Latter-Day Saint Voices

By Triny Jovel

[illustrations] Illustrated by Daniel Lewis

Until I Found the Truth

I wanted to read the Bible from the time I was about 11 years old. But in the home where I was raised, the Bible was considered so sacred it was kept in a closet under lock and key. When I was 13 and my brother was 12, we went to live in Canada. Between the ages of 16 and 20, I attended two Christian churches. They used the Bible to teach correct principles, but as I was investigating, I learned something about the members—that they didn’t get along with each other very well. I stopped going to these churches for three years.

When I was 23, I met a young man at a discotheque. A few months later I married him, and shortly afterwards we had our first baby. Everything was going well in our home. He worked hard, always came home from work early, and helped me with the housework. I was very happy and peaceful in my home, and I completely forgot about God.

But without any warning, one day my husband started going out to discotheques with his friends. These friends also wanted to go to bars. So in just a few months my husband had become a drunk and a carouser. Eventually I resigned from my job and left him. Soon after our separation I learned that I was expecting my second child. I felt so sad and distressed I couldn’t find peace. I would go to sleep crying and wake up crying. But thanks to a woman who was a great friend to me, I started attending a Christian church again.

This time I took the things of God more seriously. I even set a goal to investigate more churches. Before I would go to church, I would kneel down and ask Heavenly Father to give me more wisdom so that I would be able to choose good and reject evil.

I began to visit other churches in addition to the Christian church I attended, but I often felt confused by their different doctrines. The more confused I got, the more I prayed. It seemed that every time I visited a church, I felt something was missing, but I didn’t realize what it was. That’s why I set a goal to keep investigating other churches and not rest until I found the truth.

One day I was visiting my brother and sister-in-law, and it got dark before I left. I had quite a distance to walk to reach the bus stop. This was March 1992, and it was very cold with a strong wind. My baby was squirming as I carried him. I walked backwards many times so the wind would hit me and not my baby.

I became sad as I thought about how I was freezing, walking with my baby, while my ex-husband had our car. I started thinking about how cruel life had been to me and felt a great weight in my heart. I started to cry like a child. I looked around and saw I was alone, so I cried to God out loud, “Heavenly Father, help me find the light.”

Finally I arrived at the bus stop, and when the bus came I sat in the front seat as I always did. When I looked to my left, I saw two young men in white shirts and ties. One of them came up to me and said to me in Spanish that was quite limited, “You too speak Spanish?”

“Yes, of course,” I replied.

“You desire to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ?” he asked.

These words were wonderful to me. The gospel of Jesus Christ. I had investigated several churches, and in none of them had I heard this beautiful turn of phrase. I had always heard the word, the gospel, or the good news. So I very happily gave them my address and phone number.

I started taking the discussions from the missionaries, and in June 1992 I was baptized and confirmed. I will never forget that very special day. Before entering the waters of baptism I could feel a great weight, as if I were walking with feet of lead. But when I came out of the water, I felt like I was flying in the air. And when the missionaries placed their hands on my head and gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost, a warm feeling entered my body, and I was filled with a peace I had never felt before. The tears began to roll down my cheeks. To my surprise I realized I was crying not from pain or sadness but for the great joy and peace in my heart.

Some months after my baptism I was called to serve in the nursery and then as a Primary teacher. A year later I received my endowment. I also met a great man at church. In September 1994 we were sealed in the Toronto Canada Temple. Three years later we were blessed with a beautiful son.

I continue to serve in Church callings, and I share my testimony of the gospel with all my loved ones. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ comes from the heavens in all its glory and that through this gospel we can be transformed if we are obedient to the Lord’s commandments.

Playing for Betsy

Squeezing the last box into the back of my station wagon, I slammed the door shut and checked my watch. I was on schedule. My last batch of exams was graded, and the car was packed. If I left immediately, I would have to drive only the final hour or so of my trip to Louisville, Kentucky, in the dark.

The last two weeks had been long and unbearably dull in South Bend, Indiana. My husband, Mark, a law student, had already started his summer internship in Louisville. But as a high school teacher in South Bend, I had spent two more weeks finishing the school year before I could join him.

