Missionary Moment: Humbled by a Winter Coat
Contributed By Rochelle R. Hale, Church News contributor
- Although one missionary was initially disappointed by the appearance of a coat that an elderly woman made her, she was grateful for the grandmother’s sacrifice.
I was about 12 when I went on an unforgettable shopping trip with my mother and grandmother. As we completed our purchases, we walked by a more exclusive area of the department store and saw racks of beautiful winter coats. Our favorite was a gorgeous, red, curly, wool coat with black trim, and I was urged to try it on. As with Cinderella’s shoe, it was a perfect fit, but we could only laugh and dream together as it was far too expensive.
Fast forward, about 10 years. I had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I was serving as a missionary in the Argentina Rosario Mission. A friend’s grandmother was from Argentina, and we had gotten well acquainted when she visited her family on vacation. She admonished me to come to her home if I ever got to her city.
Sure enough, a few months later my companion and I were knocking on her door. During our visit she asked me if I had a good, warm coat for the approaching winter. I told her I had only brought along an all-purpose overcoat, and that I thought it would be sufficient. She then said she wanted to make me a coat. My memories immediately returned to the beautiful, red wool of my dreams, and I fancied I would be wearing it very soon.
A week or so later, we visited this elderly sister again in eager anticipation of shopping together to pick out a coat pattern and fabric. That was not to be. From out of the back room she proudly brought out an ugly, brown coat that looked like it had been made from old car-seat upholstery and insulation. My heart sank as I graciously accepted her gift. It fit well, except the sleeves were too short. I was hoping the brown coat would be “only temporary,” but the subject never came up again. It was all I could do to fight off the tears and realize that, once again, I would not be wearing my dream coat.
Though my dreams were dashed, I did not let my disappointment show. I kept that ugly, unfashionable coat, not only while I served in this dear lady’s city, but throughout my mission. Layered over sweaters and under my overcoat, it kept me toasty throughout the cold, wet winter, and every time I wore it I thought of the sacrifice of this sweet grandmother and the humility and extreme gratitude her gift taught me.
—Rochelle R. Hale is from the Simi 5th Ward, Simi Valley California Stake.