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Reader voices: Sharing the gospel and the Book of Mormon

By Carolyn Joyner Freebairn

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, July 14 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

My missionary companion and I were blessed, as older sis­ters, to witness many miracles as we served in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission. We were laboring on the beautiful, picturesque British Virgin Island of Tortola.

The tiny paradise-like, tropical island measures about 3 miles by 11 miles and consists of a population of about 18,000 people. We were so happy there in our home away from home with people we love and people we loved to serve. And, as we were advancing in years, we found peace and joy in being able to continue to serve and accomplish more good in our lives. We also considered this to be a rare and choice opportunity in being blessed to serve together — for we
are sisters-in-law!

My mission president gave me a poignantly touching challenge to flood the island with the Books of Mormon. Just contemplating the thought of it, I felt overwhelmed, humble, weak and inadequate. However, I also knew that help would come if I was obedient.

When I shared the president's invitation with my companion, she said he had given me that as a special assignment. But she was always close and supported me totally with her presence and prayers as she lovingly acquiesced to my assignment.

I learned when I acted with faith on my fervent supplications to Heavenly Father he prepared the people. I was able to place books with friendly, receptive people while out doing our daily missionary work within such places as a copy shop, drugstore, laundromat, doctor's office and library, as well as walking around town.

It was a humbling experience to approach so many places for possible acceptance of copies of the Book of Mormon. But with our prayerful petitions to God and with his guidance, most places were receptive.

We liked to paste information cards in the front of each book and underline special passages for the readers, and it took about two to three hours to prepare a box of 56 copies of the Book of Mormon. We spent many service hours in preparing before distributing the books.

One day I felt impressed to inquire at the small hospital about the possibility of placing books there. After approaching the receptionist, I stood still and silently prayed while she checked with several other people via the telephone. She soon responded to me with, "Yes, we could use 50 books."

Suddenly an encompassing, warm feeling of humility filled my being with such deeply felt gratitude that it seemed as if we, my companion and I, glided in the air down two flights of stairs! Seeing ourselves safely out of sight, we threw our arms around each other in a big hug of happiness and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father.

A food market manager consented to take some books for his store. I prepared an attractive poster explaining the religious history of the books and attached it to the box. On seeing me carrying the heavy box, the manager quickly approached and said "let me take the box."

He took it to a checkout stand and put it prominently atop a high counter. Then he took four books out of the box and displayed them upright in magazine racks below the box across the front of the counter where they could be readily seen. My heart was tender and I was touched to tears when he poignantly declared, "God comes first in our store."

I was emotionally overjoyed that I had been called at that time of my life to serve in this capacity. We distributed 1,043 copies of the Book of Mormon with the possibility of bringing many souls unto Jesus Christ.

A senior elder teased, "Sister Freebairn, the mission president said flood the island, not sink the island!"

I saw how the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 84:87-88 was fulfilled in my behalf in a powerful way:

"Behold, I send you out to reprove the world of all their unrighteous deeds, and to teach them of a judgment which is to come. And whosoever receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face, I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

Being involved in full-time missionary work at our mature ages of 67 and 68 was a glorious blessing. For it is wonderful to lovingly share the most precious gift we could ever give to anyone — the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Carolyn Joyner Freebairn served a mission in 2002-2003 and lives in Salt Lake City.

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