In Everything Give Thanks

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By Marvin J. Ashton

As we visit with missionaries, we often ask them to stand up and tell us where they are from, bear their testimonies, and tell us about their companions and their parents. This is a great experience in learning about them and what their thought processes are and what their sense of values are.

I recall one missionary standing up and saying, "I have been in the mission field nine months, and I have had five companions." With a quivering chin and a choked-up voice, he said, "Never once in nine months have I had a companion who told me he loved me or thanked me for what I was doing for him. I hope and pray that someday, somehow, I'll have a companion who will tell me that he loves me and openly expresses gratitude."

No matter where we come from, no matter what our family conditions are, we should learn and be appreciative of those circumstances that can build and lift us.

I recall another missionary who said, "Two weeks before I was to go see my bishop and get the missionary forms and papers processed, I had some doubts. I had some questions about the future and even about the Church. I walked into the living room and interrupted my father, who was watching television, and said, 'Dad, I'm not so sure about this Joseph Smith business. I'm not so sure I know the Church is true. I'm not so sure I want to go out and represent it. I have a lot of questions, and I have a lot of misgivings.'

"When I said that, my father walked over and turned off the television, took the cigarette he had in his hand and smashed it in the ashtray, took the can of beer he had in his other hand and put it down on the table and said, 'Son, I want you to know that I don't do very much about it, but I know that the Church of Jesus Christ is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I want you to hear me say it because I know that better than most anything else in this world.'"

This young man then said, "I want my father to know that I appreciate him. He has some habits that he's not proud of. He has some habits that I'm not proud of. But he is my father, and he has a testimony. I'm pleased I even told him on that occasion 'Thank you for being my dad.'"

That kind of appreciation, that kind of maturity, will not only help a missionary to grow and develop, but will also be a great anchor in life's paths. A sincere thank-you will cause most of us to share and perform more worthily in the days that follow.

The most common question missionaries ask me is, "Elder Ashton, what can I do to get my mother or father or brother or sister more active in the Church? I realize now what they are missing and what they need. What can I do to get them active in the Church? What can I do to get them to become members of the Church?"

In every case and every situation I have taken the opportunity to say, "The best way to get your family members active in the Church or to become members is to tell them 'thank-you' for all they do to support you and tell them how much you love them." We need to express appreciation on a continuing basis, to love family members and neighbors into the Church.

Excerpt from a Fireside address given by Marvin J. Ashton at BYU on Sept. 1, 1991