From the Mission Field

People Noticed

By Laura A. Austin

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When I tried to be more Christlike, it affected people.

My mission companion left her camera sitting on the table next to me. I was delighted. Whenever she got hold of my camera, she would take random, funny pictures for me to find later. Now it was my turn.

I was a young missionary. I was in a new area but serving with a companion I knew well from the missionary training center. We were attending a branch family home evening with some investigators. Lots of people had been taking pictures of the games, including my companion. I picked up her camera and turned it on. I was sitting by a whiteboard, so I decided to write my companion a note and take a picture of it. Using our mission language of Czech, I was about to write “Jsi bláznivá!” meaning, “You’re crazy!” I knew she would take it as a joke. But something stopped me. I was a representative of Jesus Christ. I didn’t want anyone to misinterpret my actions. So I wrote instead, “Jsi úžasná!” meaning, “You’re amazing!” I took a picture, erased the message, and set the camera back down.

As I turned back to the game, I caught the eye of one of our investigators. He had been watching me the whole time. He smiled his approval.

Throughout my mission, I tried to be aware of my actions and act as a representative of Christ. I often gave up my seat on public transportation. One companion taught me to notice mothers with strollers in the Prague subway. None of them ever refused help in carrying a stroller up the stairs and out of the subway. I made a conscious effort to thank others for little things they did to serve, and I avoided negative remarks.

In my last area on my mission, I had another experience that caught me off guard. My companion and I were speaking to a man on the street when a lady tripped on the cobblestone and fell nearby. Without thinking, we both turned to her and took a step forward to see if she needed help. She quickly stood up and walked away unhurt, so we turned back to the man and continued our conversation. He asked a question that surprised me. “As soon as that young woman fell down,” he said, “you both turned to help her. It was your natural reaction. A lot of people don’t do that. Why do you? And why don’t we?”

These experiences taught me about being a disciple of Christ and serving others in love. On my mission, I spent a year and a half focusing on being more Christlike. And it changed me. What started as conscious choices became second nature. I started out trying to act more like Christ. In the end, I was becoming more like Christ.

Illustration by Paul Mann