Ashlie played in the backyard sprinklers with her new neighbor, Nicole. They screamed with delight, splashing each other in the cool water.
Ashlie stamped her wet footprint onto the porch. “I’m glad you moved in yesterday,” she said.
“Me too.” Nicole stamped her footprint next to Ashlie’s.
“Look, the same size!” Ashlie said.
Ashlie wanted to give Nicole something great, something for a new friend. She went inside to ask Mom about her idea.
“Can I give Nicole my Book of Mormon?”
“Don’t you think you should get to know her first?” Mom asked.
“But Mom, I do know her,” Ashlie said.
When it was time for Nicole to go home, Ashlie handed her a blue Book of Mormon. “I want you to have this. It’s a book about our church.”
“Thanks,” Nicole said.
But later that week, Nicole rang Ashlie’s doorbell and thrust the Book of Mormon at her. “My mom says I can’t have this. She says Mormons go to too much church.”
With tears puddling in her eyes, Ashlie showed Mom the Book of Mormon. “Maybe Nicole doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.”
“I’m sorry, Ashlie.” Mom hugged her tight. “Sometimes becoming friends takes time. In the Book of Mormon, a missionary named Ammon wanted to teach the people of Lamoni about Jesus Christ. But he decided to get to know them first by serving them.”
Ashlie wiped her eyes. She remembered how Ammon had helped guard the king’s sheep and prepare his horses and chariots.
“Because Ammon served King Lamoni and showed him love, he was able to share the gospel with the king and his people,” Mom said.
Ashlie smiled. “Maybe I can still be Nicole’s friend.”
“And we can pray as a family to be missionaries to Nicole’s family,” Mom added.
Over the next few months, Ashlie prayed for Nicole and got to know her better. They played at school and on the weekends, and they exchanged treats on holidays.
One Saturday after Christmas, Nicole and Ashlie were playing when Mom stuck her head into Ashlie’s room. “Nicole, your mom is here. It’s time for you to go home.” Mom motioned for Ashlie to come into the hall. “You could invite Nicole to church with us tomorrow,” she suggested.
“What if she doesn’t want to come?” Ashlie asked. “What if her mom says no?”
Mom squeezed Ashlie’s arm. “You don’t know until you ask. If she says yes, I’ll ask her mom.”
Ashlie went back into her room and started cleaning up.
“Maybe you could play at my house tomorrow,” Nicole said.
“I don’t play with friends on Sunday because we go to church and do family things,” Ashlie said. “But you could come to church with us.”
Ashlie walked Nicole to the door and tugged on Mom’s hand. “Nicole said yes,” she whispered.
Mom smiled and asked Nicole’s mom if Nicole and her older brother Devin could come to church.
“Well, are you sure that’s not a problem?” Nicole’s mom asked.
“We would be happy to take them,” Mom said.
Nicole’s mom smiled. “All right. What time?”
Just before it was time to leave for church the next day, Devin and Nicole came over dressed in Sunday clothes. After Primary, Nicole linked arms with Ashlie and said, “I liked the singing and lesson time the best.”
A few weeks later, Nicole came to church again. A Primary activity was announced.
“Do you want to come?” Ashlie asked.
“Yes,” Nicole said, “but I’ll have to ask my mom.”
All week Ashlie waited, but Nicole didn’t say anything about it. On Saturday morning, Mom handed Ashlie her jacket. “Go get in the van. We’re going to be late.”
“But what about Nicole?” Ashlie said. “Can I go see if she can come?”
“Sure, but hurry,” Mom said.
Nicole answered the door in her pajamas.
“Do you want to come to our Primary activity?” Ashlie asked.
“Yes. Just a minute!” Nicole shut the door, and when it finally opened again she and Devin both came out dressed and smiling.
Soon Devin started attending church with a friend he had met at the Primary activity. Nicole kept coming with Ashlie.
“Do all of you have your scriptures?” Mom asked one Sunday morning before they headed to church. Everyone said yes except for Nicole. “Would you like a Book of Mormon?” Mom asked.
Nicole nodded yes.
Ashlie was worried that Nicole would give it back, like last time.
That evening, there was a knock at the door. Devin and Nicole stood on the porch, Nicole holding her copy of the Book of Mormon.
Ashlie’s stomach flopped.
But then Devin smiled and said, “Can I have a book too? My mom says it’s OK.”
After Nicole and Devin left, Mom said, “Ashlie, you’ve been a great missionary!”
Ashlie smiled. “That’s because I got to know them first.”
“All of us have … friends who need the gospel but are not now interested. … Our efforts with them must be directed by the Lord so that we act in the way and at the time when they will be most receptive.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 8.