Monday, June 15, 2009

The Sacred Bench

Anthony Diaz's Conversion Story

I had always wondered about those life questions that people found so cliche but knew they thought about too: Who are we? Why are we here, where did we come from, and where are we going?

However, I never really acted on those questions. I was baptized Catholic, but never active in that faith. I grew up as a precocious little kid, always wondering and analyzing. My mother and father split up while I was still young. At about age 7, I moved with my mom and her then boyfriend, and later husband. He was verbally and physically abusive to both of us, but looking back on it I forgive him now, because I know those trials made me the person I am today. Later on in my pre-adolescence, my mother and I started attending a Baptist church, and we enjoyed it. It was in lamens terms, and was rather family oriented. I remember one day as I was in Vacation Bible School, the teacher had us all gather round and close our eyes. She asked something like, "if anyone would like to recieve Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, please raise your hand." I thought about it, and did it. She then had us open our eyes. It turned out I was the only one. She later talked to me and my mother about how special that was. I still didn't realize the meaning of it, but would later learn that that is what they felt allowed a person to recieve salvation, through such a simple act of faith.

Much later into my teens, after having moved around various times and not going to any church, I found myself going downhill. My mother had left the man I lived with for so long and had found another, who was nice to her, but for some reason it didn't matter to me. It got so bad that it was to the point where I was almost always thinking negative. If you looked up the word pessimisstic in the dictionary, you would have found a picture of me there. I just didn't see the point to life, and was so unsure of myself and who I really was. I had gone through various ups and downs, at one time even smoking pot and cigarrettes, though I luckily stopped that just as soon as I had started.

That's when things started to happen. I was probably about 15. It was 2006. My uncle died at no more than 35 years of age, and it hit me like I never would have imagined. I started wondering why it would happen, and if there really was something beyond death. It was around that same time that I heard some of the most beautiful music I had ever heard on tv one day. It was an English boy choir named Libera. I was instantly captivated with it and found its celestial music comforting in a way the world just wasn't. Even still, I was stubborn in my ways and unhappy with what I felt life had dealt to me.

2007 came. One September night, my mother, the kids, and I, had walked back from the deli to the downtown area of our city at night. We sat on this bench that was missing a piece of wood. It was then that I saw them. Two college aged kids, in black suits and white shirts and ties, walked up to us seemingly out of nowhere. They asked if they could share a message with us, while explaining that they knew it could be strange to talk to two people you didn't know. God Bless her heart, my mother accepted their invitation. They walked away and we made our way to the house.Their names were Elder Hancock and Elder Kelsey.

They started teaching all of us, but it got to the point where it was just me. I was fascinated with what they taught, especially the plan of salvation and the idea of a young boy getting a heavenly manifestation simply because of a prayer of faith. It all made sense to me. It answered those life questions that I had pondered for so long. They told me to pray about the Book of Mormon. I remember reading it for hours on end, so much so that my mom would complain that I had become a hermit crab. I didn't realize it at the time, but I felt the Spirit each time I read. Finally it was December, and they commited me to be baptized on the 15th of that month. I remember praying to know if I should be baptized after having repented, and getting an answer in such a vivid manner that it was undeniable. Elder Kelsey was there with me in the water, and he raised his hand to the square. I looked up out of the font and saw my mother and father there. As that wonderful, loving man said the prayer, I felt a feeling so strong, so pure, so full of love and light that it took over my whole frame. My face made one of the biggest smiles I could have ever made. I knew at that moment that my sins were forgiven me, and that I was in the right Church.

It has been quite the journey in these past few years, but the memory of that Spirit I felt at baptism has never left me. I think of how my whole demeanor and outlook on life has changed, done a whole 360, and how even my mother can attest to the great change of heart that I have undergone. I have never been more happy in all my 17 years of life, even with all the good and bad that I go through in this life. I know I was with my Father in Heaven before I came here. I know that I was placed here on this earth for a reason, and that if I continue to follow His guidance, and use the Atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ in my life, that I can be with Them again. I may never be sealed to my earthly mother and father, but I know that they can recieve the same blessings that I have, whether here or in the next life. I know they love and support me. But most of all, the thing that keeps me going is the sweet knowledge that my Heavenly Father loves me. That is what has made all the difference. I so testify of these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Half Way In and Half Way Out

David Huff's Conversion Story

I have been a member all of my life and yet did not have a strong family in the church to follow. All of my life I had been trying to find myself in all of the wrong ways. My mom would bring us to church while my dad smoked and drank. Being half way in and half way out was a real challenge. I wanted to be a good member but for some reason the draw of the worldly things were stronger than the gospel.

