Latter-day Saint Voices

By , as told to


My Bus Was Late

Most days my bus arrived right on time, but one eventful day—11 October 1993—it was late. I was a young university student in Caen, France, and I needed to get to class. Looking around, I noticed I was not the only one waiting for the bus. Two young men standing nearby caught my eye. They looked different somehow. Each had a name tag. Who were they? Anxious about getting to class on time, I quickly turned my thoughts back to worrying about the late bus.

Then, unexpectedly, I heard a voice behind me: “May I ask you a question?” I turned and found myself facing one of the young men. He spoke French with an unusual accent. “Do you believe in God?” he asked.

I was surprised and hesitated to reply. I had asked myself that very question many times and finally decided I was an atheist. There was no reason to talk with these young men, but something about their demeanor was so remarkable I found myself wanting to proceed into a conversation. They radiated a feeling of peace and, surprisingly, an outpouring of love and intelligence. Their name tags said they were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The three of us conversed for about 10 minutes. I knew nothing about their church, and I was amazed when they said they were prepared to teach me everything I needed to know about God, including the meaning of life. Before my bus arrived—15 minutes late—we set an appointment to meet.

During our discussions, the two elders introduced me to the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, and they taught me about the restored gospel. Little by little, I learned the principles of the gospel and came to believe they are true.

My entire life began to change. My parents were the first to notice the difference. Communication with my family improved, and my relationships with everyone became happier. I made friends more easily than ever before. I attended church and saw no pretense there, only expressions of love and acceptance unlike anything I had experienced. The members seemed to know the difference between what was true and what was false.

But before joining the Church, I wanted to be absolutely certain it was the right thing to do. I took my time making up my mind. The missionary discussions helped me come to the conviction that I would not be making a mistake, that I had indeed found the truth. I was baptized on 24 July 1994.

It was the best decision I have ever made. Since then, I have enjoyed the blessings of the gospel and the fellowship of wonderful ward members. I have received the priesthood. I have taught Sunday School and participated in the conversion of others. Life has taken on new meaning. When people ask me how I came to join the Church, I grin and tell them, “My bus was late—thank heavens!”

Thierry Damoiseau is a member of the Paris Ward, Paris France Stake.

Paul Conners is a member of the Crescent 18th Ward, Sandy Utah Crescent Stake.

Why Had I Asked Her Here?

It was one of those Sunday mornings that started out early, the way so many do for a bishop. The meetinghouse was dark and cold, but it warmed up during our bishopric meeting and the ward council meeting that followed. Soon members began to arrive for Relief Society and priesthood meeting.

In my function as bishop, I usually met each Sunday with the priests quorum. Somehow on this particular Sunday I was drawn to attend Relief Society. Because I felt a need to meet with the sisters, I asked my counselors to handle the priesthood end of things. I met our Relief Society president greeting sisters at the door and asked her if I might sit in on the meeting. She welcomed me warmly and asked if I needed some time during the meeting to say anything. I told her that I didn’t, that I just wanted to sit in with the sisters and partake of the spirit of their meeting.

It was a wonderful lesson, and during the meeting I remember looking at one of the sisters in our ward, a widow, and having an overwhelming feeling that I needed to meet with her. Following the lesson and closing prayer, I approached this sister and asked how she was doing. She replied, “Just fine, Bishop.” I asked her if she was going to be busy later in the day and if she had a little time to meet with me. “I’d be happy to meet with you, Bishop. What time?”

“Let’s see, how about two o’clock?” I suggested.

I had some interviews after sacrament meeting, and the last person walked out of the office at about five minutes to two. There, sitting on the bench outside the office door, was this fine sister. I had somehow forgotten we were meeting. I invited her in, and we sat down.

My mind raced as I tried to remember why I had asked her to meet with me. I was sure there had been some reason I needed to talk to her, but now I couldn’t remember what it was.

“I have to be honest with you,” I began. “I asked you to come meet with me because this morning during Relief Society meeting I had a feeling come over me that I was supposed to talk to you. But I don’t have the slightest idea what we’re supposed to talk about.”

Tears welled up in her eyes and began rolling down her face. “Bishop,” she said, “I know why you asked me to come visit with you today. I have a problem I’ve been facing and don’t know what to do about it. I’ve been fasting and praying since yesterday for an answer, and I need to talk to you about it.”

