Until I served my mission, I had never read the entire Book of Mormon. I was always active in the Church. My father was a mission president, so I had been exposed to the gospel and to the Book of Mormon as a child. And I had read the early chapters many times, but I had never finished it.
While I was on my mission, in Roanoake Rapids, North Carolina, I started once again to try to read the entire Book of Mormon. I remember sitting up in my bed one night, reading in Alma, when a testimony of the Book of Mormon settled over me like a warm blanket. I told myself, This is true. What I am reading is the word of the Lord. It was a wonderful, warm, quiet experience. From that day on, as we did our teaching as missionaries, I could testify that the Book of Mormon is true.
Spiritual feelings often come in these warm, quiet ways. The voice of the Lord is usually a quiet expression in our minds and hearts. Even the prophet has to listen carefully for it. It is a sweet and happy experience. You don’t need to be afraid of it.
You know when you feel good inside and when you don’t. When you do, you are in harmony with the Spirit of our Heavenly Father. Sometimes that feeling can change very quickly. You might be feeling good, and then someone comes and takes your toy from you, and suddenly you’re mad. This could make you want to hit, kick, bite, or scream. And that isn’t the feeling of the Spirit.
How do you get back to feeling good again? I have a young grandson named Adam. When he was three, we were having a family gathering at our house. It had snowed, and we looked out and saw Adam in the front yard in his Sunday clothes, making designs in the snow with his feet. His mother went out and asked him to come in, but he refused. She reminded him that he was getting cold and that he was ruining his Sunday clothes. Still he was defiant and not feeling the Spirit at all.
Next I went out. He was walking up the street, blue with cold, and crying. “Adam,” I said, “would you like to hold Grandpa’s hand and walk back to the house with me?” He stuck his tongue out at me. Finally, his Aunt Becky went out and picked up Adam screaming and kicking and carried him back into the house.
A while later, Adam was wrapped in a blanket and was a cheerful little boy. I asked him, “Adam, what did you do to feel better?” Adam said, “I prayed.”
My wife and I have twelve children. When our daughter Sarah was two years old, I was a mission president, and missionaries ate with us at every meal. Sarah always found something to fuss about, and she would cry and kick and scream. Usually we would take her away from the table and discipline her. One time my wife took her to the bedroom and said, “Now, Sarah, you don’t feel good. You’re angry.” And when you’re angry, you aren’t happy, and others aren’t happy. Let’s ask Heavenly Father if He can help you feel happy instead of angry. So they prayed, and she felt happier. The next day, she fussed at the table again, and they prayed again, and she felt happy again. After a while, this two-year-old learned that to feel better, she prayed. Today Sarah is a young woman, and people love to be around her because of her sweet personality.
My mother, Leone Doxey, was a great influence in my life. She loved children. For several years, she was a counselor in the Primary general presidency. I have felt her love throughout my life, even when I was far away from her. She passed away on March 23, 1992.
When I was eighteen years old, I was serving in the Navy in China. One day, a group of us had taken a train from our base to the nearest city, Tientsin. On our way back, we took the wrong train. When we realized that we were heading in the wrong direction, we pulled the emergency cord and got off the train. We found a pump-handle car and began pumping our way back along the tracks. Whenever we reached an incline, or whenever the car slowed down, some of us would jump off. Then we’d hop back on as the car began to gain speed again. My seat was right in front, over the rails.
After jumping off and walking for awhile, I tried to jump back on from the front of the moving car. As I did this, I heard in my mind the words my mother always told me as I left the house as a boy: “Be careful.” I knew that I wasn’t being careful. As I fell under the car, my foot caught in the gears and stopped the car—with the wheel just a foot from my hand. I know God was with me.
At the very time this was happening—2:00 A.M. where my parents were—my mother woke up and shook my dad. “Bud’s in trouble,” she told him. Before I had written to tell my parents about the accident, I received a letter from them asking what had happened to me.
I know that God lives. He loves you. I bear my solemn witness that He loves you and that we are being led by His living prophet.