I was working as a guide on the Colorado River for a group of more than fifty LDS priesthood holders on a six-day fathers and sons’ outing. It was going to be an uncomfortable trip for me, I could tell. Since I had become inactive in the Church, I thought there were only certain ways to have fun—and I knew this group would not want to participate in any of them. Besides, memories of my own youth were of a broken family, troubled teenage years, and many poor decisions that I did not care to have harrowed up.
Soon I discovered that the trip was going to be different in ways I had not expected. Unlike the groups of men I had guided so often who seemed as if they couldn’t wait to get away from their families, these fathers were telling me about their families, wishing they could have brought their wives and other children! They were also spending lots of time with their sons, something I had missed being able to do with my own father as a youth. The sons liked their fathers and were proud to be with them. I didn’t want to admit it, but there was a spirit of love and respect among this group that I had never felt before.
By the third day, I found myself enjoying the trip unlike any other. One morning I found myself in a quiet conversation with one of the men, a ward bishop. He started asking me about my life, where I had grown up, and finally, if I was a member of the Church. While he patiently listened, my story unraveled. Without preaching, he asked me if I believed in the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I answered that I wasn’t sure, but I did know that I was unable to ignore the unhappy feelings when I did wrong, and within my heart there remained a spark of light that I could not deny whenever I pondered the Church.
The bishop told me that if I would live one principle of the gospel 100 percent, I would know if the Church was true, and as my testimony grew, I would desire to live the remaining gospel principles.
I accepted his challenge and began earnestly praying that I would know if the Church was true. With all my heart I began applying the principle of prayer. I asked repeatedly to know what God wanted me to do. By the end of the summer, a feeling had grown within me that I could not deny. My prayers had led me to the Book of Mormon. I read in it every evening and received a witness that it was true. I was married shortly after and applied still another principle all the way—the law of tithing. Later I was ordained an elder, and my wife and I were sealed in the temple. Today we have two lovely children.
The Church serves as a constant guide and comfort now. I am so grateful for those fathers and leaders who set a righteous example and to the bishop who took the time to listen to a very lost young man on the waters of the Colorado River.