With General Conference coming up this weekend, I thought you might enjoy reading this experience of Elder M. Russell Ballard while visiting Bolivia:
Elder Ballard was assigned to preside over and speak at a Church regional conference in La Paz, Bolivia. Members traveled from far-off towns and small villages to attend the conference. A number of members had to sacrifice much time, effort, and money to get to the meetings so they could listen to the words of an apostle of God.
Prior to the Saturday evening meeting, Elder Ballard stood in front of the chapel to greet many of the arriving brethren. He noticed several brethren arriving somewhat disheveled and tired after what must have been a very long journey. As they approached the beloved apostle, he noticed the discoloration of the brothers’ shirts. From mid-chest above, the shirts maintained a clean white appearance However, from mid-chest and below, the white fabric had become discolored and stained with a reddish coloring. When they approached to shake his hand, they informed him that they were so pleased to have arrived in time to meet him.
They had spent many hours traveling to the meetings, much of that time on foot. They were required to ford two rivers along the way where the reddish water came up to their chests. The final two hours had been spent riding in the back of a pickup truck. As they greeted Elder Ballard, they humbly offered a lesson in sacrifice. “Elder Ballard,” they said, “you are one of the Lord’s Apostles. My brethren and I would do whatever was required to be taught by you” (“The Law of Sacrifice” An address given at the New Testament Symposium, 13 August 1996, Brigham Young University, Provo. Utah).
When I first heard this story, it reminded me of a similar situation regarding the Savior’s visit to the new world. When he announced to the righteous Nephites and Lamanites that he would return the next day, the Book of Mormon records, “that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude (3 Nephi 19:3).
If we knew where the Savior would appear tomorrow, I suspect that we would also work “all that night” to tell our family and friends the wonderful news. This weekend, the Savior’s servants on earth will assemble to teach us. Because of modern technology, if we would like to be taught by apostles, our opportunity is only a mouse-click away.