as I focused more on my time inside the temple, I came to some realizations. I realized that my struggle with temptation came not because of the temple but because I’d been neglecting parts of my spiritual life. I believe Heavenly Father prompted me to serve as a temple worker in order to strengthen and prepare me so that I wouldn’t fall.
Working in the temple was like a spiritual resurrection. As I learned all the ordinances by memory, concepts that had seemed old and stale became new and beautiful. Pure doctrine stood out clearer than ever. I would leave the temple with a deeper understanding of Christ’s gospel and His Church. I was filled with strength and determination to choose the right.
Stella understood as well as any three-year-old would, and we urged her to touch the temple. We took several pictures of Stella and her three-month-old brother touching the temple.
When it was time to leave, Stella was especially reluctant to go. We thought we understood why; she was having a great time in a beautiful setting and was undoubtedly feeling the same spirit we were.
After getting her in the car and buckled up, we began to leave. I turned around, waved, and said to Stella, “Say bye-bye, temple.” She looked at the temple, waved, and said, “Bye-bye, temple. Bye-bye, Grandpa.” I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly, but when I turned to Callie and saw her eyes fill with tears, I knew we had both heard the same thing.
Stella’s grandfather—my husband, Tim—had passed away four years before Stella was born. She certainly had seen pictures of him and heard the family talk about him, but he hadn’t come up in our conversations that day.
When Tim passed away, we had only one grandchild. Now we have 12, and whenever I hold one of those precious new babies who so recently left our Heavenly Father’s presence, I want to ask, “Did you get to meet your grandpa? What words of advice did he send you off with?”
My testimony of the sacredness of temples was strengthened that day.
I had seen the name of my great-great-grandfather listed on my pedigree chart for years. All I knew was that he had served in the American Civil War and died shortly after my great-grandfather was born. Since he had the common name of William Johnson, I thought it would be nearly impossible to find out much more about him, but I was wrong.
One evening while I was enjoying the peaceful spirit of the temple, his name suddenly popped into my mind. I knew without a doubt that he wanted me to have his temple work done. That was the beginning of the sweet experience of finding William.
…Over the next several years, William’s story started to unfold. One of my cousins contacted me and shared a copy of William’s Civil War record, complete with his age, the state and county where he was born, his physical description, and his service record. Shortly after that, I found a book chronicling his regiment’s experience in the Civil War, including a record of when he was injured. I was moved to tears when I compared his record with the regiment’s story and began to understand a little of what he had endured. I also felt William’s delight at being remembered.
Along the way we have found census records showing him with his parents and siblings, brief stories about his family in a county history where they lived, and photos of his parents’ gravestones, along with his mother’s obituary, at Findagrave.com. As each new piece of information is found, we take family names to the temple to have their temple work done, and we often feel their joy at being able to progress and be reunited with their loved ones.
Finding William has helped me to understand myself better by deepening my love and appreciation for those who came before me.
Following the stake president’s counsel, El began every indexing session with prayer and tried to see the names on the screen as members of a family. “It became a very emotional project for me, filled with sacred experiences.
“One morning I started indexing a batch. After I had entered everything in the computer and was getting ready to hit the submit button, I heard very clearly the voice of a young girl, who said, ‘I am not a son.’ It was a 13-year-old girl named Ellen, whom I had marked as a son instead of a daughter. I’m sure that Ellen will thank me someday for correcting that mistake. I have a testimony of how actively inspired this work is from beyond the veil.”
Since the beginning, she’s felt divine approbation as the Spirit has guided her to specific places and individuals. “When the Spirit guides, we go and the most amazing things happen,” she said.
For example, she recalled going for a walk in Bountiful, Utah, on one of her many fact-finding trips to the United States and getting lost. She approached a woman on the street to ask for directions and the woman, noticing the Kiwi accent, asked where she was from and why she was in Utah. After Rangi Parker explained that she was collecting the histories of missionaries that had served in New Zealand, the woman said, “My great-grandfather served in New Zealand, and we have all this information at our house. Would you like to come and see?”
“That happened so many times,” Rangi Parker said. “I’ve learned over the years to listen to the Spirit.”
When I went to see the bishop, he immediately welcomed me into his office. With difficulty, I tried to articulate why I was there. After hiding my sins so long, I hardly knew where to start. He lovingly encouraged me to come clean. I explained the general nature of my sins and asked for time to provide the full inventory of my misdeeds. He readily agreed.
I still had yet to fully confess, but I felt the weight of the world lifting from my shoulders. I also felt a renewed hope of freedom, finally, from this burden.
I spent the next weeks praying, reading the scriptures, and creating my inventory to present to both my bishop and my Heavenly Father. First I took my list to Heavenly Father, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, to let Him know I was sorry and sincerely desired to change. I set another appointment with the bishop and shared my list in its entirety. He didn’t frown, yell, or chastise me; instead, he gave me a big hug. He let me know of his love and the Lord’s love, informing me that I was now on the path of true repentance. I knew it was true.
Confessing my sins, formerly my biggest fear, became one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. It was the first step for me to truly understand the gift and the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Little by little, mistakes and decisions made me deaf to the whisperings of the Spirit. My scriptures ended up in the deepest part of my trunk and I even stopped praying.
My life was not turning out—too many tears and disappointments. It was hard to understand why my family had to undergo so many trials. Right before my last year of high school, my parents had to leave Poland. The prospect of relocating again caused me anguish. Finally, I again knelt in prayer, truly meaning my words: “Heavenly Father, Thy will be done, not mine.”
That prayer marked the beginning of my return to the Church, which I knew would require repentance. That Sunday, for the first time in nearly a year, I attended sacrament meeting. The next day I again decided to be baptized.
The Lord helped me through my difficult process of returning to what I had once known to be true. I now define those difficult circumstances as some of the sweetest blessings from God. He did not forget me. He listened to my prayers and waited for me to recognize His answer. He helped me through all the suffering I endured, strengthening and protecting me. In the process I gained greater clarity on the meaning of Christ’s divine mission and His Atonement.
I was baptized in April 2011. My plane has taken off since—I now reside in France, which means more changes. However, I am now grateful to Him for my life and for the circumstances that He had me live through. Because of my testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I now understand that I am not alone, no matter what destinations life brings next.
One day while praying, I felt inspired to investigate the Mormon Church. I learned that Salt Lake City, Utah, was the Church’s headquarters. I decided to write a letter and addressed it to “Men in charge of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.”
In 1959, in response to my letter, Brother Lamar Williams from the Church Missionary Department sent me Joseph Smith’s testimony, the Articles of Faith, and the Book of Mormon. I studied them all and was convinced of their truthfulness. However, there were no missionaries or members to teach me in India.
Then in January 1961, Elder Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited Delhi. I spent three days traveling with him to the Taj Mahal at Agra and to Dharamsala. I was like a sponge soaking up all the gospel lessons he taught. On the final day of his visit, I was ready for baptism. On January 7, 1961, I was baptized by Elder Kimball in the Yamuna River; Sister Kimball was the official witness, though there were many curious onlookers. I was confirmed that evening.
Those three days when the Lord’s Apostle taught me without any interruptions have been some of the best days of my life. Parting was sad because he had become my special Mormon friend.
I often look back at my journey from being a “jungle boy” in rural India to being where I am today and know that my life and faith are truly miracles. The Lord’s embroidery of my life is more beautiful than I ever expected. How wonderful it was to have the Lord’s anointed prophet Spencer W. Kimball school me and walk with me at key times in my life’s journey.
After about four months there, I was ready to leave. I was convinced I would be transferred.
Sunday night I waited by the phone until my zone leader called. When he reported that I was assigned to stay in the same area for another six weeks, I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought there must have been a mistake!
The following week was a total disaster for me and probably for my companion and the people under our stewardship as well. I refused to believe this was the right decision. Still, I put on a big smile whenever we saw or talked to people, but deep inside I remained unhappy. In my pride I continued to tell myself that I was not where I was supposed to be. I still hoped that my mission president would call and tell me that I was being transferred to another area.
