We had an interesting experience on Sunday that I wanted to tell you about.
Two weeks ago we met a man outside of his house and had a great conversation with him about the Gospel. He is Baptist and is sincerely searching for the truth. At the end of our conversation he asked us if we could come to church with him that Sunday. We replied that we could as long as he came to our church with us, which he agreed to do.
On Sunday, we went to the church, and found where the Hispanics meet in the building. We were greeted by one of the members who asked if he could help us with anything. We replied that we were looking for Elmer. He took us to him. Elmer was excited to see us. We stepped out for a minute to make a call, when we came back in he introduced us to his pastor. The gentleman shook our hands, thought for a second and said, “Let’s talk in the hall for a second.”
Elder Young and I exchanged looks communicating “Oh boy, we’re in trouble!” to each other, but we followed him outside, along with Elmer. When in the hall he said to us, “You two are welcome to be here but we don’t want any confusion there inside, so if you stay you will have to take those off,” and he pointed at our name tags. Elder Young and I looked at each other again, and for a second I felt that it wouldn’t be a really big deal if we took them off just so that we could be here, but then the distinct thought came to me “You cannot do that.”
I looked at the Pastor and said “We can’t do that.”
“Again,” he said, “we don’t want any confusion. You don’t believe in what we believe and we don’t believe in what you believe, so if you stay you will have to take those off.”
Again I said, “I’m sorry, we cannot take them off.” He then took a step back and put his hands up in a defensive, apologetic sort of stance and I extended my hand, which he took, and we thanked him for receiving us. Elmer asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to take those off?”
Again we said, “We’re sorry, we just can’t.” He said that he would call us so that we could talk another day at his house, and we left.
Since then I have pondered quite a bit on what that experience meant. What would it have meant if we had taken our tags off? Was it really that big of a deal?
My answer came in this way: You are a full-time representative of Jesus Christ. You have been “set apart to a higher plane of thought and action,” as President Kimball said. Taking that tag off would have made you just like any other person, you would not have been different at all. We are called to be different. We are to represent the Lord in ALL times, in ALL things and in ALL places. That experience helped me to understand my calling as a missionary and to take it more seriously. I am so grateful that I learned this lesson.
Love you lots!