By this time I had tears in my own eyes and a lump in my throat. We talked about the situation, and she was able to clear up some things that weighed heavily on her mind. She left the office uplifted, and I sat there alone—humbled. I thought of my weaknesses and imperfections and how I was struggling to do the right things for the Lord as His servant. Once again I realized just how much Heavenly Father loves His children and in how many ways He answers their prayers.

David R. Phillips is a member of the Heber Eighth Ward, Heber City Utah Stake.

Our Most Beautiful Book

As a youth in the Netherlands, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks working with the full-time sister missionaries. I expected two weeks of hard work—and a lot of fun.

Despite my enthusiasm, we had little success the first couple of days. By the end of the first week I was exhausted, spiritually and emotionally. That night, I read in the Book of Mormon. When I went to bed, I had a warm and good feeling, and I knew Heavenly Father loved me and would give me the courage to keep trying after every closed door. In the days that followed, there continued to be more negative than positive responses. But if there was only one person a day who would listen, it made the day worthwhile.

One day I telephoned a woman who had investigated the Church for four years. Over the phone, she told me she didn’t need the Book of Mormon anymore because she had found a “more beautiful book.” When we went to her house, my companion and I hoped we could convince her to give the Book of Mormon another chance. She showed us parts of her book dealing with charity and pride; then she looked at us as if to say, That isn’t written in your book, is it?

Fortunately, I had studied the Book of Mormon in seminary that year, and I knew of some scriptures on those subjects. I soon found them and started to read. I explained them to her in a way I had not known I was capable of. When I finished, she had tears in her eyes. She had intended to give her copy of the Book of Mormon back to us, but now she had decided to try reading this most beautiful book—the Book of Mormon—again.

Nancy Marilijn Ruiter is a member of the Leiden Ward, The Hague Netherlands Stake.

“The Roof Is on Fire!”

When I was 16, my parents took on the challenge of building a new home situated right up against the Snake River in Idaho. We built and lived in a temporary house while our permanent home was being built. As fate would have it, in the summer of 1976 the Teton Dam broke, flooding the valley and sweeping away many homes.

After surviving the flood with our permanent home still standing and the temporary house being swept away, we lived in the unfinished home as construction progressed. We heated the home with an old wood-burning stove that had a flue running out the space where our future fireplace would be. This stove had to be constantly stoked to maintain any heat at all for the large open area.

One day I was in the laundry room sewing a dress for an upcoming dance. Suddenly the thought came strongly to me that I should find the nearest fire extinguisher. I looked around and found one in the cupboard of the laundry room, so I sat down and continued sewing. Then the thought came that I should familiarize myself with how the extinguisher worked. I walked over to the cupboard, took out the fire extinguisher, and carefully read the instructions.

Returning again to my sewing, I had not been seated more than two minutes when I heard the cries of my mother coming from another room in the house. Without knowing what she was shouting, I ran to the cupboard, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and hurried into the other room. “Someone get the hose!” my mother screamed.

“The roof is on fire!” But this was December in Idaho and bitterly cold; all the hoses would be full of ice.

I ran past my mother to a tall ladder in the corner of the room and asked her to help me hold it. We quickly set up the ladder, and I climbed it and extinguished the flames. My mother was dumbfounded that I knew what to do or even where a fire extinguisher was located.

When the fire department arrived 20 minutes later, we realized that without our quick actions our home possibly would have been beyond saving. As we came to find out, the insulation installed in our attic two days before had not been flame retardant, as we had thought. It was then I realized how blessed I had been to receive those promptings from the Holy Ghost, and I was truly grateful I had acted on them without hesitation.

Teresa Nielson is a member of the Merced First Ward, Merced California Stake.

Daniel’s Sunday Decision

Laughter and excited screams from children at play across the street floated toward our house. My redheaded, eight-year-old son Daniel stood with his nose pressed against the front window. It was Sunday, and there was a party for one of Daniel’s classmates in the open garage across the street.

Another burst of laughter came, and I joined Daniel at the window. A dozen children scrambled for the candy and prizes that carpeted the ground. “Looks like Zachary broke the piñata,” sighed Daniel. “Nathan was going to invite me too until I told him you’d never let me go.” He looked up at me with miserable eyes.

“It’s Sunday, Danny, and we don’t feel good about having you go to a party today,” I reminded him.

“Look, Mom!” Daniel said, pointing down the street. It was a girl carrying a colorfully wrapped present; she was definitely on her way to the party.

“It’s not fair! How come she gets to go and I don’t?” Daniel demanded.

