Missionary Moment: Simple Mishap Leads Young Woman to the Church

Contributed By Wayne L. Davis, Church News contributor

  • 1 January 2015

The missionaries were waiting for someone else at the institute when Tarin happened to be just outside.

Article Highlights

  • Tarin was in the right place at the right time to meet the missionaries and eventually join the Church.

“Through their shock I told them that I was glad to listen to them because I was already interested in the Church.” —Tarin Virgil, member in Rocklin, California

It was a hot summer day as Tarin Virgil headed to the college bus stop in Rocklin, California. As the heat of the afternoon took its toll, Tarin decided to take a breather under a tree on the side of the road. As she paused, Tarin didn’t notice the sign indicating that she was standing outside of an Institute of Religion building for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What she also did not know was that her life was about to change.

Earlier that day, Brother Paul Watkins, the institute director, had come to the building to complete some work. Though classes were not in session, he had agreed to have the institute building open for the missionaries to teach a young woman they had previously met. When she did not show up at the appointed time, the missionaries continued to wait. Brother Watkins at some point looked outside and, seeing Tarin, supposed that she was the young woman the missionaries were waiting to teach. He opened the door, grabbed Tarin by the hand, pulled her into the building, and, with a smile, said, “Hi there, we’ve been waiting for you!”

Never has a case of mistaken identity been such a blessing and such a turnaround as it was about to be for Tarin. She was quickly introduced to Elder Dimick and his companion. Before long, they realized that Tarin was not the young woman they were waiting to teach. What happened next was certainly surprising to the missionaries. For several years Tarin had been aware of the Church through several friends who were members. She had even thought about possibly joining the Church but did not know how.

Missionaries teaching.

In Tarin’s words, she describes that first meeting with the missionaries at the Rocklin institute and what transpired after that warm day in June. “Through their shock I told them that I was glad to listen to them because I was already interested in the Church. They quickly refocused and offered to teach me about the Restoration. At some point during the lesson, Elder Dimick even spoke about baptism and explained that he and his companion were available on July 5 and would I like to become baptized? And I agreed! They finished the lesson and gave me a reading assignment from the Book of Mormon. While I was still on my way home I started to read the assigned passages. The words spoke to me and I felt them deeply and I knew that the words were true.”

“Later that day I attended the YSA activity. I saw the elders again and told them about my experience reading the Book of Mormon, and then they asked me if I was available on Friday to receive another lesson and I agreed. They also contacted the Colfax elders who lived closer to where I lived. I met with them that next Saturday and they gave me a tour of the chapel and taught me again. Elder Miller and Elder Ewell taught me often during the next several weeks until I finally attended my first Church meetings. In church I felt very welcome and that I belonged.”

Months later Tarin returned, passing the shade tree, and walked into the institute building, this time as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She walked up to Brother Watkins and asked him if he remembered meeting her. As he sorted through the faces and names in his mind, Tarin explained that she was the girl whom he had pulled into the building to meet the missionaries and proceeded to share with him the rest of her story. How grateful she was that he had reached out and invited her into the institute building and into the gospel.

Brother Watkins spoke the truth when he said that we had been waiting for her. Heavenly Father knew who she was, and He knew the time was right for Tarin to be taught the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Tarin has since enrolled in an institute class and is enjoying what she is learning with both old and new friends.

Who in our lives is, like Tarin, waiting to have us reach out and say, “Hi there, we’ve been waiting for you”? Throughout his service as a General Authority, President Thomas S. Monson has been a wonderful example of reaching out to others and has “emphasized a need for the ‘rescue’ of our brothers and sisters from many different situations which may be depriving them of all the blessings the gospel can provide” (“Reach Out to Rescue,” by President Thomas S. Monson about his five-year anniversary of his call to be prophet and president of the Church).

Our Savior Jesus Christ said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, … that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). Perhaps one day, Christ will open the door and indicate that He has been waiting for us. He will know us then because He knows each of us now. As Tarin shared with Brother Watkins, “I know this Church is true because of the experience that I’ve had. I know that Heavenly Father is there for us when we need Him. We just need to ask.”

Wayne L. Davis is the manager of communications for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion in the Church Educational System.