We sat huddled on the wet lawn in front of the Joseph Smith Monument in Sharon, Vermont—the birthplace of the Prophet. Draped in ponchos in a vain attempt to keep dry, we strained to hear our leader over the sound of the rain. Shortly, we would finish our final activity—a few moments alone in the woods, meditating and doing some self-evaluation.

The idea really excited me. Earlier, a speaker had related to us a story about President David O. McKay receiving his patriarchal blessing. Thirteen-year-old David was, at the time, a champion marble player. After the blessing, the patriarch told David that he had more important things to do than play marbles. I felt that now, too, was the time for me to “put away my marbles” and decide what to do with my life. A big part of that decision depended on knowing if the Church was true. I decided to ask our Heavenly Father.

The world seemed to fall silent as I entered the woods. With my poncho pulled around me to protect me from the rain, I found a secluded spot and sang some hymns to myself. Then I read the scriptures for a while. When I felt ready, I knelt to pray.

I was excited to pray, but I was also nervous. I had felt the Spirit before—in fast and testimony meetings and when I had received a testimony of the Book of Mormon—but I couldn’t honestly say that I knew the Church was true. What if I prayed and there was just nothing? What if, out here in the woods, kneeling and praying aloud got me nothing but wet?

But I decided that I had to try. So I knelt on the soggy leaves and bowed my head in prayer. I spoke in a whisper, fearful that someone might eavesdrop, and asked very simply to know if I really belonged to God’s true church. I finished my prayer and remained kneeling, awaiting an answer.

At first, I received an impression that I already knew the Church was true. But I figured that must have been my own thoughts, so I prayed again.

“You already know,” came the answer again, along with the warm and calm feeling of the Spirit enveloping me with peace and joy.

My heart quickened, and I couldn’t hold back the smile that covered my face. I realized that through seminary and my personal study, I had built my testimony step by step, precept upon precept, so slowly that I hadn’t even realized I had it.

I had a testimony of the Church, and I could now put aside the less important things in my life and get on with my spiritual growth. I felt so relieved, so content, and so grateful that I knew personally that the Church was true. Still kneeling, I bowed my head again and gave a prayer of thanks to Heavenly Father for his witness that, although I hadn’t recognized it before, I already knew.

Illustrated by Mitchell Heinze