I mentally searched through years of Church lessons and scripture study for something to convince him that keeping the Sabbath day holy was more important than the noise and fun of the party. But nothing came to me. There at the window with my hand on my son’s shoulder I prayed silently: What should I say to help him? Heavenly Father, please help me find the words.

An idea came. “Let’s read a book,” I suggested. Reluctant to leave the window, Daniel eyed me suspiciously. “How about if we read from the children’s scripture storybook?” I asked. “Which story do you want me to read?”

Sitting down on the couch next to me, Daniel flipped the pages for me. I didn’t really need to ask, he always wanted me to read the same story. “Read the one about when Jesus was crucified.”

I began to read with as much sincere feeling as I could to draw Daniel’s attention into the story and away from the party. “Some wicked men came into the garden. The men took Jesus, and the people said, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’” Attentive now, Daniel snuggled up next to me. No longer did his eyes stray to the window.

I continued to read, feeling peaceful as we read about the Savior. “‘Soldiers took Jesus and beat Him with whips. They made fun of Him. They spit on Him,’” I read, turning the pages.

Daniel’s blue eyes focused on the picture of Jesus hanging on the cross between two thieves. “The soldiers crucified Jesus. They laid Him on the wooden cross. They nailed His hands and feet to the cross.”

Then we finished the story. “Jesus suffered on the cross many hours. Then Jesus died.” I closed the book and glanced at my son, who sat thinking.

Daniel looked up at me in a humble, childlike way and said: “Mom, I guess the birthday party isn’t that important. If Jesus loved me enough to die for me, then I can show Him that I love Him back by not going to a party on Sunday.”

At that moment, being a parent was the most rewarding endeavor I could imagine. My heart swelled at this small step in Daniel’s conversion that had occurred while we read. The Holy Ghost had touched my son and helped him have a mighty change of heart (see Alma 5:12).

My gratitude for receiving such a helpful answer to my prayer was overwhelming. Two lives were touched that Sunday: Daniel’s and mine.

Janette K. Gibbons is a member of the Gilbert Sixth Ward, Gilbert Arizona Highland Stake.

Our Eight-Year-Old’s Testimony

Our family has a tradition to gather each Sunday evening for a family devotional. We each bear our testimony, tell a favorite Church story, or sing a favorite Primary song.

One Sunday evening some years ago, five-year-old Daniel eagerly raised his hand and asked to be first. He jumped up and ran over to stand on the living room fireplace hearth, the “pulpit” the children always used. After singing “Book of Mormon Stories,” eight-year-old Ryan bore his testimony, followed by our 11-year-old daughter Chanelle and Mom and Dad. Andrea, our toddler, fell asleep next to us on the couch.

We were about to close our little testimony meeting with a family prayer when Ryan raised his hand and matter-of-factly announced, “I know all about life.” I was a bit surprised and wondered what he was planning to tell us. It was past bedtime, and we were all getting tired, but I let him go ahead anyway.

I asked, “What do you know about life, Ryan?”

Ryan then taught us one of the clearest descriptions of the plan of salvation I have ever heard. It was pure and simple. It reminded me of the account in 3 Nephi when the Savior ministered to the little children, who then taught their parents such marvelous truths they could not be written (see 3 Ne. 26:14–16).

We all listened intently as Ryan touched on every one of the major points of Heavenly Father’s plan. It was as if he had spent hours in memorization.

He was beaming, proud of newfound knowledge. Speaking with power I never thought I would feel from an eight-year-old, he described how, after the Resurrection, the Savior will judge us and we will receive one of the kingdoms of glory. He then told us the importance of being valiant so we can live eternally together as a family in the celestial kingdom. Tears filled his eyes, and he had a look of satisfaction on his face.

Astounded, I said, “Ryan, that’s beautiful. Very well done.” Feeling prompted by the calm, sweet spirit that filled the room, I looked him in the eyes and quietly said, “Ryan, you’re feeling the Holy Ghost.”

He said softly, “I know. I’ve felt the Holy Ghost about six times before. This is just like it.”

I said, “Ryan, I’m proud of you. Right now we are all feeling the joy and happiness that comes when we have the Holy Ghost in our lives. It’s this kind of spirit that will help us live together forever as a family.”

We feel grateful for the teachers who helped our children understand the gospel. But even more, we are grateful for the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives, teaching and guiding us in the paths we should follow.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Gerald Rogers

David D. Hoefferle is a member of the Tucson Sabino Canyon Ward, Tucson Arizona East Stake.