I’ll never forget the lesson I learned a few years ago. It was a lesson of how to show, not just teach, the gospel message. At the time, I was serving in the Sweden Stockholm Mission in a town not far from Stockholm.
One rainy day, while my companion and I were riding the bus home for lunch, we met a young lady who had been an exchange student in the United States. She told us that her name was Anna and that she was attending the university in town. We asked her about her beliefs and found that she was very active in another church. She said that she would never change but accepted our invitation to hear more about our beliefs.
During the weeks that followed, we taught her several discussions and had some wonderful spiritual experiences. She read from the Book of Mormon and prayed for answers to her questions. She felt that it was right, but because of her previous religious ties, she had a hard time accepting the challenge to be baptized.
That Thanksgiving we had planned a small “feast” for our investigators and some member friends. As the word spread, our small feast became a large gathering. Of course Anna was invited, along with others that my companion and I had grown very close to.
Before the blessing on the food, I took the time to explain the significance of Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it. I also explained to the guests just how much my companion and I loved and appreciated each one of them. I thanked them for the kindness they had always shown us.
The rest of the night went rather well. There were musical numbers by members and nonmembers alike and many other fun activities. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed, however. It had taken much more of our time than I had expected, and I wondered if the time could have been better spent.
Later that next week, I received a notice of transfer, but before I left, Anna wrote a short letter and gave it to me. I have translated a portion of that letter:
“I also want to thank you for letting me come to your Thanksgiving party. It was quite an experience for me in two ways—partly because I got to eat American food and partly because I got to see the warmth that exists between you and your friends. It will be of great importance for me in my decisions concerning your teachings.”
How can we show that we are disciples of Jesus Christ? In the words of the Savior to his Apostles: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 3:35). The greatest example we can set for our nonmember friends is that of genuine love for one another.