By Jacqueline White
The two LDS Missionaries who left Utah in 1974 could never have imagined the impact their sacrifice and service would produce. In fact, they probably still don’t know. As the pair of Elders walked down a sleepy street one fall day they met a man raking leaves outside his home. The Missionaries struck up a conversation with this young handsome father of 4 which led to an invitation to return and teach a 1st Discussion. The lessons continued for TWO MORE YEARS and involved several sets of missionaries being transferred in and out of the local Ward. Eventually, after many lessons, questions and prayers the entire family—Mom, Dad, three daughters and a son were baptized. Three years later the third daughter met me in a seventh grade English class and we quickly became friends. Throughout seventh, eighth and ninth grade I was invited to various youth activities—dances, river trips, service projects, and young women events. I loved the friendships and the feeling that I had at church activities. I also loved the feeling in their home. It was small and simple with nothing fancy anywhere but there was always a pickup game of basketball in the backyard, a fun conversation around the kitchen table and everyone was always welcome.
Finally, at the beginning of 10th grade I was invited me to attend ‘an early morning bible study class’ or what I would eventually learn was Seminary. Every morning, my friends family drove 20 minutes out of their way to pick me up at 5:15am. We all faithfully attended daily early-morning Seminary for the next 3 years and as I learned more about gospel principles the beginnings of my young testimony grew and was strengthened, taking deep root in my teenage heart. This good family also dutifully picked me up each Sunday for church (until I could drive myself), again going well out of their way to do so, before a 45 minutes commute to the Ward building. Once there, dedicated Young Women’s leaders and teachers taught me well and contributed to the things I learned and grew to love about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Five years after my own baptism in 1980 I was able to become a missionary serving in Brazil teaching many wonderful people. Recently I returned to Brazil and visited with a family that joined the church after I was fortunate enough to find and teach them. They had both a son and daughter who recently returned from Missions and who also each married in the Temple.
I am amazed when I see the ripple effect that my high-school BFF started through her good, consistent example and by sharing the joy that the gospel brings. The circles of goodness expand larger and larger continuously. My friend married after our Sophomore year at BYU and is mother to five fabulous children. Sometimes she talks about never having served a formal Mission and I remind her that the missionary work she did through her example and by sharing the Gospel with me has produced extraordinary, long-lasting effects that she can be proud of. I served a Mission, married in the Temple and have had two of my own children who have served Missions. They will have children who serve and change lives as well. The family I taught and their children have also affected many through their example and missionary work. That’s a lot of good outcome for two missionaries walking down the street just doing what they were supposed to do and a 7th grader living her new found testimony out loud. Never underestimate the good you’re doing—the ripples are endless.