Reader Voices: Mission gardens, one 'si' after another and the precious gift of a shiny, red apple

Published: Saturday, Oct. 30 2010 5:00 a.m. MDT

My companion and I walked in and waited, wondering what Maria wanted to tell us. She walked to the only table in their house, which had a pile of dirty, torn clothing on top of it, and she started to sift through these dirty clothes until finally, eyes sparkling, she pulled out a shiny, red apple.

She explained, "Someone told me that today was your birthday. I had to hide this apple all day so that my children wouldn't find it and eat it, but here it is for you." She gave me a single, red apple for my birthday.

This apple was probably the best present I have ever received. Not just because apples were expensive and hard to find, and not just because she had to carefully plan all day how to save it for me, but because I know that Francisco and Maria gave me an apple for my birthday because they loved me.

You might say they didn't even know me; I couldn't even speak their language. Well, they didn't love me because I was charming and funny and eloquent. They loved me because I was the missionary who invited them to accept the gospel. They changed their lives with the help of the Spirit, the Book of Mormon, and the members of the branch. I wasn't really much help, but they loved me because I was the missionary who first invited them.

Whenever I see a red apple, I think of my friend Maria, who is now the Relief Society president, and her husband, Francisco, who is the first counselor in the branch presidency. And I love them.

When I think of their story, my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its power to change our lives is strengthened. I'm grateful the Lord allowed me to go on my mission and come home with a wonderful garden full of memories.

Amanda Francis is the Young Women president in the Winchester Ward in the Winchester Virginia Stake.

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