The next Sunday morning while I was grudgingly getting ready for church, the phone rang. It was the mission president. He greeted me with his usual kind, sincere voice and then said, “Sister Cho, yesterday at lunch I thought of you and had a feeling that I needed to call you to let you know you are in the right place. You are where you’re supposed to be.” I teared up when I heard his words.
I thanked him and hung up the phone. As I began to cry, a crystal-clear feeling came strongly to my heart that there were unfinished assignments waiting for me in our area. I also knew that my Heavenly Father knew my thoughts and frustration. He understood my weakness, and He sent His servant to reassure me.
After that phone call, I began to pull myself together. I prayed for strength every day, asking to see more clearly how I could do what the Lord expected me to do. Throughout the next five weeks, my companion and I witnessed many miracles as we exercised enough faith to work hard. A very prepared investigator moved into our area and was baptized within that transfer.
We were also invited into homes of people who originally hadn’t welcomed us. We met many new people who were having a hard time and were blessed to share the comforting words of God with them. Although some didn’t then choose to be baptized, I will never forget their shining faces or how the Spirit and the love of God touched their hearts—and mine.
The sacrament is very important to me. A few years ago I took a job working on a project for an oil company in Alaska. In that environment, thousands of oilfield workers and managers work on a rotating schedule- they fly up and live in dorms for weeks at a time, then go home to their families for weeks at a time, then repeat.
Before I left, I had no clue how I would find a weekly sacrament meeting in the dorm buildings of the Alaskan oil fields. I said a prayer and asked God to help me find a way to take the sacrament regularly there.
To get a dorm room assignment, you submit a form and there are a couple of staffers who put your request into a database that finds an available dorm room for the time you have requested. They do this scheduling continuously for the thousand of workers who rotate in and out of there. When I finally got to my building after a morning flight, I went inside to the front desk and they gave me my assigned dorm room. When I got to the room, the guy who stayed there before me had not fully cleared out; his luggage was on the floor. I assumed he did not yet have a place to take his luggage, and figured he would come back and remove it later in the day. I dropped my bags on the floor and laid my scriptures on a table, and went off to work. After work I went back to that dorm room, and the other guy had taken his stuff out. Next to my scriptures, he had left a note scribbled on the back of a tithing envelope, letting me know the building and room and time of the weekly sacrament meetings for Latter-Day Saints.
A few days later I went to sacrament meeting, and that guy was there. He and I were the only Latter-Day Saints out of thousands of workers up there. He told me that he had been transferred to another room but didn’t have time to move his bags that morning of my arrival, but when he went back to retrieve them he saw my scriptures on the table in the room and felt like it would be a good idea to let me know where sacrament meeting was.
On a trip to a nearby city in Estonia, I saw a man begging for money. Amazingly, I recognized him from when I served as a missionary in that city 10 years earlier. He was carrying a big bag of plastic bottles, just as before, to collect for recycling money….
I figured this might be the last time I saw him, and I felt like I should give him something. The problem was I only had a bill that was worth more than I was willing to give. I cringed at the choice I had––give him nothing or give him more than I wanted. I decided it wouldn’t really make a big difference for me and it would make his day, so I gave him the money.
Less than two days later I found myself in a similar situation, but this time I was the one begging for mercy. I had mixed up the date for an important scholarship application. I thought I had turned it in two weeks early, but I was horrified when I double-checked the date and saw that I had sent it in one day late.
The sum of the scholarship was exactly 100 times the amount I had given to the beggar, and the irony was not lost on me. I found myself begging for mercy, both in prayer to my Heavenly Father and via email to the university officials. They said they would include the application but note it was late.
My prayer was answered and I was blessed to receive the scholarship, which financially helped my wife and me a lot. But more importantly this experience taught me a valuable lesson: are we not all beggars before God?
…Suddenly I had an impression that I should visit a girl in my ward named Rachel (name has been changed). I didn’t know Rachel very well, but I had met her a few months earlier. She had never been active in the Church, even as a child. Although she made it clear that she was not interested in attending Church activities, she was always polite whenever I visited.
Since I could not reach her by phone and the feeling to visit her persisted, I decided to take a slight detour to stop by her home.
When Rachel answered the door, I immediately sensed from her unusually subdued countenance that something was wrong. Despite her apparent sadness, she extended her arms to greet me with a hug and invited me to come inside.
With tears in her eyes, Rachel explained that her father had died exactly five years earlier—to the date. She had been estranged from her mother and sister for many years, but she had always been particularly close to her father. His loss was especially devastating for that reason. She found it particularly challenging to cope with her loneliness on this anniversary of his passing.
As Rachel and I talked, she told me that she often felt her father’s presence and hoped she would see him again someday. I bore testimony of eternal families and the plan of salvation, and I assured her that she would see him again.
Before long I could see Rachel’s countenance brightening. When I left, Rachel said she felt that my visit was heaven sent, and she thanked me for the gift of friendship. I hugged her again and thanked her for letting me spend time with her.
As I drove home, I felt deep gratitude and reverence toward my Heavenly Father. In His infinite mercy, He had enabled me, one of His spirit daughters, to finish a daunting school assignment several hours early, just so I could be available to help answer another daughter’s unspoken prayer of loneliness.
“She doesn’t have a car seat for her baby. I could give her mine.”
And then I talked myself out of it.
“She probably doesn’t speak English. I might offend her. My car seat is awfully worn; maybe she wouldn’t want it. If she did, how would I replace it?”
So I did nothing.
She slipped into the driver’s seat and drove away.
Before I reached the library’s doors, regret engulfed me. I knew I had made the wrong choice, and there was no way to undo it.
I pulled on the doors but they didn’t budge. The library hadn’t opened yet. I spent the rest of my errand run endlessly replaying the scene, haunted by the fact that I had done nothing.
After my last errand, I decided to try the library again. I pulled into the same parking spot as before. To my surprise, I saw the same mother and son parked beside me again. An immense burden lifted from my heart.
This time I acted without hesitation. I unbuckled my child’s car seat and approached the young mother. She didn’t speak English. With gestures, I pointed to her baby and the car seat and her car. Together we buckled the car seat in the car. As I showed her how to use it, I realized I already knew the only Spanish I needed to know: “gracias.”
My heart overflowed with gratitude to a merciful Heavenly Father for giving me a second chance to help a sister in need.
I added one final errand to the list—a nearby thrift store. I buckled in my daughter and drove carefully to the store. In the back corner of the shop, sitting on the floor, was a car seat—identical to the one I had just given away and just as worn. I purchased it, awed and humbled at the morning’s sequence of events.
When I was in college, one summer I decided I wanted to do all of my home teaching and not miss a single monthly appointment. I prayed and asked God for help. I did great until the end of the summer, when I called the apartment of a girl I home taught, and her roommate told me she was gone for the rest of that month, on tour with a choir group. My heart sank, because I couldn’t see how my prayer for help to serve with full home teaching that summer could be answered.
A couple of weeks later I flew home from Utah to Los Angeles for a visit. Walking through the airport in LA packed with tens of thousands of people, I happened to see the girl who I home taught. Flying around the US in her choir travels, she had a quick layover in LA, right at the same time I was also passing through the airport. I asked her if we could have a quick home teaching visit and she laughed and agreed, and said she thought it was a “home teaching miracle.”
I turned to notice two boys about five and seven years old running through the store parking lot with tears streaming down their faces. The salesman looked concerned as he called to them.
As I turned back toward my car, the Spirit whispered, “You can be of help here.” The whisper was quiet yet so clear that a moment later I was running through the parking lot toward the boys.
I found the older one standing by a brown minivan. I approached and knelt beside him.
“Hi. My name is Christina. Are you OK?” At my words, he cried harder and hid his face in his arm. The salesman and the other boy joined us. “I think they only speak French,” the salesman told me. “We just found them running through the store, lost.”
I repeated my introduction to the children in French. French was my first language, but I hadn’t spoken it since I was adopted into an English-speaking family as a small child. Normally, my French is poor. At that moment, though, it was neither clumsy nor stilted. The words were clear in my mind and my voice as I comforted the boys.
Between sobs, the older boy explained in a quick torrent of words that he and his brother could not find their parents anywhere in the store and had run outside looking for them.
