I remember fondly a time when I was a missionary in Austria when we were able to help one man lift himself above life's troubles. My companion and I frequently walked through the main park in Vienna looking for people to share our message with. One late summer's day, our eyes met with a slightly disheveled-looking man. After introducing ourselves, we sat down and began to talk with him.
His name was Joseph; he was Jewish and from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. He spoke Russian and Hebrew and some German. However, he was a little slow in his learning abilities. He did not seem to be in a position to receive and understand the gospel. But we offered to bring him a Book of Mormon in Russian. He agreed and gave us his address.Several days later, we found ourselves outside Vienna's main homeless shelter. This was the address we had been given. When Joseph saw us, he seemed very embarrassed and a little shocked. We began to learn a little about him. His family had left Georgia and settled in Israel. After his parents had passed away, Joseph moved to Austria. He had been jobless for many years.
Our hearts felt for this sweet man. He had no family, no friends and very little joy in his life. We agreed to meet him every Tuesday. Our meetings were very uplifting; we became great friends. We taught him of Jesus and taught him how to pray. We promised him he would feel good if he would try to read a little in the Book of Mormon each day. He was particularly thrilled to learn that Jesus Christ was the Jewish Messiah.
He came to Church one Sunday looking like a changed man. He was clean-shaven, had his hair cut and was wearing some clean new clothes. He had been given an apartment by the state. He was so excited to invite us to see his new home. He had found self-respect for the first time in years. It was a joy to see.
We continued to visit Joseph for several months, helping where we could and offering our friendship. He learned and accepted what he could of the gospel. Not only was he a better man for our friendship - but also were we.