments that come with the seemingly mundane tasks of living and raising a family.
Last Christmas when our neighbor fell and broke his leg while hanging Christmas wreaths, it created a sharing opportunity that included priesthood power and blessings. Our friendship and love deepened even though he has not joined the Church. We continue to share a common bond.
Shortly after moving to this neighborhood, we invited several families to spend an evening in our home. After visiting and refreshments, we concluded with a dedicatory prayer on our new home. This one evening sent a clear message that we were a God-fearing people who desired a safe, protected environment to raise our children and where faith in Christ was more important than worldly possessions.
Death has visited two close families during the past year. This time of sorrow has given us a chance to comfort and teach. The plan of salvation is a great comfort to those who have only known the second act of what is a three-act play. Testifying of the atoning power of the Savior and seeing a glimmer of hope brighten these downcast eyes makes it all worthwhile.
While it may be true that our neighbors have not come flocking to the waters of baptism, we, as a family, experience true joy in sharing the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No longer are we concerned with simply "getting a baptism," but more with enduring conversion that comes through studying, pondering and praying.