Thanks for the Flood

Dear Brother and Sister Heath,

You do not know who I am, yet I am deeply indebted to you. Because you followed President Benson’s counsel to “flood the earth with the Book of Mormon,” my life has been changed forever. You see, your testimony is on the inside cover of the Book of Mormon given to me by two missionaries in August 1988. You wrote, “It will touch your life as nothing has before.” How little did I realize on that August day just how true those words would become for me. I want to share my story with you.

My name is Randi Spurling and I was raised an active member of my church. However, gradually I fell away from my beliefs. When my husband deserted our family in February 1988, he took all the money and left me with many bills. The only solace I found was in attending church every week. I felt I needed the church, but just attending the meetings once a week wasn’t spiritually fulfilling.

One evening during this turbulent time in my life, I heard a knock at my door. I opened it to find two clean-cut young men in crisp white shirts, and dark suits. They said they were from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked if they might speak with me. Since my good friend and neighbor, Lorrie, was a Mormon, I decided to listen to them, if only to help me better understand Lorrie’s beliefs.

As I watched those two young men, I recalled a conversation I had had with Lorrie a few months earlier. She had asked me if I had ever considered getting married again. I had emphatically said, “No!” Because I knew that if I ever decided to remarry, I would want a man who didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t cheat on his wife, who went to church, was honest, didn’t swear and who loved his family more than material goods. “Men like that just don’t exist,” I told her. “I could be looking forever.” Lorrie smiled and explained that most of the men she knew were just like that. I had only laughed.

Now, I stood looking at those two missionaries and I was curious. So, I asked them to return.

A few days later Elder Walker and Elder McAllister presented the first missionary discussion to me and it went wonderfully. They gave me a Book of Mormon and asked me to read it and pray about it. Brother and Sister Heath, that Book of Mormon contained your testimony and your photograph. I was very touched by your message.

On the missionaries’ second visit, I had a problem accepting the missionary discussion. They seemed to be challenging all of my religious beliefs. For example, they asked me how I felt about baptism. I told them I had already been baptized. When they explained that it was necessary to be baptized by immersion, I thought they were crazy. We discussed the subject for what seemed like an eternity. Then Elder Walker quietly asked if I would kneel with them and pray. I had never pictured any man on his knees praying, especially praying in my behalf. We knelt and prayed together.

Pondering on what the missionaries had told me, I became emotionally upset. To believe in their message would mean my life would have to be changed—and I didn’t want to change. I liked my life as it was.

At that moment I decided I would never again open that Mormon “book” and I would never again allow the missionaries into my home. But, that night before going to bed, I succumbed to the Spirit, opened the Book of Mormon and read until I could no longer keep my eyes open.

As I drifted off to sleep, I saw myself wandering, lost in total darkness. I kept clawing at my eyes, because I felt as if they were blinded by sand. If only I could find a way to clear them. I was overjoyed to find a pool of clear water. I entered the water and submerged myself so that I could fully wash the sand away. As I came out of the water, I was surrounded by the most radiant light. At last I could see clearly! How happy I felt!

As I awoke, I felt a sudden fear. The missionaries were right! Now what was I going to do? How could I admit to them that now I believed baptism by immersion was necessary? I resolved not to tell the missionaries of my experience, but as we met for the next discussion, the Spirit took control and excitedly I described my dream to them.

We continued with the discussions and I hungered for the knowledge that the Book of Mormon contained. Many, many nights I read until I was exhausted. On two occasions I simply held the book and wept, feeling unworthy to be allowed to read such precious truths. I knew that what I read was true, but I still could not make the commitment to change my life. Yet, a loving Heavenly Father continued to provide the opportunity for me to learn more.

For example, I attended church meetings and activities with Lorrie; listened to the words of the prophet during a broadcast of the annual General Women’s Meeting; attended a fireside presentation on the Doctrine and Covenants; visited Relief Society homemaking meetings; and became so familiar with the Book of Mormon that I began to recognize quotations from it when they were used in talks or magazine articles.

I was beginning to make friends with many of the people I met at Church meetings and activities and I developed a special relationship with the missionaries. But, I was scared. I was afraid to let go of my “old” life. I told myself I had to break away from these people now before I became any more involved with them and their beliefs.

When the sixth and last discussion was over, I felt so relieved. Now I could just go on with my life and not have to think about things that I did not want to worry about. But I underestimated the missionaries and the members. These were people who lived the principles of their religion day after day. What was their secret?

I found the answer in November when I was invited to a baptism. Nothing was really out of the ordinary until the moment Elder McAllister entered the font to baptize a young man. I could not stop the tears. I was so touched by the Spirit that I had no doubt in my mind which church I needed to belong to.

Two weeks later the missionaries invited me to a Christmas program on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. As I watched and listened I realized that I couldn’t live the rest of my life as a non-Mormon who reads the Book of Mormon believing it to be the word of God, or be a non-member believing that Latter-day Saints led the most Christ-like lives of anyone I knew. As I looked around me, a still, small voice said, “These are your people. Go to them.”

The next day I contacted the missionaries. I told them I needed to set a date for my baptism. I wish I would have been able to record the joy I heard in their voices. I hope to remember it forever.

I was baptized 11 December 1988.

I am grateful to the missionaries, to Church members I met, and to you, Brother and Sister Heath, for sharing your testimony and providing me, a stranger, with the precious Book of Mormon. President Ezra Taft Benson said, “I have a vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon.” Thank you for sending the flood my way. It didn’t drown me, it buoyed me up. I am more alive now than I have ever been before.

Your sister in Christ’s Church, Randi Spurling

A Challenge to the Members

“We commend the members of the Church who have participated in the family-to-family Book of Mormon program, placing their pictures and testimonies inside copies of the Book of Mormon. These … books have been given away by our missionaries around the world. This is helping to bring in tens of thousands of converts each year.

“I challenge [all] the members of the Church to participate in the family-to-family Book of Mormon program—to send copies of the Book of Mormon on a mission for you. We should be sending out millions of copies of the Book of Mormon to the missionaries every month.

“We have a great work to perform in a very short time. We must flood the earth with the Book of Mormon. …”

President Ezra Taft Benson

[illustrations] Illustrated by Doug Fryer