I joined the air force to get away from my parents and physical abuse I had grown up with. Only after joining did I realize that I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. After serving a year remote in Greenland I arrived at my new base in Las Vegas. I decided it was time to marry and being somewhat active in the church I married a local young lady. The funny thing is when we were being married I felt that it was not right thing to be doing. After six years of trying and not being happy, my wife asked for a divorce. I knew she was right in asking for it. I had been abusive and very angry, really not knowing why.

During the days following the divorce I realized that I needed to change but I didn’t know how. The one thing I knew I could change was my relationship with Heavenly Father. For the first time I realized that Heavenly Father was giving me a second chance for a better life.

I took it and ran with it. I was sorely tempted by satan to follow him many times but I saw that it was just a fa├žade. I realized that to be happy I had to change. After going to church on Easter Sunday I saw this young lady walking out of church and the spirit told she was the one I could trust. Trust for me was a major issue in my life, being raised in a dysfunctional home it was hard to feel any kind of love or peace without strings attached or always wondering when the bottom would fall out.

Three months after my divorce we were married in the Salt Lake temple. I vowed that I would never be the reason for another divorce and that I would do everything I could to make things right. After being married for 25 years and getting counseling for myself for 5 years I am happy to say that although life has been hard I am happier now than I would ever thought possible. I was able to break the cycle of abuse I received so that my three children would never go through what I had. The spirit has spoken to me many times and as I struggle with life and issues I know that my Heavenly Father will continue to be with me throughout all of my life. My wife was a Godsend to help me through the hardest times of my life. I couldn’t have done it myself. With her patience and unconditional love we have made a life for ourselves centered in the Gospel.

Life is still hard, however the Lord does answer prayers and I know that he knows who I am. I have learned that I do have a father in heaven and even though I don’t always feel him, I know that he is there. One incident that I remember was when I was 12 years old and had just been thrown out of the house. I remember telling Heavenly Father that if this was all there was to life please take me now and let me die and return to him. The spirit of the Lord came to me and said that I was to rise above all of this and that I was better than that. From that time forth when things got real bad I would remember that feeling and press on.

Through revelations and scripture study I have come to realize that there are many ways to fulfill a mission here on earth. Through genealogy I have seen my ancestors receive the Gospel and know that my mission here on earth was to save my ancestors and break the cycle of abuse I grew up with. I have come to realize that we all have missions to serve and that as we finish one mission the Lord will give his children greater opportunities to grow and learn about him. The trials are hard but I have learned to trust in the Lord and seek him out for strength and wisdom in all things.

I went from being a proud selfish angry person to a loving caring husband and father. I thank God for the patience and love he has shown me throughout my life and I can hardly wait to be with him once again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mormons Were Out to Get Me!

Deanna's Conversion Story

I’m not sure if my story is terribly unique from others you have available to you but it usually causes some raised eyebrows!

In 1995 I was an opportunity select active Catholic. My life has not been one raised in any church. As a matter of fact, my world had been anything but one of any faith at all.

I was not raised by my mother, but off and on by one of her sisters and her husband. My world was one of complete insecurity. I never had a home that was mine. Furniture that was mine. Even my clothing was usually borrowed or hand me downs until I was too old for the process.

Alcohol was an everyday affair in my family. Lots and lots of alcohol. Along with being sexually abused by two of my uncles these “assets” created a woman with serious anger issues, extreme insecurity and my own alcoholism. I had no successful or appropriate relationship examples in my life. I would fall into the trap of relationship after relationship trying to fill the hole in my soul for love.

By 1995 I had five living children and one that was killed in my seventh month of pregnancy due to a car accident that almost killed me as well. I won’t go into all the times I can look back on and find myself amazed I lived through them. In many ways my life was comparative to Glenn Beck. It seemed like the “Mormons were out to get me”!

