This is the talk I gave at the mission conference.
Abinadi Planted a Seed
My father owned a grocery store in Afton, Wyoming. It was only a couple of miles from our home and my father would come home for lunch most days. I was just a young girl at the time, but I still remember the day he brought home a traveling salesman for lunch. He joined with us as we said the blessing on the food, something I don’t think he was used to. During lunch, my father proceeded to tell him about our family and the church we belonged to, and before the salesman left, he had a copy of the Book of Mormon in his hand.
I had forgotten all about that experience until sometime after my father’s death. I was visiting my mother, who still lived in Afton, and attended church with her on Sunday. One of my childhood neighbors who was a few years older than me was visiting that day, too. During the testimony meeting, she stood and bore her testimony and told about a man she had met in the ward where she now lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She said he had first been introduced to the gospel when he was a young traveling salesman and had met a man in Afton, Wyoming who had invited him to lunch and told him about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had given him a Book of Mormon. That man’s name was Willard Nield. That’s my dad. My former neighbor recognized the name immediately and knew exactly whom he was talking about.
By this time my father had passed away. My dad never knew what happened to the traveling salesman and had no idea that brief encounter had changed his life forever. He had planted a seed and somewhere along the way, someone else had helped it grow.
The same thing happened to the prophet Abinadi in the Book of Mormon. Abinadi spent his entire life preaching the gospel and was eventually burned at the stake. He never knew that at least one person had listened to his message.
In Mosiah chapter 17 verses 1-4 we read:
1 And now it came to pass that when Abinadi had finished these sayings, that the king commanded that the priests should take him and cause that he should be put to death.
2 But there was one among them whose name was Alma, he also being a descendant of Nephi. And he was a young man, and he believed the words which Abinadi had spoken, for he knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified against them; therefore he began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi, but suffer that he might depart in peace.
3 But the king was more wroth, and caused that Alma should be cast out from among them, and sent his servants after him that they might slay him.
4 But he fled from before them and hid himself that they found him not. And he being concealed for many days did write all the words which Abinadi had spoken.
Abinadi had planted a seed in Alma’s heart. Alma then sought the Lord. Even though he was hunted by King Noah, who wanted to kill him, Alma continued to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many others who had been prepared to receive the gospel gathered around him and learned from him. He eventually baptized many and became a great high priest because of his deep convictions.
Alma was just one of many who heard Abinadi preach, but he felt the spirit and began preaching the gospel and baptizing others at the peril of his own life. If it had not been for Alma, none of us would have the blessings of the gospel in our lives and we would not be here today.
In Mosiah 26:15, King Mosiah tells Alma:
15. Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi.
You never know what impact your words and actions might have on another person. You may never know the result of the seeds you have planted in the Italy Rome Mission. You may be like my father or like Abinadi. You may not know, but the Lord knows and you will be blessed for your efforts.
Like Abinadi of old, you have been called by the Lord to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. You have been called to teach the people of the Italy Rome Mission. Your calling is to share the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. You have been called to deliver a message that will Bring Others Unto Christ.
There are days when it seems like no one is listening to you and no one cares what you say. It’s disappointing—especially when you have put your entire heart and soul into it. Like Abinadi, you are panting seeds.
In PMG, page 170 it says:
No Effort Is Wasted. When people choose not to investigate the restored gospel, your work is not wasted. Your consistent efforts in serving and teaching as many people as you can is one way God prepares His children to eventually receive His servants. He often reaches out to His children through you. Even when people do not accept the opportunity to learn the gospel, your service and words are evidence of God's love for them and may plant seeds that future missionaries and members of the Church will harvest. When people do not accept the gospel, do not be discouraged. You have raised a warning voice. You have given them a clear choice. Disciples of Christ feel sorrow when people choose not to repent, but they maintain a vision of whom they are and what they are doing. They continue to diligently move forward.
It might be the next set of missionaries to serve in your area, or it might be missionaries years from now who look in the area book and contact this person again. They will add water and sunlight to the seed you planted and it will sprout and grow.
You just need to know that the Lord is pleased with your efforts. You are doing exactly what you were called to do. You each have different talents. Some of you will plant and some of you will sow. All that really matters is that you are trying to “BEE THE BEST YOU CAN BEE”.
President Hinckley said:
“Please don’t nag yourself with thoughts of failure. Don’t set goals far above your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do in the best way you know how and the Lord will accept your effort.”
Abinadi’s life was hard. He probably didn’t want to return time after time to preach to a group of people, who hated him and wanted to kill him, but the Lord asked him to do it, and he answered the call. It was a great sacrifice. Unlike Abinadi, you aren’t asked to be burned at the stake. You are asked to dedicate 18 or 24 months of your life as representatives of Jesus Christ. During that time you will be tested and tried and molded and shaped into exactly what God wants you to be. Like Abinadi, you will touch the heart of someone who will be brought to the waters of baptism. Whether it’s now or later doesn’t matter. What really matters is that you dedicate every day of your mission to setting a good example and bearing your testimony often so that you can influence as many individuals as possible to Come Unto Christ. God will acknowledge your efforts and you will be rewarded not only in this life, but also in the life to come.
You are part of the “Hastening”. You were chosen to come to earth at this time, and to the Italy Rome Mission for a specific purpose. God has a great work for you to accomplish. Italy needs you to stand up like Abinadi and declare the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I leave my testimony with you that the stories of Abinadi and other great prophets in the Book of Mormon are true. President Monson is a living prophet. God leads and directs this church. You have been called to represent Jesus Christ and you are surrounded by heavenly angels as you go forth each day to share His gospel.
I love each of you.
(Ti voglio bene.)
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Io dico queste cose nel nome de Gesu’ Cristo. Amen.)