…As I followed the boy to his father, I found that I could no longer manage even a good-bye in French. I tried in vain to say anything the boys could understand, but I could say nothing more than a few random words. Finally, I resorted to English, saying to the boy, “Bye. It was nice to meet you.”
As I left the boys with their parents, I was full of gratitude. Heavenly Father had worked through me to comfort two of His little ones. I was humbled that the Lord could magnify my limited abilities to fulfill His purposes.
And then, as we are accustomed to do, he bore his testimony, as we called it, or made a declaration of his personal belief in this, and then turned to me and said, “And now my companion would like to say how he feels.” And I remember thinking, “Well, dandy, I can bless the food,” because that’s the only intelligent thing I might have done in German.
But it was interesting — and this is a tender moment for me — because the conviction I’d been searching for came, and it came in this way: I remember sort of composing myself and trying to figure out what I might say in German, which is a very logical language if you know the rules. I remember in that moment about every German word or phrase I had ever read or heard sort of coming together in a way that I was able to express myself.
And I did tell those people that I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that I knew that the Book of Mormon was the word of God and that I knew that the church had been restored through Joseph Smith. And it’s interesting, because in that moment I came to know — and one of our church leaders has since taught — that beautiful principle that the acquiring of a testimony, the acquiring of a conviction, is in the bearing of it, in the stating of it; not that it’s self-conversion in that process, but that if the Spirit, which is what we believe, the Holy Ghost really convinces us — and it’s there because the Bible teaches us to help us come into all truth and to know truth; that’s the role that the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost is to play — then somehow by walking down that tunnel, maybe just from the light into darkness a little bit, brings the light and the conviction.
Much to my dismay and astonishment, negativity crept into my life. I felt ignored, useless, and invisible to family, friends, and ward members. I indulged in self-pity and felt resentful toward others.
One Sunday, I sat in the back of the chapel. I watched a friendly and outgoing sister meet with other ward members. She was kind and generous to everyone.
“But,” I thought, “she has never asked how I am doing, she has never offered her condolences, she has never validated how hard my husband’s passing has been for me!”
These negative thoughts continued as the sacrament hymn began. I felt I could not partake of the sacrament with such resentful feelings in my heart.
“You must ask for help to get rid of these feelings now!” I thought.
I prayed for the darkness to be removed. This sister did not deserve my resentment in the slightest. I prayed for forgiveness and for help to let go of my resentment. By the time a deacon stood in front of me with the sacrament tray, I felt I could partake of the sacrament. Throughout the next week, I continued to pray for guidance.
The next Sunday, I walked into the foyer and saw the woman I had focused on the week before.
“Oh, Carol!” she said. “I have been thinking so much about you! I can only imagine how difficult things have been for you. You were your husband’s caregiver for so long. This must be a difficult adjustment for you. How are you doing?”
We talked for a few minutes, and she gave me a wonderful hug. I was speechless! I sat down on my usual bench in the chapel with a big smile. Immediately I thanked my Father in Heaven. He had sent this good sister a memo to say the words I needed to hear.
Upon arrival at the mission home, we realized that all of our property had indeed been stolen. The loss of the clothing and a large amount of cash created an immediate but only temporary problem. What was more disheartening was that my scriptures were in the stolen briefcase along with the inspired ideas I had just received in Cochabamba. I was overwhelmed with discouragement, anger, and feelings of helplessness.
Upon arrival at the mission home, we realized that all of our property had indeed been stolen. The loss of the clothing and a large amount of cash created an immediate but only temporary problem. What was more disheartening was that my scriptures were in the stolen briefcase along with the inspired ideas I had just received in Cochabamba. I was overwhelmed with discouragement, anger, and feelings of helplessness.
…On August 18, a Church employee, Brother Eb Davis, arrived in Ecuador from Bolivia with a package from the mission president in La Paz. He laid my scriptures on my desk along with the inspired notes I had made of my spiritual impressions.
The joy I experienced is indescribable. To realize that the Lord, in some miraculous way, could lift those books out of La Paz, a city of 700,000–800,000 people 1,300 miles away, from the hands of thieves and return them intact—not one page removed, torn, or soiled—is still beyond me. That day I promised the Lord I would make better use of my time and my scriptures—as instruments in His hands for teaching the gospel—than I had ever made before.
From then on, Marco suffered seizures off and on for the next five years. When we took him to bed each evening, we wondered if in the middle of the night, we would again have to rush him to the hospital. We had a difficult time sleeping during those stressful years, and we relied on prayer, faith, fasting, and priesthood blessings.
When Marco was about six, Marianela called me at work and told me to hurry to the hospital. Marco had suffered a serious seizure and was in a coma. When she called, I was working on the renovation of the Argentina Missionary Training Center, located adjacent to the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple.
Before I left for the hospital, a friend and fellow worker said, “Since we’re so close to the house of the Lord, why don’t we pray together first?” The temple was closed for renovation and expansion, but we approached the Lord’s house, where I prayed for Marco.
Despite everything we had gone through with Marco, I felt gratitude to God for the time Marianela and I had been able to share with him. As I prayed, I told Heavenly Father that we had tried to be good parents and had taken care of Marco the best we could. I also told Him that we would accept His will if He called Marco home.
When I arrived at the hospital, I didn’t know if Marco would survive the coma or, if he came out of it, whether he would be able to walk or talk again. After a grueling two hours, he awoke. He was exhausted, but he was all right. From then on, miraculously, he improved. Eventually, Marco was weaned off his medication and released for good from the hospital.
Marianela and I look back on that difficult time grateful that we still have Marco and grateful for the things we learned. Our trial united us and made us stronger spiritually. Without it, we might not have learned to recognize the many ways the Lord shows His hand in our lives.
When I was about 15 years old and our ward scout troop went on a 45-mile hike over Glen Pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains. At the end of the hike we were dirty and sweaty, and next to the parking area where our cars were, we found a path leading to a clear, cool river. We unlocked the SUV and van we had brought, put our packs into those vehicles, and jumped in the river.
After we were done cooling off, we went back to the cars and got ready to leave, but the adult leader who had brought the van could not find its keys. We searched everywhere to no avail, then gathered around for a prayer. We prayed that the Lord would show us where the keys were, then went back out to search…again, to no avail. We repeated that process with the same dispiriting outcome, and then decided that we would go to a lodge up the road and call for a locksmith to drive into the mountains to where we were, to get the van started for the 4-hour drive home.
I went with our YM leader in the SUV and we drove up to the lodge. He went in and after a minute or two, he came walking back out with a stranger. Our leader related that he had gone in to the front counter of the lodge and told them he needed help getting a locksmith to start the van, and there was a man at the counter who overheard the conversation. He inserted himself into the conversation and asked what the make and model of the van was, and when our YM leader told him, the man said that in his job, he had helped to develop the ignition system for that specific model of Dodge van. We drove him back to our van and opened the hood, and within a minute or two he had started the van. He was someone with very specific resources to offer us, and had been placed exactly where he was needed to answer our prayer for revelation.
Elaine Cannon and Liz Price:
…someone called the elders. When they arrived and preparations were under way to anoint and bless her husband, Liz was stunned as she sensed something different in the room. Her heart began to pound and tears flowed freely from her eyes. When the prayer was finished and the attendants continued their emergency measures, the tube slipped right into place down the man’s throat. Liz describes what followed:
Prayers were immediately answered! That had never happened to me before. My husband did not live, but I was comforted. Imagine! I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt Jesus Christ lived. My whole understanding of the meaning of life and the place of the Savior in it opened up. A few years later our eighteen-year-old son was killed on his birthday. Next week, a good friend will do the temple work for our son, and then our family will be sealed. How can I express my feelings about the Lord? He lives and my loved ones live, wherever they are in heaven. I feel closer to my husband now than when I was a loveblind newlywed. I saw through a glass darkly before. Timing is everything, isn’t it? Oh, I know the Lord lives and answers prayers. I have a way to go, but I know that and my joy is overflowing.
I sat there and I listened and I thought “There’s no way in hell I’m going to be baptized tomorrow.”…
…so I entered into prayer and after closing that prayer, I just tossed and turned in bed, and entered into prayer a second time. And the truth is, I received personal revelation. Did not see angelic beings, did not see God the Father or the Savior, but I heard – heard:
“This is the restored gospel, and you are to join.”
