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Sander J. Rabinowitz
Kiw Yih Min
Hideki
Veronica Magaelves
Sis. Grace Janeo
Dan Hilke
Mary J. Mendez
Derek Paul Hernandezj

On a beautiful Spring day in 1962, in Costa Mesa, California, when I was only five years of age,  "Mormon" missionaries came to our house, upon the advice of my Brother and Sister-in-law, Jim and Ronda Sartain, who had already joined the church, and Sister and Brother-in-law, Bill and Bonnie Pittack, who were currently taking the missionary discussions. I first noticed that whatever those two friendly, impressive young missionaries were going to tell us was very important to them and that it was important to them that we know about it. I enjoyed sitting there on my Father's knee, listening to every word they had to say. I cannot remember everything they told us, but I do remember them telling us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he loves us and loves me, and died for us so that our sins could be forgiven. They talked to us for a while and explained many things about this religion they believe so strongly in.


When the missionaries were near the end of our discussion, they asked us if we would like to make an appointment for them to come back again, and asked us how we felt while they were there. My parents indicated that they would be interested in having them return, and stated that they felt good about it. The missionaries asked me what I felt. I, being a very quiet and shy little girl, didn't respond at first, so they asked me, "What did YOU feel like . . . while we said those things?" In my little tiny voice I said, "I felt so warm inside," just being completely honest about what I felt like. Then I noticed that they began to get tears in their eyes. I asked them why they were crying, and one of the missionaries said; "because when you get that really warm feeling inside, that means that the Holy Spirit is telling you the things we have told you are true." I still didn't understand at that time, why they would cry about it, but I did believe them, and even though I didn't cry, I could feel the very strong warmth of the Holy Spirit and hoped that it would never go away!

That is the first event I can remember in my life, that caused this strong testimony of mine, about the truth of this religion. The feeling of warmth inside me continued and reappeared every time we attended our beautiful chapel in Newport Beach. I loved that building, from it's beautiful stained glass windows, which I liked to look at during the Sacrament meetings, to the artistic mosaic tile design on the outside of the front entrance, with seagulls in it, to the perfect landscaping, and pleasant courtyard area, where the rear entrance was. I felt that the very property itself was special, that there was a different, but beautiful and peaceful atmosphere there. How I miss those days when I went to that church building with my parents, and the beautiful sunny days with clear blue sky and fresh ocean air, that made time we spent there even more beautiful. (By the way, the sky was actually blue and clear those days in Newport Beach!)

Then there came the time when I turned eight years of age and was approaching my baptism. I remember the day well. It was a beautiful Spring day (almost Spring), crisp, clear and sunny. There was a special feeling in the air. I did have a lot of anxiety though, having all the attention given to me, and knowing that I was going to be "dunked" into the font of water. I truly believed that I might die because of it, due to a fear of water at that time in my life!

By this time my Father had been ordained to the Priesthood, and was able to perform the baptism. My Father said that he would make sure that he brought me back out of the water after dunking me, and gave an example of how his left arm would support my back, while his right arm would be holding my right hand, while he lowered me into the baptismal water. I agreed to let him "dunk" me, and so the event of my baptism in the Santa Ana Stake building, did come to pass. I amazingly came out of the water alive, although choking and gasping for air! I had since progressed greatly in overcoming my fear of water, and now I have no problem with swimming at all.


A Very Special Lady


Immediately following the baptism, the congregation moved into the chapel area for the confirmation ceremonies to be performed. During the confirmation, a person receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost remains a constant companion, as long as a person lives worthily, to aid in knowing what decisions to make in life. It will help in times of trouble, to know what to do, and will tell a person whether something is right or wrong.

Just before the confirmations began, I was able to sit by my former Kindergarten teacher, Sister Olm (from the Wilson Street Elementary School in Costa Mesa). I don't know her full name anymore. She had been a nun most of her life, was converted to the church about one year after I left Kindergarten, and baptized by my father. My father was a Stake missionary at the time, and he was very inspired by this woman. I had always felt a special warmth when she used to hold my hand at school. I was a very shy little girl and she helped me to come out of my shell, continually encouraging me to interact with the other children, always smiling and calling me "Princess Peggy." I went by the name "Peggy" during my childhood (my legal given name is Margaret). After a period of time, some of the children actually thought I was a princess because she always called me that. Sister Olm really had a lot of love to give, and made me feel a little more important as a person than I had thought I was.

As I sat beside Sister Olm, she held my hand, and that same warm feeling came back to me again, this time about 10 times stronger. I noticed that her hand was very swollen . . . this was due to her advanced case of cancer. My father had told me about it, and stated that she didn't have much longer to live. She talked about that before the meeting began, and said that soon she would be in heaven, and would be watching after me when she got there. I felt the nearness to the spirit world that she had. It's hard to explain the feeling, but I also knew that I would never see her again in this life. As far as the actual confirmation, I just barely remember it. What stands out in my mind the most is my interaction with this very spiritual woman. The special warmth stayed with me during the entire meeting.

High School Years

At some time during the years following my baptism, my parents had become inactive in the church, and we stopped attending the meetings. I was very saddened by this, but being a minor, I couldn't do much about it. I had hoped that my parents would overcome whatever problem kept them from going to the meetings and activities so that we could go back again to the church. To be honest, I missed the pot-lucks we used to have just about as much as anything. Everyone was so friendly and there was so many different types of food! I've always been very thin, especially as a little girl (a little more like "Twiggy" then) but I certainly do know how to enjoy food. I really think that the time we spent while active in the church were our happiest years.

When I was about 13 years of age, we moved to Big Bear Lake, in the San Bernardino mountains. I again was very shy and timid around people. I had only a few close friends. I was beginning to associate with the wrong crowd at school; the ones that took off during class to visit the burrito shop and smoke there. Sometimes we went to an abandoned cabin where certain students smoked pot, or drank beer or wine. I never smoked pot or drank with them, but they didn't seem to mind me being there. I was so sickened by the filth of the place. The filth was evidently caused by the students who used the cabin. I came away with nausea. I can honestly say that it was the gift of the Holy Ghost that was telling me that everything about the place was wrong, or in other words, was definitely the wrong situation to be in. The cabin was eventually demolished before I graduated from Big Bear High.

Sometime during my 16th year, there were two Mormon girls in my High School who began to become friendly to me, and invited me to the meetings at the local church (ward). These two girls were Cindy Werkeiser and Sarah Fryer . I had turned down their invitations many times. I don't remember how many times they invited me, but I know that they persisted for a considerable time. Finally, I was influenced by their persistence, and felt that I should give it a try. I still believed that the church was true, but I guess that I was thinking to become re-active at a later time, probably when I left for College. Who knows, maybe if it wasn't for those two young girls, I might have had some other influence in my life, and might not have ever become active in the church again. I somehow find it hard to believe though, having such a deep conviction because of my father's spirituality. He never gave up in reading the scriptures at home, and bore his testimony often, to us. I believe that I would have eventually become active again, but maybe not till some time later in life.

As I began to attend the Big Bear Ward meetings (the place where Cindy and Sarah attended church), I was welcomed very warmly by the entire membership of the ward. It was a phenomenal effort by so many people, to re-activate a person (me) in the church. It didn't take long for me to feel the special warmth of the Holy Spirit in that building, which I believe that I felt the first time I entered it. Especially during the times that the hymns were sung, the spirit was even stronger, as music is quite a medium for the Holy Spirit. There are so many people who I think deserve credit for their efforts at this time. I will mention the names of most of them that I remember, and am sorry for the ones that I can't remember the names of. I can say that there was no one in this congregation who caused bad feelings for me. Some of the special people were; the Werkheisers, the Woods, the Jeppsons, the Formsmas, the Fryers, the Stevens, the Andersons, and the Kutches.

