Returned missionaries, have you ever wondered what happened to the people you taught or baptized on your mission?
Here is the story of a woman who was the only person baptized in her small town. She is typical of thousands who are baptized and, as they grow in strength, help build the kingdom of God on the earth. Accompanying her story are pieces of artwork featuring elders and sisters and couple missionaries.
“Dear Elder, Do you remember the rutted driveway you and your companion walked up that windy March morning to the house by the maple tree? Do you remember the woman in the flannel shirt smeared with soot from the window screens she was hosing down? Do you remember her three little girls? Do you sometimes wonder what happened to us?
“I want you to know. I’m past 75 now, but that woman was me, 46 years ago. The town was Steeleville, Illinois, population 1,200, with five churches, all well attended. Most of the people in town seemed very aware of God, but I was not sure I knew much about Him. I decided to study other religions of the world; maybe one of them would help me.
“You two missionaries wanted to teach me. At first I did not want to waste your time because I was not going to join your church. But, ‘Why not?’ I thought. I knew so little about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that my search might as well begin with it. I told you to come back later in the week when my husband could be home.
“Of the 1,200 people in town, just two listened to you, and one rejected the gospel. I was baptized just outside Steeleville in a strip mine lake about 8:00 a.m. one morning with the coal trucks rumbling by. The clouds thinned a little, and the sun seemed brighter as the baptism was completed.
“Over the years, I was influential in the teaching of two others who were baptized. My three little girls grew up and married. They gave me 12 grandchildren—seven boys and five girls. Three boys have served missions: one in São Paulo, Brazil; one in Baltimore, Maryland; and one in Arizona among the Native Americans.
“Though my husband and I eventually divorced, I remarried after several years. My husband is a temple worker. I have additional children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who benefit from the ways the gospel touches our lives.
“Over the years I have worked on my family history. There are more than 3,500 names in my computer. I have also served a welfare services mission.
“I’m glad you and your companions, whose faces I can see but whose names I cannot remember, taught me before I got around to studying those other faiths.
“When you baptized me, perhaps you thought it was a small thing—just one person out of a whole town. But I want you to see something of what you started.
“Thanks, elder, wherever you are!”
Called to Serve, by Don Christensen, oil on panel, 2003, Merit Award.
I Will Remember the Covenant, by Enrique Manuel Garcia, oil on panel, 1999.
Spreading Truth and Light, by Larry Wade, oil on panel, 1999.
Missionaries, by Ljiljana C. Fulepp, oil on glass, 1990.
Golden Harvest, by Marilee B. Campbell, pastel on paper, 1993.
Unfading Missionaries, by Juei Ing Chen, ink on paper, 1996.
Fishers of Men, by Mary Ann Wright, oil on canvas, 1990.
By the Springs of Water Shall He Guide Them, by Julia W. Whetman, oil on canvas, 1993.