On Sacred Ground


As I stood on the grounds of the Santiago Chile Temple, I remembered attending Catholic school as a young boy on this very site. In the spring of 1970, our priest had announced that we would be selling our school to the Mormons. “You Chileans think that the Catholic Church is the only religion,” he said.

I thought, “Of course, what else?”

Our priest continued, “All of you will write a report on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Since the LDS mission office was only two blocks from our home, I went there to find information for my school project. When I got home, I looked at the pretty pamphlets about the Church and at the Book of Mormon. My copy of the book contained Moroni’s special promise right on the first page:

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moro. 10:4–5).

When I read that promise, I received a spiritual witness that those words were true and that the Book of Mormon was true. But I was fifteen and not ready to be “religious,” so I decided not to do anything specific about my feelings. My interest had been stirred, though, and I earned the best grade in the class with my report on the Mormons.

After another religion class discussion, I began meditating on the nature of the Godhead. Through inspiration, I came to understand that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct beings but one in purpose. This cherished new knowledge would later help me recognize the Lord’s true church.

It happened years later, after our family had moved to the United States, when I was a student at the University of California. Randy, a friend who lived down the hall in the student dormitory, gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon. It sat in my room, unopened, for a long time. Randy and I disagreed on many things, but every time he talked to me about the Church, I felt the Spirit bearing witness to me that what he was telling me was true.

For Christmas vacation, I planned to take a flight home and decided to pack a bag full of books to read on the plane.

As I was packing, the Book of Mormon caught my eye and I threw it in last, thinking that I would read it after I had finished the other books. On the plane, however, the last book in became the first book out, and suddenly I felt a great need to read it. It took me four days of reading day and night to finish the Book of Mormon. As I read and prayed, I knew it was true. I could hardly believe what I was discovering!

When I returned to college in California, I immediately told Randy I believed the Book of Mormon and wanted to be baptized. He was thrilled. We called the elders, and I was baptized shortly thereafter.

How was I to know, as a youth in that religion class, that one day, on that very property, I would attend the house of the Lord—the Santiago Chile Temple?

[illustration] Illustrated by Robert McKay