I was raised with very liberal views concerning the gospel. There was no priesthood in our home, and although I studied the gospel as best I could, when the real trials came, I couldn’t seem to live up to gospel standards.
My husband was not a member of the Church, and for a long time, the gospel was not a part of our lives. There was tension and misunderstanding whenever we tried to discuss the Church, so we just didn’t.
I didn’t want these hurt feelings in our family, so five years ago, I decided to do something about the situation. At that time, my husband was sent to Vietnam. Our son was four years old, and I decided it was time for him to go to Primary. Gradually, we began to go to Sunday School and sacrament meetings. We didn’t feel too comfortable there. We didn’t know many people, and no one seemed particularly interested in us except one family. They invited us to their home for family home evening and dinner. In time, from this first exposure, I realized that there was something missing that I wanted in my home.
When I met my husband on leave, I told him how much the Church meant to me, how I believe it with all my heart, and how I would never demand that he go to church if he would just first give it a try.
When he returned from Vietnam, we were transferred to Kentucky, where we started going to church. My husband, Rich, was the friendly antagonist in class—asking all the questions that many teachers wish would be asked somewhere else, or at least in a different setting. I kept praying that when our next orders came, we would find ourselves in an area surrounded by Latter-day Saints. I wanted so much for Rich to rub shoulders with Mormons. I prayed about it a lot.
Well, when our orders came through, they were for Stillwater, Oklahoma. I cried for three days. I didn’t think there were any Mormons in Oklahoma. But the Lord does things in his own way. In Oklahoma, we again attended the investigator class, and home teachers started coming to visit us.
The real change came one very cold January night in 1970. I decided that 1970 was going to be my year for the Church—no more being a part-Mormon, I wanted to be a total one. So the first Monday night (this was when Relief Society was on Monday), I started out in the bitter cold. Rich said, “Please don’t go.” I said, “I’ve got to. If I don’t now, I never will.”
When I arrived, I felt quite uncomfortable, for I was the only one there. It wasn’t long, however, before three others came—the presidency. Finally, we had a total of seven sisters. They really made me feel welcome. They held a testimony meeting, and everyone except me bore her testimony. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my husband how I felt about the Church.
That experience kept me in Relief Society. I didn’t miss a single meeting for about six months. Finally, after testimonies were shared at the conclusion of one lesson, one sister said, “If you’re having trouble reading the Book of Mormon, start reading Third Nephi.”
I thought. Oh, am I having trouble? I can’t even get started!
That evening, I went home and opened Third Nephi and read the whole book. My husband and I were both students at the time, and after I’d finished reading it, I took it to the other room, where my husband was studying.
I handed the book to him and said, “Read this and tell me if you don’t think it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever read.”
He looked at me as if to say, “You’ve got to be kidding—at this time of night?”
But he read it. Who could not be moved by chapter 11:
“And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
“And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
This book was the turning point. He went on to complete the Book of Mormon—we both did. We read other Church books, prayed, and started having family home evening. Within six months, he was baptized. A year later, he baptized our son—a dream I once thought was impossible for me. This year (1972), we were sealed as a family in the temple.
I can never fully express how I feel about those scriptures that started us down the road of happiness.