95950_000_010What we did was such a simple thing. But it opened a whole village to the gospel message.
We were coming down the hill feeling tired and frustrated. It was our 16th day in Sogod, Philippines. This town—a small paradise, really—faced a beautiful, tranquil bay, and Elder Archer, my American companion, and I were knocking on doors.
We had opened this area to missionary work, and we had spoken to a host of people as we climbed up and down the hills of the city. Yet nobody cared enough to listen to our message, and rejection filled our day with sorrow.
“Let’s stop and plan for a few minutes,” Elder Archer suggested, wiping his forehead. His neck and arms were sunburned, and my shoulders were aching from the weight of 30 copies of the Book of Mormon inside my backpack. We sat under a tree and looked at our weekly planner.
“Our next appointment is at 6:30 tonight. It’s only 3:30. What do you want to do?” Elder Archer asked.
“Let’s continue tracting. See that street going to the river? I think it’s a good area. And besides, it’s got plenty of shade with all the coconut trees,” I said.
As we made our way down the hill, I prayed in my heart that we would not be rejected again. As we reached an unfamiliar junction, we met an old couple carrying bamboo poles, bundles of wood, shingles, and other tools.
They seemed a little embarrassed when we offered to help carry their load. After some coaxing, they finally gave in to our insistence and off we went, not sure how far we had to go. We must have been quite a sight because as we entered the neighborhood, many people gathered on the street to see two strangers in white shirts and ties carrying this old couple’s bundles.
We were so surprised to find out the materials we were carrying were to be used to build a temporary home to replace the one toppled by a typhoon. We spent a few more hours talking with them, while a curious crowd gathered around us trying to find out who we were.
There were smiles and feelings of gratitude on the faces of this couple as we left, and we were so happy about what had happened. Carrying some bundles for this couple was all it took. But this experience taught me a valuable lesson.
That simple task seemed to open the doors to missionary work there. People didn’t forget what we had done, and they became more interested in hearing the gospel. Elder Archer and I witnessed how this experience, a simple act of service, blessed Sogod. I labored there for almost four months and witnessed wonderful growth of the Church.
I now understand the joy the Lord tells us comes in giving true service to others. There is a lasting joy in giving, in helping, and in bringing souls to the truth. We learned this for ourselves that day in Sogod.