Does your community have an annual fair? In our small town, we do. It is called, “Pony Express Days”. This year, in the weeks preceding the event, I pondered on the possibility of hosting a booth for our missionaries. I eventually decided to try it.
After checking with the event’s vendor coordinator as well as the missionaries to make sure my idea was acceptable, I applied for the vendor booth space. There was a small fee and an even smaller form to fill out. It was all very simple.
We decided to focus our little booth on family history. I ordered an assortment of materials from the Church’s distribution center, such as The Family: A Proclamation to the World, pass along cards, pedigree charts, and some guides and brochures on family history work. We had a LOT of materials to hand out! We hoped many people would flock to our booth to learn about their family history! After all – almost everyone loves and identifies with family! Right?
Our ward family history specialist was also on board with this idea and supported our preparations. She offered to be in attendance on the day of the fair, to answer any specific questions people might have about familysearch.org, ancestry.com, or family research in general.
I ordered a large banner, organized the materials, got a tablecloth and a few chairs – and awaited the day of the event.
Finally, the morning of the fair arrived and I was excited! I was excited for all the people at the fair who would soon be offered a handshake and pass-along card from one of the Lord’s full-time missionaries!
It only took a few minutes to set up our small, simple booth. Just a table and a few materials. Then, we waited.
It didn’t take long for the first of the day-long crowd to begin trickling down towards our booth. The elders stood up, donned their smiles and were ready to greet them! They kindly asked passersby if they knew where their family was from, to start off the conversation. The people responded to these gentle elders with head shakes and cold shoulders, however. Our adventure was off to a rough start.
After a half an hour or so of continued rejection, the elders came back together behind the booth to discuss new ideas. They considered changing into their plain clothes, wondering if the typical missionary clothing was scaring potential visitors. They determined to keep trying, dressed as they were. We all said silent prayers.
They again went to the front of the booth and began to once more engage the people. They were so courageous! They continued to be rejected, however.It was so difficult to watch them with smiles and outstretched hands being completely ignored and walked past. It was so difficult for me, yet typical (they said) for them. My prayers and pleading for the missionaries around the world has changed since I watched them in action – trying to do the Lord’s work, trying to talk to people, trying to be nice, and getting shunned in return. BLESS THEM!
Then – someone stopped to hear them.
A kind gentleman recognized who they were and quickly began a discussion about the Mormon faith. Afterwards, with excited smiles, they told me he was an inactive member, who had just agreed to let the missionaries back into his home! They had a lesson with him scheduled for the coming week!
Prayer, faith, and much effort – works!
Our wonderful elders continued to face rejection throughout the day, but they did it with a smile, with courage, and with a firm resolution. They continued trying to engage people in conversation. Then slowly, one by one, two by two, ten by ten – they started listening.
It was working.
As they worked, our family history specialist and myself were also among the crowd, doing our best to help in the effort. We went to our surrounding booth vendors, became friends with them, and discussed why we were there. Our specialist was able to pull up one woman’s family history on the iPad right there for her to see. I was able to offer one woman a Proclamation – and another a Book of Mormon (which I was so happy our missionaries had!) THIS was the missionary work I was hoping for!!
In the end, we ended up with a lot of materials left over, but we also ended up with new friends, new referrals and a renewed love of missionary work!
Life is good!
Missionary work is amazing.!
I LOVE IT ALL!!!
“That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple
unto the ends of the world.”
- ALONE IN A CROWDED ROOM
- I HAVE 24 HOURS TO IMPROVE MYSELF!