True Stories of a Mormon Girl

A Heavenly Experience

At home in the evening right after the trip to Salt Lake City, I was anxious to try out the promise in the Book of Mormon*, to ask the Lord if the Book of Mormon is true. I kneeled down to pray and started out telling the Lord I already knew it was true, but asked anyway, because the scripture said that I should ask. During my prayer, the atmosphere of my room became so warm and comforting, and it seemed as if the room became brighter, as if someone turned the lights to a stronger level, although the light wasn't harsh at all. It was a soft kind of light, but still strong. The feeling that overcame me became so powerful that it was almost intolerable for me, and I started to think that I might be overtaken by it and that I might even pass away because of it. I had never experienced such strong emotions before! While tears started rolling freely down my face, I thanked Heavenly Father for speaking to me, although with great emotion, I asked him to release me from this experience so that I could live on and to have children later, because that goal was so important to me, and I almost felt as if I was given the choice at that time, whether to live on and experience more earthly life and trials (and have children) or to be taken. If the choice was given to me, I cannot swear it, but the thoughts were there. Shortly after I finished pleading with Heavenly Father to release me, the special feeling inside me began to gradually disappear, until it was almost completely gone. I felt like I was walking on a cloud all evening after the experience, until I fell asleep that night.

I know that my parents knew something unusual had happened, because when I entered the living room of our home right after my experience, they were sitting near the fireplace, facing in the direction of the room I had been in, already having tears coming down their faces, but being very quiet, as if they were waiting for me. I told them about what had happened, but they never said exactly what caused them to behave that way before I actually told them of the experience. I still wonder about it to this day. They had more tears while I spoke to them of what happened to me in my room. I wonder now if they didn't say much at the time due to emotions. This event was one I will never forget!

* - In the book of Mormon, Moroni, Chapter 10, verse 4 reads:
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."

 

This is likely not going to be a complete account of my experiences with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, even with the detail that I will endeavor to give it, for I have witnessed many wonderful and even sacred events in such a relatively short period of time. Not all these experiences will be outlined, partially because I do not wish for my message to lose focus, and partially because I fear I would be trifling in sacred matters. Even so, I hope that the things that I do write will present an accurate rendition of the events that were most critical in changing my life. Even more than that, I pray that this account be one of the means by which another soul can come to the truths and joys that I have experienced.

My background is as follows: I am the first-born of three brothers [see Note 1] from righteous parents of a mixed religious affiliation. Through most of my life, I was raised in Farmington Hills, Mich., a town not very far from Detroit. I subsequently moved to Tennessee nearly five years ago after graduating from college, due to opportunities at the new Saturn site. My father owned a pharmacy within the Detroit city limits, while my mother raised all three of us at home.

Although my father was raised as an Orthodox Jew, and my mother had a non-Jewish background, we as a family were rarely religiously observant, but instead, took a largely secular approach in running the household. Consequently, as a family, we never attended religious services of any faith. As for myself, except for a brief exposure to Hebrew school as a child, I was also religiously inactive, continuing after this manner when I moved away to live on my own.

Looking back at my life, I am certain that there were a number of times when I inquired within myself as to what life was about, and what my role was within it. One of the earliest records I have of this is in my journal, shortly after my high school graduation, where I wrote the following:


[8 August 1986] I'm supposed to be Jewish [see Note 2]. I say, "I'm supposed to be," because I'm not sure anymore. There is a God (maybe), but I do not have a personal relationship with Him
like some have claimed to have. I've been detached from [religion] for 99% of my life, yet I have never identified myself with the Christianity which I have been exposed to through the media thus far. I'm not an atheist, yet I cannot consider myself a 100% God-believer. In a nutshell, I am presently not [entirely] convinced that God exists, or heaven exists [...] but I sincerely hope my doubts are mistaken. So where am I?

At about the time I began to investigate the Church, my views had not changed substantially:


[2 January 1992] Right now, I am a person without a coherent set of beliefs. I figure there is a God, but that's about it. [...] So questions go through my mind about life, and exactly what it means; and beyond that, whether this planet, or even me has a purpose in the total scheme of things.

Now there are a number of ways in which non-members become exposed to the Church. Looking in retrospect, prior to 1992, I do not think I was very receptive to the television advertisements produced by the Church (for my tendency was to lump the Latter-Day Saints into the rest of the Christian world). Nor do I think I would have accepted an invitation by the full-time Elders to hear the Gospel message had they tracted into my apartment. What made the difference in my case was the actions of a coworker who was receptive to the Spirit.

As my story begins, I was still in my first year with my employer as a Systems Engineer-in-training at EDS, and was assigned to a team at the Saturn Corp. account that included only four other colleagues, including my manager. Three of us happened to live in close proximity to each other at the time, so the idea came about that they should have a traveling pot-luck party, held at each of the houses, to celebrate the holidays.

One cold, evening in 1991--sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, though I don't recall the exact date--we gathered at the house of Alan Rhoads, who hosted the first leg of the party. Shortly after our arrival, we found ourselves sitting at a large dinner table in the family parlor, where Sister Rhoads proceeded to serve all of us large bowls of French Onion soup. Now, as Brother Rhoads relates the account, he was debating in his mind whether or not to have a blessing on the food, for fear of offending someone; for at the time, he was the only member of the Church. Nevertheless, he felt prompted to pronounce the blessing, and proceeded to do so.

It was the first time I ever witnessed a family praying together. I am also certain that it was the first prayer I had ever witnessed apart from church, synagogue, or exposure to the media. At the time, I wrote in my journal that I was touched by the things that I had witnessed. But it was more than that. Although I could not articulate it in these terms when it happened, I can say now that there was a special spirit in that house. Feelings and emotions poured into my soul which could not be explained simply in terms of the interaction we have had with each other; nor could any other ordinary explanation account for the experience. There were feelings of love, peace and even joy, and these feelings magnified for me during the prayer itself. Although I made no religious inquiries at this time, what happened that evening left a powerful impression upon me.

Only a short time later, Alan sent notice to the workgroup that the Church was holding an annual singing of Handel's Messiah. Being curious, and with the earlier incident still in my mind, I accepted the invitation, and was the only person to have actually done so. Again, I felt that same spirit there. After the performance, I talked with Alan and several others about what I had felt, and was placed in immediate contact with two of the full-time Elders. The first attempt at the discussions commenced shortly thereafter, in February of 1992.

I say "attempt," because I called them off before the Elders had a chance to commit me for baptism during what would have been the second in the series. For I would suppose the thought that I was truly exploring Christianity came as a shock to me, and the addition of new scripture (the New Testament, let alone the Book of Mormon) came as a subsidiary shock. It simply was not yet something that I was prepared to open my heart to or accept. So after two visits, I politely excused the Elders, and contact with the Church briefly ceased. At the same time, I began attending Reform Jewish services at a congregation in Nashville, and was seriously considering whether or not I would be a member there. Even with this apparent setback, Alan and I became good friends.

