Labels and Perceptions

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President Thomas S. Monson

"Such was a cold and a very old city in Eastern Canada. The missionaries called it 'Stony Kingston.' There had been but one convert to the Church in six years, even though missionaries had been continuously assigned there during the entire interval. No one baptized in Kingston. Just ask any missionary who labored there. Time in Kingston was marked on a calendar like days in prison. A missionary transfer to another place—any place—would be uppermost in thoughts, even in dreams.

"While I was praying about and pondering this sad dilemma...my wife called to my attention an excerpt from a book 'A Child's Story of the Prophet Brigham Young.' She read aloud that Brigham Young entered Kingston, Ontario, on a cold and snow-filled day. He labored there about 30 days and baptized 45 souls. Here was the answer. If the missionary Brigham Young could accomplish this harvest, so could the missionaries of today.

"Without providing an explanation, I withdrew the missionaries from Kingston, so that the cycle of defeat might be broken. Then the carefully circulated word: 'Soon a new city will be opened for missionary work, even the city where Brigham Young proselyted and baptized 45 persons in 30 days.' The missionaries speculated as to the location. Their weekly letters pleaded for the assignment to this Shangri-la. More time passed. Then four carefully selected missionaries—two of them new, two of them experienced—were chosen for this high adventure. The members of the small branch pledged their support. The missionaries pledged their lives. The Lord honored both.

"In the space of three months, Kingston became the most productive city of the Canadian mission. The grey limestone buildings stood still; the city had not altered its appearance; the population remained constant. The change was one of attitude. The label of doubt yielded to the label of faith."

Ensign, September 2000