No mention of the priesthood restriction, whether it was of God or of man, whatever- just “This is the restored gospel.”
So based on that, and based on my Christian upbringing…when you hear that voice, that voice of deity…you have a very clear choice. And so the next day I was baptized.
One evening many years ago, my car broke down. I coasted down an exit ramp and barely had enough momentum to turn into a gas station.
I was a young mother at the time. I had my toddler with me, as well as my sisters, ages four and six, who were visiting from Kansas. My husband was away doing Church service, and it would be several hours before he would be home to receive a phone call. I didn’t know what to do.
Just then, a family in a large van stopped and asked if I needed help. They looked trustworthy, so I asked if they could jump my car’s battery. When that proved unsuccessful, they generously offered to drive an hour out of their way to see us safely home. They said they had more than enough room for the four of us in their van.
Once we were back on the road, they told me they were from Idaho and on vacation visiting family in Utah and Nevada. They explained that they had felt impressed to take their large van on vacation, even though their smaller car would have been more economical. As they traveled, they also felt impressed to stop at the same gas station I had pulled into. They said they were grateful they could help because they had followed their promptings.
I invited my friends to my baptism, but they completely disregarded my invitation. I really did not know what to do. Before my baptism, I sat alone on the sofa in the foyer of the chapel, praying that my friends would miraculously appear so I could tell them about the positive changes I had made in my life and prove to them that I was making the right decision by being baptized.
My friends never showed up, but while I poured my heart out to God, I felt an impression. At that point, I felt great love from my Heavenly Father. I knew that He was there and had truly listened to my prayer.
I originally wanted to be baptized simply because of all the wonderful things happening in my life, but at that moment, I came to understand the purpose of my baptism.
A couple of days before the worldwide day of service on December 1, a thought popped into my mind of whom I needed to help. Immediately, I thought, “Anyone but him!” This person had hurt me deeply for many years, but the more his name nagged at me, the more I knew that the thought had come from the Spirit.
I told my husband what I was thinking, and he said that serving this man would be good for me. Still, I felt extremely nervous at the thought of helping him. I knew I couldn’t do this on my own, so I prayed for strength and for someone to go with me. Eventually, I called the sister missionaries, and they agreed to go with me.
December 1 came, and I was so nervous that I felt shaky while I drove. We prayed together when we got to the apartment. I took a few deep breaths and knocked on the door. The man opened the door, but he didn’t seem to recognize me. I asked if he knew who I was. He thought I was just one of the sister missionaries. When I told him who I was, he was surprised but pleased that I had come to see him. An awkward moment arose when I told him that it was a worldwide day of service, and we wanted to help him in any way we could.
I delegated jobs to the missionaries, and we went to work cleaning his apartment. After a couple of hours, we finished and left. It wasn’t until I was driving home that I realized I was laughing and happy. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: Heavenly Father had taken away all of my hurt, pain, bitterness, and grief. It was gone! And I was free from all the anguish I had carried for so many years. Heavenly Father had blessed me with the strength to finally forgive this person. It was marvelous how light my heart felt.
I relied on the Lord to help me care for my family and meet my other commitments while I dealt with soul-distressing questions about my brother and his death.
When I asked the Lord for help, I felt prompted to write my questions to the prophet in a letter. I truly believed that my questions were so big and deep that only a prophet could answer them, but I knew it probably wasn’t necessary to send the prophet a letter. I hesitated but then recalled the success I’ve had acting on past promptings.
I went ahead and wrote a tearful letter to President Russell M. Nelson. I wrote about how I felt and how I could move forward if I just knew the answers to the questions swirling in my mind. I concluded my letter, put it in an envelope addressed to President Nelson, and tucked it into my scripture bag.
I forgot about the letter. I noticed it in my scripture bag some time later and opened it. As I read through the letter, I realized that through faith and my own scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, and patience, the Holy Ghost had led me to the answers to every single question I had written down! I felt close to the Savior and His love.
I am so glad I did not mail the letter! Instead, I gained important experiences that taught me again that the Lord cherishes me and all His children individually, and that He will guide and direct us.
Not long after my wife, Mabel, joined me from Nigeria in 1984, I started having a burning desire to again draw closer to God and belong to a church. A friend visiting from Nigeria didn’t know I was looking for a church, but he told me about a church he had heard of that had a book called the Book of Mormon.
After that, I continued looking for churches. I found a church called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The word saint caught my attention. I didn’t know there was a church with members called saints. That Sunday I decided to check it out.
At the sacrament meeting I attended, the congregation sang hymns in a reverent manner, priests blessed bread and water, and the service was conducted in order and humility. Afterward, as I walked to the foyer and contemplated the service, I heard my name.
“Simeon,” the voice of the Spirit said, “this is the place.”
At that point, two missionaries approached. They introduced themselves and the Book of Mormon. I looked at them and said, “I don’t know anything about the Book of Mormon, but I know the Bible. I am ready.”
When important changes to bless our homes were announced at the October 2018 general conference, I testified “that in the deliberations of the C
At that time, other revelations relating to sacred temple ordinances had been received but not announced or implemented. This guidance commenced with individual prophetic revelation to President Russell M. Nelson and tender and powerful confirmation to those participating in the process. President Nelson specifically involved the sisters who preside over the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations. The final guidance, in the temple, to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was profoundly spiritual and powerful. We each knew we had received the mind, will, and voice of the Lord.
Most of our guidance comes from the Holy Ghost. Sometimes and for some purposes, it comes directly from the Lord. I personally testify that this is true. Guidance for the Church, as a whole, comes to the President and prophet of the Church.
Just as the car reached the crown of the rise, President Hinckley said, “Stop the car, stop the car.” He then pointed to the right at a parcel of ground and said, “What about this property? This is where the temple goes. This is where the Lord wants the temple. Can you get it? Can you get it?”
We hadn’t looked at this property. It was farther back and away from the main road, and it was not listed for sale. When we responded we didn’t know, President Hinckley pointed to the property and said again, “This is where the temple goes.” We stayed a few minutes, then left for the airport to return home.
The next day, Brother Williams and I were called to President Hinckley’s office. He had drawn out everything on a piece of paper: the roads, the chapel, turn left here, X marks the spot for the temple. He asked what we had found out. We told him he couldn’t have picked a more difficult property. It was owned by three individuals: one from Canada, one from India, and one from China! And it didn’t have the necessary religious zoning.
“Well, do your best,” he said.
Then the miracles happened. Within several months we owned the property, and later the city of Langley, British Columbia, gave permission to build the temple.
And I thought, “Now he’s going to announce the decision, because I’ve seen this miracle.” And he said “Wait a minute; I think we’ll bring this matter up again some other time. I sense there is someone in the room who is not yet settled.”
They had gone to the next item, and I thought “That is strange.” And then I watched somebody, one of the Twelve, walked past President Lee and said “Thank you. There’s something I didn’t have a chance to say.”
Twenty-nine and a half years have passed since that day, during which I have served under six of the Prophet-Presidents of the Church: Presidents Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Spencer W Kimball and their great and inspired counselors. What a rare and marvelous blessing!
These have been busy, demanding, challenging years, yet rewarding beyond my powers to measure. The members of each of the First Presidencies, the Twelve and other General Authorities have been good to me. The Lord has been good to me! Many, many times he has put ideas into my mind and even words into my mouth that have enabled me to meet difficult situations or remove resistant obstacles that otherwise might have impaired the work of the Society for which I had been given responsibility.
One night when Pedrito was almost ten months old, Nancy dreamed that she saw through her kitchen window—instead of the usual array of crowded buildings—a beautiful, spacious lawn extending as far as she could see. In the distance a man was digging in the earth. She approached him and asked,
“What are you doing?”
“I’m planting herbs to cure the illnesses of man,” he replied.
Then Nancy saw an unusual tree nearby. “What is the purpose of that tree?” she asked.
“The tree holds the cure for Pedrito’s illness,” replied the stranger.
“Tell me,” she asked eagerly, “how can I give the tree’s medicine to my child?”
Before the stranger could answer, Nancy saw a man in the distance, standing at the window of a house, looking at her. Immediately he and another man, both dressed in white, left the house and approached her.