It 1974 I went to the LDS Church with my neighbors. I was searching everywhere in every church around for a place where I “fit”. I loved the services, but unfortunately becoming members of the church destroyed the marriage of my neighbors. While the husband found a true calling to the Church, his wife found it confining and old fashioned. During their divorce their home was up for sale. The real estate agent had come to evaluate the home for his listing and left the gate to the pool unlocked. To cut a long story short, my second son fell in the pool and was nearly drowned. When he was in the hospital Richard’s Bishopric came and gave him a blessing. Every machine that Jason was attached to went quiet as soon as they laid hands on him. Two days later he was out of the hospital with a doctor – a man with only faith in science and medicine – amazed that he lived nonetheless was whole mentally.

But did I join the Church then? Oh no. Not stubborn me. Several years and many LDS friends and colleagues went by. My eldest son married a very sweet girl in 1992. Her family was LDS but she was inactive at the time. Again, long story short – by the time they had been married three years they had lost two children. Amy was pregnant again and Christopher came into the world quite healthy and happy. Don was sent overseas in the Marines and Amy took her little boy back to Church.

When Don came home he had agreed he would go to Church with Amy but never said he would agree he would join the faith. During the summer of 1995 my youngest daughter went to spend the summer with her brother so she was attending with the family as well. Due to health issues my daughter had it was necessary to allow Don to have custodial rights in case she needed to be treated. So when Don called me with the “news” everything was pretty much over and done with.

He called me at work and announced to me that the last Saturday he AND Kathleen were baptized and confirmed into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was furious! What in the world did he think he was doing? By the time Katie came home to start school I had calmed down enough to look for a new place to live that would allow me to take Katie to Church and still be close enough for me to go to Mass. We went on this was until 1996.

Katie and Don were both quite the Missionaries. By spring of 1996 I agreed to take discussions but only so that I could prove them both wrong! I was baptized by my son (his first!) six weeks later. Since that time I have served in Relief Society presidencies, been called as a teacher, Stake Missionary, and found that place of security and family I never had as a child. When my first Bishop taught me about my Patriarchal Blessing and I had learned that I could continue to learn and grow and take it all with me to be with Heavenly Father. My Blessing told of my position of Warrior in the Pre-Mortal life (which explained my drive for justice), a calling to Family History and Genealogy and a promise of attending the Temple.

I was endowed in the Las Vegas Temple one year later.

My life now is clean and sober. While my husband is not a member he supports my membership whole heartedly. Two of my grandchildren attend church with me weekly (unfortunately, their parents are divorced) and love the scouts and Young Women programs they are involved in. I am serving as the Relief Society Secretary.

Keep up the good work. The Mission Field is white and ready for harvest – especially right now. May Heavenly Father bless your works and your world.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Testimonies and Stories of Many

On there is a page dedicated to testimonies and conversion stories of members across the world.

You can visit this page and watch many wonderful videos HERE.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Re-Conversion Story

Carolina Girl's Story

I grew up in the church for the most part. My parents were baptized when I was 2, we were sealed when I was 4. I always dreamed of the day that I would be sealed to my return missionary for all time and eternity and we would start our wonderful family and have a happy little Mormon life. But fairy-tales don't always go from beginning to end so smoothly.

When I was 12, much to the surprise of everyone in our ward, myself included, my parents divorced. I remember questioning where I stood in the eternities now, if my family was broken did that mean that if I died I wouldn't be part of a "forever family?" It troubled me so much but what troubled me more was to see my father, the wonderful priesthood leader of our home, turn away from the gospel. I lived with him as did my sisters, and he forbid us to go back to our ward. I was heartbroken, but I knew the church was true. I asked him one day "How do you go from believing that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God one day and the next day we aren't allowed to even talk about the gospel?!" He simply said, "I just don't believe it anymore."

Fast forward 5 years to the day I left my fathers home, because of his influence I didn't have a desire for the gospel, I knew it was true deep down, but I put on a front, it was easier to live by the world's standards. I lived with my grandparents and attend church with them at their Baptist church regularly and enjoyed it. But I knew there was more, I sat there looking at all those people thinking, how can they not have this burning desire to fill the void?

I was engaged just before my 19th birthday to a wonderful man. We were married in December of 2005. We attended several different churches, looking for a place to belong, a place that felt right, none of them met our spiritual needs. 11 months after we were married we found out I was pregnant, then we discovered it was twins. I was so scared, the doctors said there was a problem, it appeared I had only one placenta, the initial ultrasound also looked like there was only one sac, meaning I might not make it past 20 weeks. It was heart broken and I cried out to God. I prayed as I drove home "Heavenly Father I will do whatever it takes, I will raise these children the way You want me to, just please let them be healthy." Those were my exact words and I meant them, but I didn't know what it meant, but I meant them.

