The Message:

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. In order to go to the airport, I, with my luggage, climbed into a taxi that was parked near the hotel entrance. I 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?

    Many thoughts crossed my mind. 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 make an honest living for his family and would be very disappointed if he could not make that lucrative half-hour trip to the airport.

    I made the decision 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 flying 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 gave it another try, and this time it worked. 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.”

    I confirmed that this was true, and 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. They had been waiting for their driver to bring one more piece of luggage. She said that on the way to the airport they had talked a lot about the incident and had wondered: “What makes this man tick? If he can afford to stay in the Borobudur Hotel, why would he take the trouble to push a taxicab at 6:00 A.M. in the morning?”

    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 sound human relations.” What a great opening line for a missionary!

    Well, to cut a long story short, 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 in 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 involved in ticketing, reservations, check-in counter work, baggage claim area assisting, etc., how to get along well 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 use that beautiful book Spiritual Roots of Human Relations, written by Brother Stephen R. Covey of Brigham Young University, to let these people know what makes Mormons tick!”

    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 at the right time in the right place, exactly as it was revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith:

    “Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;

    “For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.” (D&C 100:5–6.)

    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 suffer from the “proselyting-only syndrome” but grasp every opportunity to reach out to our fellowmen.

    “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” (D&C 123:17.)

    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!

    Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh