Friend to Friend: The Hour of Conversion


Robert K. Dellenbach
When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (Luke 22:32).

The Hour of Conversion

When I was 10 years old, the Church celebrated the 100th anniversary of the pioneers’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. Our Primary dressed in plaid shirts and overalls, performed a square dance, and pulled an old handcart in a parade.

I had been taught by my parents and Church leaders to believe in the truthfulness of the gospel. I had been active in Church and seminary. But the real hour of my conversion didn’t come until I was a young man traveling to serve in the West German Mission. In those days, we traveled by train and by boat. After four days on the train, we arrived in New York City and got on a large steamship called the America.

It was very stormy on the North Atlantic Ocean that November, and my traveling companions and I were seasick. We sang hymns, studied the scriptures, and tried to stay cheerful.

As I was out on that ocean where I could see nothing but water in all directions, it dawned on me, “I have always felt the Church is true.” But suddenly the question came into my mind, “Can I look into the eyes of strangers and say without any question that I know?”

Alone in our little room aboard that ship, I got down on my knees. The ship trembled because of the big propeller driving it forward through the storms, but in that moment I couldn’t tell if it was me or the ship trembling! I poured out my heart to the Lord and said, “I have to know, because if I don’t know I can’t testify.”

Over the remaining two or three days on the ship, my prayer was answered. Peace came over me and I knew. Not only did I know that the Church was true, but I also knew that I could stand up to anyone who might challenge the doctrine. I knew that I wouldn’t buckle or weaken or be frightened, and I never was. From that moment on, I never felt any hesitation to share my testimony.

You can prepare to be missionaries and fulfill Church callings by listening to your parents. They are your best teachers. As you sincerely pray to your Heavenly Father and offer to help in the home or around the yard, your testimony will grow and you will learn to serve.

[illustration] Illustrated by Roger Motzkus

[photo] 1. Elder Dellenbach with his grandchildren

[photo] 2. Elder and Sister Dellenbach at home with their three sons

[photo] 3. In his office visiting with Boy Scouts from Sicily

[photo] 4. Elder and Sister Dellenbach in Kuckenhof Park, the Netherlands

[photo] 5. At the Bountiful, Utah, 24th of July Parade