Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

"Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel", by Larry Echo Hawk
Of the Seventy

I wonder if I've ever received special treatment because I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What immediately comes to mind are experiences I had while serving a full-time mission for the Church.

I served in Boise, Idaho, where approximately forty percent of the population were also Mormon (or so we were told). As missionaries, we were often greeted with smiles and sometimes free meals from others whom we assumed were also members of the Church. When riding our bicycles, many people would honk and wave at us, so I got used to smiling all the time and waving whenever I heard a honk. Granted, some of those honks were followed by unfriendly yells and unkind gestures, but most of the time the honks were honks of kindness.

Elder Echo Hawk shared an experience from the Marine Corps where his drill instructor ridiculed and yelled at all the other recruits, but spared him after seeing his copy of the Book of Mormon and learning that he believed it was true. He shares that he doesn't know why he was spared the ridicule and disparagement of his fellow Marines, but that he is grateful for what he believes.

As a missionary in a heavily-LDS area, when I was greeted with kindness, I simply assumed it was from a fellow Mormon who had compassion for me. However, after thinking about Elder Echo Hawk's experience, I'm reminded of the very many people who were loving and kind and either welcomed us into their homes to listen to our message, or politely said, "No, thank you."

I've had encounters where I perceived I was treated kindly because of my Church membership, and I've had encounters where I thought my poor treatment was due to my Church membership. What I'm concluding from Elder Echo Hawk's message and my own experiences is that regardless of how you're treated, the important thing is to keep smiling while you ride, and wave whenever you can. Regardless of how I'm treated by others, I want to be grateful for the things I know are true.

This probably isn't the intended message Elder Echo Hawk set out to deliver, but it's what I heard! Who knows, maybe through kind living, regardless of how I expect I'll be received, I can help others come unto Christ.

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