Missionary moments: New missionary

"We have a new missionary in our ward. Elder Smith, please come up and bear your testimony." The bishop then turned and sat down.

"I am Elder (Stephen Richard) Smith from Canada." As the young man went on, my mind flooded with memories of my own missionary experiences in British Columbia. Even 30 years later, those memories warmed my soul. I vowed I would visit with Elder Smith.

After sacrament meeting, I found him just outside the front door. After introducing myself, I inquired, "Elder Smith, where are you from?"

"British Columbia."

My heart began to pound. Maybe he knew someone I had known so long ago.

"What part of British Columbia?" He told me he was from Salmon Arm.

My heart beat faster. Salmon Arm was a small town, located in a heavily forested area, just north of the beautiful Okanagan Valley, but it was where I had spent a significant part of my mission. It was there that I had baptized a 14-year-old girl, Mary Murray, whose faith and testimony touched me still. One of the most profound experiences of my mission came as the Spirit powerfully confirmed the truthfulness of the gospel as I bore testimony in their living room in that beautiful little town.

Some years later she had married a Terry Smith, and last I heard they still lived in Salmon Arm. Hoping against hope, I asked the next question.

"Who is your mother?"

"Mary Murray Smith."

Tears immediately filled my eyes. This young elder, so full of the Spirit, was the son of that 14-year-old girl. All those days of tracting through snow, of having doors slammed, now came home.

Quietly, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I responded, "I baptized your mother."

As the reality of that statement struck, he, too, started to cry, and we embraced there in the parking lot of the Studio City Ward far removed from Salmon Arm, British Columbia. I had taught and baptized his mother, and he was teaching and baptizing my neighbors and friends. — Dennis A. Barlow, Burbank, Calif.

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