One turning point came a few weeks later. Alan was planning a trip to Atlanta to perform temple work and asked me to house-sit for him. This task involved staying over and making sure the pets were properly nourished and that all else was well. I accepted, and found myself alone at his house on March 13-14, 1992. Having nothing to do, I proceeded to do two things. One of them would be to teach myself to play, albeit simplistically, a short song on their piano (having never really played one before). The second thing that I did was to read parts of several LDS books in the family's possession, and also to read several back issues of the Ensign and the Church News. I was touched and impressed by many of the articles and accounts I read. One that immediately comes to mind was the conversion of Robert E. Sackley of the Second Quorum of the Seventy (d. 1993). This was what I wrote in my journal in response to this account:


[14 March 1992] But then [...] if I hear somewhere about someone who might have been heading into trouble, but then finds a way of loving God [...] and completely turns himself around to the point where he's doing well in both the secular and spiritual worlds, then I think that's a GOOD THING.

The exact sequence of events between March and May of that year are unclear. However, towards the end of May, I house-sat for Br. Rhoads a second time, and in this visit, I continued to read about the Church. Again, as in the previous visits, the feelings of the Spirit were pronounced; so much so that I felt prompted of the need to begin attending services regularly, without anyone specifically committing me to do so; and except for another brief period of inactivity as an investigator, I've attended Church ever since. Shortly afterwards, I took all six of the investigator discussions.

It was now getting to the point where for the first time I was seriously considering baptism. In fact, I actually started bearing my testimony, even as a non-member. I remember one of these occurrences in particular. Near the end of opening exercises at Priesthood Meeting, when the question was asked, "Is there anything else that ought to come before the body of the Priesthood?", the presence of the Spirit was so strong that I arose and bore my testimony right then and there. It created not a small stir among those who were present. Yet Baptism was still not immediately forthcoming, for I remained very hesitant.

This delay in acting upon the knowledge received thus far happened because I still had significant concerns. Part of my hesitation was that I knew, even from early in my investigative period, that I would be making commitments that were as at least as serious in scope as entering into marriage. For such decisions are the stuff that dramatically changes the course of a person's life. I knew that the things that I would incorporate into my life would become the core from which many future decisions would be made. I was determined, then, that I would not make such a decision lightly.

Notwithstanding this need to be absolutely sure about my decision, the biggest concern focused on how my parents would feel about the path I was contemplating. Originally, I supposed that since I was about to choose a spiritual approach that was significantly different than what either of my parents had known, that I would expect concerns to arise that would be rooted in these differences. To my surprise, that turned out not to the case at all. The experience of both of my parents, though, were at least in fraction ones where they have read about or even directly witnessed wrong or tragic acts committed under the banner of various faiths. Hence, they both developed a distrust for organized religion. The premise was that it is possible to be at peace with God without going through specific ordinances, attending a certain set of meetings, interacting with a formal network of religious leaders, or undertaking specific vows or allegiances. To them, it is important that the one remain intellectually independent from any of the faiths, even including their own. My father, for his part, told me that he would been concerned even if I were to decide to take an Orthodox path within Judaism.

These concerns, which I seriously took under consideration, coupled with the added fear that any religious or philosophical differences that might develop could cause a rift within the family, caused me to examine the situation with not a small amount of anxiety. For I truly desired to do what was right, not only in the sight of my parents, and within the bounds of my own conscience, but above all, in the sight of God. It was a matter I pondered greatly and over an extended period of time.

I still was pondering the situation somewhat when I sent a letter to my parents. In that letter, although I was non-committal on whether or not I would join the Church, I also noted that it was a decision that I reserved the right to make and that I would take full responsibility for its consequences. Although only my mother read the letter, the matter was discussed by both. It was a relief to have learned that they would accept whatever decision I ultimately made, notwithstanding they were somewhat puzzled as to why I would choose this spiritual direction.

Yet the biggest turning point, and the event which solidified my testimony, took place on 21 January 1993, only 48 hours prior to my Baptism. For on the day in question, things were especially tense-- perhaps the most tense they have ever been. I was having all sorts of bad thoughts about the decision I just made only a few days earlier, not only with respect to how my parents would ultimately react (notwithstanding the assurance I received), but extending also to the tithing commitment, and even to whether or not I would truly be happy with my new life.

Late that afternoon, I was driving back to my apartment after undergoing some medical tests at a doctor's office. I was on a roadway that, if I continued in the current direction, would very quickly turn into a freeway. But at the last possible place for a legal U-turn, I felt strongly prompted to turn the car around. This I did, but now I was even more tense and confused, for I seemed to be heading back towards my parent's house. I pulled off into a neighboring subdivision, then turned onto a roadway that was not frequently traveled, and finally stopped the car under a tree. As I recall, it was a cold, miserable, and wet, and it was also close to being quite dark. Shutting off the engine, I proceeded to start praying, even to pour my heart out to God.

I do not know many of the words I uttered in the course of my prayer. To be sure, it did not fully fit the method that was outlined in the standard investigator discussions; indeed, it was much closer to the way I would speak to another person. I remember speaking of many fears and doubts I still possessed. Indeed, I felt indescribably tense and anxious. I also felt forlorn and upset, even to the point of tears. In this frame of mind, approximately fifteen minutes into my discourse, I remember uttering this petition: "Heavenly Father, if you wish to use my life as you see fit, would you please do so at this time."

What happened next it almost beyond description. For within a scant several seconds of that utterance, all of the miserable things that I had felt were instantly replaced with calm and joy. Indeed, I felt as though I had a taste, albeit perhaps a very small taste, of the feelings that the son of Alma had, which he described in this wise:

I could remember my pains no more [...] And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you [...] that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you [...] that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. [Alma 36:19-21]

There were no pillars of light, no audible voice, nor visions of "numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing or praising their God." [Alma 36:22] Yet the things that I experienced were as real and as undeniable. It was my confirmation--emphatically above and beyond any other witness I had previously received--that the Gospel was indeed restored to the Earth, that Jesus is indeed the Christ, and that the decision I made to join this Church was, and is, a correct one.

Because I was on temporary assignment in Michigan at this time, and most of my friends were back in Tennessee, I made the unusual move of flying back to Nashville for my Baptism on 23 January 1993. The event had already been arranged for Br. Rhoads' oldest child, Crystal, who would turn 8; my own addition to the program was somewhat unexpected. Br. Rhoads performed both of the baptisms, beginning with Crystal, and then with myself; Br. Greg Westfall handled the confirmation ordinance. The program remained largely unchanged, so we sang selections out of the Children's Songbook. Which for me was entirely appropriate, for as the Savior told the Nephites, "[Whose repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for such is the kingdom of God." [3 Nephi 9:22] It had proved to be a very spiritual and joyous experience for all involved.


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EPILOGUE
When my parents learned of my baptism, it was received with some reservations and concerns; even so, they were accepting of the decision, stating that they would be happy if the decision made me happy. I have always been grateful for this position, and for the love and support they have shown me; indeed it can be said that the support of my family has been strong to this day.


Only weeks after my baptism, my employer allowed me to move back to Tennessee permanently. I promptly relocated within the Franklin Stake boundaries, where I have been ever since.

I have continued to be very active in the Church since the time when I joined. Today I serve as a stake computer specialist, and simultaneously as an assistant ward clerk. Previously I have also served as a teacher and as a stake missionary, even at one point substituting for the ward mission leader!

