My third area was one of the most difficult. Due to its massive success the previous year, there were four sets of missionaries in an area that could only sustain one. People who wanted to convert already did and the rest were sick of the white boys in ties clapping (Brasilians don’t knock) at their door. After a month of almost zero success, my companion and I decided we needed a new plan. We decided we were going to temporarily stop normal proselyting and just do service.
We started by helping build a house for a strong member or the local Jehova’s Witness community. After that, we helped build the house next door. Keep in mind, neither of us had any building experience and I’ve still never laid a brick, but I can push a wheel barrow with the best of them. When we weren’t building houses, we were repainting them. When we weren’t doing that, we were cleaning gravestones.
At no point did we ask for referrals or try to guilt people into hearing our message. Sometimes the service wasn’t aimed at any one person in particular. We were clear that this was no ploy, we just wanted to help. The perception of the missionaries quickly moved away from the pesky boys who are always at your door. Referrals started to roll in from members and investigators started to show up on their own. The only problem we ran into at that point was that we couldn’t teach them fast enough. Not everyone got baptized, but I can guarantee that the people in that town, especially the Jehova’s Witnesses, have a much better relationship with the church now than they did before.
A little bit of hard work without the expectation of getting something in return was all it took to turn a difficult area around. The people I had the opportunity to physically serve are the ones who created the strongest bonds with the church as well as me personally. I have a strong testimony of service and how it can help you and everyone around you grow.