Shining moments: 'A fair trade'

When Betty saw the two young men dressed in white shirts, dark pants and ties coming up the road, she thought, "Oh, boy. Here we go again." She had seen the missionaries many times and had even spoken with them before.

The elderly woman lived alone on the East Coast of the U.S. She was just beginning to recover from a serious illness. She thought if she could plant a little flower bed outside her home, perhaps it would cheer her up.

The digging was slow and tedious. The hardened ground had not been broken in years. But she felt determined to try, so she brought out a folding chair and began shoveling. She had dug only a short time before she realized the project could take most of the summer.

That was when the two young men in white shirts, dark pants and ties approached.

"You're wasting your time," she told them.

The elders smiled and, noticing the difficulty she was having, asked if they could help her with her garden.

"No!" she said. "You'll get dirty."

But the young men insisted, so she told them they would have to change into work clothes. The missionaries changed and went to work. They dug up and prepared the garden. They made a little gravel path to the mailbox.

"All this time, we talked," she said. "How young and strong — not only in body and mind but in faith in their God. Their kindness and love of the Lord God was like a heavenly balm soothing my tired soul. Your Church certainly outdid its best when bringing up those two."

While they worked, they talked of prayer and of the Book of Mormon. Betty made what she called a "fair trade" with the missionaries. If they would be willing to memorize the 23rd Psalm, she would read the Book of Mormon.

"I read it all night," she said. "Slowly. Until well after the sun came up. I'm marking in it now. Over one passage I wrote, 'Great truth!' Over another I wrote, 'Beautiful!"'

Not long after this experience, Betty wrote an 18-page handwritten letter to Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. She thanked leaders for sending the elders to help her dig her garden. — Neil K. Newell, Welfare Services

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