Latter-day Saint Voices: A Voice from the Dust

By R. Stanley Swain

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    More than 400 years after the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophet Moroni buried the writings of the Nephite prophets in a deserted hill (see Moro. 10:27). * * * The sacred record was prepared to someday show the members of the house of Israel what great things the Lord had done for their forebears and to convince the world that Jesus is the Christ (see Book of Mormon, title page). * * * For 1,400 years the witnesses of these prophets waited as the world prepared for the Restoration. * * * Now, with the entire Book of Mormon translated into 49 languages and selections from the Book of Mormon translated into another 42 languages, the voices of these prophets help bring millions to Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. * * * Following are accounts of the influence the Book of Mormon is having in the lives of Latter-day Saints around the world.

    “My Joy Is Too Much”

    One day while my wife and I were serving in the Nigeria Aba Mission, my wife was giving organ lessons to some branch members when Elder Uwaifo and Elder Akagha brought an exuberant man to meet us. Tears were running down his face. “My joy is too much!” he exclaimed. “God is too good!” Intrigued, we invited the man, Dr. Pius C. Ozoemena, to tell us his story.

    In August 1988, Dr. Ozoemena, a senior lecturer in physics at Anambra State University of Technology in Enugu, Nigeria, received an invitation to attend professional meetings in Italy. During the course of these workshops, he often visited rooms set aside for meditation, where he would pray and read.

    “On one of those occasions,” he recalled, “I scanned through the holy books on the reserved shelf and found, among others, two curious books: first a volume containing the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price and second a copy of A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, by Elder LeGrand Richards (1886–1983) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Of all the books there, those two made the greatest impact on me. For the first time I read about religious truths that explained to me several previously misunderstood passages of scripture from the Bible.

    “My excitement was so great I paid to have both volumes photocopied and professionally bound. For almost a year I read them faithfully and compared their messages with other scriptural texts. Intuitively I knew that the messages were inspired.

    “In December 1989 I returned to my village to celebrate Christmas, as is the custom among my people. There I met my cousin O. C. Ekufu, from Lagos, Nigeria, who had also returned to our home village for Christmas.”

    Dr. Ozoemena noticed his cousin no longer smoked or drank beer. When he asked his cousin about it, he learned he had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    “My heart throbbed with joy,” said Dr. Ozoemena. “We hugged each other, and I related my own experiences and showed him my treasured volumes. He showed me many Church books he had brought with him from Lagos, including those I had photocopied in Italy. I expressed my desire to join the Church, and he promised to help me get in touch with missionaries serving in Enugu, where I worked. I was overjoyed, for I did not know the Church could be found outside the United States.”

    True to his promise, Brother Ekufu sent his cousin’s name and address to the Nigeria Aba Mission office. However, Dr. Ozoemena did not wait for someone to contact him; he set off to search for the missionaries on his own. After much searching, he located the missionaries, who invited him to meet my wife and me.

    Elder Uwaifo and Elder Akagha began visiting the Ozoemena family and taught them the gospel. Dr. Ozoemena and his wife were baptized on 4 February 1990.

    “I have found in the revealed books of the Church a great and consistent design for salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ,” explains Brother Ozoemena. “I am thankful to Heavenly Father that I have found the gospel!”

    The Most Beautiful Book

    As a youth in the Netherlands, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks working with the full-time sister missionaries. I expected two weeks of hard work—and a lot of fun.

    Before that time, I knew that I had a Heavenly Father and He loved me. But during those two weeks I thought about Him and His work 24 hours a day; even as I slept, I dreamed about missionary work.

    Despite my enthusiasm, the first couple of days were hard work—without much success. By the end of the first week I was exhausted, spiritually and emotionally. That night, I read the Book of Mormon all evening. When I went to bed, I had a warm and good feeling, and I knew Heavenly Father would give me the courage to keep trying after every closed door.

    In the days that followed, there continued to be more negative than positive responses. But if there was only one person a day who would listen, it made the day worthwhile.

    One day I telephoned a lady who had investigated the Church for four years. Over the phone, she told me she didn’t need the Book of Mormon because she had found a “more beautiful book.” When we went to her house, my companion and I hoped we could convince her to give the Book of Mormon another chance. She showed us parts of her book dealing with charity and pride, and she looked at us as if to say, That isn’t written in your book, is it?

