Would They Welcome Me Again?


When I joined the Church, I attended a small branch in the Philippines where the members were very close and worked in unity.

Gradually, the branch grew and prospered. New chairs came, then a new sacrament table. Then we moved to a spacious apartment and even had a new organ. Three years later, some land was purchased for our future meetinghouse.

During this period of growth, the unity of our branch was occasionally tested. After some particularly hurtful gossip reached me, I decided to leave the Church. For the next six Sundays I did not attend any meetings, although I wished I were there. I especially wanted to partake of the sacrament and renew my covenants.

One day I knelt in prayer and asked for strength, courage, and enlightenment. Still on my knees, I caught sight of a book on the floor. I picked up a dusty and neglected volume of scripture and began paging through it, hoping to find some lines that would ease my pain. I stopped at D&C 136:29–30: “If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful. Fear not thine enemies.”

After reading the verses, I felt lighter in spirit, and my courage returned. I would go back to church.

But the next Sunday, as I neared the meetinghouse, I felt apprehensive. Would they welcome me again? Would I hear whispering behind my back? Or would they ignore me altogether? My feet dragged the closer I got to the door.

Then I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder, and before I could turn around, an arm encircled me in a tender embrace. Then another hand reached out to clasp mine. Other friends burst from the door with warm smiles, each one expressing joy for my return.

As we sang the opening hymn, “Though Deepening Trials” (Hymns, number 122), a feeling of peace filled me, and the feelings of hurt and resentment melted away. Warm tears blurred my vision, and I could no longer see the words in the hymnbook. I closed my eyes tightly and gratefully whispered, “Father, thanks for leading me back to the fold.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh