Getting Things Started

Kim and Neil Davis were getting nervous.

You see, they come from a very goal-oriented family with six children, and they always help each other accomplish the things they set out to do. When they set a goal as a family, there’s almost no stopping them.

That’s why they were getting anxious now. Time was growing short. They’d set a goal to introduce a new family to the gospel every six months, and here it was, the last week of that time period, and not one interested family had materialized.

They’d fulfilled this goal many times in the past. When the Davises had lived in Boston and Washington, D.C., they could introduce lots of families to the gospel. “Not only would we have them over for the missionary discussions,” says Kim, 16, the oldest daughter, “but we’d invite them to family home evenings, pumpkin carvings, have Easter egg coloring parties, and special Christmas programs.”

But now the family was back in Utah, and it wasn’t as easy finding non-LDS families to share the gospel with. The end of their six-month time frame was looming near, and they hadn’t found anyone. The Davises knew theirs was a righteous desire, so they had family prayers and fasted. The six children each asked for help in their individual prayers.

And then, on the last day of the sixth month, their prayers were answered.

“My dad is used to receiving foreign mail from doctors asking for copies of articles,” explains Kim. Her father, Dr. Kim Davis, has done research and been published in a number of medical journals. “So when he picked up the letter from Hungary, he didn’t think much of it, until he opened it and read what was inside.”

“We were so excited!” says Neil, age 13. The letter was from a family in Hungary. They had seen a television documentary about Utah on Hungarian national television, and it had mentioned the Mormons and some of their beliefs. What had impressed this family most was the idea that families could be together forever. They wanted to know more about a church which taught that, so the father, being a doctor, and the son, being a medical resident, pored over back medical journals until they found an address in Utah. It happened to be Dr. Davis’s. The Hungarian family asked if their letter could be forwarded to some information center.

There was no need for that. The Davises went immediately down to the distribution center and collected all the Church information they could find in Hungarian. They put it in a box, and shipped it to their newfound investigator family.

Then they went home and wrote their testimonies of the gospel. They put those in an envelope, along with pictures of their family, and sent them to the Keresztis as well.

The Keresztis were amazed when they received a big box so soon from the United States and eagerly began reading the material. They were even more amazed when they received the letter and found that such a large family could be so close and have such strong testimonies of the gospel. Though the Keresztis had only one child, which is quite common in Hungary, they felt just as strong about family unity and were ecstatic to find something to help them.

Soon the Davises and the Keresztis were exchanging letters and pictures frequently. “We grew very close,” says Kim. “When we got a letter from them, our whole family would pass it around, and we’d read it at family home evening. We were so excited to see how they were accepting the gospel in Hungary, and we couldn’t believe it was happening to us.”

In the meantime, the Davises contacted the mission president in Vienna, Austria. Through him, the Keresztis were able to have missionary discussions about once a month.

“When we got the letter saying they were going to be baptized in Vienna, Austria, it was really neat,” says Neil. “And when we got pictures taken after their baptism, that was great!”

This would be a fine place to end Kim and Neil’s story, but there’s more. The Kereszti’s son, Zsolt, was the only LDS single adult in Hungary, so Dr. Davis invited him to come to Salt Lake City and live with his family for a while. Since Zsolt had medical training, he could help Dr. Davis with his laser research.

So now the Davis’s missionary efforts resulted in a new big brother for the family. What’s it like to suddenly have a friend from Hungary move in?

“I remember the first day he came,” says Kim. “We couldn’t even pronounce his name. But since then, we’ve become really close. I go to early-morning seminary, and he takes me. He’s come to our school and spoken, he’s cooked us Hungarian dinners, he’s taught us a little of the Hungarian language, and we’ve done a lot of other special things together.”

“I was kind of shy at first,” says Neil, who was the oldest son in the house when Zsolt arrived. “We’d go out and play racquetball and Ping-Pong, and we all got used to each other. For coming from a family where he was the only child, he’s very patient with us.”

As for Zsolt, he was delighted to be accepted straight into the heart of a strong LDS family. He’s fascinated by their unity, by family prayer, scripture study, and home evening, and he’s amazed at their support of each other. The Davises are a musical family and play their various instruments together often. They’re also an athletic family and always attend each other’s games and meets.

“I’ve learned that I tremendously enjoy a big family,” Zsolt says. “It’s very educational for me to watch and learn how they handle everything. They set goals and motivate each other. I would like to have a family like this someday.”

When Zsolt had been with the Davises a little over a year, he received word from his parents and Church authorities that the Church had been officially recognized in Hungary. That meant branches could be organized, baptisms could be performed within the country, chapels could be established, and missionary work could go forth. Zsolt’s parents, among the first members in Hungary, were instrumental in helping this come to pass. Since they have so many ties with Hungary now, that news made Kim and Neil ecstatic.

But they’re not ones to rest on their laurels. They continue to share the gospel with their non-LDS friends. “First you have to love the gospel, to know it’s true, and have your own testimony,” says Kim. “Then you can’t help but share it with your friends.”

“Sometimes it’s hard, but you can’t be afraid to approach your friends about the gospel,” says Neil. “Once you get started, it’s easier.”

Getting started. That’s what it takes. The Davises had no idea when they set their family missionary goal that people on the other side of the world would be influenced, or that more love and excitement would come into their home via someone from another culture.

It just goes to show you what can happen once you get started.

[photos] Photography by Craig Dimond

[photo] I would like to have a family like this someday. —Zsolt Kereszti

It’s hard, but you can’t be afraid to approach your friends about the gospel. —Neil Davis, 13

We were so excited to see how they were accepting the gospel in Hungary. —Kim Davis, 16

[photos] While the Davises shared their family musical talent with Zsolt, Zsolt shared Hungarian cooking secrets with the Davises. But of the many things they shared, the most exciting was when Zsolt’s parents came from Hungary and were sealed with him in the Salt Lake Temple.