I can remember the day I met Rosita and her family. Rosita was a very special woman, somewhere in her late fifties and still struggling to raise one of her daughters. Her hair was grayish silver, and her body small and frail. Her hands had been well worked, from many years of labor around the house and abroad. Her bright smile and laughter were always the first to welcome us as we came into the house. Out of all her family she demanded the most respect for the things we were teaching.
Rosita was also the missing link in the family. Although her daughters, as well as her son-in-law had been baptized, she had never agreed to such a commitment.
We had been teaching her, and each time she seemed to grow more interested in what we spoke. Still yet, I wondered how a lady so choice and ready for the Gospel had never accepted baptism by the elders. I knew that she had a smoking problem and resolved, with the help of the Spirit, to invite her to quit smoking.
The opportunity came quickly and unexpectantly. We had been teaching her family when she came in from work, obviously very tired. As we had grown to expect in our many previous encounters, Rosita instantly rushed her daughter off to finish her chores around the house. As I remember, we began to teach her once again parts of the missionary discussions, when the conversation turned to her smoking habit.
"I would do anything to quit smoking. I have been smoking since I was my daughter's age." She moaned, obviously very serious and sincere about what she had said.
My response was natural, a technique well stressed in the mission. "Then get us a piece of paper and we are going to make a goal to help you quit smoking."
She seemed filled with a small glimmer of hope, but also a little bit of hesitation. She told us that many other churches had tried to help her quit, but she had never made it. I smiled and we insisted that she get us a piece of paper.
"This goal is going to be different than all those others. First of all," I started to scribble a few things down on a paper, "let's write down your goal. You are going to quit smoking this week, so you have three cigarettes until tomorrow. The next day, it'll be two, then one, and then none."
She again seemed skeptical that she was capable of such a feat. "This time it's going to be different," I stated again, not letting her doubts interfere with my hopes. "What you are going to do, is you are going to read the Book of Mormon whenever you have a desire to smoke. You are going to read until your desire goes away." She seemed to lighten up further and as we continued to discuss her goal she seemed happier, and finally after several more encouragements began to believe in herself.
Finally the discussion ended with her sudden declaration, both to my companion and my own surprise and excitement. "If I quit smoking, I'll be baptized!"
The only thing we responded was: "Then you'll be baptized."
We continued to work with
Rosita for two weeks. Although she had been smoking for most of her life,
she had finally managed to kick the habit, and at the same time read about
two-thirds of the Book of Mormon. Most important was the unshakable testimony
she gained of the Book of Mormon and its power. I do not think I saw a branch
or ward so happy to welcome a sister into their fold. It was the largest turn
out for baptismal service, as well as the most monumental of my mission. As
she left those waters and greeted us, I can still remember her saying to us,
"Thank you, I couldn't have done this without you." But at the same time knowing
that it was the power of the Book of Mormon, our most powerful missionary