It had been only a few months since Peter’s father, Dr. Mattias Koteles, a professor at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, had attended an important scientific conference in Austria. On his return, he had told his family an exciting story that had nothing to do with the conference but that he had heard from one of the American doctors. It was about a young boy named Joseph Smith who had been visited by God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. And it was claimed that the Church that Joseph Smith had organized was God’s true Church.
What if it’s true? Peter had hoped, excitedly. Only a few weeks before, his teacher at school had told the class that there was no God and that the worth of religion was just something that people imagined. While he was listening to his teacher, it had seemed to Peter that a voice in his mind was telling him that his teacher was wrong. That night he had knelt beside his bed and prayed that he would know for sure. Afterward, he had been filled with a warm and happy feeling, and he knew that God lives.
Dr. Koteles had brought back a pamphlet that explained about Joseph Smith, and Peter had read it over and over with growing excitement. He wanted with all his heart to find out more about Joseph Smith and this church. The pamphlet said that an angel had given Joseph some ancient records and that the translation he had made of them with the help of God was published in a book of scriptures called the Book of Mormon. If he could get a copy of this book to read, he would be able to find out if Joseph Smith’s story was true. He thought of the promise that he had read in the pamphlet: “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” (Moro. 10:4).
Peter’s mother had listened to Papa with tight lips, and Peter could tell that she was angry. He heard his parents talking that night when they thought that he was asleep. Peter felt ashamed to be listening, but he was anxious to hear more about the Church …
“Mattias, how could you do this, filling Peter’s head with this nonsense? He’s only ten years old. It’s not only useless, but it could be dangerous for him as well as for us. The government is being very understanding right now, but things could change any moment. Remember that we are Hungarians. Such things are discouraged. Have you forgotten the revolution and the foreign tanks in the streets? You must know that this American church would never be approved by the State Office of Church Affairs.”
“Mama, I am a patriotic Hungarian. My father gave his life for Hungary. But above every man’s duty to his country is his duty to God.”
“But, Mattias,” protested Mama, “an American church? Everyone would think the same. How could you favor an American church and be a loyal Hungarian? It could only mean trouble.”
“There are members of this church all over the world. It is not an American church. I listened to Dr. Jensen talk about its teachings far into the night. I asked many questions. What he told me is just what the Bible teaches. If the story is true, and I feel in my heart that it is, then this is God’s church. Would you have me turn away from God?”
“Mattias, it is only an impossible dream, this idea of yours about a true church. I refuse to hear any more about it. When the State Office of Church Affairs recognizes this church of yours, then I will discuss it. Until then I want you to promise that you will say no more about it to me or to Peter.”
“All right, Mama,” replied Peter’s father, but his voice was filled with sadness.
Neither of his parents mentioned the matter the next day. Peter knew that his mother had not read the pamphlet and that she did not intend to read it. After supper, when he was helping his mother put away the dishes, he asked, “Do you believe that there is a God, Mama?”
“When I was a little girl, my mother taught me about God. I felt that He was very near. As I grew older, I saw much that was wrong in the churches, but this feeling of God’s closeness was something apart from going to any church. Nothing has changed for me since then. But even if this church that your father has found is God’s church, it would be better for us not to know. We could never be a part of it. It would take a miracle. We are Hungarians, and it is no use.”
Perhaps she’s right, Peter thought, but he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He decided that if there was a true church, God would want him to find it, and only God could help him. He began to pray every night to know if the church described in the pamphlet was true and, if it was, to be able to become a member of it.
Then the miracle happened! It was the end of June, and the streets of Budapest were filled with people enjoying the warm summer sunshine. After school Peter lingered on the bank of the Danube River for a long time. The river seemed especially beautiful that day, and he had been late getting home from school. His mother said nothing about it, though, and all through supper she was strangely silent, her cheeks glowing pink with excitement.
Papa watched her curiously and finally asked, “Mama, what is it? Tell us.”
Silently she left the table, returning with the strudel for dessert and a page of the government’s daily newspaper. She handed the paper to her husband, and he read silently, then passed it to Peter.
Mama had circled a small article in the middle of the page that said: “The State Office of Church Affairs has concluded its investigation and announces full recognition of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a legal institution and authorizes citizens of the Hungarian People’s Republic to be members and attend meetings of this religious organization.” The article went on to say that the Church was holding a meeting that night and another on Sunday and that representatives of the First Presidency of the Church would be there.
“I checked your pamphlet,” Mama said, “and it is the same church. I thought that I would never see it happen. Even now I do not understand how such a thing came to be. Surely God must be with this church.”
“What does it mean, Papa?”
“It means that the State Office of Church Affairs has said that it will allow this church to have meetings in Hungary. It is allowed to teach people about Joseph Smith and the gospel and to baptize people who wish to be members.”
“The miracle,” breathed Peter, staring at his mother.
“Yes, the miracle,” she said.
“Now we will talk of this!” exclaimed Dr. Koteles, and his eyes shone with excitement.
“Yes,” said Mama simply. She took the pamphlet out of her apron pocket and began to read it aloud. As she read, Peter felt as if he would burst.
They went to the meeting on Sunday and were surprised at how many attended—almost sixty people. Peter listened to all that was said, but it was hard for him to understand everything. After the meeting, Dr. Koteles and Peter shook hands with some of the Church officials, and one of them wrote down the Koteles’s name and address. He said that he would send some elders to visit them and bring them a copy of the Book of Mormon.
A couple of days later Peter heard their doorbell ring and ran to answer it. How he hoped that the Latter-day Saint elders had come so that he could know for sure that they represented God’s true church!
Peter’s heart was pounding as he opened the door and saw two men in dark suits. They introduced themselves, and as they smiled and shook hands with Peter, he suddenly realized that he already knew the truth: These elders were members of the true Church; they had been sent by a prophet of God, and he, Peter, was going to be a member too.