Many landmarks have already been reached. In my first year, I received my Patriarchal Blessing and both the Aaronic and Melchezidek Priesthoods, and at the beginning of my second year, I entered the temple at Atlanta, Georgia for the very first time. At present, I am progressing in my family history work--although I will admit it remains in the beginning stages. There is no doubt in my mind that other landmarks lie ahead, many of which will also prove to be of great significance. When I contemplate the future, I am genuinely excited, and thankful for all the experiences I have had. Quite candidly, if I had to do it all over again, I would emphatically repeat the same course.

I will always cherish the friendships that have formed during this experience, and in the time since. Of my close friendships, the thought comes to mind not only of Br. Rhoads, but also of Greg Westfall, as they both worked closely with me throughout my investigation. They were both patient with me during the times when I seemed to peruse other directions. They listened to me through all the times when I seemed to have question after question, even concern after concern. They were also with me through many of my choice and even sacred moments.

Indeed, I wish it to be said that my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is in many ways nothing short of miraculous. I am convinced that many portions of my life leading up to my present experiences can be attributed directly to Providence. It was also a case where fellowshipping proved to be very critical to my conversion; hence, it can be said that many members of my Ward proved to be instruments of Providence.

Let me now conclude by bearing my own testimony of the divinity of this work, even a testimony that stands on its own. I can state emphatically, from direct experience, that God lives, for I have felt of His presence, not once, but repeatedly. I affirm that Jesus Christ is verily the Messiah, and that he came to the earth after the manner discussed in the first chapter of Luke [Luke 1:26-38]. I affirm also that Joseph Smith indeed was the instrument that God used to restore the Church upon the earth, that the Book of Mormon is truly a work of scripture, that the restored Church exists this day, and that it is guided by a true prophet this day. It is my prayer that I may be diligent in my life's mission that I have before me, that I faint not, that my testimony continue to grow, and that I truly endure.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sander J. Rabinowitz

Several years after my wife and I became members of the Church, we visited Nauvoo.  It was a great and spiritual time that we experienced, yet, through it all, I really had no personal testimony of the Prophet Joseph.   In fact, it was becoming a problem for me, in that if I could not accept Joseph as a Prophet of God, then all the other doctrines of the Church were going to become less than truth to me.
I had prayed about the matter for quite a while, expecting some great earth-moving event to take place that would resolve this issue, but nothing happened.
While we were at Nauvoo, we visited the Carthage jail.  My wife and I and our children toured the building, eventually entering the upper room, where Joseph and others were held prisoners.  The room was small, undescript, and barren of anything but some wooden furniture.   There were about five or six other visitors in the room when we arrived.
One of the tour guides pointed to the floor and showed us what may have been blood stains from that day so long ago.   Also, the bullet holes in and around the door area were pointed out.    Ok,  so I was ready to leave, I had seen enough.
Then, coming up the narrow stairs, a man and woman, and several teenage children.   They were helping an old man, well in his nineties, up the steps and into the upper room.  He was obviously a relative, probably a father and grandfather to the family.  The process of getting him up the stairs had taken several minutes and a lot of effort, and when he reached the room, there was a chair which was made available for him to sit. The old man sat down, and while other people were coming and going from the room, his family remained there with him.   We stayed also; I thought that they might need some help getting him back down the steps. Several minutes passed, and in the background, I could hear music being played softly.  It was Joseph's favorite song, "Wayfaring Stranger." The room had become very quiet Then, the earth-shaking incident took place that I had prayed for. The old man began crying; tears running down his cheeks, as he sat, bent over and
frail. All of us in the room suddenly felt the spirit of the Lord that was present and none of us could keep tears from flowing.  The power of the testimony of the old man poured into me, causing me to know Joseph to be all that the Lord prepared him to be. I felt the strength and energy Joseph had, his great spirit and dedication to the Lord.  I understood his courage in dying for what he knew was truth. The words of the Spirit came to me, telling me that Joseph was truly a Prophet of the Lord, and every word he said, wrote, or caused to be written as the Prophet of the Lord was complete truth. I cannot express what others felt or heard in the room, the power of the spirit was so strong, but  I was so overwhelmed that I had fallen to my knees. My emotions were out of control with joy.  I had the testimony that I prayed for and more.
Several minutes passed and I looked at the old man. Our eyes met and he knew, though we said nothing.

I know that this is the Lord's true Church and Joseph is a Prophet of God....   

Jlaflin751@aol.com

Kiw Yih Min

My name is Kiw Yih Min, you also may call me Walter. I am from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. I have been a member of the church for a year and half. As I had been a member in this period, I had been less active to attend the church meeting for about a year. Some of the reason may due to my laziness, and my course works. I just give a lot of reason to not to attend the church. I had been called to be a Branch Mission Leader a month before my graduation, and it is really need to put in a
lot of time and effort to help and assist the missionaries to do on the Lord's work. Even though I had to prepare for my examination after my graduation day, therefore, I always give a lot of reason on not going out with them on that short moments. After my last day of examination, which would be 20 December, 1998. I had slowly make myself become more active again, and I had been out for tracting and teaching the discussions with the missionaries all the times now, and I really experience my spiritual growth on myself. I know this would not be bought nor receive in any other ways except we serve our Lord.

After a few months on studying of the scripture and working with the missionaries, I know that I had change a lot, and I felt my spirit was growth. There was a time that I should have few appointments with the missionaries that I should work with and the time was schedule on very
tight, which would not give me enough time to go to other appointment on another place. After I had finished my first appointment with an investigator, whose name was Fonda, I really felt great and joy to attend this discussion, as I really felt the strong spirit that the daughter had shared with me, how strong was her feeling to the Heavenly Father. I am always wondered that I should have the same faith as her as well, but I never had. After the discussion, I had to take an express way to reach on other appointment which would took about an hour transport to the next destination, but I only left for 15 minutes, so I had decide to try a way which I had never do in my life. Even though
this is my first time in my life to do it too. I had walk out for about 15 minutes to a highway, and try to get a ride on it. I know it would be impossible things to be happen, because no car would stop by on the highway for me as I concerned to myself. Eventually, I still try to put on my faith to Heavenly Father and pray for his answer. I remember that the verse in the D&C 4:7 "Ask, and ye shall be receive; knock, and it shall be open unto you", I prayed in my heart and asked Heavenly Father that I should not be late for my next appointment, as I had been late for an hour for my first appointment. I prayed and prayed repeatedly in my heart. On the way, in my mind, only appear to me two verse of the scripture, which would be the D&C 4:7 and the 3 Nephi 13:33 "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you". On the walk, I was try to get a ride by hitchhiking, but there was no car wanted to stop by. I am so disappointed. But after 10 minutes, there was a vehicle to stop by on the side of the road, and asked me if I need a ride. The time was about 7:30p.m. which is the time for my appointment. On the way to the junction which I should reach, which would take on about 15 minutes. Approximately would need a walk about 45 minutes to an hour, which I had decide to do on it, but it would took all my time and I would be walk for a hundred of mile, if I do so.