The NEXT DAY I was at home with my husband when the doorbell rang. I opened it and there stood to young men in white shirts and ties and asked if I was Sister Christa Berrier (my maiden name). I said "I'm Christa Rushing I used to be Christa Berrier." Now I know that the story is amazing as it is, but it gets better. The missionaries here are given a certain number of miles that they are allowed to drive their car because our ward boundaries are so large here (I live 25 minutes away from our building). These two elders Elder Fletcher and Elder Gillette had been praying for someone to teach the gospel to and the spirit told them to come to me, they had EXACTLY the number of miles left to get to my house and back to their apartment, I lived 20 miles outside of town.

My husband initially was leery as most people in the south are, but he was baptized in just a few short weeks, and we are working towards being sealed to our beautiful twin daughters, who were born 8 weeks early (not due to complications) Cordelia Beau weighing 2lbs 8oz and Caroline Bleu 2lbs 1oz. They were the healthiest babies in the NICU, they amazed everyone when they never needed oxygen, and came home in a short 41 days, before my actual due date. It turns out I had two sacs; fused together, and two placentas; fused together, rare but so are fraternal twin girls without fertility treatments. We have had our scares with doctors, but we have never doubted the promise that I made and was given in return. I will raise them in His way, because He kept His word.

I hope that it helps someone to see the truth, every person deserves the chance to have these opportunities, to know this joy, to have a real lasting relationship with our Father in Heaven, to know His love and to be together forever.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Am a Child of God

Riin's Story

Many years I've had problems with self-esteem. It's been hard for me to love myself. The world hasn't been very helpful because when you see all the gorgeus girls on the pictures of the magazines and all the pretty actors in movies, it's easy to start comparing yourself with them (which is exactly what I did). I would act all happy but I was actually a depressive mess.

Once when the sisters were teaching me about loving thy neighbour, it occured to me that how can I love my neighbour if I can't even love myself. I knew that I had to figure out who I am, who I really am. I finally figured it out - I am a child of God. I'm created in His image and nurtured in His hands. He knows me and He loves me just the way I am.

I tried so hard to be normal, to be just like everyone else but I should have done the opposite. I don't have to be normal to feel good, I have to be myself. We are all special, not only few of us. We all have good sides and bad sides. No one is perfect, not yet. We were supposed to look different, act different and love different things. We are on our mission here. We can't waste any time feeling sorry for ourselves. We should appreciate the opportunity to have a body, to see the world, to live in it, to be a part of it.

My favourite scripture is 1 Samuel 16:7 - But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. I believe most of us have good hearts or something good in our hearts. The Lord sees it and knows it. He remembers it and appreciates it. He smiles every time we smile. I know that we are all children of God.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

An Intense Desire to Know the Truth: Science vs. The Spirit

Josh Sy's Story

Image Credit

I was born in the church to a great family and liked church as a young boy. I was also one of those odd kids who knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up even while I was very young. I wanted to be an engineer or inventor, and as this was my desire later on for life I had a natural love for science and physics. I was baptized at 8 and enjoyed my time in the church, never wavering in my early youth.

At the age of 15 I knew life was presenting choices to me for the future. I had previously kept all the commandments of the church, but one was starting to seem difficult to me, I wanted to ski on Sunday. It seemed as if every Sunday the sky was clear and the snow was fresh. We would usually go to my families cabin for dinner after church and I was well aware that the ski lines at Sundance Resort were empty on Sunday.

I made up my mind to prove that God didn't exist, or that the church wasn't true using science. I started with evolution, until I read writings of several LDS authors about it and my argument was lost. I knew I had something with the Big Bang Theory until I went to my mom who smiled and said “out of everything nothing was created? Then who lit the match to start the explosion?” Once again I'd failed. I tried against the Book of Mormon but the evidence for it was overwhelming.

After my brief run trying to prove the church incorrect I was left with an intense desire to know if it was true. I always read the Book of Mormon at night and focused on Moroni's promise. Days went by with me on my knees every night, never knowing for sure. After about 2 weeks of trying I attended a baptism of a friend on a Saturday that would have been the perfect ski day. There, in the Stake Center sitting between my friends Matt and Jessica I felt the spirit really strong as a hymn was playing; in that moment I asked the Lord if that was my answer and that emotion that I'd never felt so strong before grew to a massive degree and so I asked again “Lord, does this feeling mean that Joseph Smith was your prophet of the restoration and the Book of Mormon is true?”, and as it grew again I received light and knowledge from heaven.