Frightened, Nancy ran trembling into her own house and bolted the door. They came to her barred window, looked in at her, and asked, “Why are you afraid?”
“Because—because I’m here alone with my sick child.”
“But do you not know that bolted doors and barred windows cannot keep us out?” they asked kindly. “We were sent by God to help you because of your faith and your diligence in studying the Bible and seeking the word of God.”
I was finishing my mission in the Illinois Chicago South Mission when I received special permission to visit a previous area and have dinner with the Tremillo family. I had served in their ward for a whole year and had grown close to them.
During dinner, Brother Tremillo encouraged me to share at least one message of happiness on my way home. He said the Lord would put someone on my flight who would need my help. I promised him that I would.
From that time to the time I left Chicago, I was also praying to receive confirmation that the Lord would accept my sacrifice of serving as a full-time missionary.
Three weeks later, I boarded the plane that would take me home. As I approached my seat, the person in the seat next to mine looked up. “No way!” she said. “I can’t believe it!”
My first thought was, “Great, she hates Mormons!” When I sat down, she told me that her name was Kelly and that she was a recent convert. She expressed how happy she was that a missionary was sitting next to her. Kelly told me that the last person she had sat next to was anti-Mormon and unkind in how she expressed her opinion of Kelly’s newfound faith. Kelly was distraught and had questions. She had been praying for answers and comfort.
I said a prayer in my heart and testified of the truth of the gospel and of God’s love for His children, including her. I told her about the advice I had received from Brother Tremillo. I said that God had prepared this special moment just for her.
With tears in her eyes, Kelly thanked me. She also said, “I can tell that you were a good missionary and that the Lord accepts your sacrifice.” At that moment, I felt God’s deep love for me. It was my turn to cry. With tears in my eyes, I thanked Kelly and told her that she had been an answer to my prayer. I answered a few more of her questions, and we exchanged email addresses.
Our flight landed and we waved goodbye as she walked to her next flight. I will always be grateful that Heavenly Father was willing to bless us in such a tender way.
I followed this pattern for some time but couldn’t find what I was seeking. I tried traditional and nontraditional worship groups. I remember wanting to give up, but I prayed to Heavenly Father, asking Him that if His Church was on the earth, would He please help me find it?
Days later, I heard a knock at the door and found two Latter-day Saint missionaries standing on our doorstep. I opened the door partway and told them I wasn’t interested. They had a response for that. I said something else so that they would leave. They had a response for that too. Then I had a thought: “This could be what you’ve been praying for.” I immediately countered that thought with another: “Nah.”
But as they continued to tell me about the Church, I couldn’t help feeling interested. They asked if they could come in, and I agreed. They gave me the first discussion and asked me to study what they were teaching me.
The missionaries continued to teach me, usually during the day on Wednesdays. Mysteriously, each Wednesday one of our four oldest sons, who at that point ranged in age from 5 to 12, would get “sick” and stay home from school. I didn’t notice this pattern for weeks, but ultimately I realized that they were taking turns sitting in on the lessons so they could share with each other what the missionaries were teaching. The gospel excited them too.
My husband wasn’t yet persuaded, but he agreed to take the discussions. One day he returned from work early and said, “The missionaries are coming over tonight, and I haven’t yet read the materials they left. I came home early to catch up for our appointment.”
That surprised me, but what shocked me later that night was his response to the missionaries when they asked if he would be baptized: he said yes. He’d gone with me to the various churches I’d attended over the years but had never committed to join any of them. It was monumental for him to decide the Church was true.
We love the Irish people and cherish our experiences with them. For example, a sacred thing occurred that underscores the work, I believe. We were meeting with a lovely less-active member and her nonmember husband. I was testifying of the divinity of Jesus Christ, of his marvelous plan of salvation, and of the gift of salvation that he gave to all men through his atonement and the resurrection. The spirit was permeating our souls and our entire physical bodies. We could all feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and we were visibly touched.
As I finished talking, the sweet sister said, through her tears, that midway in my testimony she looked closely at me. She heard my voice change completely and then my face changed. All the wrinkles faded away, my face glowed, and I looked like a young woman in my late teens or early twenties. My companion and husband also testified that he heard and felt the distinct change in my voice and presentation. I felt very blessed to have been able to have the Spirit testify through me, a great-grandmother, of the reality of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of his saving gospel for all men. We talked later about this singular witness to us all that the Lord Jesus validated our efforts to serve him. It was a beautiful, unusual miracle.
As we passed through a populated street, we heard a faint voice calling to us from a low-fenced compound. We looked over the fence and saw a middle-aged man lying flat on his stomach by the gate.
He bade us come in, but there was no way we could enter the compound. The gate was locked and we thought that scaling over the fence would be unethical. I was prompted to check the padlock on the gate again. After a few minutes we managed to remove the padlock from the outside and open the gate. We could see that the man had been sick and unattended to. He explained that he had been ill and felt intense pain that prevented him from standing up.
After talking with him, we followed him as he crept back into his house. He asked that we pray for him, and we offered to give him a blessing. When we laid our hands upon his head, I felt a lump in my throat and couldn’t utter a word. Fear came over me, I began to shake and sweat, and tears flowed down my cheeks. I struggled to pray aloud, so I began to pray in my heart that Heavenly Father would loosen my tongue according to His will.
Suddenly, my tongue gained utterance. I knew I was speaking, but I wasn’t in control of the words. I just heard my own voice asking Heavenly Father to heal this suffering man. Before we said amen, the man had fallen asleep. We left him and went to our other appointments but planned to come back on our way to our apartment to check on him.
We returned and to my great astonishment, the man came running toward us, shouting, “It worked! It worked!” We were so overwhelmed with joy I couldn’t hold back my tears.
In sacrament meeting the following Sunday, the bishop suddenly paused at the pulpit and looked straight at the chapel door. We looked back and saw the man we had blessed. The bishop knew him and was surprised at his entering a church. From then on, the man attended sacrament meetings and other classes regularly. I was eventually transferred out of the area.
When I prayed, God’s answer came clear as sunshine. I knew in my heart it was true.
Unfortunately, when I took a new job, I lost contact with the missionaries. In the months that followed, my marriage ended and I tried to start a new life with my children.
Eventually, I remarried. One day my husband said he missed having God in his life. We decided to attend the church he once attended. When we entered the building, I saw a Book of Mormon on a table in the foyer. This was the same church I had been introduced to before! I loved the Spirit I felt there. When we left, I asked my husband how I could be baptized.
“You need to be taught by the missionaries,” he said.
“I was taught five years ago!” I replied.
My children and I were taught the lessons. Our baptism day was the happiest day of our lives.
Several years later, I felt that I should tell the sisters who first taught me that I had joined the Church. On Facebook, I found a group of returned missionaries from the Brazil Santa Maria Mission. It included one of the sisters who had taught me. I sent her a friend request and told her who I was, how I became a member of the Church, that our family was sealed in the temple, and that my son was serving a full-time mission. I told her all this was possible because she and her companion had planted the seed of the restored gospel in my heart.
We began teaching the McLean family the next evening. The kids seemed to enjoy our visits and accepted what we taught. Jackie accepted everything we taught her although though she said she had been a Pentecostal Christian who had read and believed a great deal of anti-Mormon literature.
On the 21st of November, as Elder Buhler and I were teaching Jackie McLean about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I began to have the strongest sense of déjà vu (the feeling you have experienced something before) that I had ever experienced. It became stronger and stronger. I stopped teaching, turned to Elder Buhler, and said, “I am feeling really strong déjà vu.”
Elder Buhler said, “So am I!”
Then Jackie said, “Would you like me to tell you why?” We nodded and she told us that beginning a couple of years ago she began having a recurring dream that she was in some deep distress and there were two young men in dark suits with short hair who were praying over her. The dream was very vivid and it bothered her. She did not know the two young men and she did not know if, in the dream, she was dying or was dead. She was bothered enough that she asked a number of people, including her pastor and a palm reader, to “interpret” the dream. No one gave her a satisfactory answer. She continued to have the dream a number of times in the next two years.
