By Cordell and Janice Vail
21 Mar 2004
A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail
Visiting People - The Key To Conversion
Visiting People - The Key To Conversion
I talked with Janice about the criticism of my Sunday Sermons. She has so many times during our marriage said such profound things to me. This was another one of those times. She said, "Well even if you only help one person with the Sunday Sermons, then isn't it worth ignoring the criticism and doing it anyway?" I will take her advice and the advice of most of you who have written to me this week encouraging me to continue. I thank you for your comments. It means more to me than you know. So the Sunday Sermons will continue and I pray that they will be as much of a blessing to you in reading them as they have been to me in writing them.
Last Sunday in Ward Welfare Meeting the Relief Society President reported that one of the families in the ward had reported to her that they were really discouraged because no one ever comes to visit them. I was really surprised at that report. They are active in the church. They are an older couple in their 70's but in good health. You know me, "THE SHARK" (as President Cordy used to call me in the Deaf Branch), I had to say something. So I raised my hand and said, "I wonder when the last time was that they visited someone themselves?"
That has caused me to do a lot of thinking this week. Then this morning I found a letter that Nathan wrote to me some time ago. I is funny how sometimes it is like the Lord is trying to teach you something so you get it from every side. In the letter from Nathan (I think it was a Father's Day letter) he recounted some of the people Janice and I have influenced over the years either as new converts or by reactivating them. As I read that list of names in his letter I realized that every one of those people were converted or reactivated by something that Janice and I started doing when we first got married. VISITING SOMEONE EVERY WEEK. It truly has been the key to the literal fulfillment of the prophetic promise from Ammon in Alma 26:22 that we could convert 1000's of people as individuals. President Kimball said that Ammon did not promise us that we could convert 10's or even 100's but 1000's. We can testify to you that the promise is true. And for us it has come about mostly from visiting less active and part member families.
Nathan also wrote us a letter from Hungary that was really funny related to the same thing, about making friends and having a positive influence on people where ever we have lived. In that missionary letter he said that all his life in Salt Lake, where ever he went new people he just met were always asking him if he was "the son of Cordell and Janice Vail". He was never just Nathan Vail. It was always "are you the son of...." In that missionary letter, he said that he hoped when we moved to North Carolina that finally he would meet people who did not know us and he would just be Nathan Vail not "Are you the son of Cordell and Janice Vail". Well because I went to North Carolina to work several months before our family was able to come there, and I went to a different ward every week trying to find the right place to live for our kids. Most of the members of the church in the area were trying to get us to move to their ward with our 5 seminary attending kids. So everyone in the whole area pretty well knew we were moving there. In this missionary letter, Nathan said that by the time he got to North Carolina it just started all over again. He said that even at Regional Dances the chaperones at the dances would ask him if he was the son of Janice and Cordell Vail. So when he went on his mission to Hungary, he said finally no onw would know him. But his MTC companion was the son of some one we had converted at BYU and so the first night he said to Elder Vail, "Is your dad Cordell Vail? But the said that he thought that finally in Hungary he could just be "ELDER NATHAN VAIL" and not "are you the son of Cordell and Janice Vail". So in this letter he wrote to us from Hungary he said he was in a little tiny branch way up in Northern Hungary by the Russian boarder. He had been in Hungary about 3 months, and finally learned enough Hungarian that he was giving his first talk in church in Hungarian. Well to his utter astonishment after the talk two people came up to him in this little tiny branch in the middle of no where, and said to him in English, "ARE YOU THE SON OF CORDELL AND JANICE VAIL?". It just happened that Bob Brady from Hyde Park was there. His son had also served in Hungary and was on his way home and Bob and his wife had come to pick him up. Elder Brady had served in that Branch so he and his parents were back there visiting the branch before Elder Brady went home. Also Jack Matkin from Hyde Park was there. He is Sherron's age I think, or a little older. He works for the U.S. government and he was on his way into Russia and had stopped in that little town to go to church that Sunday. We all had a pretty big laugh about that letter from Nathan. But it again reminded me of the power of visiting people. That is how we know so many people everywhere we go. Because we go out visiting. We don't expect anyone to visit us. Almost no one ever has except for a couple of priesthood leaders and a couple of times when we first moved somewhere, the ward Bishopric.
