The Day I Pushed a Taxi

By Elder Jacob de Jager

Of the First Quorum of the Seventy

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    After a recent mission tour in Indonesia when I visited the missionaries and the Saints on the island of Java, I had to catch an early morning flight to Singapore, and I checked out of the hotel at 6:00 A.M. I climbed into a taxi that was parked near the hotel entrance and told the driver to go to the international airport, but alas, his car would not start. Apparently the battery was dead.

    Well, what do you do in such a case? I calculated that it would probably cost me much time to unload my luggage and find another taxi, and it also occurred to me that the taxi driver was trying hard to earn enough money to provide for his family and would be very disappointed if he could not earn the large fare he would get for the half-hour trip to the airport.

    I decided to do my morning exercises by pushing the taxi, leaving the Indonesian cab driver behind the steering wheel to start the car. However, he greatly overestimated the early morning physical power of a Dutchman and released the clutch of the car before I had been able to give the car adequate speed. As a result, it came to a sudden halt. But I tried again and this time it started. With a roaring motor the taxi moved forward. I flung open the door, jumped in, and we were on our way.

    An hour and a half later when I boarded my flight, the air hostess who greeted me at the door of the plane said: “I am surprised to see you here! You are the gentleman who pushed the taxi in front of the Borobudur Hotel this morning.”

    She then told me that all the members of the plane crew had witnessed the scene from the airport limousine parked at a side door of the hotel. She said that on the way to the airport they had talked a lot about the incident and had wondered: “What kind of a man is this? If he can afford to stay in the Borobudur Hotel, why would he work to push a taxicab at 6:00 A.M.?

    I thought, “This is my chance to do missionary work!” I took a name card out of my wallet, handed it over to her, and said, “We in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in good human relations.”

    The air hostess told me she was not actually a stewardess but was flight services instructor for Cathay Pacific Airways and had boarded this flight to evaluate the performance of some students she had taught in the cabin crew training school in Hong Kong. That enabled me to make another statement about the Church: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the largest educational institution in the world today. At least 2 million people teach one another on a weekly basis with divinely inspired lesson materials.” I further explained to her that a great deal of my time is spent teaching missionaries and members of the Church in the nine missions of Southeast Asia.

    She remarked: “Then you are maybe the man we are looking for—an experienced air traveler with the ability to teach our personnel how to be friendly with customers.” I told her that I would gladly do it free of charge whenever they planned another initial or refresher course in Hong Kong and when these dates would not interfere with my other Church assignments. I thought then and there: “What a golden opportunity to let these people know what makes Mormons behave as they do!”

    After my return to Hong Kong, I was approached by the training manager of the airline, who had received a report from the flight services instructor. I made an appointment and spent a couple of hours with him in his office. He was greatly impressed by the work and the achievements of the Church.

    I am sure I will have the opportunity to reach out to many souls in the future simply because of what the world observed when they saw the Church in action one early morning in Jakarta, Indonesia.

    We all have our opportunities to do missionary work. People watch us. It is just a matter of finding the right approach to the right time in the right place.

    Let us all be reminded again that “there are many yet on the earth … who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.” (D&C 123:12.)

    This Church was, is, and will always be a missionary Church. Let us not think that missionary work should only be done by officially called missionaries but grasp every opportunity to share the gospel with our fellowmen.

    The gospel is true. Jesus is the Christ. His church has been restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Let us share this glorious message by all available, honorable means!