When the ride is here, I was so grateful that I had receive my answer of the prayer, and I had chance to get to know the guy who sending me on the way, and we do share some of the gospel of the church and I am trying to build the relationship of trust with him. I had left my card for him, and invite him to come to the church, and I really hope that he would be able to make, as I felt regret that I did not asked for his contact number. I really appreciate the guy who trying to help me on the way, and also so thankful for what he had done. I know he would received blessing also as he keep on his good work. I also surely agree that as we always have faith in our heart and always prayed to Him, and ask, we will receive the blessing that we should received. After I had arrived
to the place that we should meet, I was told by the member that the missionaries would arrived at 8p.m. I was so shock that we had made an arrangement at 7:30p.m. but now they had change to 8p.m. So I was having my own study on the member's house, and I did build my relationship with
the member. After the missionaries were here, we gone out for dinner, which actually I should have had the new member discussion with the member. Anyway, I was so grateful that I had made up my own time to reach on the appointment. I know this would be happen to everyone if we keep on having our faith and give our trust and our heart to Him.

As I had joined the church for only a year and half, I really do not have any experience like this in spiritually, I always look on other person who really have a very strong faith with them, and they were so great and wonderful. Today, I really like to say that, everyone would know the truth as we continue to pray, ponder and study the word of God, no matter how, where, when, I am sure we would receive the blessing in any way that we should received. I am so glad that I had been called to be a  Branch Mission Leader today, and I am so grateful that I would be able to help up the church to do on the Lord's work. It is not an easy work, but I really felt the worthiness on my work now. I would never regret on my work, and I like it very much. As President of the church always emphasize the members are the missionary, and the blessing will be given if we pour out our heart and soul to assist in the missionary work, and sacrifice our time for the Lord. I bear to you my testimony with all my joy and happiness in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Hideki

My name is Hideki. It was nice to get a letter back from you.  My conversion story is not as drastic as yours was just because I was only 17 years old and did not do much of worldly things such as  drinking, smoking etc. I had lived almost like LDS life style except I used to drink tea. I did not have to change much of my life style. The first time I came to know about this church was when I went to Osaka's Expo. 70. The church had a pavilion during this Expo. I signed the paper when I visited there. There was no LDS church at that time in my city. After the Expo ended, in Feb 71,two missionaries came to my house and I made an appointment. When they asked me if I would listen to their message, I told them, I used to go to catholic church, which is located only 5 minute walk from my house. They said they teach a different thing at the church so I decided to take lessons. From the time I started taking lessons, I lived like them, this means, never drank any coffee, tea and prayed every night without intention of asking the Lord if the book or the church was true. Around the beginning of April, I started dreaming every night. I saw a pillar into the heaven there at the end of the pillar I would see the Bible alone. I started wondering what that meant. Because I did not pay too much attention to lessons or their Japanese was not good enough to convey doctrine of this
church, I did not know much of this church. Oh, I remember dreaming this for at least a week and at the end of the week, I saw two pillars into heaven there I saw two books united, just as explained in Ezekiel but I did not care about it because whether I had this vision or not, I would have joined this church any way. I am the very first member of this church in my town. As I attend the church, my testimony has grown to where I wanted to go on a mission. I served my mission Japan Sapporo mission, where we hold snow festival each year. Since I joined the church, many people were triggered and joined. I am not sure where they are, some went on a mission, some may inactive. I rejoice the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know we have everything in our church. I have no shadow of doubt that the church is true. People can lie about the church if they
want. Pretty soon they will wear out or perish itself.
I know as long as we stay with church, we are protected and He fights for us.

It has been a pleasure to get know you and you are there in the website fighting for the church. I am happy to see and know many of us try hard to protect church.

It was in 86", when I went to China. We flew from Japan to Hong Kong and took train to China. I was walking out of the train station, where there two lines, one goes out and the other goes into the station. I saw many Americans walking along with me to the station. I looked at them and saw
all of them wearing garments. I asked if they were from Utah, yes they were asked me how I knew. I told them I saw celestial smile on the garments. It was wonderful we find Saints every where.

Veronica Magaelves

I have grown inside of the Gospel  of  Jesus Christ since the day of my birth, has 18 years behind, but no matter how hard the time pass, because more than people they discredit the Gospel or they ridicularizem it, I KNOW that it is true and nothing it can change this. It swims can change the effect produced for the Holy Ghost in our soul. The knowledge of the Truth of this surprisingly wonderful workmanship is something extraordinary, is the causer of the peace and the happiness. We can have " life and life in abundance ", we have the peace that the world cannot in giving them, that is alone is given by Savior and Redentor of all humanity, Jesus Christ. The workmanship of the Gentleman is clear and of easy perception, all those that will be made use to open its hearts will know for the power of God who the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith restored the Church of the Lamb in this dispensation and that this is the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter day saints. Jesus Christ is my Redendor, devoted It all my love, all honor and glory forever. On behalf of Jesus.
Veronica Magaelves



My first experience with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was when two of the church missionaries stopped by to speak with me while I was outside doing work in the yard. I was surprised when they asked if there was anything they could do to help. I couldn't imagine letting them do yard work in their nice suits, so I told them how much I really enjoyed doing it myself.
I was a Witch following a religious tradition known as Witta which has it roots in ancient Celtic Ireland. The tradition has been passed down by word of mouth and personal writings for thousands of years, but has no revealed texts of it's own. Witches are encouraged to search for truth wherever it may be, and common belief among them is that all religions hold truth. I have always been very interested in learning all I could about other religions so after speaking with the missionaries briefly, I asked them if I could have a copy of the Book of Mormon to read myself. They of course were very happy to write their names and phone number on the inside cover and give it to me. I was very busy, so I excused myself and placed the book on a shelf in my office to sit for the about the next eighteen months.
During this time, I began to frequent a Christian chat room on the internet. I met a young lady named Lorraine who was a church member from Ontario, Canada. Lorraine and I often discussed the church and I began to learn the basic beliefs she held. She was very open with me and we were soon blessed with a wonderful friendship.
Early the next spring, I met Autumn, a member who lived in San Gabriel California, in the same chat room. As we got to know each other, we began to teach each other about our personal religions. My interest in the church began to grow as did our relationship. One evening I found my Book of Mormon, called the missionaries, and arranged to meet them at church the next Sunday.
When I first walked into the church that Sunday morning, I was amazed at the comfort I felt there. It wasn't just the friendliness of the people there, but I could feel the presence of divinity more strongly then I had ever felt before in any of the many places of worship I had ever been in. This feeling was somehow more complete, or more whole than I had ever experienced. I now know this as the presence of the Holy Ghost.
I began to take the missionary discussions immediately. I was very skeptical, and examined everything they told me from a technical standpoint. All my life I had looked upon the Bible and texts of it's nature as the creations of men. I felt that they were valuable to us, but more relevant to some than to others. I was only there to learn, I had no intention of anything else, but I felt so much comfort in the things they said and it felt right.
At the end of the second discussion, the missionaries asked me again to pray to God and ask whether or not the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon were true. I wasn't even finished praying when I was completely overcome by the Holy Ghost. The experience started out very much like I was told it would, a warming sensation under my sternum, but didn't stop there. It grew into a burning sensation throughout my chest and spreading into the rest of my body. Not a painful burning, but more like after you take a dose of strong cough syrup, warm and fulfilling. I then became very dizzy, my head was spinning and I became disoriented. I wasn't afraid though, it was as if I was being held the whole time. I grabbed onto the table in front of me just in case so I wouldn't fall out of my chair. I felt strange for several hours afterwards, but I no longer had any doubt that the Bible and the Book of Mormon were true and from our Creator himself.
As time went by, I finished my discussions. I was reading from my scriptures daily and I began to notice changes taking place in my life. Things that used to trouble me greatly began to fade and not seem so important. Some of the minor obstacles even seemed to fix themselves. The missionaries met with me often. They asked me often if I was ready to be baptized, and I always told them that it wasn't time yet, but that I would soon.
Late in June, I flew to California to meet Autumn and her family in person. I liked them a lot. I was really impressed with the cohesion between them as a family. , I was baptized by Autumn's step-father, Charles in a service arranged for me by Autumn's family. I know that this was the most important thing I have ever done. I feel like a whole new person, like I am capable of anything.
I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are true. I know that Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior took upon himself the sins of the world and died so that we may return to live with our Heavenly Father. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true restoration of the church originally established by Christ himself upon the earth. I have no doubt that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and that we have a living Prophet today named Gordon B. Hinckley.
All of this I say in the name of Jesus Christ, amen -- 12 July 1997