That was the first time in my life that knowledge was given to me like that. Everything else I'd studied was learned by study and based on theories, equations, or principals; this was so different as it stood alone as divine knowledge in my mind. I didn't head back to ski that day as I had previously thought to do, and the following day walking to church that mountain was non temptation for me.

Seventeen years later much has changed, but I still know. I've been on a mission in Italy, married a girl much better and prettier than I deserve in the temple, blessed with 3 great kids. I've watched my dad be called as a General Authority and seen the dedication, increadible sacrifice, love, and goodness of those with whom he serves. Most inspiring are the 13 sophomores who attend my seminary class each morning who are willing to wake up an hour early to read the New Testament with me.

All these blessings and the anchor of my faith was gained in a moment when I needed to know, so I asked, and He answered. I'll forever be grateful to the Lord for that witness and the blessings that have flowed from it into my life.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

In the Lord's Due Time

Keith L. Brown's Story
The Vicissitudes of Life

In 1 Nephi 19:23 we learn about likening the Scriptures unto ourselves “that it might be for our profit and learning.” With that thought in mind, I would like to turn to the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, chapter 29, verses 11 through 13 and share a few thoughts with you this morning as to how the Scriptures found there apply to my own personal life and perhaps to your own lives as well.

In Jeremiah 29:11-13 we read these words, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

On March 10, just a little over a month ago, I celebrated my ten year anniversary as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I actually began investigating the Church in late 1980. I had seen several television commercials about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and each one normally ended with how one could obtain a free copy of the Book of Mormon. I have always had a love for books and was always on the watch for any new book of interest that I might be able to add to my small library of books. Having no knowledge of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and having never heard of or seen a copy of the Book of Mormon, I thought that this might be an interesting addition to my library, and besides it was at the right price, free. What I later found out is that the commercials failed to mention one minor detail. Nothing that I can recall was ever mentioned about the fact that two young men, riding bicycles, dressed in suits would personally deliver the free Book of Mormon. I later learned that these young men were missionaries for the Church.

The day the missionaries arrived at my parents’ home were I was living at the time; I invited them in and had a brief conversation with them. I found that some of what they had to say was of some interest to me and so I invited them to return again in a few days when I had more time to sit and talk with them and continue with our conversation. Time went on and after having met with the missionaries for about 5 months, I decided to leave home and join the United States Navy in March 1981. I thanked the missionaries for taking the time to visit me and teach me about what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes and teaches, and promised that I would continue to investigate the Church and its teachings at a later time. At that time I had only read a few passages from the Book of Mormon and though I had found what I read to be of great interest, I placed the book on the shelf in my library thinking that it would make a good reference book and perhaps I would return to read its pages some day.

Moving forward now in time, I found myself in San Diego California where I attended basic training, my first “A” school in electronics, and was eventually assigned to my first ship, the U.S.S. Jouett CG 29. One day while on liberty from the ship I came across a small bookstore. Being a lover of books I decided to go in and take a look around to see if I might find anything of interest. I did not realize at first that it was an LDS bookstore, but it didn’t take long to figure out. I distinctly remember on that visit I purchased several things to include another copy of the Book of Mormon and a set of conference tapes. I would love to tell you that I went back to the ship and spent time listening to the conference messages and reading the Book of Mormon, but that is not the case. In fact, I tucked the tapes and the Book of Mormon neatly away thinking that I would get back to those some day.

In addition to the conference tapes and the Book of Mormon, I bought several other books. The title of one of the books particularly caught my attention that day for whatever reason. The title of the book is “In The Lord’s Due Time”. I still have that book in my personal library. I did not at that time stop to notice who the book was written by or even what the book was about. I would later come to realize that the book was written by a Black Brother of the Church by the name of Joseph Freeman. The name Joseph Freeman is perhaps unfamiliar to most of you, but Brother Joseph Freeman was the first Black to receive the Priesthood following the 1978 Revelation. I thought that was interesting and wondered what was meant by receiving the Priesthood and what exactly a revelation is. Like the other materials that I purchased that day, I put the book away intending to further research the matter at a later time.

