Louise joined the LDS Church a year and a half ago in England. Recently, she was on a train and some young men boarded who were loud, raucous and "insultingly offensive." At first she was disgusted, then mad, then sad as she realized that these young men were fairly "normal" by the world's standards.
In fact, Louise supposed, at age 24, that several years ago she wasn't much different than these youths. Now, however, much has changed in her life, and as she listened to them a feeling of gratitude overtook her: gratitude for Mormon missionaries who kept returning and contacting her even when she was not keen to listen.
Louise recounted that a week before she met the missionaries on the street, she had been praying for help, "crying on my knees, and God sent the missionaries." Still, when they spoke to her she was hesitant about letting them come round to her flat. She had already "turned away lots of missionaries." Additionally, her family, when they learned she was meeting with them, "tried to get her to oppose them."
What was different this time was that Louise was not only ready, but as she listened, she was increasingly eager to learn. So eager that, as she explained, "I didn't know you could be baptized so fast."
At her baptism she recalled coming out of the water, feeling the Spirit and "being clean."
Her message to a Utah County audience was rather profound, especially because, in a predominantly LDS community, it is sometimes easy to become complacent. Louise spoke of the need each member should have to "desire to share the gospel" and of the need to "keep our covenants." At baptism we promised to "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all places."
We also promised to "bear one another's burdens." She suggested, "The next time you see someone struggle and feel to sit back — don't!" Rather, "remember that Jesus died for you and live a life worthy of his sacrifice." On the other side of the equation we should see it as "wonderful when others try to lighten our burdens. When others try to serve you, let them. Many are looking for service."
After her baptism she took up good deeds, "little things, but I realized they were enough." She babysat for others, went to the shop for a neighbor, smiled at someone, smiled back when someone smiled at her, gave away her last square of chocolate. She explained why she felt compelled to do this: "Missionaries don't have to take on our trials with us, but they do, and they do it with a smile — just like Jesus." With the gospel Louise now knows, "I never have to be scared about facing the world alone again — the Savior is there." Additionally, "We don't have to be perfect straight away."
As Louise listened to the men on the train, her displeasure turned to feelings of guilt for initially judging them harshly because she realized "their time has not come yet. So many do not know about the church, but ALL will have a chance."
For Louise, "Hearing, learning about the gospel was a miracle." When she "learned we have a prophet" she "knew this church was true." She testified, "Jesus is with us. Even if we make mistakes we're worth dying for. Even when we make mistakes we are beautiful to Jesus. We're here to help each other."
The truth and power of her words reminded me of Joseph Smith's admonition in the Doctrine and Covenants, "There are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men ... and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it."
The Prophet continued, commissioning each member of the church, "Therefore ... we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things ... truly manifest from heaven — These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things. ... Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God."
As Louise spoke, it was impossible to miss her enthusiasm and her joy, having found the gospel of Jesus Christ. She understands as we must understand what it means to be a member of Christ's church and why we should "waste and wear out our lives" in sharing the gospel with others. She quoted from Alma, "Whosoever (is baptized), and keepeth the commandments of God ... he shall have eternal life."