The Mustard-Seed Teacher


It had been 12 years since I had left my beloved California home and ward to remarry. With the Lord’s help, I had slowly rebuilt and achieved new goals. But I longed to visit dear friends who had shared the joys and the challenge of living in an area where Church members were a minority.

“Sometimes it isn’t good to relive the past,” my family members said. Nevertheless, I made the trip. At my old house, I marveled that the seedlings I had planted years before were now large trees shading the property. Overwhelmed with emotion, I left the spot and drove down the street. Old landmarks were hazily familiar. What was I doing here?

Then I sighted the spire of the local Church meeting-house, and I drove to my favorite parking spot. Though still not sure exactly what I was looking for, I began to feel more peaceful as I strolled through the church grounds. Rounding a hedge, I nearly bumped into a young man who was pulling weeds. He jumped to his feet, and I noticed that he had a fresh missionary haircut.

As I apologized, he looked at me strangely and said, “Aren’t you the mustard-seed teacher?”

I looked at him in puzzlement.

“Yes, I think you are,” he said. “You were my first Primary teacher. I could never resist coming to your class because of the clues about the lesson you always taped to the door. The picture of the jar of mustard was my favorite. I remember obediently carrying home my bag of tiny mustard seeds after your lesson about the parable. After that, I always thought of you as the mustard-seed teacher.”

The memory flooded back to me of a recently baptized woman bringing her seven-year-old son, Chandler, to my CTR classroom. Here was the same boy, now a young man.

“Your lessons made me want to be a good Latter-day Saint,” he said.

I was thrilled to hear that Chandler had recently submitted his application for a mission. As we spoke, I realized that his testimony was another tree that I’d help plant and nourish. When he was a young boy, his testimony had been embryonic, perhaps even “less than all the seeds that be in the earth” (Mark 4:31). Now the strength of his testimony made him a mighty tree in the Lord’s vineyard.

Silently thanking the Lord, I vowed to keep sowing grains of faith and to trust in their promise and strength.

[illustration] Illustrated by Gregg Thorkelson