 

Sis. Grace Janeo

I just graduated from college last April '98 and so I thought of having a vacation for a while before entering a new phase in my life (corporate world of course!). Mom suggested that I spent it in her hometown and that's in Dao (antique, Philippines). Well I said to myself that would be great since its been quite a while since I had my vacation there. Then came April 23, we headed for Dao. My first few days there was really cool, I really had fun we went to the beach almost
everyday. One day two missionaries came (Elder Gagnon and Elder Lapierre) in our house. They introduced themselves and told me that they are the one's who are renting our apartment in the town proper and that they were looking for my mom. After a brief hour of chitchatting they finally go. That night mom told me that I'd be the one to take charge of the people who's going to work for the renovation of our apartment.  The next day I went to our apartment with mom, there we met two other missionaries (Elder Hills and Elder Herrington), after the day ends the two missionaries whom I met first asked me if they could come to our house and discuss with me something. And I said "yes" since I believe that there is no harm with it (little did I know that its going to be a start of something that would really make a big difference in my life.  When we had the first discussion I wasn't paying attention that much to them, well maybe a little I should say so as not to disappoint them.  When they asked me to pray about Joseph smith and the book of Mormon I always tell them I haven't got any answer yet. Finally the fourth discussion came, You see when I was still very much active with my former religion I have this question in mind which has been bothering me ever since I was young and that is "what's really going to happen after we die?" When I heard about their explanation I felt something that I've never felt before all through out my previous discussions. That time I know and felt that this is the real church from then on I decided that I'm going to be baptized. Making the decision of being baptize is not an easy thing for me, I have so many things to consider like the reactions of my relatives who are mostly Catholics, one aunt even told me that if I ever decided to be baptized things will never be the same again (the thought of it makes me feel really scared for I was so closed with my cousins), secondly my parents were both brought up by my grandparents to have a firm faith in the catholic religion and it seems impossible for them to agree with my decision. Finally I went back to the city, at that time I only have one thing on mind and that is   to contact the missionaries assigned here in my area to finally schedule my baptism. Then came august 29, 1998, the BIG day, I was baptized by Elder Groff I never thought it would happen. All my immediate family members where there to support me not to mention that I felt the spirit's presence was so strong. Its been two months now that I'm a member and so far I'm enjoying every minute of it. As of the moment I have to wishes which I hope would come true and that is, now that I am finally a member of the real "church of god" I hope that never will it came to a point that I'll be inactive. My second wish is that I would be able to go on a mission after my first year as a member. I know others may say that it's too early and that I should have wait for more time (well the only thing I can say is only GOD knows *end*

Sis. Grace Janeo
Bagbag Ward
Quezon City Stake
PHILIPPINES

 

Dan Hilke

My older brother converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints several years ago, yet I didn’t know much about it. I just always accepted that it was a ‘cult’ full of misguided people, who hopefully would someday see the light. I accepted this idea, because that’s what people who I respected very much told me. People who I assumed should know.

There came a time when I started to feel drawn to learn more about religion, and God, and to read the Bible. I started reading, and studying the Bible, as well as books about the Bible. The more I read, especially in the New Testament, the more I started to question the churches that I knew. The New Testament talked a lot about the Church that Christ established, and the churches I knew just didn’t have all that they should. I began really looking closely at what the different Christian churches believed and taught.

One of the books that I read, was called "The Signature Of God", by Jeffrey Grant. This book is about the ways in which we can know that the Bible is true, accurate, and inspired by God. It isn’t a sermon on faith, but a collection of scientific and logical facts, that make it clear that the Bible was written by God, using the hands of his prophets. After reading this book, I thought it would be easy to show that the LDS church was false. Anyplace that LDS scripture/doctrine contradicted the Bible, or itself, would prove to me that it was false. I guess I had it in my mind that I would be able to "save" my misguided brother.

I started my quest on the Internet, going to anti-Mormon web sites. I was sure that there I would find the evidence I needed. I found that there was an overabundance of information about how the LDS church was false! I downloaded dozens and dozens of articles explaining why Mormon doctrine contradicted the Bible, and Mormons had to work their way to heaven, and Joseph Smith was creative and made up the whole thing, etc., etc.... I used up a whole ink cartridge just printing out anti-Mormon stuff, all of which I read looking for proof that the LDS church was false.

Even as one who believed the LDS church was wrong and fully expected to find the proof, I found some of the anti-Mormon stuff hard to swallow. So much of it was opinion, and when scripture was quoted, even I thought it was out of context much of the time. There were things that I did find that I thought were good points, and these I set aside to resolve one way or the other.

So, I went to see what the "Mormons" really taught. I started reading the Book Of Mormon. I still fully believed that the church was false, and that I would find evidence of it. I started reading the Book Of Mormon with a pen and paper, making a note of anything I found questionable.

This is about when I found a website called New Jerusalem. There I found a part of the website called the "Answer Man", and I started looking back through the questions asked, and reading the answers. Every subject that had come up in the ‘anti’ literature, they had an answer for, and a good one, I thought.

More and more, as I read from the Book Of Mormon, I got a feeling inside that it was right. I kept getting a tingling inside as I read some of the stories. When I told my brother this, he became very excited, and I still didn’t know why. It wasn’t until later that I fully understood that these "warm fuzzy" feelings are one way the Holy Spirit manifests truth.

I read the Book Of Mormon from cover to cover. Just from the literary standpoint, the book amazed me; but it still had such a huge question hanging over it. The Book Of Mormon answered many questions, and made a lot of things in the Bible much more clear, yet taught the same things. But was it true?

One evening a few days after I had finished reading the Book Of Mormon, I was alone in my basement just doing some plumbing. I was thinking about the only thing I had been thinking of for the last couple days; could I accept that Joseph Smith was a prophet, called by God to bring forth the Book Of Mormon, and restore his true Church to the earth.

After thinking about it for a long time as I worked, I finally stopped what I was doing, and as I stood there I prayed. I asked God to show me if the Book Of Mormon was true. I asked God to show me if Joseph Smith was a prophet.

As I stood there and prayed, I began to feel my whole body tingle with that "warm fuzzy" feeling, but it didn’t stop; suddenly the Holy Spirit hit me so hard it brought me to my knees! When I got to my knees I couldn’t remain upright, and so there I was on my knees and elbows, crying with an overwhelming feeling of joy that came over me so suddenly.

When I was able to stand up, I thanked the Lord for answering my prayer. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, called by God to restore the true Church of Christ, and bring forth the Book Of Mormon, for the people of the ‘latter days’.

