Because my mother and father each belonged to different churches, they decided when they married that their children would not be forced into one faith or another. Instead, they would be sent to the nearest church and allowed to make up their own minds about religion once they knew the choices available. I had attended four different churches by my early teen years, and had occasionally attended my relatives’ church when they were visiting.
However, one of my friend’s mother died when I was fourteen, and I began to wonder about our existence here on earth. My mind wandered back to the days I had spent at church, and I decided to use all the knowledge I had to search for the true church on the earth—should there really be one.
I went back to the church into which I had been christened. I enjoyed the worship, but each time I asked questions, I was told just to attend—we didn’t need those answers. To me, if there was a God, a loving Father, I would view him much like my own earthly father—someone who wanted me to grow and search out the truth. I could not believe that a God who wished to keep me in ignorance would be my Heavenly Father.
I went back to other churches I had attended, then studied Judaism and Islam, as well as Christian denominations I had never before explored. Although these religions included many fine teachings, I felt the complete truth was still missing.
My parents had always encouraged me to search for myself. Once I had begun my examination of a particular faith, they would not take me to church. They made me find my own way, feeling that only if I struggled for something would I then hold it dear.
One afternoon as our family drove out of town, we passed a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jokingly, my father said, “You’ve not tried there yet.” I asked what kind of church it was, and he said it was the Mormon church. I remarked that the name on the front of the Church didn’t say that, and he responded, “Mormon is only their nickname; but don’t try them. They’re an odd lot.”
Since the church building was some four miles from my home, I decided to write and ask about their beliefs. The following week, a letter arrived for me from the branch president, inviting me to attend their meetings. I felt excited, yet nervous, as I read it—something I had never felt before while investigating a church. I decided it was time for me to ask my Heavenly Father about this.
I wasn’t quite sure what to say, since the Lord’s Prayer was the only one I had said before. However, as I finished a simple prayer asking the Lord to show me the way, I heard my mother call me. I went downstairs to find two men sitting in the front room. They had come to our door to see if our family would like to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My mother had asked them if they had come in answer to my letter, but they said they had never heard of me.
I sat silently while the three spoke together, and for the first time in my life all that my mother said seemed confusing, yet these two men made everything so clear. That night I thanked the Lord for sending the truth to me.
The next Sunday I set off on my bicycle to find the LDS meetinghouse. I arrived, but, too nervous to go in alone, I waited for someone else and asked if I could walk in with them. Once I was inside the church, a warm feeling came over me. The missionaries soon spotted me.
As weeks went by, the missionaries taught me the gospel and challenged me to be baptized. I quickly accepted, but my parents had other ideas. I was only sixteen and they didn’t think I was really serious. But they told me that if I still wanted to join the Church when I was eighteen, they would give their permission.
The morning of my eighteenth birthday was beautiful. I opened my birthday gifts and left for college classes knowing that the best part of the day would be at 7:30 that evening, when I would be baptized.
My family met me for lunch. Shortly after eating, I became ill and began to have great pain. My mother suggested I go home, where she put me to bed. I couldn’t sleep. The pain was so great that I got out of bed and knelt in prayer. As I pleaded for the Lord to take away the pain so I could go through with my long-awaited baptism, a great darkness filled the room. Frightened, I cried for help to see me through this terror. When I opened my eyes, it was three hours later and my older sister stood beside me. She asked how I was and suggested I get ready for the baptism. I looked out of the window and saw the sun was shining brightly. I thanked my Father in Heaven for my answered prayer, and my family and I went to the church.
My baptism was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I renewed the promise I had made to my Father in Heaven two years earlier to serve him as a missionary. After my baptism, I started taking my younger sister to church. She was later baptized after I returned from my mission. Although my parents are still not members of the Church, I am grateful for the way they taught me and the desire they gave me to search for the truth.