I love missionary stories. I want to share another with you. This is the story of when I learned to stop just working and really… well… work.
It was a dark and stormy night. Really.
My missionary companion and I were standing in a poorly lit street in a tiny community on the east coast of Taiwan. Tropical rains were pouring down. We had just chained our bikes to a cement light post and we were preparing to spend the final hour of our evening knocking on doors, asking people to listen to our message about Jesus Christ and the Mormon church. Pretty typical stuff, really.
We were feeling positive, all things considered, and the damp did not dampen our spirits. We were determined to work, to do our part to receive the blessings we believed God had in store for us and the families who we taught and loved. Plus there was something magical about that area. It was quiet, rural, and dark. Rice fields were juxtaposed with random modern home developments and aging shrines.
Yeah, I could have finished the remaining year of my mission there and been happy.
We had been taught to set goals and to pray for the Lord’s help in achieving those goals, so, as we looked over the long street lined with fairly new townhomes, we talked about what our goal for the next hour should be.
Looking to keep our energy up, I boldly suggested “Hey, let’s see if we can knock every single door on this street in the next hour.”
My companion, never one to back away from a challenge, nodded with a smile. “Yeah! Let’s do it!”
We folded our arms and bowed our heads to pray for the help of God. Before I could open my mouth, an idea entered my mind.
An insane, wonderful, idea.
I lifted my head and looked at my companion. He looked up at me, a little confused.
“Companion!” I said. “What are we doing?”
I could see the idea form in his mind as well as his expression changed from confusion to exasperation. What had we been thinking?
“How about we pray that the very next family we knock on the door of will open up their home and let us teach them?”
We had got so caught up in the work that we had forgotten about the work. Couldn’t see the forest for the trees, etc. And that would be a powerful lesson all by itself, but it’s overshadowed by what happened next.
We prayed, briefly yet sincerely, that the Lord would open the way before us, and that the next home whose door we knocked on would be opened to us to teach the family there a discussion. Then, with confidence, we walked to the nearest home and knocked on the door. After our brief introduction the family inside allowed us inside to teach them.
An hour later, having just finished the first discussion, we rode home exhilarated. It was like we had discovered some huge, yet obvious secret. Like we had invented pushing on the gas pedal in a world of immobile cars.
Oh, wait. There’s more.
The next day we tried it again at our first opportunity – praying that the very next door we knocked on would open and the family inside would let us teach them. Sure enough, the very next door was a nice couple who let us teach them.
And then we did it again.
And again for 3 weeks. We offered a prayer for every door we knocked on, and Every. Single. Door. opened up for us. Our Zone leaders went on exchanges with us to try and figure out our secret, exclaiming “How are you doing this?!?” in the middle of an evening of tracting and teaching.
I smiled and shrugged. “I don’t know, exactly. We just pray, have faith, and knock. People let us in.”
After 3 weeks had gone by I was transferred to a new area to be with a companion who had struggled with the mission. He told me that he and his previous companion had made a goal to knock on every single door in their area. And they’d achieved it. Twice.
I said “I think you’re going to like this.”
And the prayers and miracles continued. When people didn’t let us into their homes they would escort us to their neighbors’ homes to introduce us and help us get in the doors. My new companion said, more than once, “How are you doing this?!?”
Today I still don’t have an answer to this question. But I know that it works. That prayer, work, faith, confidence, action and expectation are all somehow tied together; and that the faithful can access this power for the blessing of those around them.
Try it out. Bring the power of heaven into your life in the tasks that you must perform. See the miracles. Believe that God can do it.