When a recently baptized sister in Cordoba, Argentina, stopped going to Church, her visiting teacher, Mirta Berta, didn't become discouraged, but felt strongly that she would one day return.
Although she knew the woman had been offended and was bitter, Sister Berta refused to give up on her.For more than two years, Sister Berta visited the woman with her companion, Leda de Lehite, always saying a prayer before going to her home, asking Heavenly Father for guidance and direction in befriending her.
"We wanted to show her we were really interested in her, not just in her coming back to Church," recalled Sister Berta, whose husband Gustavo Berta is now president of the Buenos Aires Argentina North Mission. "We wanted, above all, to help her resolve the internal conflict and personal problems she had in her life."
Despite the visiting teachers' consistent visits and cheerfulness, the woman rejected their attempts at establishing a friendship and refused their invitations to attend Church activities.
Little by little, however, Sister Berta and Sister Lehitenoted a softening, a gradual acceptance of their visits, and a sincere sisterhood began to develop.
When Sister Berta's husband was transferred out of the country with his job, she and the family accompanied him.
She kept up a correspondence with her friend in Cordoba, letting her know she loved her and cared about her, regardless of her status in the Church. She continued to pray for her as well, and always received the impression that the woman would come back to full activity one day.
Some time later, in 1986, the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple was dedicated, and the Bertas came back for the dedicatory ceremony. As they caught sight of the group from their former home ward, Sister Berta immediately saw that among them was her friend, accompanied by her husband and children.
"We ran toward each other and hugged and hugged, and then we wept together," recalled Sister Berta. "I don't remember what we said, but I know what we both felt in that moment."
The woman and her family were sealed in the Buenos Aires temple shortly afterward, and today are still very active in the Church.
"I've learned from this experience," Sister Berta said, "that we should never see people as they are today, but rather, how they can become. It is so important to listen by prayer to the whisperings of the Spirit, and to follow its counsel.
"I have a very strong testimony," she continued, "that when we fulfill our callings with increased love, becoming interested in the person and not in his or her activation, a return to the Church will come about as a simple consequence of the love we have demonstrated toward them."