Missionary Moment: The Fruits of Our Labors
Contributed By By Charles E. Sampson, Church News contributor
I had the opportunity to serve a full-time mission in El Salvador from 1977 to 1979. At that time, the mission covered the entire country. This was also a time of great civil unrest in that country. We had instructions from our mission president to stay in contact with our district and zone leaders, as we found ourselves serving in areas of high risk.
During my service there, my companion and I were able to contact a family and were given permission by the parents to teach their two daughters, ages 12 and 14. After we taught them for about a month, the girls expressed a desire to be baptized. With their parents’ permission, the two girls were baptized. Even though the parents were not baptized, they were very receptive and often sat in on the discussions. Soon afterward, I was transferred to another area and, as is often the case, lost contact with the family and the two girls.
I completed my mission in September 1979, returning to my home in San Diego, California. The mission was closed the following December because of the political conflict, and missionaries serving there were sent to other missions, including the one in Guatemala and surrounding missions in other Central American countries. For the next decade and a half, only local missionaries were called to serve and teach.
In 1992, the mission was reopened, and missionaries from the United States were again called to serve there. My nephew, Elder Greg Haehl, was called to serve in the El Salvador East Mission, one of two missions then in the country. One Sunday, during a branch sacrament meeting, two women came in and asked if they were at a Mormon church. Elder Haehl said that they were, and the women expressed a desire to attend. The elders were invited to their home afterward to meet and visit with the rest of the family. As they were visiting, Elder Haehl was looking through a photo album that the family had out and saw my missionary picture. He said, “Hey, this is my uncle. Why is my uncle’s picture in your photo album?” The mother of the family said that he was the missionary that baptized her when she was 12. She had fallen away from Church activity since then. Elder Haehl and his companion soon taught the rest of the family, and the father and the older children were soon baptized.
As missionaries, we don’t often get to see what our labors have produced, especially those who serve in foreign countries. I will always be grateful to my sister for sharing this story with me while her son was serving in El Salvador.