Latter-day Saint Voices

By


The Lost Pamphlet

I was born and raised in El Progreso, a small town in southern Guatemala. When I was about 10 years old, an unusual pamphlet came into my hands. It contained the story of Joseph Smith, a young boy who saw a vision of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

I was deeply impressed by this story. Unsatisfied with the training I was receiving in the religion of my parents, I wanted to know more about the boy in the pamphlet. But I didn’t know where to get information. In time I lost the pamphlet, but I never forgot about it. I wondered if I would ever find another like it.

As a teenager and young adult, I investigated several religious denominations. I even took classes in their doctrine and received diplomas. But there were aspects of these religions that troubled me, and I felt uncomfortable with the criticism that clergy of different faiths sometimes directed at one another. By this time I had started reading the Bible, and as I compared the Bible with what I saw in the religions I had studied, I became convinced those religions lacked God’s authority.

I knelt many times in prayer, pleading with God to guide me to His true Church. I promised that if He did, I would be faithful in keeping His commandments and would always serve Him.

I had dreams, too, in which I told God I was willing to do anything to receive forgiveness for my sins. I would wake up and find my pillow wet with tears. I also asked God to help me find the pamphlet about Joseph Smith again.

By 1968 I had a wife and son. We moved to Guatemala City so I could find better employment.

On the afternoon of 20 November 1975, two young American women, simply dressed, knocked on our door. They said they had a message for my family. We made an appointment for them to come back at a later time.

I remember the first discussion clearly. One of the young women said a prayer, and then the other one began to talk about Joseph Smith. In her hands was a copy of the pamphlet I had read as a boy! My search for the truth had come to an end in my own living room.

No words can express what I felt at that moment. I wanted to snatch the pamphlet out of her hands. The sisters noticed the way I was looking at it and said they would leave it with me. When they gave me that precious pamphlet, I could hardly believe it. I put it in my shirt pocket to keep it near my heart.

Two days later the sisters returned. When they saw the pamphlet in my pocket, they asked if I had read it. I told them they didn’t realize what it meant to me. I explained I had read it as a boy and had prayed to find it again.

On Sunday our family went to church. We arrived very early, and the sisters were surprised to see us. They hadn’t really invited us, just told us where the building was.

The sisters continued to teach us. Although they didn’t speak Spanish very well, they taught by the Holy Ghost. When they taught us about repentance, I felt something I had never felt before and started to cry. Then I realized we were all crying. I was convinced I had found the true Church.

My wife, Rosa Élida, had a similar experience. It happened when the sisters invited us to be baptized. “Sister Salguero,” they asked, “do you want to follow the Savior?” She realized right then that she did.

When I asked the Lord to help me find His Church, I promised I would serve Him. From the first time I went to church, I have faithfully attended and have tried to serve diligently. I have had many wonderful Church callings, including serving twice as bishop. My wife has served in the Primary and Relief Society and in the family history program. My eldest son served a full-time mission, and now his younger brother is preparing to serve. We have two daughters who are also active in the Church.

Whenever I am asked to speak in church, I try to communicate the joy I feel as a member of the Lord’s Church. I know that God lives and that through the Prophet Joseph Smith He has restored to us His gospel, His Church, and the authority of His priesthood.

Wenceslao Salguero is a member of the Tierra Nueva Ward, Guatemala City Guatemala Bosques de San Nicolás Stake.

Strong for the Sake of My Children

After 12 years of marriage and with six young children, I found myself separated from my husband, facing divorce. My husband’s mother continued to live with our family, but with one exception, my children never saw their father again.

My children were too young to understand fully what was happening to our family, and I tried to shelter them as much as I could from the pain I was feeling. But within a few weeks of separating from my husband, I felt vulnerable, empty, and alone. Although I was surrounded by people in my Philippine hometown, I often found myself weeping, longing for the comfort of someone to confide in. Assailed by doubts, I felt as though I were living in a haze. I couldn’t think or plan clearly. And yet I knew I had to be strong for the sake of my children. The burden of their welfare rested solely upon my shoulders, I felt.

Humbled and desperate, I knelt and asked Heavenly Father for three favors: good health, a clear mind, and emotional strength devoid of self-pity and selfishness.

