This week I read the great story of Ammon (Alma 17-21). I've read it about 100 times but I'm always impressed by the humility and diligence of Ammon which wins him the king's trust and ultimately leads to an entire kingdom being converted to the gospel.
A couple things stood out to me this time:
1. Through love, humility and hard work, Ammon was able to bring truth and light to 1000's of people. When he was roughly brought before the king as an "illegal alien" in the land, he wasn't annoyed at his rough treatment nor did he launch into preaching. Instead, he said he was there because he'd simply like to live in that land - "perhaps until the day I die" (Alma 17:23). Impressed by Ammon, the king offered him his daughter's hand in marriage - surely a great honor. But Ammon very politely declined the honor (I assume he might have been concerned about marrying someone he didn't know and who didn't share his faith) and said he'd simply like to serve the king (Alma 17:25). He didn't need glory or honor. He clearly wasn't just there to get some "baptism notches" on his belt. He was in this for the long haul and truly wanted to come to understand these people, to provide whatever help they wanted, and just live what he believed. Perhaps his example would be helpful to others and that was enough. Sure, when he saved the king's flocks through miraculously cutting off the arms of all the assailants who raised a hand against him and the other servants who were trying to save the sheep, that was pretty flashy. But he didn't do it to be flashy. He did it because it was what needed to be done in order to fulfill his obligation to the king. And when he got back to the king's palace after performing such a feat, he went on to the next task the king had assigned to him, preparing his horses for an upcoming trip the king was going on.
Ammon wasn't easily offended and he didn't let proposed honors or success go to his head. He just stuck with humility, duty, loyalty, kindness and love. And it worked wonders.
2. I love how we get to know some valiant ladies as the story goes on (Chapter 19). The faith of the king's wife is beautiful. And I love how the queen's servant, Abish, takes action to save the day. We hear so little about specific women - or women at all - in the scriptures. But here, in one story, two specific women are celebrated for their faith, their initiative to speak up and go against the grain, and their instrumental involvement in events that altered the course of the history of their people. Strong stuff indeed.