A Long Ago Little Girl


A few years ago I was visiting a less active member with the full-time missionaries. As we entered the home, the four children all went running to the Elders with smiles on their faces and the Elders smiled back welcoming them by name. Smiles abounded. The mother came from around the corner of the kitchen with a look of joy on her face as she greeted us. For a moment, that house, which was suffering under great challenges, was filled with a unique joy that comes only from the spirit of God. As I watched the missionaries interact with the family, a flashback came to my mind. I could see myself along with my companion as missionaries, having the same exchanges with many humble families years ago in Argentina. I recall walking the dirt streets of the poor neighborhoods as small children gathered around us. Many of them had dirty faces and wore dirty clothes. But the smiles they flashed at us lit up the dark streets where they lived. As we entered the tin homes with dirt floors, the mothers would send out their kids to buy some sort of “soda pop” for the representatives of Jesus who had come to their homes. We would protest, but they would always insist. It seemed the story of the widow’s mite played out before us day after day. In their faith they gave what little they had to us, who represented the Savior. Many were not members of the church. I was touched by the genuine nature of their faith.

As my mind came back to present day, I could see that all those who visit those in need, are fulfilling the words of James the apostle when he wrote, “Pure religion…undefiled before God..is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction…” (James 1:27). Our missionaries go all over world doing good works, much of which never shows up in some statistical measure. No, many that are visited never join the church and partake of the full blessings that come with acceptance of the restored gospel. But the good works done, and the joy that is brought into the lives of those visited, are not those really the fruit of the laborers of Christ?

I was amazed that the above mother of four still remembered being invited over with her family, to my house, for Family Home Evening almost thirty years ago. She even remembered the lesson given that night. She was only about six years old at the time. Her family was not of the same economic background nor did we have any common interest, except the gospel. We invited them over just that once.  Now I wonder why? I guess it is because you usually invite only your closest friends over, and they invite you. But I was reminded of the Savior’s admonition when he taught the people with the parable of the feast.

“Then said he…When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsman, nor they rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou salt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14: 12-14).

Perhaps we should all be better about inviting others to our homes. The impact it can have for good can be great for them and for us. I found that out, in my visit to the home of a long ago little girl, now a mother of four,  who recited back to me the lesson I taught to her family that night, over thirty years ago.

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