She then said, “When you gave me the blessing on the day we met, the dream came to me again and I saw the faces in my dream. It was you, Elder Buhler, and you, Elder Dollahite.” That was why she felt sick after the blessing — because she thought it may mean she was going to die. She told us that was why she agreed to be taught and accepted everything we had taught her even though she had been told by her Christian pastors that the Mormon Church was a cult and she should never listen to Mormon missionaries. Indeed, she was one of the most faithful members of her church…
I always kind of felt like it didn’t matter where I served because regardless of where I went, there would be people who were in need of the gospel.
That was until a few missionaries in my zone called me up and told me to meet them at a cross street in our city. They had been pounding the pavement knocking doors when they stumbled upon a sight that forever solidified my understanding of the Lord’s hand in my calling to serve the people of Michigan.
“Meet us at the corner of ‘Elder’ and ‘Trimble’ street when you get a chance,” said my fellow missionaries.
“Are you guys trying to play a trick on me?” I asked
“No seriously… get over here!”
So my companion and I hopped in the car and headed over. The other missionaries were standing by, and when we pulled up, they were pointing up toward a street sign.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. There we were, at the corner of the streets “Elder” and “Trimble.
And the third time, I saw my uncle in my dreams. My uncle died many years ago, he told me “Tshoper, please, I give you a mission. You have to be baptized for save our lives.” I can’t understand what that means. And I go to one of the brothers to ask him what this dream means. And he called some elders and him, they explained to me that if you are baptized, you can be baptized for your ancestors. And that means a lot of things for me. It’s why I decided to stay in the church.
Several days before our ward was scheduled to travel to the Aba Nigeria Temple, the bishop called and asked me to lead our group. I agreed, and on the morning of our trip, we offered a prayer and boarded a bus to begin our journey.
On our way, we sang hymns. Joy beyond measure filled the air. We were making good time on our 10-hour journey, but just before noon, our bus developed a problem none of us could fix.
I ran to a nearby petrol station and found an attendant. I asked if she could direct me to a mechanic.
Without delay, she called two mechanics. They soon arrived and got to work. They discovered that the fan belt was defective. They worked for hours until they had exhausted all their knowledge.
…I called the group together. We stood in a circle and prayed to our Heavenly Father to give the mechanics the knowledge they lacked. In less than five minutes, one of the mechanics came to see me.
“We have done it!” he said, beaming.
We rejoiced and thanked the Lord. I soon noticed that the other mechanic looked discouraged. I tried to congratulate him, but he said, “Are you congratulating me for taking six hours to fix one fan belt? I fixed two fan belts before I came here. What happened here is beyond explanation.”
I told him God had intervened following our prayer.
One summer, my family and I had the opportunity to visit the city in Japan where my ancestors came from. In search of family records, we went to the courthouse and library and even visited cemeteries around the area but could not find any information about them. My husband and I were very disappointed since we had come all the way from America.
I asked my husband to take me home. It was getting late, and the sun was just going down. What occurred next was the beginning of a miracle.
When we left the cemetery, we headed for the freeway to return to my parents’ home, but traffic hindered us from entering it. My husband got frustrated and decided to take a different route. As he made several right turns, we came upon a cemetery we had not previously visited.
My husband asked whether I wanted to stop. I suggested that he just go slow enough for us to see the tombstone names. As we were passing, I saw my grandmother’s surname on a tombstone. I quickly asked him to stop the car. As we got out, I was stunned to see my grandmother’s family name on each stone.
Some of them were very new and easy to read; some were covered by moss and dark spots so that I couldn’t read the names. On the side of each marker, all the information about their children was given: birth date, death date, marriage date, spouse’s name.
Since my husband and children couldn’t read Japanese, I had to do all the writing. My family would go ahead of me and wash off the tombstones. Some of them were covered by tall grass which we cut down to find lovely tombstones that nobody had been taking care of.
As I began copying the names, I felt that truly we had been guided to this place. We had met with discouragement and disappointment on our trip. Yet I somehow felt like the people who were waiting for us to do their temple work had led us to this cemetery in Japan so that their ordinances could be performed in sacred temples.
Bishop Ballard’s young daughter explained that she had been playing on the sidewalk when two strangers handed her the paper and gave strict instructions that she deliver it to no one except her father. Upon inspection, Bishop Ballard found the newspaper to contain a story with the names of 60 people and their accompanying dates of birth and death. The next day, Bishop Ballard sought an explanation from Temple President Marriner W. Merrill. After listening to the bishop’s story, President Merrill said, “Brother Ballard, someone on the other side is anxious for their work to be done and they knew that you would do it if this paper got into your hands.” Bishop Ballard made certain the temple work was complete, and later it was learned that most of the people named in the newspaper were related to the Ballard family.
By this point, we were running out of money. I shared my concerns with my wife, who ﬁrmly replied, “Even if we have to arrive by foot or on the back of a donkey, we’re going to make it.” Her reply made me happy. I wasn’t unsettled about money for the rest of the trip because our confidence was placed in our faith.
As we talked, an old lady walked toward us. She stopped in front of my wife and said, “Young lady, wouldn’t you like two tickets for today?” My wife practically ripped the tickets out of her hand. I paid the old woman, and she vanished among the crowd. It took us a few seconds to realize that the Lord and His angels were still by our side.
When we finally arrived at the São Paulo Temple thanks to one last ride from a friend we made on the train, the temple lodging was closed. Resigned but happy, we made ourselves comfortable on a couple of benches outside the temple. There it was, just as beautiful as we had dreamed it would be. It was now midnight, and we cried as we hugged, tired and wet from the falling rain. We didn’t feel the dampness, the hunger, or the cold, just an indescribable sense of happiness for being so close to the house of the Lord. We had been obedient, and there was our reward.
While we were basking in that moment, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was one of my former mission companions, who had been sealed in the temple that day and was returning from dinner with his wife. He let us stay in their apartment that night, and the next day he was a witness to our sealing, performed by the temple president himself. How beautiful it was to see my wife in the celestial room, all dressed in white.
By the time I was 19, I had stopped going to church.
Ten years later, I heard that a temple would be built in El Salvador. I was surprised to hear that a house of the Lord would be built in my country! Four years later, the San Salvador El Salvador Temple was completed, and a temple open house was announced. When I found out that the open house would give me the opportunity to enter the temple, I felt as if the Lord was personally inviting me to enter His house.
The day I walked through the temple was one of the best days of my life. During the open house, I learned more about what happens inside dedicated temples. I also learned about sacred temple covenants that individuals make with God.
As I walked through each room of the temple, I felt God’s presence. I felt at peace. Visiting the temple gave me the desire to come back to the Church and to live the gospel again. When I realized I could take part in God’s great work, I wanted to complete temple work for my ancestors and to exercise the priesthood.
My experience in the temple that day changed me.
Brother Smith with his wife, Josephina, lived on a few acres of ground in Brigham City. There they raised fourteen children, my wife’s father being the youngest. When the call came for workers to assist in the building of the temple, he responded.
…As a young man he had lived among the Indians. In later years when Indian bands would visit Brigham City, one of the Indians would go to the home of Brother Smith. His visits were not welcomed by the rest of the family, for he would peer in every window intently until he determined that Brother Smith was home. And only then would he knock at the door.
One night, some years after the completion of the temple, Brother Smith was reading his newspaper. He heard a noise at the window, and he saw his Indian friend peering in with an unusually sad expression. He went to the door and found no one there, and the snow beneath the window had not been disturbed.
This incident bothered him greatly, and during the following week he tried to locate and get some information about this Indian friend. He learned that he had died.
In due time, he recorded, “Today I have taken care of his work in the temple.” That very evening he was looking through the mail and again heard a sound at the window. When he looked up he saw his Indian friend, this time smiling. He counted that a very sacred experience, and in the record of a great amount of work done by this faithful grandfather in this temple is found the name Be-a-go-tia.
One day some friends visited and asked what they could do for me. I managed to ask for a Book of Mormon, and they managed to understand me. It came the next morning. I hugged it to me and immediately felt comforted. I still couldn’t see the words, but I kept trying and trying and trying. Hope was growing in my heart.
One evening, as the hospital quieted, my vision suddenly cleared and I could see the words! I could not read, for I could not determine left to right or up and down, but a miracle had happened, and I determined to do my part. I would just keep trying.