As Janice and I talked about that this morning we were talking about Home teachers. In all the years that we have been married we could only remember 3 times the we have had a home teacher. There was a man named Ronald Orr in Georgia while I was in the Army at Ft. Benning that home taught us every month that we were there. While we lived in Smithfield there was a man who came and home taught us for about a year until we moved away. He became the next Bishop. I wonder why? And now 2 months ago we were assigned a home teacher who is the head of the Seminary and Institute program here in the area (and talk about small worlds... their names are Bruce and Marilyn Monson and he moved here from Hyde Park and he went to Finland on a mission.......). So we have not even had home teachers most of our married life. If we had waited to be "VISITED" we would have had a long wait. No one comes to visit us.
When I was on the High Council in Salt Lake I was over reactivation. That is when I wrote the "Getting The Water To The End Of The Row" book. We found over and over and over that if we just got people to visit the less active they would come back. Most of the time people lost their testimony because they did not feel socially accepted in the church, not because they did not believe the doctrine. All those people that Janice and I have been able to convert have been a direct result of our Sunday Visiting Program. Every single one of them. We have so many friends everywhere we go because we learned a long time ago that if you want to have friends then you have to be a friend. We have been in so many homes that no one else could get into. They will throw a priesthood leader off the porch. Even the bishop. But they wont throw you off the porch if you have your wife with you and she has a loaf of freshly baked bread in her hands or you have come to help them with something that they desperately need help with. One man had run the Elders Quorum president off the property with a gun. But he did not run Janice and I off when we had a cake in our hands. Another man was so cranky that the neighbors were afraid of him, but when Janice and I came and offered to help him fix his broken computer he let us right in and became fast friends. We just went out visiting. Not teaching... VISITING.
So in closing on this thought I would like to share three scriptures with you. The reason is that it has been the most amazing thing of all to us, how much we have learned about the doctrines of the church as we visited. I have notebooks full of stuff that we learned from our visiting. When you go visiting inactive and part member families and get to know them they start asking you gospel questions. Much of what is on my Epistles web page are things we learned while out visiting that became teaching. When we first started to go out visiting we were really scared because we were afraid these apostate and inactive people would ask us hard gospel questions that we did not know the answers to. But in the scriptures the Lord said
But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.
So we felt that we needed to go in faith, believing that if we went there to visit (and again....we did not go there to teach, just to visit) that if they did ask us questions that we some way know the answers and would be fulfilling the commandment to "OPEN OUR MOUTHS". But we also noted that in that scripture he did not say anything about needing to prepare the "ANSWERS". He just commanded us to be willing to go and "OPEN OUR MOUTHS".
Then we found these two scriptures:
11 But when they shall lead [you], and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.
So we just tried to study the scriptures on a daily basis like the Prophets asked us to do and then we just went out visiting. And our fears were correct. Those people less active and apostate members ask us some of the most difficult questions about church doctrine that we had ever heard. And we can testify to you that in every instance WHILE THEY WERE ASKING THE QUESTIONS... the answer came into our minds just as the scripture promised. We were taught the answers ourselves as we were teaching. President Tanner said that is how you know you are teaching with the spirit, when you are being taught while you teach. We many times came home and wrote down what we had learned because we did not know the answer to that question our self when we went there. I will never forget the night we started visiting a family in Bennion. We did not know when we started visiting them that they were personal friends with Gerald and Sandra Tanner (the famous ex-Mormon apostate authors). They started our conversation by saying, "If you can not explain polygamy then there is no reason to go on with any further discussions". The answer that came to us was so profound that we have used it scores of times since then in other teaching situations. (Maybe in another Sunday Sermon I will write down that answer to that question that Janice and I learned that night.) So we answered their question and then went on visiting them every week for 3 or 4 months. Then we invited the missionaries to join our discussions with them. A few weeks later we had a baptism and one year later went to the temple with them.
We have been so blessed over the years by the many, many friends that we have made by just going out visiting.
VISITING IS THE GREATEST KEY TO CONVERSION THAT WE KNOW OF.
Cv / Jv
NOTE: Nothing in any of these Sunday Sermons is intended to represent the official doctrines of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are strictly instructions and teachings from Cordell and Janice Vail to their family.
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