There was a lady in
My companion had been out only a month, and his Japanese was . . . really, really bad - to be charitable. One day, as we rode our bikes to her apartment, he asked if we just could read from the scriptures with her - not answer any questions or teach anything new, but just read. He said he had felt impressed to do so, and it felt good, so I agreed.
We started in the Bible and ended up in the Book of Mormon reading 2 Nephi 31. After we had alternated verses with her throughout that chapter, she asked us to stop while she read it again (the entire chapter) silently to herself. When she finished, my companion asked me to translate for him as he simply said, “Sister S, would you like to be baptized?” As soon as I had finished translating for him, she burst into tears - and the Spirit was as tangible as I have ever felt in my life. (Given some of the miraculous things I have witnessed, that is saying something.) When she was able to speak, she said something like, “Now I know what the love of God feels like.”
She was a sweet, honest woman, so she told the other church members of her decision. They immediately sent eight members over to her house, forced their way through her door and spent eight hours belittling us and the Church and her witness - refusing to leave as she begged them to stop. When they finally left, she booked a flight to
She had called her aunt and uncle, who were like second parents to her - and whose judgment she respected more than anyone else she knew. She didn’t know how to break the news of her testimony to such devout Buddhists, so she didn’t say anything - until they cautiously told her Sunday morning that they were going to church later that day at the Mormon Church where they had been baptized two months previously - and that she didn’t have to go with them since they didn’t think she would understand their decision. When she told them of her experience, they burst into tears - amazed at what had happened.
Obviously, as soon as she returned to
That experience taught me so forcefully that it isn’t the missionaries who convert. Of course, we need to know the Gospel as well as we can, but Sister S wasn’t converted because we had been able to answer her questions and “convince” her we were right. We HAD been able to answer her questions through the scriptures, but it hadn’t converted her. That came through a simple meeting where we read scriptures with her, something touched her heart, and a humble, sincere missionary who couldn’t teach the Gospel in Japanese well enough to convince a three-year-old asked her if she wanted to be baptized. He didn’t “challenge” her; he simply asked if that is what she wanted. It literally changed my perspective of missionary work - ironically, by humbling me to be able to accept what my parents and leaders had told me all my life.
I am SO grateful that I was called to serve in a foreign speaking mission, because I’m not sure I could have learned that life-altering lesson teaching in a language where I would have been tempted to impress investigators with my vocabulary and what I thought at the time was a solid understanding of the Gospel. If that had been my only memorable experience during my entire mission, it would have been worth it.