Dear Brother Albright,
This is the story of my conversion to missionary work. Over the past few years, the Lord has worked a miracle of conversion in the lives of my neighbors, but also in my life as well. In July of 2011, a wonderful family moved in across the street from us: Tom and Alexis Michaud and their one-year-old daughter. Right away we all got along very well and quickly became friends. We spent a lot of hours out in the cul-de-sac watching the kids play and visiting.
During these visits, I learned that Alexis grew up in Las Vegas and many of her high school friends were LDS. I also learned that she had a stepsister who joined the church in high school, and so Alexis had some background with the LDS church. Because the church is such a big part of my life, many of our conversations centered on aspects of the gospel and other factors of church culture. Once, in response to a question about how the church viewed working mothers, I was able to give her a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
For the next two years we invited them to baptisms, trunk or treats, and various primary programs. They seemed to enjoy coming, but our relationship remained casual and cordial as far as church topics were concerned. At one point, they asked Sydney (our teenage daughter) to babysit for them as they attended classes at a non-denominational Christian Church. I was devastated that they were investigating other religions. I had been discussing the gospel and inviting them to activities, but nothing progressed, and I didn’t know how to move our Gospel discussions any deeper.
Towards the end of the summer in 2013, the Relief Society President asked if I would attend, in her place, a special Bishopric meeting where the ward mission leader would present a new missionary program. I will admit that I was not looking forward to this project. I felt like we had been hit so hard with missionary programs and classes. This program, called the 21-Day Program, involved listing multiple names of families, praying for them each day as a family, and reading and then discussing a missionary-oriented scripture. I left the meeting feeling like the request wasn’t too hard and I was inspired to give it a try. Our family began praying, morning and night, for each family on our list by name. The Michaud family was at the top of our list.
Obedience always brings blessings; part way through our 21-day project, Heavenly Father worked through my boys to teach me what my missionary efforts had been lacking. Apparently, our two sons, Andrew (age 9) and Noah (age 7) grew tired of our just talking and praying for families. Gospel knowledge moved them to action, and without the fears of adults, they moved!
They secretly wrote the following note (I left in their original spelling): “Dear Michauds, I am very glad that you came to the primary program. So my brother and I wanted to give you the scripers and tell you what the goshple means to us. The gosphle is something that gudes you and makes you happy. When you are baptized you get the holy goast. If you are lost or sad or need help, you can find a good place to pray. Praying is a very good thing to do, and you can do it anywhere. I would be good while praying because you are talking to hevely father. When you pray you start by saying dear hevandly father. At the end you say in the name of Jesus Christ amen. When praying you neel down fold arms and shut your eyes. Then you are ready. From Andrew”
Without telling me what they were doing, the boys enclosed this short hand-written letter in a copy of The Book of Mormon, snuck out our back door, dropped the book on our neighbor’s doorstep, and then ran home. Later that evening, my husband Doug overheard the boys talking about their little adventure and came to let me know.
I quickly texted Alexis to make sure their family had not been offended. My husband and I did not know what was in the secret note and so we were slightly concerned. Alexis told me that the note was beautiful and that she would one day tell me about it. Later we learned that on that night when The Book of Mormon arrived on their doorstep, Alexis looked at Tom and said, “OK, the Book is here; now we have to read it.” They both started reading it that very evening. (We have laughed often about the boys ding-dong door ditching method of missionary work.)
At the end of October, our Relief Society Presidency was looking for a substitute teacher for a lesson based on Elder Christofferson’s talk, “The Moral Force of Women.” I felt impressed to volunteer to teach this lesson, and then, later, felt impressed to send the lesson material to Alexis to ask for her opinions. She responded with wonderful insights, and asked if she could come to the class. Then on November 3rd, 2013, the Michauds and six members of their extended family came with us to attend the Zion’s Youth Symphony & Chorus performance, “How Firm a Foundation.” Although this musical program did not particularly contain a missionary theme, I knew they would feel the spirit.
Two days after the performance, Alexis texted me and asked if she could come over and talk. She said that she was coming in 15 minutes and was bringing her coffee for fear that it was going to be her last. I looked at the text and started to shake.
As Alexis arrived we sat and talked about the musical performance. She said that she cried from the opening prayer to the last song of the concert. She said that to see and hear 300 LDS youth perform and sing the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation” was inspiring, and she felt that this church was the foundation that her family needed. She explained that as they left the performance her mother looked at her and said, “If there is anything that Mormons do, it’s raise kids well.” Alexis then asked me what the next step was, and if there was anything she needed to sign. (Doug and I got a good chuckle out of that one.)
A week later the Michauds started taking the missionary discussions in our home. They were baptized on Saturday, December 14, 2013. It was a beautiful day, and my “joy was full” during all of the Christmas Season.
I have since wondered what I really learned from this experience. The phrase “and a little child shall lead them” has new meaning as I ponder what my boys have taught me. I marvel that their first instinct was to teach the Michauds how to pray. Their simple testimony, “the gosphle (gospel) is something that guides you and makes you happy,” is something we all need to share more often. Prayer does work; it is effective in finding others to teach and in helping us know how and what to teach.
When I worried that our missionary work had stalled (when the Michauds were investigating other churches), I needed the thing that would move us forward: prayer and the sharing of clear testimony. Fortunately, the Michaud’s conversion was not dependent on me. Heavenly Father helped the work to progress through the efforts of our two young boys despite my reluctant fears.
Since their baptism, the Michauds are preparing to be sealed together in the Temple. They are also joyfully sharing the good news of the Gospel with their friends. Our family has been immeasurably blessed. I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for granting us this experience. It has changed our lives forever.