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Wright Words: A day in the life of Mormon missionaries in Woodstock, Virginia

Published: Friday, July 18 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

While the elders went to visit a member family, I met the sisters at the home of a recent convert, Sue, in Tomsbrook, yet another small town on the other side of Woodstock. Sue’s love for the missionaries is written in her country-mile-wide smile. They each shared a favorite scripture with Sue and watched a Mormon Message on the LDS Church’s website.

It was impossible not to notice how Swisher and Moore interacted with Sue as true sisters would, not because of their nametags, but because of their unconditional love for one another.

When the “day in the life” experience came to a close, I expressed how every day presents an opportunity for growth. “So, what did you learn today?”

Moore, who remarkably is only a few weeks into her first area, sounded like a confident veteran. “Everything happens for a reason. We don't know how everything is going to play out, but it doesn't matter, because God knows. We weren't meant to have that first appointment. We ended up being in the right place at the right time to share the gospel with others.” Moore also expressed her gratitude for a companion with an unrelentingly positive attitude. "I cannot imagine a better trainer."

Swisher, at the other end of her mission, learned plenty, too. “Plans don’t always work out. In fact, they rarely work out exactly how you wanted. But this doesn’t mean failure. It means you tried your best, but it wasn’t where you were supposed to be. When plans have fallen through on my mission, usually unexpected opportunities come. I’ve also learned how I’ve developed unconditional love for people I hardly know. I might only meet someone once, but I love them and want the best for them and their families.”

When I finally returned home, I relayed the details of the day, and my wife asked, "So, what did you learn?"

Of all the differences in the work we observed that day (and there were many), I was reminded that the similarities are all that matter. It’s the same spirit at their side, the same unconditional love and the same faith.

In places like little Woodstock, Virginia, and perhaps where you live, missionaries don’t have hundreds of thousands in their paths every day. But they love each and every one with the same spirit and joy as every other missionary in every other area.

And while they might only have 42,000 in their sights, at the speed Moore, Swisher, Kuhn and Jensen work, they could find them all.

And if they do, it just might happen one flea market, one stroller and one jogger at a time.

Jason Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and "The Wednesday Letters." Learn more at jasonfwright.com, or connect on Facebook at facebook.com/jfwbooks or by email at jwright@deseretnews.com.

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