    Fortunately, I had studied the Book of Mormon in seminary that year, and I knew of some scriptures on those subjects. I soon found them and started to read. I explained them to her in a way I had not known I was capable of.

    When I finished, she had tears in her eyes. She said she had intended to give her copy of the Book of Mormon back to us, but now she had decided to try reading this most beautiful book—the Book of Mormon—again.

    My Own Testimony of the Book of Mormon

    I always wanted to have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I knew my parents had testimonies because they had read the book and prayed about it. Having never read all of the Book of Mormon, I couldn’t say the same.

    I had started attending church when I was small. My faith grew, and I was baptized as an adolescent. I had read several parts of the Book of Mormon that contained beautiful and interesting things, and I had heard the testimonies of my parents and others who said the book was true. But I knew I needed to obtain my own testimony.

    In seminary, I set a goal to pay attention to what I was being taught and to spend more time studying the scriptures. During my last year in seminary, we read the Book of Mormon. I started to pray more, to read more, and to pay closer attention. I took careful notes in my seminary notebook.

    Eventually, there came into my heart the simple but profound witness of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. I felt in my heart that this knowledge was something precious.

    I know that each of us can obtain a true testimony of the Book of Mormon and of all scriptures. As those scriptures teach, “By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moro. 10:5).

    Hungry for More

    The corners were curled from frequent use. The pages were wrinkled and torn in places. The text was thoroughly marked, and notes were added to the margins. The blue cover was nearly separated from the other pages, and the gold lettering was beginning to lose its shimmer.

    I couldn’t believe it. My Book of Mormon looked nothing like that. I had had mine since I was 9, and now that I was 18, my book still looked new. The cover, as well as the pages, were crisp and clean. The binding had barely been opened, and the few notes and markings I had made had little significance to me.

    I had never seen a Book of Mormon so worn from use. My friend had not abused her book—she had studied the word in a way I simply couldn’t comprehend. I had read the book, and I had prayed about it. I truly felt it to be the word of God. Yet when I saw her Book of Mormon and the light in her eyes, I knew there was something more I could do with the words I had always taken for granted.

    I began to pray that I would have the Holy Ghost with me as I read the Book of Mormon, and I began to read several times each day. I pondered the things I read and studied any verses I didn’t understand.

    I found a scripture I had seen many times, but it had never before meant so much: “Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:3). I had always read the word, but I had never before feasted on it.

    Somewhere in my efforts I stopped merely glancing at the words and began to see the message. I looked forward to the time I spent with the Book of Mormon. It no longer was a chore; it became a blessing.

    My Book of Mormon is still not as worn as my friend’s. The pages are still not as marked, and the cover is not as tattered from repeated use. But someday it will be. Jesus Christ truly does fill those who feast.

    “Let Me See That Book!”

    I was walking with my missionary companion down a shaded residential street near the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia. Having had my fair share of challenges in that city, I braced for the worst when a young man stepped away from a group of college students and called out to us. We stood motionless as he ran up to us.

    “Let me see that book!” he demanded, pointing to the Book of Mormon in my hand.

    I held it up, showing him the cover, which featured a golden statue of the angel Moroni against a blue background. “It’s yours if you want it,” I said nervously.

    He took it.

    His next question unnerved us entirely: “I know you guys. Where did you get this book?”

    My companion had been in the mission field only three days, so I gathered courage and answered the young man’s question as forthrightly as I could. When I finished he was in tears.

    “I’ve seen this book before,” he said. “I’ve seen you guys before. But it was seven years ago in a dream.”

    He began to tell us about his dream. “I saw a simple blue book, paperback, with a golden figure on the cover. The man was wearing a robe and blowing what appeared to be some sort of trumpet.”

    But it was the feeling that he remembered best. He’d had an overpowering impression that the book was important, essential, and true. He had never seen the book again until he saw it in my hands there on the street.

    We soon began to teach Juan Guillermo Mejía the discussions. To each principle, he responded that he “already knew that” and that we were just confirming what he had learned long ago. He finished reading the Book of Mormon that week and was baptized on Saturday.

    When I completed my mission months later, he was the elders quorum president in his branch. After seven years, the book of his dreams had changed his life.

    [illustration] Moroni Hides the Plates in the Hill Cumorah, by Tom Lovell

    [illustrations] Illustrated by Brian Call