My prayers were answered. In spite of difficult economic conditions in the Philippines, I was blessed with a good income. The harder I was able to work, the more money I earned. Our temporal needs were met, and I found the clarity of mind and the emotional strength I needed to be both mother and father to my children.

I gave my children love and affection and as much attention as possible. I devoted Sundays and holidays solely to them. I taught them not to look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but to look around in awareness. They learned not to hate anyone, especially their absent father.

They also learned to share with one another and build family solidarity. We exchanged ideas and valued each other’s differing points of view. We rejoiced in one another’s victories and comforted each other in our defeats. We were a united family—cooking, cleaning, laughing, sharing, and, above all, praying together.

Seven years after my separation, four of my children and I became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The teachings of the Church honed and polished my children, further cultivating their talents. They learned more patience and understanding.

As they grew older they also discovered leadership skills and other abilities they did not know they had. They enjoyed peace and a sense of belonging. My children often turned to Church leaders for educational, emotional, and spiritual counsel. They were devoted to their callings and eagerly engaged in Church activities. I watched them thrive as they grew spiritually and developed social skills.

My son and three daughters served as full-time missionaries. They have continued to grow and develop into wonderful people.

My trials have helped me to become stronger and grow in ways I may not have otherwise. Many times I was weary, but in those times of great need my Heavenly Father gave me rest, guided my footsteps, and filled my soul with His love.

I have been abundantly blessed. I cherish my beautiful family. Out of our great adversity we have emerged triumphant.

But we owe everything to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. For Their influence in our lives we are eternally grateful.

Eliza M. Torres is a member of the Milpitas Ward, San Jose California East Stake.

“Go Check on Wendi!”

When our oldest daughter, Wendi, was five, she attended morning kindergarten class. One day I sent her to school, then readied our two younger children to go shopping. I felt rushed because it usually took over two hours to do my grocery shopping, and I wanted to be done in time to pick up Wendi from school. So with my shopping list in one hand and my two preschoolers in the other, I set off for the store.

About 20 minutes later I had a clear thought interrupt me: Darlene, go check on Wendi. I thought to myself, How silly! Wendi is fine at school. I dismissed the thought and went about my shopping. A short time later the thought came back again. Darlene, go check on Wendi. The thought came so clearly that I stopped in the middle of a grocery store aisle.

Looking at my shopping list and at my two young children, who would not be patient much longer, I reasoned to myself, This is silly! I’m sure Wendi is fine. I continued down the aisle and turned the corner when the words came forcefully yet again: Darlene, go check on Wendi!

I told a clerk I’d be back for my groceries and rushed from the store. As we left, I noticed a severe thunderstorm had come up. Wendi was terrified of thunderstorms. Still, I knew she was safe at school. Nevertheless, I began to worry that something terrible might have happened. I hurried to the school only to find everything calm. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, and even the storm was passing. I was confused and thought perhaps I wouldn’t go inside after all. But after making the effort to get there, I decided I should at least walk to the classroom and reassure myself that all was well.

I turned the corner to Wendi’s classroom and saw the door was open and Wendi standing in the doorway. How odd! Why wasn’t she at her desk? As I approached her she seemed just fine and had a smile on her face.

I didn’t know what to say, so I just bent down and gave her a hug.

“Mommy, I knew you’d come!” she said.

With that her teacher came over to us and said, “How did you know to come?” Then she explained that the thunder and lightning storm had upset the class. As she tried to gather the children to sit together on a carpet, she noticed Wendi at her seat praying. When Wendi finished, she told her teacher that she was all right, that she had asked Heavenly Father to send her mommy to her, and could she please wait by the door. I could not stop my tears as I realized the prayer of faith of a five-year-old had literally moved me from a grocery store five miles away to be at her side. I am deeply grateful to Heavenly Father for this experience, for we both learned divine lessons about faith and trust that day.

Darlene Joy Nichols is a member of the Burnsville Ward, Burnsville Minnesota Stake.

I Just Knew We Were Not Alone

As a five-year-old child, I lived with my parents in Great Falls, Montana, where my father was stationed in the U.S. Air Force. I used to go outside and lie under the trees, look up at the sky, and think about all those other people just like me who were on other planets out there. I just knew we were not alone. I’d think about it a lot, but I kept it all to myself.