As I did, another miracle happened! It seemed to me as if I were with those I was trying to read about. I seemed to see the faith of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon and the majesty of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I was filled with such joy. Heavenly Father was with me! He had not deserted me. I knew then that no matter how broken we may be—by illness, sin, or actions of others—we are never alone. He is always there! His Son, our Savior, is always there!
Healing has come slowly, but it has come. I’ve watched my mind regain all its functionality.
So, I stayed in the chair and continued reading until I came to some verses that Mrs. Leininger had marked. She had underlined Moroni 10:3–5 in red pen and highlighted them with a yellow highlighter, and had written in the margin in all caps, “VERY IMPORTANT VERSES. READ THESE CAREFULLY!” I carefully read these verses several times and tried to understand what they were suggesting I should do. I came to understand that I should ponder certain things. I pondered about how good the Lord had been to the peoples of the earth and to me personally.
Then it came to me that the verses were suggesting I should pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. In the Episcopal church, whenever we prayed we knelt. So, I knew I should kneel to pray. I knelt at the side of my bed and, with faith in the Jesus Christ that I had read about in the Book of Mormon; I asked God to forgive my sins and asked if the Book of Mormon was true. It is not possible for me even to begin to adequately express in words what then happened. But I must try. I felt the same type of wonderful feelings I had felt since I first began reading the Book of Mormon, but at such an intensified level of power and depth that I cannot describe. I had never felt such power and love before. It was as if a river of pure water rushed through me, washing away all my sins. It was also like a raging fire purged away my old self. I felt completely clean and like an entirely new person.
Along with this came the certain knowledge that the Book of Mormon was true — was the word of God in every way. I knew with perfect certainty that this book was from God. The sure knowledge that the book I had just read was absolutely true in every way was seared in my mind, heart, and soul. No human or earthly power could possibly come close to changing what I felt. In fact, I had the thought that it would not matter if the Pope, Billy Graham, and all the religious people in the world tried to convince me that the Book of Mormon was not true. I knew, for myself, that it was the word of God.
That night I took the book to bed with me, thinking that if I read in it a little, it would bore me so much that I would fall asleep faster. First I read the Joseph Smith story, then the thirteen Articles of Faith. At the end of the book was a list of commonly asked questions about religion and where to find the answers. They were my most common questions! I started to read the references. It is difficult to describe what happened next. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. These answers made so much sense!
As I read, the tears started rolling down. I couldn’t stop reading and crying. I then felt my mind opening up. I received a very clear vision of what was expected of me, who I was supposed to become. I can’t describe the pain I felt when I realized how far from my potential I was and how much work was needed. I cried out to God to forgive me. I didn’t believe that I could ever become the person He wanted me to be. That feeling of total despair was soon followed by one of complete love and acceptance. My body seemed too small for my soul. I was loved and accepted by my God! It would take time and effort on my part to grow, but I could do it. He trusted me, and He would be there to help me become what He knew I could become, if I let Him. I couldn’t cry anymore. I just lay there, immersed in that divine love and responding to it.
The morning came very fast. I hadn’t slept at all during the night. I felt very weak and out of breath as I prepared myself for school. I placed the book on a shelf very carefully. I think I was almost afraid to touch it that morning. I knew something incredibly powerful and “out of this world” had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it. God wasn’t supposed to talk to people anymore. . . . How could this happen? Why me? If me, then why not everybody else?
Over a year later, I decided to clean out my seabag. I found the book but no longer had any interest in it, so I threw it away. But sometime later, I grew curious about what was in that blue book with gold lettering. I now believe that this feeling came from the Spirit, “which leadeth to do good” (D&C 11:12).
In 2005, a newfound friend invited me to listen to the missionaries. At first, I had questions and doubts about what they taught, but the missionaries were confident and gave answers that made sense to me.
When I realized that these missionaries were like the ones I had met years before, I anxiously asked them, “Do you guys have a blue book with gold lettering?”
“Yes, we do!” one of them replied. “It’s called the Book of Mormon!”
I was excited to have the Book of Mormon again. In fact, I was so excited that I read it more than once in less than two weeks! As I read and prayed, I came to know that it is the word of God.
Elder Rubén V. Alliaud of the Seventy said something in general conference that relates to my experience with the Book of Mormon: “Any reader who commits to a sincere study of [the Book of Mormon], with the spirit of prayer, will not only learn about Christ but will learn from Christ—especially if they make the decision to ‘try the virtue of the word’ [Alma 32:5] and not reject it prematurely due to prejudiced unbelief by what others have said about things that they have never read.”
By reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and trusting in the Spirit, I have seen great things come to pass in my life.
Zina D. H. Young:
From the day I received the sweet testimony of the Spirit, when grasping the precious Book of Mormon in my hands to my breast, I have never doubted nor faltered in my faith. I know this is the Church and Kingdom of God, and I rejoice in putting my testimony before the daughters of Zion, that their faith may be strengthened, and that the good work may roll on. Seek for a testimony, as you would, my dear sisters, for a diamond concealed. If someone told you by digging long enough in a certain spot you would find a diamond of unmeasured wealth, do you think you would begrudge time or strength, or means spent to obtain that treasure? Then I will tell you that if you will dig in the depths of your own hearts you will find, with the aid of the Spirit of the Lord, the pearl of great price, the testimony of the truth of this work.
One night the anguish in my soul was too much to bear for one more minute. I knew I needed to pray to at least try to get some sense of peace. I didn’t know what to say in my prayer other than the truth. I told Heavenly Father about my insecurities, my sorrows, my sins, and my desire to change. The experience that followed was the most sacred and important event of my life. I was lifted and loved and felt with absolute conviction that the Lord was on my side, anxious for me to return. I knew that He and a crowd of very real angels would help me through the important and holy process of repentance.
…I wouldn’t wish the dark years of my life upon anyone, and I would never say I am grateful for my sins. But I am profoundly grateful to have had such a sacred and meaningful experience with the gift of repentance and to know of the very real love and concern my Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ have for me. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, the Lord taught me as He forgave me. His love, mercy, and blessings I never want to forsake again. I also felt the darkness of Satan during this transition in my life, and I know he will always try to thwart our attempts to be closer to Christ.
I remember one Thursday morning in seminary, my instructor was teaching us about prophets and apostles. He said a phrase that was burned into my memory: “President Thomas Spencer Monson [who was the prophet at the time] is a prophet of God, and whoever has the desire to know if this is true can sincerely pray to find the answer.” His words really touched me.
When I got home that day, I got on my knees and asked Heavenly Father to let me know if President Monson was called as the prophet by Him. At that moment, I felt a great and sweet joy fill me—something inexplicable. From that day on, I knew that the warmth I felt at that moment came from God, and it confirmed my faith in the prophet.
There was a knock at the door. We dried our eyes, and I answered it. It was one of the ward members with two missionaries. He apologized for stopping by without an appointment but said they were in the neighborhood and had a feeling they should stop by. He asked if there was anything they could do for us. I said, “Yes, could you please give my son a blessing?” They proceeded to anoint Forrest with consecrated oil and give him a blessing of health. I thanked them, and they excused themselves.
Forrest’s health improved immediately. At Forrest’s next appointment, the doctor was impressed with his condition and weight gain. “Was it by chance?” I wondered. Such bleak feelings were not usual for me, and I couldn’t explain why I felt better after praying, how Janet had the identical experience at the same time, or how the elders stopped by at the right moment.
I pondered these events over the next two months and concluded that I had been foolish in trying to pass them off as coincidence.
Eventually, I found out that the Jones family had fallen into inactivity.
One evening as I drove to the stake center for interviews, I followed an uncommon route through town. As I approached the intersection, it was as if someone took the steering wheel and turned it to the right.
“This is interesting!” I thought. “There must be a reason for me to go here.”
I am certain it was no coincidence that the street I was on took me past the Joneses’ home. I felt prompted to visit them, even though it would make me late for my first interview. Regardless, I knew I needed to find their home.
