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Man Challenges Missionary About What Makes Him Happy; the Elder's Response Is Perfect

One of the greatest blessings as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to know without a doubt the key to lasting happiness. Even though we might worry from time to time or feel unsure about what the future holds we can know and we can feel the peace that comes from living righteously. 

As our son is serving a full-time mission for the Church we have strived to study Preach My Gospel as a family and learn the teachings that he is sharing with our brothers and sisters in the Georgia Atlanta Mission. 

Preach My Gospel says, “Many of these people are searching for purpose in life. They are concerned for their families. They need the sense of belonging that comes from the knowledge that they are children of God, members of His eternal family. They want to feel secure in a world of changing values. They want ‘peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come’ (D&C 59:23), but they are ‘kept from the truth because they know not where to find it’ (D&C 123:12).” This statement was powerfully illustrated when our son, Elder Schoebinger, shared the following story (with permission). 

My companion, Elder Dimanche, and I visited a recent convert’s house who was baptized two weeks prior. When we arrived we began to talk to her about the blessings of General Conference when her brother, who was obviously drunk, walked into the room. In the blink of an eye Elder Dimanche got up from where he was seated and jogged over to this guy and enthusiastically said, “Brother! How are you? Here, sit down, sit down! This is incredible. We are just telling your sister about prophets of God and the miracle they have been in each of our lives.” 

This man (nicknamed Snoop) sat down and began using the most profane language I have ever imagined. Lovingly but firmly Elder Dimanche turned to him and said, “Brother, stop doing that. That is not what makes you happy. And it does not make me happy, either.” 

This man looked at Elder Dimanche and said, “It does! It does make me happy! I love drinking and girls and chew. I love it and it does make me happy.” 

Elder Dimanche looked him straight in the eyes and literally with the boldness of Abinadi said, “Snoop, I KNOW that does not make you happy. I know that you fall asleep at night thinking about your life and how unhappy you are. You drink away your problems. You have never been happy. Let me tell you what will make you happy. Going to church will make you happy. Reading the scriptures will make you happy. Respecting girls will make you happy.” 

Suddenly, Snoop stopped dead in his tracks of profanity and somberly said, “I know. You just pinpointed me. I need what you have. Help me.” 

So we taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ from the scriptures. We taught him about faith and repentance and about change and then invited him to church and he just hugged us for like five minutes and cried and said how grateful he was for us. I will forever remember the example of Elder Dimanche and how his boldness invited the Spirit and opened the door for us to teach this man—a brother and child of God.” 

Preach My Gospel says, “The gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith will bless their families, meet their spiritual needs, and help them fulfill their deepest desires. Although they may not know why, they need relief from feelings of guilt that come from mistakes and sins. They need to experience the joy of redemption by receiving forgiveness of their sins and enjoying the gift of the Holy Ghost.” 

Members of the Church know that receiving the ordinances of the gospel, keeping sacred covenants, and living the gospel of Jesus Christ with exactness is the quickest way to experience the lasting happiness, peace, and joy that we most desire. 

Joseph Smith taught: “God has designed our happiness. … He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 256).

As our family has discussed the story shared by our missionary son we have found it reflects the teachings of Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when he said, “Choosing to live the commandments frees us from the shackles of sin and allows us to experience true happiness. There is no joy in sin. As the prophet Alma taught his son, “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). [April 1996, General Conference]

May we have the boldness of Abinadi (and Elder Dimanche) as we reach out with love and teach others who need to hear where true and lasting happiness comes from. Truly, the greatest blessing we enjoy in this life as members of the Church is underlined by Elder Hales’ words, “In this life, the obedient may enjoy peace of mind, happiness, and “joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).