 

Mary J. Mendez
mary@thefamily.com

I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have only been a member for almost 10 years now. Here's my story:

I came from a really rough childhood. In my childhood, I endured divorce, alcoholic parents, physical and emotional abuse and poverty. I found an "escape" in music and discovered the Osmond family through my love for music. Just like most of the other girls at the time, I was buying teen magazines and doing everything I could to learn about this family. When I discovered that they were members of the "Mormon" Church, that peaked my interest. That was about 1974. My mother was adamant, though, that I could not go to "that Church".

Well, when I was in 9th grade in 1977/1978, I met this girl (Tammy) who had just joined the Church and was an Osmond fan as well. She was very vocal about the Church and I started learning more through her. Soon, she introduced me to the Missionaries and hooked me up with some really great people who would give me rides to Church every week. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. Although I was only 14/15, I knew I felt at home when I attended Church. However, it wasn't to last as my mother refused to allow me to be baptized.

For 10th grade, I moved to a different area and a different High School and lost touch with Tammy. My life took a different path and I pretty much forgot about the Church. After graduation, I moved to a different city with my mother and started working. During this time, I always felt an emptiness that I tried to fill with partying with friends, meeting guys and praying that they would become my husband, and I pursued a career as a disc jockey on the local radio stations. None, however, filled that hole in my heart.

During this time, I also worked at a grocery store and would always have the opportunity to deal with Missionaries who shopped there, or former neighbors who joined the Church, and even the wife of an Osmond-cousin. I also happened to date a man for a few months who was totally inactive from the Church, yet his Mother and Sister were VERY active. In these times, I was always reminded of the Church, but I would say "I'm too busy to go to Church on Sunday, but if I were to go to Church, it would be the LDS Church because I always felt at home there".

In 1988, I was inspired to move back to the area I grew up (Detroit) and I didn't know why. Within a year, I felt the need VERY strongly to call up someone associated with the Church and start investigating again. I found a number to the local Singles Ward and called up. The person I spoke with put me in touch with my local missionaries and I was on my way to investigating the Church in the summer of 1989.

During my investigation, I felt very strongly that I knew the Church was the right one for me and that it was true. I was baptized on September 14, 1989 and I felt so wonderful. There were many people at my baptism who quickly became friends. The Sunday after my baptism, I was able to find Tammy again as well and we've kept in touch ever since.

I met the man I eventually married (Jim) within a month of my baptism. It seemed that things were moving really quickly. I felt really good about the things happening in my life. In fact, after receiving my Patriarchal Blessing, Jim pointed out to me that the Lord promised that I would be married for time and all eternity as a result of my membership in the Church. That was substantial to me as I prayed for every guy I ever met in the past to be my husband.

After the first few months in the Church, I started experiencing some really interesting things. Jim had an ex-girlfriend who was pretty much convinced that he was going to marry her after he started dating me. That was a major struggle that I didn't understand but learned a lot from. There was a lot of opposition to my relationship with Jim due to his personal choices and some other "friends" who didn't think we would make it. Still I endured because I believed deep down that the Church was true and I always saw the good in people even though they were doing bad things.

I left the Singles Ward shortly before Jim and I were to be married and attended in the Family Ward. We were married and sealed for time and all eternity in the Chicago, Illinois Temple on my 2 year Anniversary of my Baptism - September 14, 1991.

During our first year of marriage, we continued to go to Church together although everything around us was a mess. We struggled financially, I was at a VERY stressful job, we were both gaining weight and trying to figure out how to handle all this stuff together. Instead he turned to his struggles and I turned to a friend named Dawn. She heard all my complaints and she was always there with a "shoulder to cry on", so to speak.

I became very depressed and started feeling too "sick" on Sundays to go to Church. I ended up going into therapy, which helped me to quit the stressful job and get into something less stressful. I was in an intensive emotional therapy program and found out things about myself that I never realized.

A couple years later, I was still semi-active in Church and decided that I would go for a career in broadcasting. So I went to broadcast school to try to fill the void I left in my heart again. I was really excited to be going to that school and I really felt like I found my "niche" in life. I stopped attending therapy and then I graduated. By this time, Jim and I were further apart emotionally but we still loved one another.

I started working in radio and ended up having to work Sundays. Another good "excuse" to not attend Church. But we were still struggling financially. So I ended up going back into secretarial work that I hated but the money was good.

This was 1996 when I finally left radio and started getting my life back in order and attempted to go back to Church, but it was VERY hard. During this time, Jim and I were really upset with the "members" of the Church for no real reason. What we actually thought was their non-caring attitude about us. But a wonderful friend by the name of Bill helped clear that up for us by saying "how do you expect for people to be involved with you if you're not involved with them"? Such a profound statement that helped turn us and our attitudes around and we started becoming more active in the Church.

At the beginning of 1997, we were on the way home from the Toronto, Ontario Temple with the friend mentioned earlier, Bill and his wife Bonnie and we were involved in a tragic car accident that killed Bill and Bonnie. I was injured enough to end up in ICU for two days and Jim had to take care of making the phone calls. We miss them very much, yet through prayer, we understand that they are happy.

This tragedy actually turned our lives around even more. This may sound weird, but it was a VERY spiritual experience. When I woke up from my unconscious state, I felt a tremendous amount of love. Love that I never experienced before. Love that I will never forget as I know without a shadow of a doubt that it was the kind of love only our Heavenly Father could give. I was grateful.

Financial struggles still burdened us after this accident as did the betrayal of my friend Dawn, all at the beginning of 1997. Yet, I endured. In fact, these struggles became strengths as I learned and grew.

I gained a wonderful job a couple months later and I'm still employed there today. It's the best job I have ever had and I know that if the things didn't happen the way they did, the timing just would not have been there. I can see the hand of the Lord in many of my experiences, yet during the times we were struggling, I didn't understand His Blessings.

Jim and I became MUCH closer because of these trials and are now each others best friends. We still had struggles, especially financial, yet we were attending Church and becoming stronger and stronger "members". We have learned that although there is a financial struggle, if we keep the Lord involved through prayer, paying tithing, etc. and not stressing about it, we deal with it better. Little by little, things are working out.

In December of 1998, we went with some friends to Branson to see the Osmond Brothers and had another spiritual experience. When we came back, all I wanted was peace in my home for Christmas and I have it!! I am grateful.

We are also VERY excited to be able to have the blessing of a Temple in our area!! Although Chicago will always be our favorite because of being sealed there, we are getting a mini-Temple 15 minutes from where we live!! It is also a blessing that because of my route to work each day, I am able to enjoy a few seconds of seeing the progression of the Temple. President Hinckley was truly inspired when he made the announcement about mini-Temples!! It is such a blessing to those who have had to travel so far to attend the Temple!!!

Today, I feel very blessed and grateful to have had these trials and experiences. Through them, I've learned to be more patient, tolerant, forgiving, loving, enduring, etc. If I didn't have these experiences, I would not feel as though I've grown as much as I have. I'm not saying that things are perfect now, but they are better. It's easier to endure when there is peace and love in your home.

I have learned to love the Gospel as the Lord's Church. I love Jesus Christ for all that He has done for us and for His example. I am like a "sponge" when someone talks to me about Jesus and His stories. I just love to hear them. I have a love for Heavenly Father, even though I don't fully comprehend what a father is really suppose to be like at this time.

I truly believe from the bottom of my heart that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true Church on the face of the earth. I believe we have a living Prophet today in Gordon B. Hinckley. I love that man!! I love to hear him speak. He is a wonderful, loving man. I believe that Joseph Smith was the person the Lord needed to bring back His Church and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet.

