When He Spoke about God, I Understood


Although we had a wonderful library at my childhood home in Moscow, Russia, it did not contain a Bible. And although as an adult, I began to wonder about God and tried not to sin, I rarely went to church, and I still did not have a Bible.

However, I was content with my life. My husband and I had a good family. We reared two daughters. The older one married, and we rejoiced at the birth of our first granddaughter.

But then my husband died, and my world changed. In my grief, I began to hope that maybe we would not be separated forever, that somehow we would meet again in our heavenly life.

Although my husband had not believed in God, he was well educated and intelligent. He had read the Bible and knew it very well. He was a good person and gave what he had to others. I had sometimes caught myself thinking that he was better than I.

Several months passed after my husband’s death, and I still could not find comfort. I was advised to go to church to lessen the heaviness in my heart. At a local church, I met a young minister. After telling him a little about myself, I asked him to pray for my husband. But he told me that because my husband had not believed in God and had not been baptized, he could not pray for him. I would not see my husband again, he said. I did not want to believe that, but I could not completely disbelieve it either. The minister took from me my last hope. Instead of getting better, I felt worse.

At about the same time—by chance, or so I thought—my younger daughter convinced me to allow some scientists from Logan, Utah, to stay with us. They were in Russia to install equipment on the space station Mir. We became good friends, and every time they came to Moscow, they stayed with us.

They distracted me from my grief, but they were aware of my sorrow. Seeing my tears, Gail Bingham, one of the scientists, tried to comfort me: “Why are you crying?” he asked. “What can you do now? Don’t you know that God has taken your husband to be with him? Your husband was such an intelligent, good person—you will certainly see him again.”

Although I do not speak English very well, when he spoke about God, I understood everything he said.

Brother Bingham soon sent the missionaries to visit me. At first their prayers and testimonies seemed strange to me, and my interest in them was simply motherly concern. I thought of their mothers—what they must be experiencing having sent their sons and daughters to our cold Russia, so far from home. I wanted to feed and warm them.

As it turned out, the missionaries were not the ones who needed help—I was. I had lived my entire life without a real knowledge of God and his Son, and I was afraid to open my heart. But gradually, over the period of a year as the missionaries continued to teach me and as I began to attend church weekly, I turned more and more to God. The burden of my loss was eased.

Finally, on 10 December 1995, Brother Bingham baptized me. Now I know that although we may experience heartache and difficulties, such as the death of a loved one, the Lord gives us the strength to endure such difficulties. That strength, for me, is the faith that comes through finally having the Lord in my life—and the knowledge that through temple ordinances I can be with my husband again.

[illustration] Illustrated by Larry Winborg

[photo] The author (center) at her baptism. Next to her are her daughter Tatiana and Brother Gail Bingham. At far left and far right are full-time missionaries, Sisters Kellie Ann Dryden and Marintha R. Robinson. (Photograph courtesy of Natalya Vladimirovna Leonova.)