A horrible ringtone breaks the silence. It’s 6 a.m. and time to get up. It seems like my head just hit the pillow 5 seconds ago. We get up, exercise, eat and get ready for the day. At ten we head out the door, after 2 hours of studying and pondering the scriptures. Those studies giving us more energy than the previous night’s sleep. It’s already 90 degrees outside, 70 percent humidity. We have a 45 minute bike ride to our appointment with the nice woman we met last week. We start off on our bikes. Cars drive by, profanities shouted in our direction, accompanied by obscene gestures.
We finally arrive at her house, our white button up shirts wet with sweat. Her husband answers and tells us to go away. We try to explain to him that his wife told us we could come back. His only response “We aren’t interested.” A little sad and discouraged, we decide to knock a few doors in that neighborhood before heading to our next appointment, likely to have the same outcome as the first. First door, no one is home. Second door, someone is home but won’t open the door. Maybe it’s a child or wife home alone, I don’t blame them for not opening.
Third door, we receive a similar response as we did from the husband at home of our potential appointment. Fourth door, some “educated” man wants to tell us why we are wrong, and proceeds to tell us what we believe, all of his “facts” either false or out of context. He won’t let us explain, but continues to degrade. We leave his home minutes later feeling discouraged and starting to get angry. I start to wonder why I am out here in Virginia. But then I remember what we have to offer, and we continue to the next home.
Maybe these people would treat us differently if they knew what we went through. I wonder how they would treat me if they knew that it’s been almost two years since I have seen my family, my only way to communicate with them through email once a week. Maybe they would let us in if they understood that we aren’t paid to be here, but that we volunteer, and actually pay our own way to serve here.
They might not realize that we do all of the things we do on our own free will. We don’t have someone breathing down our backs daily, forcing quotas or rules on us. We willingly follow the rules that have been set, we get up on our own, and we decide where we are going to go that day. Maybe if they knew that I have put off school for two years to be out here, they would think that what I am sharing has had a big impact on my life. Perhaps if they knew that we do this 24/7 with a few hours of free time one day a week, they would wonder what drives us to do all of this.
Why are we so dedicated? Why would we make such major sacrifices to be rejected day after day, week after week, month after month, for two years? It’s because it has changed my life. We have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That gospel was restored in its fullness by a modern day prophet named Joseph Smith in the early 1800s. We do not worship Joseph Smith. But he was a prophet, just as Moses or Noah or Abraham, and we honor and respect him.
There is a living prophet today, who has been called of God to act as the Lord’s mouthpiece here on this earth. What we have as missionaries is this restored gospel, and a way to find out if it is true or not. How do you know the Bible is true? Because you grew up with it right? And everyone else says so right? We believe the Bible to be the word of God, and we have another witness that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. It’s called the Book of Mormon. We invite all men and women everywhere to listen to our message, to read from the Book of Mormon and to pray to ask God if what we are sharing is true. If what we are sharing is true, then there is indeed a living prophet today, his name is Thomas S. Monson, and he receives direct revelation from God to guide us through this life’s obstacles and challenges. Next time you see some missionaries, stop them and ask if you can hear their message. It will change your life, it will bless you more than you can imagine, I promise.
Elder Jason Allred