And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. (3 Ne. 12:9)
"My car isn't working today. I hope you don't mind if we walk."
Delbert Reeves was my first home teaching companion. I didn't mind walking, but I had planned to spend time with my friends, and walking would add at least an hour to our visit.
"I don't mind," I said rather unconvincingly. Brother Reeves smiled and thanked me for being a "good sport," then announced that we needed to begin with prayer. I was grateful that he didn't ask me to pray. Fourteen years of life had not helped me overcome my shyness, but it had led me to a spiritually vulnerable time when I began to question the need for religion and church. I no longer felt the desire to attend Church meetings. However, I felt compelled not to disappoint my parents.
Brother Reeves was clearly winded as we approached the first home after our two-mile walk/run. I found mild satisfaction in that, thinking, "It serves him right for not having the good sense to own a car that runs."
Brother Reeves boldly knocked, and the door opened to reveal an elderly, white-haired man who eyed us suspiciously before accepting my companion's outstretched hand and warm introduction. In a thick German accent, he announced that he didn't need home teachers.
"We would like to be your friends," said Brother Reeves, while I stood silently. "May we come in for a few minutes?"
He "humpfed" as he opened the door of his small home and signaled us to enter. Before we could be seated, he began to argue.
I squirmed uncomfortably while Brother Reeves listened with a patient smile. He assured this brother that the Lord loved him and that we were glad to be his friends.
He reluctantly agreed to let Brother Reeves pray before we left, but I noticed that the tension had given way to a sense of calmness.
I wondered only briefly whom we were to visit next. My curiosity became anxiety as we followed the walk to the front door. They were a part-member, less-active family of whom I knew little. But what I did know scared me! Their 16-year-old son was big and mean. He successfully bullied most of us smaller and more timid kids.
The mother answered the door and cordially invited us in. My heart sank when we stepped inside and there sat the teenage son with his father watching television - both smoking and holding opened beer cans.
Brother Reeves' brief conversation was mostly with the mother because the other two ignored him. His introduction and short message completed, Brother Reeves stepped toward the men, presumably to shake their hands, when he did the most courageous if not foolhardy thing I had witnessed in all my 14 years. He turned off the TV and said, "The bishop would like us to leave with a prayer in your home. Will that be OK?"
My throat tightened with fear as I began to plot my escape, certain that Brother Reeves had placed us both in grave danger. Perhaps the father thought that a prayer was a justifiable inconvenience if it assured our departure. He said, "Sure, go ahead!"
The first brother we visited welcomed us thereafter with open arms. His lengthy religious discussions with Brother Reeves were no longer heated and tense. I mostly listened and enjoyed his wife's tasty strudel. We prayed together at the conclusion of each visit, and his handshake with Brother Reeves seemed to last a little longer as he looked into my companion's eyes and thanked him for being his friend.
Our visits to the other home were regular, if not always successful. The family had many challenges and difficulties, but they learned, through Brother Reeves' persistent and loving attention to them, that somebody cared. They often prayed with us, and in time of tragedy, when the son was critically injured in an auto accident, the connection with the Church was already established. Priesthood and Relief Society leaders were able to minister to their needs.
When I hear the Savior's words, "Blessed are the peacemakers," my thoughts of gratitude often turn to Delbert Reeves, whose example of love and service helped shape the life of a young man needing direction and blessed the lives of some of God's children who lived outside the warm embrace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.