I contend that the “one soul” is you
Yet without a doubt Elder Ricciardi had the greatest influence on my mission. All my “Ricciardi” experiences were not like the meeting with the catholic priests, much of his influence came in the little tidbits of wisdom he would share, and without a doubt the hardest work ethic of any missionary I knew. In my mission, statistics over the prior ten years (1976 to 1986) showed that the average missionary had 1.3 baptisms per year. 6 people by the conclusion of their mission. My district learned about this statistic the day before we left the MTC. I remember how disappointed I was at the prospect of spending two years to bring two and six tenths persons to the Lord’s church. Elder Ricciardi trained me when he was 8 months out on his mission. Up to that point he had baptized over 60 people. He ended up leaving the mission with over one hundred baptisms. He would never talk about his baptisms. In fact it was not until the end of my mission when I was working in the mission office that I had the opportunity to look up his extraordinary accomplishment. One of the most challenging elements of the mission experience is how to judge whether you are a good missionary or not. It is baptisms? Is it number of lessons you teach? There are missions in the world where a missionary after 2 years experiences no baptisms. There are missionaries who find a family of 12 on their doorstep asking to be baptized (think South America). The dilemma of new missionaries is to learn some way of gauging effectiveness and success. It is natural to use number of baptisms as the gauge of success. While number of baptisms is important, there is a far better more valuable gauge: Obedience. I knew of missionaries in my mission who did not live mission rules, were not as committed as I think the Lord desired, yet they baptized. I really struggled with that because when I left the MTC it was my firm understanding that only obedient missionaries baptize. When I saw disobedient missionaries having baptisms, I began to con myself into thinking that getting up on time; reading scriptures, and other seemingly trite “white bible rules” didn’t necessarily correlate with baptisms. I began to perceive that it would be easier to relax and baptize than to work so darn hard, be so disciplined and not baptize.
That “One Soul” is Yours Every missionary goes through a drought period in their mission life. A period of time where they are fighting homesickness, praying harder than they ever have, are living more righteously than ever in their lives up to this point in time, and no one seems interested in hearing the gospel. It is at this time that the Lord tests you as a missionary. The reason, I have always believed, is to see if you can be trusted. Father in Heaven has an incredible work to do to prepare the earth for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The mission field has a dual purpose to bring souls unto Christ, and to sift us as missionaries into the parts we will play throughout our lifetime in building the Lord’s kingdom – to prepare us for “leading” OR prepare us for “following”, both are important, but what are followers without leaders?
In other words the average missionary, after two years, would baptize 2
The missionaries who recognize the drought and remain strong to the higher law of missionary work (absolute obedience) end up converting the most critical investigator of all…themselves. You will be your greatest conversion in the mission field. In D&C 18: 15-16 it says: And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!