Latter-day Saint Life

Touching Story from 1988 Ensign Reminds Us Why We Help Others


The plane glided above the peaceful green islands below. I looked out of the window in awe. Surely we were headed for paradise! One month earlier, my mission president had informed me that I would be sent to serve in a Vietnamese refugee camp on Palawan, an island between Vietnam and the Philippines. My companion had come from one of the refugee camps in Thailand, where she had been serving with twelve other LDS lady missionaries. She was strong, reliable, and full of charity. I remembered my introduction to her at the airport. I had heard that lady missionaries sent to the refugee camps ran the risk of losing their missionary discipline, and I was almost certain that she had. I feared that my new assignment would cause me to lose mine.

“Sister …” I had started nervously.

“Please call me Ruth,” she politely replied.

I winced.

“What’s your name?” she asked, smiling.

“Annette.” The word—my own name—sounded strange to my lips.

“Annette, I’m sure we’ll work just fine together.”

“Um, excuse me, but shouldn’t we call each other ‘Sister’? After all, we’re still missionaries.”

“Yes, we are, but you will soon realize we’ll have a greater advantage among the refugees and other volunteers in the camp if we go by nonreligious titles.”

“But what about the gospel. … Surely we can talk about the gospel?”

“No, Annette, I’m afraid we cannot say anything about the Church—except its name.”

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