When the ward mission leader dropped by to arrange a split with the full-time missionaries, their response was immediate – and, thankfully, positive.
The father was free Wednesday night; so was the 18-year-old son.At the appointed time, the father-son duo arrived at the missionaries' apartment.
At first blush, these look pretty much like your garden variety full-time missionaries: white shirts (just a little wrinkled), trimmed hair, dark trousers, polished shoes – and, despite the near 100-degree heat, a radiant countenance.
That one elder is from Montana and the other from Lithuania illuminates the worldwide scope of the Church.
Even more impressive, however, is their singleness and unity of purpose, despite their varied and diverse backgrounds. These are missionaries who are full of honesty and integrity, who want to serve the God they know. They aren't perfect, but they strive – with laudable consistency – to improve themselves and magnify their labors.
The evening's proselyting brought no miracles – at least of the Alma the Younger or the four sons of Mosiah caliber. But it did bring a continuation of the simple pattern that allowed Alma, Ammon, Aaron, Omner and Himni to have their great success.
". . .they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
"But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God." (Alma 17:2-3)
Consequently, all whose paths they crossed – investigators, members, priesthood leaders – were touched by the spirit the missionaries brought. And, without doing anything out of the ordinary, they subtly blessed many lives.
Perhaps none was more influenced than the two part-time teachers: a father, recalling his full-time missionary service, and a son, just a few months shy of his.
"It makes me wish I could leave for my mission right now," the son said.
In another part of the Lord's vineyard, another young elder accepts a call to serve as a district leader. Among the thousands of district leaders serving worldwide, he looks pretty much like the typical new district leader. (See description of full-time elders above – and add "apprehensive.")
Willing to serve but wondering how he, barely 20 years old, can appropriately determine the worthiness of candidates for baptism, he seeks counsel from older missionaries, his mission president and the Lord.
At lunch, the 7-year-old son of a member displays an orange seed and asks the elders what it is. They, of course, say it is an orange seed. "Wrong," the lad tells them. "It's not an orange seed, it's a potential orange tree."
Thoughts of divine potential, the plan of salvation and exaltation, and the scriptural testimony that the Lord looketh upon the heart (see 1 Samuel 17:2) fill the district leader's mind. He learns because he is taught by the Spirit. He sees no burning bush, feels no quaking earth. But he is nonetheless touched – and changed.
Similarly, there are no miracles when he interviews that first investigator – unless you count the subtle, but unmistakable influence of the Spirit.
The work continues – in the Lord's way.
"Thy Spirit, Lord, has stirred our souls, And by its inward shining glow; We see anew our sacred goal. And feel thy nearness here below; No burning bush near Sinai Could show thy presence, Lord, more nigh. (Hymns, No. 157.)
Knowing that the Lord will do His work in His way allows His servants freedom from worry and concern. We simply serve – with all our heart, might, mind and strength (see D&C Section 4) – and the Lord takes care of the rest. Omnipotent, the Lord sometimes responds with a great miracle; other times He simply touches a heart. When the heart is correctly influenced, the method of that influence is of little consequence.