When I was about seven, my parents were transferred to Europe, where we lived until I was 16. As a result of my father’s assignments as a pilot, I became fluent in German, Norwegian, and French, and my parents hoped I would acquire a doctorate in languages. Education was a high family priority: my grandfather was an architect, and my mother’s stepfather was a bacteriologist.

We returned from Europe in November 1959 and soon visited relatives in Sacramento, California, where I learned that my cousin Dean had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was preparing for a mission. He asked me what I knew about premortal life. I told him I just knew there were other places outside of this earth with other people, that we had wanted to come here, and that we were persons before we came here.

His immediate response was, “Where did you hear all that?” He said no other church on earth taught these truths the way the LDS Church did. At that instant I knew his church was true; I just knew it. Then there began hours of talking about the plan of salvation.

Soon our family returned to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where my father was stationed. I knew no one in the Church, had never seen one of their meetinghouses, and had never had any Church association except those conversations with my cousin. But I was intrigued and wanted to know more, so I went to the public library and checked out everything to do with the Church.

There were about 20 books, some of them fiction, but most of the books were anti-Mormon. I read everything. I know it may be amazing to others, but despite the numerous anti-Mormon expressions in so much of what I read, nothing persuaded me away from what I was thinking about this Church. As I read, good things would come out and stay in my mind, and faulty thinking and erroneous motives became so transparent that all of the negative material just drifted away. Most of the books were quite old. I didn’t care—I wanted to read everything I could about the Church. While I read, I felt what I later learned was the Holy Ghost influencing me.

As a result of my library search, I knew I had to make contact with Church members. In the phone book, I saw that there were two Church meetinghouses in town. I memorized the addresses because I thought if I wrote them down, I would lose them.

At this time my parents were building a home on the outskirts of Albuquerque. We would visit it nearly every day. As we drove out to our home, there was an open space of desert and then a building about a block behind the open space. As we passed by the building, I had a feeling that it was special. I thought, I wonder if that’s a Mormon church. I asked my parents to drive over so I could see it, but they would not. Finally, weeks later we moved into our new home, and I started riding the school bus to a high school where I was a junior at the time. When the bus passed by that building, I had a burning feeling inside. That night I looked up the addresses again. Sure enough, the building we passed was on Haines, where one of the meetinghouses was located.

Every day I would feel the same feeling as the bus drove by. Finally I could stand it no longer. As I was sitting with Gaye Kennedy, a friend from my geometry class, I blurted out, “I think that’s a Mormon church over there. Do you know anything about the Mormons?” She answered, “Yes, I’m LDS. Would you like to go to church with me?”

We went to the Second Ward, the ward she lived in. Afterward she said if I wanted to continue attending church she would introduce me to people in my ward, the Fourth. One of them was a fellow student, Earl Bushman, who lived around the corner. He volunteered to take me to church on Sundays.

Soon the friends I ran around with were Church youth. They said I really ought to see the missionaries. I asked my parents if the missionaries could come to our home, but they said no, although they let me attend Sunday services and youth activities. Finally I met with the missionaries at the meetinghouse because I could ride my bicycle there, and they asked me what I knew about the Church. I remember saying I knew all there was to know because I had done so much reading. But my response to their very first question brought laughter from everyone. They asked, “Who is the President of the Church?”

I said, “That’s easy: Heber J. Grant.” They burst out in giggles. It soon became clear that the books I had read, most of which were printed in the 1930s, were out of date. Heber J. Grant had died in 1945. From that experience, I immediately learned about being teachable.

Everything about the missionary lessons only confirmed things I felt I already knew and redoubled my desire to join the Church. But my parents would not permit it until I was 18. However, as I neared the close of my senior year, they relented, as they knew I planned to do it in June, when I turned 18. Yet they would not attend my baptism.

I remember that my fourth-year French teacher, not a member herself, attended out of kindness toward me. She knew that to me my baptism was an important step and that I was doing it without family backing.

I was always so impressed how the Lord raised up support at this special time. Since then, I have never been without friends and loved ones in the Lord’s family, millions throughout the earth!

In the 39 years since my baptism, the blessings our Father in Heaven has given me and my husband, Ivin, and our eight children have reconfirmed countless times my feelings and thoughts about the value of this, the Lord’s Church.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brian Call

Dee Satterlee Giles is a member of the Kent Fifth Ward, Kent Washington Stake.