Woven Together

Like Sister Chieko N. Okazaki, I have discovered that some lives are woven together in a divine pattern of friendship and kindness (see Ensign, May 1993, page 84).

I was 15 years old when I came in contact with a pair of missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in my hometown of Tilburg, the Netherlands. My parents were charmed with these two young men, and when the missionaries asked if they could take me to church, my parents agreed. I was raised in a Christian home, so I did know of a Heavenly Father. But I had never thought about life or about his plan for us. At church and from the missionary discussions, I soon discovered the true gospel. My life changed, and I asked my parents for permission to be baptized. They refused, but that did not stop me from living according to the laws of Heavenly Father.

About this time, I became acquainted with Ans, a young woman who was a little bit older than I was. Later she told me that she had been searching for the truth and was so impressed by the enthusiasm I radiated that she decided to investigate the Church. She lived in another town, so our contact stayed rather superficial. However, I later learned that she joined the Church.

During this same time period, I took my friend Angela with me to a Young Adult camp. The experience convinced her to investigate the Church, and she was baptized several months later. She moved to the United States, but we stayed in contact and our friendship continued.

Unfortunately, my life took another direction after I introduced Ans and Angela to the gospel. I moved to Dordrecht and distanced myself from the Church and was not baptized. But no matter what I thought of the Church or what I was doing with my life, both Ans and Angela stayed in touch with me. They avoided talking about the gospel, but they were there for me when I had questions. I had not lost faith altogether, and it continued to work on my conscience. Then Ans moved closer to where I lived, and our friendship blossomed. She visited me often and showed her love for me in small, subtle ways.

I am now married to a wonderful husband and have two sweet children. About a year ago I came across a book in the public library about the history of the Church, and I checked it out. I was very touched by the book’s description of the hardships the pioneers endured; they were willing to go through many things because of the gospel. Reading the book revived my testimony. I knew the Church had to be true!

Great was their surprise when I told my friends that I wanted to be baptized. Ans and I shed many tears of happiness after my baptism. Angela could not be there, but I felt her support and encouragement.

I am very grateful to Heavenly Father for these friends. Our lives have been woven together over the years, and the pattern is getting more clear all the time. I truly believe what Sister Okazaki said: “We can never afford to be cruel or indifferent or ungenerous, because we are all connected, even if it is in a pattern that only God sees” (Ensign, May 1993, page 85).

My investigation of the Church lasted 15 years. And though the missionaries who first taught me were disappointed to see my testimony wither, their work wasn’t in vain. If they had not sown the seed, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I will never be able to thank them enough for what they did. The seeds they sowed I shared with others—and they, in turn, continued to nourish the seed in my heart until it flowered in joy and our hearts were woven together in faith and love.

[photos] Sister Annelies Prent-Pellis with her friend, Ans, top; from pre-baptismal days, a photograph with husband, Rene, and children Thommy and Karola, center; and a more recent photograph of her with the children, bottom. (Photography by George Kraanen, except family group.)