As years went on, I decided to begin studying for the ministry. The Baptist church that I was attending while stationed in Norfolk Virginia had its own Bible College and so I enrolled and began preparing to one day become a Baptist minister. During my course of studies I heard, read, and learned about many negative comments about the Mormon Church and why one should not join this Church. I became very well acquainted with anti-Mormon materials through media resources such as video tapes, cassette tapes, newspapers, magazines and the like. For a time, I even communicated through letters with people who had at one time been members of the Church and for one reason or another had left the Church. Though I will admit that some of the negativity sounded interesting, I could not buy into the fact that this Church was all that these folks where proclaiming it to be. I reflected upon the things that the missionaries and I had discussed in earlier years and came to the conclusion that there must be more to the story than these folks that were against the Church were telling, and that there must be some evidence of truth in what the missionaries had taught me. In short, I determined in my mind that I would seek after the truth and ignore all of the negativity.

Let us move forward in time once again. The year is now 1997 and I found myself stationed at a NATO command in Keflavik Iceland. One day as I was surfing the internet in my room, I decided to do a search on the Mormon Church out of curiosity just to see what I might find. I found a link for the Church News and decided to check it out. I later found an email address and decided to send an email to the newspaper inquiring as to the cost of sending a subscription to the newspaper to an overseas location. I received an email back from one of the editors of the newspaper at that time whose name was Doug Osborn. In his email he inquired as to what I was doing in Iceland and what my interest was in the Mormon Church. I sent an email back stating that I was serving in the United States Navy and that I was merely interested in reading about what was going on in the Mormon Church at that time. He emailed me back and said that he thought that was interesting and then he said, please do not be upset with me, and I hope you do not mind, but I have contacted the local missionaries in your area and have asked them to contact you. Partially thinking that I was on a secure NATO base and that the chances of the missionaries being able to locate me was slim to none, I wrote back stating that would be fine. A few days later my telephone rang. I answered the phone and who do you suppose was on the other end of the line? You guessed it, a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My first question was how he obtained my telephone number. He replied that it was really quite easy, I just called the operator and she gave it to me. My thoughts were, well so much for security. I gave them my address and invited them over.

To make a long story short Brothers and Sisters, I met with several groups of missionaries over the course of about a year. We had many wonderful conversations and discussions about the Bible and the Book of Mormon. At times they were asking me where I found certain Scriptures and would make notes of them. At other times they would call me and tell me that they found another investigator that was also Baptist and asked how I would handle answering certain questions that their investigator had. It became a great teaching / learning experience for each of us.

Finally, in January 1998, I told the missionaries that I appreciated everything that they had taught me and that I would not make a final decision about being baptized until after I had read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price in their entirety. I believe that the Lord had a hand in that as well as I believe that I was inspired to develop a 40-day reading schedule to complete all of the reading. For the very first time, a little over 17 years after my initial investigation of the Church, and for 40 consecutive days prior to my baptism, I read the Book of Mormon in its entirety, followed by the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price each in their entirety. Having completed all of the reading, I returned to Moroni’s promise as recorded in the Book of Mormon in Moroni 10: 3-5 – “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. 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. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” After reading those words I knelt beside my bed and asked the Lord to let me know if these things were indeed true. I received my answer, called the missionaries and on the evening of Tuesday, March 10, 1998, I was baptized and became a member of the Lord’s true Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The rest as they say is history with all things being fulfilled and accomplished according to the Lord’s plans and in His due time.

Brothers and Sisters, I may not know a whole lot, but what I know, I know of a surety. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s true Church upon the earth today. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the Word of God and that both testify of a loving Savior and Redeemer. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today and I sustain him as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator as I also sustain his counselors. I also know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ holds all of my tomorrows in the palm of His hand. He has already prepared the work that He would have me do in the days ahead, is preparing me to do that work, and will one day in His due time call me forth to accomplish that work. Whether the work will be in a section of the vineyard of this great Stake of Zion or wherever the Lord may call me to serve, I humbly pray that I, like Nephi of old will be obedient to the call and go forth and do those things which the Lord commands.

I close by reading once again the words found in Jeremiah 29:11-13 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” God our Eternal Heavenly Father lives and Jesus is the Christ. Of these things I do so testify and bear solemn witness in His Sacred Holy name. Amen.