When Joe and I moved to Bakersfield, CA, 6 months after we were married, we moved into an elderly and established ward in a nice part of town. Sister Virginia Kyle was assigned to be my visiting teacher. She didn't have a companion; it was just her. She was in her 70's and I was in my 20's. My first thought was, "I wonder why I would be assigned a visiting teacher whom I had nothing in common with? What could I possibly learn from her?" I knew it was somewhat inconvenient for her to visit me. She struggled to climb the stairs to my apartment. She stayed home during the day. I worked until 5-6:00 p.m. so she had to visit me at night. In my naive eyes, this was a relationship that was not going to be mutually beneficial. How selfish of me. Over the 3 years she was my visiting teacher, she showed up consistently at my door every month. She never forgot me. My heart began to soften to who this woman really was and what her intentions were. She wasn't just filling her quota of visits for the month. She was serving me, and learning to love me. She was being Christ-like. She pryed my heart open through her sincerity. As she began to teach me, I began to be receptive to her monthly messages as taught through her eyes. I began to think back on Sister Kyle's example as I read Alma 17-18, and I found this quote:
"Live in such a way that people who know you but don't know Christ will want to know Christ because they know you."
I've always loved reading about Ammon. He's well known for cutting off the arms of the wicked Lamanites to defend King Lamoni's sheep. His strength is a humble one. He never claims his strength to be his own, but God's strength through his faith in God. He wants nothing but to serve the Lamanite king, but realizes all along that by being his servant, the king will be receptive to hearing more about God. King Lamoni's reaction to hearing of Ammon's great strength was as follows: "...and he learned of the faithfulness of Ammon in preserving his flocks, and also of his great power in contending against those who sought to slay him, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Surely, this is more than a man." (Alma 18:2) King Lamoni seeks Ammon to know more about where his strength comes from and eventually is taught that his strength comes from God. Ammon's faithfulness ignites God's power in him.
Ammon shows us in the scriptures how to sincerely serve. It was always his intention to teach the Lamanite people how their salvation was attained in, and through, Christ. He loved them first, and taught them by example. He was willing to stay with them as long as it took, even for the rest of his life, for them to know Christ and the plan of redemption. (Alma 17:9) The physical strength of Ammon through God's power definitely catches our attention. But the real power that changes lives is the quiet, whisperings of the Spirit brought through sincere love. It is always the Spirit who teaches.
Sister Kyle kept in touch with me even after we moved from Bakersfield. She lost her husband a few years after we moved. I was saddened by that news and ached for her. But I was tickled to hear that she had remarried soon after that and she was continuing her active life by being an angel to some other naive, young sister who needed to be loved.
I love you, Sister Kyle!