I believe in the Book of Mormon, that it's messages and teachings are true and pure. I read it every day - even during my semi-active days. I enjoy finding new messages every time I read. I believe that the Church is true and the people are imperfect. I believe that it's easy to be offended, more difficult to forgive.

I go to Church now because I want to, not because I have to. I do the best I can with every waking moment that I have and I believe that this is what the Lord wants from us. I made a major breakthrough recently that helped me to realize that it is up to me to make the choices necessary to get ahead in life. I was so dependent on what other people thought that I was having other people make choices for me and that wasn't fair. I believe Heavenly Father gave us choice for a wise and wonderful purpose and with that choice, we will WANT with every fiber of our being to be like Jesus.

I still have daily struggles. There are some things I can do and some things I can't. With each passing day, however, there's a new window of opportunity opening and I am grateful. I am also grateful for a Heavenly Father who has patience.

I am very grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Without it, I don't know where I would be. I am grateful also for the experiences I have had. I tell you these things in a spirit of prayer and humbleness in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Mary J. Mendez
mary@thefamily.com

 

Derek Paul Hernandezj
My name is and this is my testimony of The Church of 
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 

I'm 16 years old right now. I am also now a proud Latter-Day Saint. As a child I was baptized roman catholic. My parents were the typical Cuban parents. they would baptize their children into the roman catholic church. They wouldn't think much about it sense their parents did it and their 
parents did it. it is like a tradition almost. but lucky for me my parents weren't much of church going people. they kept their beliefs but they didn't bother to go to church or to take me or my older brothers. instead my mother made my brothers and I go to church with my grandfather every Sunday. she would literally force us to go even if we didn't want to. my grandfather was a Baptist. he took us to his Baptist church every Sunday and would dream of the day we got baptized. though I went every Sunday and at times I did enjoy it much, my mother still did not want me to get baptized in that church. I had lots of fun and I did learn some things in that church. when I was a 
child I didn't know much about religion. I thought the pope was the leader of all churches and I thought that I was a Baptist not a catholic. the only thing I knew about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was that they always had a commercial where they were offering a free book. now I spent much of my years in the Baptist church. I went there when I 5 till I was 12. my grandfather left that particular Baptist church because the Pastor was a hypocrite and would say bad things about our family. he would condemn some of them. so now my grandfather is now attending another Baptist church where he is happy at. I was left with some marks from that experience. I 
didn't want to go to church ever again. I truly did not want to go to any church. I didn't care what church it was. when I was 14 I met a girl named Marilyn Vasquez. I was in the 8th grade. we became the best of friends. we were and still are best-friends. at some point I asked her what religion she was. and she said that she was a Mormon. it sounded familiar but I had no idea what a Mormon was. I asked mom what a Mormon was and she didn't really know. she knew that it was just another person from another religion. a year later my best-friend was having her 15's (it's a big elaborate dance that Hispanic families throw when their daughters turn 15) so we would have  practices at church in the gym. over that time I still didn't learn much of the church but I did know that those people were nice. sometimes I'd see the missionaries playing basketball and I'd go join them and so would the other guys. Marilyn would once in a while invite me to church. she really didn't pressure it on me which I liked a lot. I still was iffy about attending church on Sunday again. I got used to waking up at whatever time I wanted and doing whatever I pleased. I must admit I did lose a lot of moral values during that absence of church. then when I was 15 after coming from a funeral I recall the pastor saying how we'd suffer in the afterlife. this was in a Lutheran church. it got me thinking. I was thinking about why I ever left. Now I don't mean why I left the church but why I left God. the next Saturday night I call up Marilyn and tell her that I'm going to attend her church. 
that Sunday morning came and I got ready. I put on my clothes. it felt good to put on a tie and shirt and look nice on Sunday again. I left to church and when I got back home I felt good. everyone asked me how it was. I told them I enjoyed it and that I was going to go back again. I then visited my grandfather and told him I went to church. he asked me what church I went to. 
I told him and that's when he gave me the speech on how that Mormons are wrong that their teachings are false. he mentioned how Joseph smith was killed. then he told me that I should read the encyclopedia and find out for myself. I did read it and I only liked what I saw. as time went on I learned more about the faith. but my mother was worrying about it. she noticed that I really liked the church. at one point early on I asked her if I could get baptized and she refused and thought I was crazy. it was better for me for I truly didn't know much. I still didn't have my own copy of the book of Mormon. which I requested my free copy and had it shipped to my best-friend's house. eventually I started to take the discussions with the missionaries. it was done in secret because my mom didn't really want me to learn more about the church. she was worried. by this time I had already had so many arguments with my mother. my mom did find out that I was seeing the 
missionaries at my best-friends house. but she didn't say anything. I had discussions also on Sunday. my best-friend would sit beside me and watch as I learned. elder masson and elder booth were my main teachers. they both seemed proud to serve the south Florida stake. I also had many other that helped elder ward, elder madrigal and another sister who's name I always seem to forget but I cannot forget her teachings. during that summer when I had the discussions I prayed and asked if those things were true. it took time but one day it came to me. I broke down in tears. I couldn't help it. I felt so happy. I was overjoyed and thankful for I found was the true church. it was a 
sensation and feeling like no other. I truly wanted to be baptized then. the arguments with my mother continued and then even my brothers would call me names and taunt me for what I believed in. at one point my mom said I couldn't ever go back to church. I was filled with anger and she could see it. she then changed her mind. something inside her told her not to do such a 
thing. it was not the first time I was punished by not being able to go to church. as time went on I didn't bring up my baptism and I would simply just go to church and do what I could. I would share my testimony which only grew stronger. though I yearned to enter the waters of baptism and receive the gift of the holy spirit and have the power of the priesthood bestowed upon me. then a week before the month of July came around. this was in the year 2001. I began praying very much. I prayed with all my heart and soul. every night and day every minute and second I got a chance. then when I asked the question to mom she said it was okay as long as my father said it was okay. 
my father said it was alright as long as I knew what I was doing. that night I was overjoyed. I didn't know what to do. I called Marilyn and let her know then we both called the missionaries. the missionaries at that time were elder nel, elder johnson, elder harris and another one who's name I forgot. I also told sister bentley and she called up one of the other sister's who was one of my teachers. elder masson was told so was elder ward, elder booth and elder madrigal. everyone came to my baptism except elder booth who unfortunately was sent back home due to a knee injury that only grew worse. the day of my baptism only my mom was able to make it. she was the person 
msor opposed to it all. when I got into my white jumper suit I went outside and practically the whole hialeah ward was there and missionaries spread about. I saw my mom standing next to my best-friend;s mother and my mom was crying. she was confused. so many emotions were going through her head. she didn't know what to think of it all. on July 3, 2001 I was baptized and also 
confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. it took over a year to get to that day. I now have visited the Temple. I also received the Priesthood and now I am the first counselor of the Young men. I haven't missed one Sunday sense my baptism and I bless the sacrament each and every Sunday till the day I am sent off to my mission. now I know there is a 
bumoy road ahead for I know there is still much my mother doesn't know about but I also know that there is a light at the end of that bumpy road and that is why I continue to go down that path for I will strive to learn more and better myself. I know this is the true church and that the power of prayer does work and if you are true and faithful the mysteries will be unlocked for you to see and I say these words in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 December 2015 09:33  

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