Relieved to be on the road, I drove fast, but about an hour into my five-hour trip, I began to think about Sara and her daughter, Betsy. We had first met in Relief Society nine months earlier. Standing in the back with a baby in her arms, she had introduced herself saying, “Hi, I’m Sara. I’m from Utah. And this is Betsy. She’s from heaven.” I laughed, liking her immediately. Just like me she was the wife of a law student, and I was pleased when she was called to be my visiting teacher.

About a month before my departure, Betsy had suffered a seizure. Tests revealed a large brain tumor that appeared almost inoperable, but doctors insisted that without an operation Betsy had no chance of survival.

My heart ached for Sara. Along with the rest of our ward and stake, we had fasted and prayed for a miracle. Betsy underwent brain surgery and amazed the doctors, who had not expected her to survive the operation. Still, only part of the tumor had been removed, and Betsy progressed slowly. Her parents, meanwhile, faced impossible decisions on how to treat the remaining tumor without destroying her infant body.

The operation had taken place in Indianapolis, the halfway point in my journey to Louisville. Sara was still there with Betsy, while her husband had returned to South Bend to take the final exams he had missed.

I checked my watch. I could think of plenty of reasons to drive through without stopping, but none of them did anything to silence the voice inside telling me I needed to stop. So I pulled off the freeway and called the hospital from a pay phone. My call was directed to Betsy’s room, and Sara answered. I could hear in her voice that she was happy I had called. She would be thrilled to have me stop by. I felt the peace and relief of having followed the Spirit’s prompting.

As I drove toward the hospital I realized I had my violin wedged between a suitcase and a box of books in the backseat. With a measure of guilt I remembered that I had not touched it in weeks, even though I had studied violin from the age of three. Music had always been a source of happiness in my life.

The thought came that I should take my violin with me and play for Betsy. Normally I would never have considered the idea. It seemed a little arrogant to arrive unannounced with my violin and subject all those within listening range to an impromptu recital. But I quickly recognized the feeling that accompanied this thought as the same Spirit that had prompted me to make the visit.

When I arrived, Sara was weary but happy to see me. Betsy had a large tube in her head and another in her throat. As I looked at her tiny body and then into her eyes, I wondered how much pain she had suffered and how much more she would have to endure.

Sara was thrilled that I had brought my violin. For more than an hour I played hymns, Primary songs, classical music, and anything she requested that I could play by ear. As I played, Betsy stared at me, wide-eyed. Sara insisted it was the most alert Betsy had been since her surgery and was eager for me to keep playing. Several patients—children and their parents—stopped by the room and listened for a while.

Time passed quickly without my noticing. And as I stood at the foot of the bed playing “I Am a Child of God” (Hymns, no. 301), I was overwhelmed with the intensity of Heavenly Father’s love for this sick little girl. I knew as I played that He loved Betsy dearly and wanted her to find relief from her pain through the music.

As I left the hospital in the dark that night to complete my trip to Louisville, I remembered the words from my patriarchal blessing that I had not thought about for some time. I had been blessed with musical talent and was expected to develop it so I could bring joy to others.

Through Betsy I was reminded of the Lord’s purpose in giving us gifts. “All these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God” (D&C 46:26). By listening to the Spirit I was given the opportunity to share my talent as the Lord intended and to feel the tremendous compassion He has for His children.

“I Was Watching You”

It was summertime, right in the middle of haying season. A lot of hay was down, and my neighbor Frank Rees waited eagerly for the dew to come so he could get started. It was a Saturday night when the conditions were finally right, so Frank drove to his field and started baling his hay.

As he baled he noticed the headlights of his friend and neighbor across several fields. He too was taking advantage of the favorable conditions and was baling his hay. Several years before, Frank had made the decision not to work on the Sabbath, and he knew he would stop on this night just before midnight to honor that commitment. He wondered what his neighbor would do. It would be such a temptation to continue baling under these favorable conditions with so much hay down and ready.

As the hours passed he continued to notice his neighbor’s headlights and knew he was still baling. A few minutes before midnight Frank shut off the baler and drove the tractor to his truck. In the quiet darkness he noticed that his neighbor had also chosen to honor the Sabbath and had quit baling.

After telling this story in sacrament meeting, Frank looked over his shoulder to his neighbor, now the bishop of their ward.

“Do you remember that?” he asked.

Bishop Munns nodded and said, “I didn’t have a watch. I was watching you.”