It was dark outside and I didn’t know if I would recognize their house. I continued down the road a few blocks until I spotted a home that looked familiar. I stopped. When Brother and Sister Jones answered the door, we embraced, and we visited for about 30 minutes. I shared my love for them and the surprising events that had led to my visit that night. Before leaving, I invited them to come back into activity. They both had tears in their eyes when I left.
Unbeknownst to me, Brother and Sister Jones had been discussing over the past few days the possibility of returning to activity in the Church. The night I visited them, they were talking about it again.
The next Sunday, they attended sacrament meeting. They remained faithful, and their son has since served a mission. I know that there is a God who loves His children and who is involved in the details of our lives.
One experience stands out in my mind. We prepared and prayed before going to visit one of our sisters. As we approached her house, we realized we had actually driven to a different sister’s house! We were assigned to visit this sister, a less-active mother of two young children, but had not planned to visit her that day. Because we were there, we knocked, but nobody answered.
We decided to be persistent and wait. The sister, Monica, eventually came and told us she was busy. We noticed she was tired and almost in tears. When we said we were there to help, she allowed us to enter. Her baby was crying, so we told her to take care of her baby and we would wait. When Monica went upstairs with the baby, we got to work, cleaning several rooms and folding all the clothes we could see.
When Monica saw how nice her house looked, she started crying, opened her heart to us, and shared some of her challenges. We promised to help her, and we talked to the Relief Society president about her challenges. The following Sunday, Monica was in church.
Monica became an active, happy sister, and we continued to minister to her with love and care. She still had the same challenges, but she was able to deal with them with more faith and courage because of her activity in the Church.
I’m so grateful for Graça’s example as we served together. We had prayed for guidance, and God had led us to Monica.
I was reminded of the counsel I heard Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles give at the missionary training center in Lima, Peru, while I was a teacher there: “Follow the first impression.” I immediately called my home teaching companion, but he did not answer. I decided to go anyway.
I left the house and noticed a young priest in my ward walking down the street. I approached him and asked if he would accompany me. He agreed. At the first home, the brother opened the door. I told him I felt I needed to see him. He smiled and told us he was having an operation the next day and would appreciate a blessing. I gave him a blessing, and we left for our next visit.
It was 8:40 p.m. when we arrived at the next family’s house. They were surprised to see us because it was so late. We entered their home and noticed that the father was sick. I offered to give him a blessing.
As we returned home, I shared Moroni 7:13 with my young companion: “Every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.”
I told him that what had just happened was no accident because I had received a prompting. He said he believed it because before I approached him, he had prayed to know how to recognize the Spirit.
During our mission in Germany a back injury had brought me to a devastating low. One day I was lying on my bed crying and suddenly I felt as if an electric current had gone through me. I heard my mother’s voice in the hallway. I had taken care of her for the last two weeks before she died the year prior to our mission; Now I heard her voice say, “Is this where she lives?” and a male voice answered “Yes.” Then she entered through the closed door and stood there in all her glory.
Mother was eighty when she died and so bent from arthritis that she only came to my shoulder. Now she was tall, her hair was golden instead of white, and she was in a flowing pale blue robe. She smiled and said, “I’m proud of you, Jean.” I just kept saying over and over again, “Mother, you are so beautiful.” She kissed my cheek as she always did and squeezed my hand and then she was gone. I slid down from my bed to my knees and knelt in prayer of thanks for some time because I had been allowed to see my mother and feel her approval. I could no more deny that I have seen my mother, heard her voice and felt her kiss and touch than Joseph Smith could deny that he had seen God the Father and the Son. I bear this testimony to you in all humility and gratitude and in the name of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.
I was raised an atheist in Montana. My parents taught me many wonderful things, like loving life and being kind to others. But some lessons they taught me never felt quite right. Even though they told me there was no God and no heaven—or hell, for that matter—I felt drawn to the idea that there was something more.
Because my parents taught me that dying was the end of existence, I feared death. I was still a child when my mom became sick and was confined to a wheelchair. My fears intensified. What would happen to my mother if she died? Would she disappear forever?
Years passed, and my mom seemed to always be on the verge of dying. One day, she told me death would bring her relief from the pain she felt. I left the room in tears, thinking she would no longer exist. Searching for answers, I visited my Mormon friend Isaac, and he assured me that my mother would not cease to exist after death. She would still have the choice to learn about and accept the Lord and His gospel, even if she didn’t believe in God in this life. I didn’t have the same faith, but I did feel peace.
Although I had prayed for nearly a decade, it wasn’t until I went to college that my testimony truly took shape. Isaac suggested that I look into Brigham Young University. After visiting the campus and feeling the same peace I felt the night I talked to Isaac, I applied only to BYU. Thankfully, I was accepted.
The first Sunday at BYU I attended my ward. Thinking I was a member, the bishop asked me to give the opening prayer, which I happily did—even though I still didn’t know if God was really there. A few weeks into the semester, I got a job working as an investigative actor at the missionary training center, where newly called missionaries practiced teaching me lessons multiple times a day. Gradually my testimony turned from a shallow waterway to a deep channel. I started reading the Book of Mormon every free moment—before bed, waiting for class to start, and even standing in lines. Slowly my diary entries transformed from “I wish this were true” to “I think I believe this is true.”
Even as I experienced this excitement about the scriptures, I struggled with recognizing the Spirit. I liked the idea of having a way to know for sure if something was true or not but didn’t know how to obtain such assurances myself.
In Relief Society one Sunday, the teacher began talking about priesthood blessings. As she spoke about experiences she had had with blessings, I felt a strong desire to receive one. Little did I know then that this urge was a spiritual prompting. I called a friend in my ward and asked if a nonmember could receive a blessing. He said yes, and that night he blessed me that I would feel the Spirit from my head to my toes and to my fingertips and that I would know that it was the Spirit without a doubt.
And I did. In that moment, I knew that it was all true. There really is a God, and He loves me. His Son atoned for me, and I can live with Them forever if I obey Their commandments.
And not only was there great power in what I experienced but the depth of love I felt was beyond description. I felt loved at the deepest levels of my soul. I felt that, although I did not know God, God knew me perfectly. And although God knew me perfectly — all my sinfulness, pride, vanity, selfishness — He still loved me in a way that I had never felt loved. And although I knew I did not know much about God — yet, somehow, I knew God in a way and at a depth that I cannot express.
I felt my heart and mind changed in a profound way. I no longer wanted to be what I was and do what I was doing. I only wanted to do what God wanted me to do. I did not know what that was but I was filled with a joy and excitement that is beyond my ability to express. I never wanted to do anything but love and serve as many people as possible. I wanted to tell as many people as possible about Jesus Christ and about the Book of Mormon.
Searching for a book on miracles on my Kindle tablet I came across the book Mine Angels Round About You by LDS Missionary David F. Babbel. I wasn’t interested in the LDS Church but I thought I would give it a try. I downloaded only the free sample of the book. The next morning to my surprise not only was the sample downloaded on my tablet but somehow the whole book was purchased!
I started to read and not too far into the book I perceived that these miraculous missionary experiences had to be supernatural. These young men and women were spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and it was apparent to me that the guidance and direction they were receiving had to be from God Almighty. I was glad that I had the whole book downloaded.
After reading the book (I have read it twice since) I could not deny nor ignore that this work had to be from God; “but Mormons?!” I could not just sweep this under the rug and continue on with my life. I had to investigate. I soon looked up all I can about LDS, the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I was blown away with all that I researched! This just may be the true Church of Jesus Christ.
Of course critics of the Church came into my research and eventually I was led to Fair Mormon to help me weed through these claims. It took about six months of thorough and intense investigating, but God has led me to Baptism in April 2021.
I look back on how that book was somehow purchased on its own and believe that it was Heavenly Father. He knew that that particular book was just what my heart and intellect needed to nudge me further in researching the book of Mormon, otherwise I would have never considered it; as I have rejected its claims in the past.
Thanks be to Almighty God for bringing me to where I’m at now soon to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In Jesus name I testify. Amen.
Praying for opportunities to share the gospel has led to promptings. I recently followed such a prompting and as a result have been blessed to witness a friend transform from Christian with questions into a serious investigator who has felt the Spirit and recognizes that this latter day work is from God. I’ve been able to feel of that same Spirit in our meetings and my own faith has been blessed along the way.