03433_000_004Through the trees I saw a row of houses. I knew we had to go back there tomorrow.
The cool evening air felt good on my face as my companion and I were frantically riding our bikes back to our apartment to make it home on time. The May weather had been typical for Texas, hot and humid, so the crisp evening air was a welcome feeling.
I began thinking of the success we were enjoying in the city of Brownsville. A family of five was baptized last month and another family of five was to be baptized this month. Suddenly that warm, familiar, and welcome feeling came over me, and I was prompted to look back. Through the trees I saw a row of houses a little way off the road—houses I had never noticed before!
When we reached the apartment I told my companion, Elder Maughn, that we needed to go back to those houses in the morning and meet a few people. Then we planned our day for the ’morrow and went to bed. I could hardly sleep for the excitement of that day. We had challenged a family to be baptized, and they accepted, and now it seemed that the Lord had more people for us to teach.
The morning came not too soon for me. After a shower, breakfast, and study class, we headed out for the houses I had noticed the last night. It was easy to see why we had missed them before. Somehow between the junkyard and bushes and the low-hanging trees, there was a road. Actually, it was more like an alley. It was so rough that we could hardly get our bikes down it.
There were about seven houses down this road, so we began at the first and worked our way to the last. Yes, number six was the house. We knocked at the door, and a woman answered. Her face radiated with a warm, kind, and protective glow. We introduced ourselves and said we had a brief message about the Lord. She invited us into a small, two-room house.
As we entered the living room, we were greeted by no less than five children, ages ranging from eleven down to two. The children giggled as we spoke to them. We told her we would like to return when the father was home, and she invited us back that evening.
The rest of the day my head was spinning with thoughts of how we would teach the family. We knew with the Lord’s help and consent we would help this family become members of his church.
Somewhere between banging on doors and lunch a fearful thought came over me. Tithing! Reflecting back about that family we visited earlier that morning, I wondered how they would accept the principle of tithing. I thought of that family of seven and their home, which apparently had only the bare necessities. The kitchen had just a table and benches in it. The other room, which was divided in half and separated only by a curtain, was both the bedroom and the living room. The only furniture in this room was one chair and a tattered couch. How would this family be able to budget tithing?
Paying an honest tithe seemed to be a stumbling block to some of the people we had taught before, and I worried about this all day. Silently I prayed that this family would gain a strong testimony before we were to teach the principle of tithing to them.
Again the cool evening air felt good on my face as we rode back to that home to meet the father and begin teaching his family. The father held as many of the children as he could, and the others huddled close by. We felt a warm, familiar feeling as we visited with them and explained our message about the Lord’s true church.
After a brief prayer we started with the filmstrip Man’s Search for Happiness. It would keep the children interested, and parents always seemed to enjoy it. I glanced over at the mother during the part about leaving the premortal existence, and I thought I saw traces of tears in her eyes. I couldn’t help but again glance over at her during the part about death and our spirit returning home to loved ones. Yes, this time it was plainly clear. That sweet mother had tears in her eyes and half way down her face.
The mother was still wiping away the tears when the film ended, so I quickly bore my testimony to the truthfulness of the concepts taught in the film and the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We then proceeded into the rest of the discussion. It was accepted well, very well. After arranging another appointment for the next night, we offered prayer and were on our way.
I noticed that there was no car in front of the house, and again I wondered how they would accept the principle of tithing.
When we reached our apartment, Elder Maughn and I knelt down and prayed. We prayed to our Heavenly Father to bless this family with a strong testimony and to provide a way that they could keep the commandments.
When we knelt for personal prayer I stayed on my knees a little longer than usual before climbing into bed. When the time came, how could we present the commandment of tithing so the Spirit would touch them with a testimony and a desire to keep it?
The family was progressing well. Every lesson was a spiritual experience for all of us. Members visited them and took them to church. Finally the challenge was given to be baptized, and they accepted.
The next step was the lesson on the commandments. I cleverly arranged it so my companion would present the concept on tithing. Yes, I would give the first concept, he the second which was tithing, then I would continue with the third and so on. This way I wouldn’t have to ask the family to keep the law of tithing and wonder about their answer.
That moment seemed to come all too soon. When we entered the home that evening and settled down for the lesson I began the discussion with the first concept. Before I had completed two sentences the father eagerly asked a question, and my companion answered it and continued on with my concept! He then finished the first concept, and now it was my turn—tithing! I said a quick silent prayer and proceeded with confidence.
I explained what the word tithe meant, how it was a commandment anciently and now also in our day. Then I came to the part I dreaded—to ask the family to keep the law of tithing. This fine brother answered back, but I was so worried that I didn’t hear the answer. I hurriedly continued on with the concept and then realized he had answered yes! I was then at the part where the question was to be repeated so I confidently asked again, “Will you keep the law of tithing?” Again the answer was yes. I then bore my testimony with tears in my eyes that it was a true commandment and that many blessings would follow.
That following Sunday, just a week before the family was to be baptized, I looked eagerly for them. When Sunday School began, the family was not there. I didn’t see them anywhere. Perhaps they had decided they couldn’t keep the commandments after all, I thought to myself. I wondered if the problem was tithing.
Then just before sacrament meeting started, in through the front doors walked the family. I hurried to greet them. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear I’m sure. They explained that they had walked all the way, at least four miles I think, and the father carried two of the little ones.
We sat down in time for the meeting to start, and all I could think about was this family. What an example to me. I loved them already, and I had only known them for three weeks.
After sacrament the mother grabbed me and pulled me aside and said, “Here, Elder Myers. Here’s ten dollars. My husband gets paid every two weeks, and we wanted to start paying tithing now.” I stood there for what seemed like an eternity and just looked at the mother, with sincerity and humbleness written all over her face. I looked at the ten dollars. Her husband made two hundred dollars a month, and they were willing to keep the law of tithing. What a faithful family.
I guess I hesitated too long, for the mother said, “Isn’t it enough?” I quickly turned my head for tears began to fill my eyes. I found the second counselor in the bishopric and asked him to explain to this good sister about filling out the tithing slip.
As he explained the process to her, I slipped away to an empty room. I tried to hold back the tears, but “Here, Elder Myers” kept ringing in my ears. I thanked my Father in Heaven for this great opportunity and the testimony he had given to this family.
That following week the family was baptized.
Even now that I have returned home from my mission and have continued on with my life, I still think of this wonderful family and the great lesson they taught me about tithing. Every time I pay tithing I can still hear those words from that sweet sister, “Here, Elder Myers. Isn’t it enough?”