So like, let’s be honest. I’ve been so blessed to meet so many incredible people through this blog. I have been overwhelmed by the response from so many. You guys inspire me.
A week or so ago I received an email from a man named Doug. His words touched my heart deeply. He told me the story of dropping his youngest son off at the MTC who will enter the same mission he did years ago. #prettymuchthecoolestever
I asked Doug to tell his story. Guys, read it for real.
Tears. Tears were coming out of my face.
It’s stories and testimonies like Doug’s that strengthen my own of this incredible work we are engaged in. It’s God’s work, dear friends. It’s the same yesterday, today and forever and whether you walk the cobblestone streets of Rome, or the dusty backroads of Montana, you are walking as a servant of Christ. #nothingcouldbebetter
I’m an old guy. I’m a 54 year old, father of nine. What can I share with you, the rising generation that may be of some help? Frankly, I don’t know. But I’ve just had an amazing experience sending my son off on his mission and Emmilie asked if I’d share a few thoughts from a dad’s perspective. Her request has me pondering my own mission. Bits and pieces I will share with you now. I’ll be honest, it’s an intimidating prospect. There’s no question that you are the finest generation that our Father has sent to this mortal sphere. If there’s any doubt, please watch this video of your peers receiving their calls. Did you look at their faces? These are not ordinary young men and women. These are disciples of Jesus Christ that will now go forth and do a great and mighty work. Can you see now why I’m a bit intimidated?
The Call – We were sitting on the couch in the living room when my son, Carson opened his call. Family all around, some on the phone, others on Facetime… you get the picture. When he read the words, “Italy Rome mission” I thought he was joking. Jolynn (my wife) screamed and I knew it was for real. My own son will serve in the great Italy Rome mission! The same mission I served in 34 years ago! I fought back the tears. My son will walk the cobblestone streets I walked! Perhaps he’ll call on the children of those I taught! He will witness the dedication of a temple I only dreamed about! Carson was in shock! He was thrilled, elated and excited, but still in shock. Perhaps the same shock I was in when I opened my call and read those same words. That night as I lay in bed my thoughts went back in time to events surrounding my own mission call and the amazing two years that followed.
The Answer – Doors were constantly closing, my companion was a challenge, members were few and baptisms were fewer. Things looked bleak and I was frustrated. Something needed to change. I don’t know when it happened, but it did. A change happened and it happened to me. Somehow, the Savior taught me to love. It was almost as if I woke up one day and the negatives no longer mattered. I was serving His children. He loves them. I will love them too. I began to see my Italian brothers and sisters differently. I began to notice their warmth, their zest for life and their love of family. I began to notice the goodness of their hearts, their forgiving nature and their willingness to give. Seeing them through different eyes changed my heart. I began to love them. I learned that love is the answer. No matter the question, when it comes to human relationships, love is always the answer. This changed everything.
A Miracle – Franco Palotti was a jovial, round faced Italian. He was golden. He knew the gospel was true after the second lesson. A baptismal date was set for him and his three boys. My companion and I were elated! We still had several lessons to give, but he was committed. Then, on an evening when we weren’t teaching Franco and his family, we decided to tract in an area we had never tracted before. It was in a completely different section of town. We’d been working all evening and had not been invited in. In fact, this particular night people seemed especially short with us. It was getting late, we were tired, but we agreed we’d knock on a few more doors before calling it a night. Finally, something wonderful happened. We were invited in. It was a kindly, older gentleman and his adult daughter. We taught them the first discussion. The spirit was amazing! They wanted to learn more. Finally, I thought, the second family in this entire town that wants to learn more! At the end of the lesson I pulled out my pocket calendar to make a return appointment. I looked at my book and mumbled to myself, “Well, we can’t come back tomorrow, we’re teaching the Palotti family.” The elderly gentleman asked excitedly, “What did you say? Who are you teaching?” I said, “We’re teaching the Franco Palotti family. Why do you ask?” He then exclaimed, “That is my son!” His daughter shouted, “That is my brother!” We taught them together and baptized them together. We knocked on hundreds and hundreds of doors both before and after that experience and the only baptisms we had in that town were from the same family! We had found the blood of Israel! I could share so many miraculous experiences! Any return missionary can. Missionaries see miracles!
The Butcher On an old cobblestone road at the top of a hill, in the town of Frascati, is a butcher shop. (At least it was there 34 years ago.) My companion and I went into that shop and we taught that butcher the gospel. At the conclusion of our message, he turned us away, but before he did, he said something to me I’ve never forgotten. “You are young. Once you are my age, your ideas of God and religion will have changed 100 times.” I politely told him I respected his opinion, but what he said was not true. I told him my conviction came from a witness from God Himself. I told him it would not change with time. He scoffed and went back to cutting meat. Well, before he left, I told Carson of this experience. I then said that if he happens to be walking up an old cobblestone road, at the top of a hill, in the town of Frascati and finds a butcher shop with a very, very old butcher inside, please give him a message from your dad. Tell him I know even more powerfully now than I knew then that this is God’s true church. That it was restored upon the earth for the benefit of his children. Tell him I still know with all my heart that we have a Savior that loves us and wants us to return to live in his presence and that He has prepared a way for us to do so. Tell him, as I told him, that God knows and loves him and wants him to be happy here and in eternity. And if he scoffs and goes back to cutting meat, just love him. But if he remembers me, and will now listen to you, share with him the fullness of the gospel. Be his Savior on Mt. Zion! And if he chooses to enter into the waters of baptism and you lift him up pure and clean and spotless before God, give him a great hug. And then, give him another great hug for me!