In the Intercessory Prayer, Jesus Christ addressed His Father and summed up all He had been teaching His disciples: “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
Jesus taught that we come to know the Father through Him, and we come unto Him by receiving those He sends to teach us (see John 12:44–50; John 13:20). To this end, the Lord established His Church—the kingdom of God on earth. Through service given and received in this kingdom, the Saints are edified and perfected.
“This is the cause and kingdom of God,” President Gordon B. Hinckley testifies. “This is His work restored in these latter days. … There is nothing like it in all the world. … This is the Church and kingdom of the Father. Believe in it. Accept its teachings. Be obedient to its counsel. Work in it. Give of your strength and energy and means to move it forward, and the Lord will bless you and bring a joy into your lives the like of which you have never before known” (see this issue, page 8).
As the following stories illustrate, a great joy does come to those who enter the kingdom and faithfully serve its King by loving and serving His children.
Thirsting for the Living Water
As a child, I was never taught to read the Bible. I went to church on Sundays, but I contributed nothing and felt nothing in return. I was disillusioned by my religion. I remember having serious arguments with my mother over a metal object called the Santísimo that my parents worshiped. They expected me to worship it as well. I could not. I searched for a better alternative, wanting to find God—wanting to know if He even existed. I thirsted to know Him and His words. But I could not seem to find what I sought.
There were moments when I felt close to quenching my thirst. When I held my first child, a daughter, in my arms for the first time, I had a feeling that God really did exist. Many years later, when her sister was born, I experienced the same feeling. Once I told my cousin that I felt in my heart I was somehow going to become a priest with real authority from God. She said that was impossible because I had a family to take care of.
Most of the time, however, an inexplicable tiredness weighed upon my soul. I was spiritually thirsty and could find no place to drink.
In April 1994 I was living in the city of Monterrey, México, earning a living as a taxi driver. One day it rained for hours, sending water cascading down the mountainsides. After driving around in the rain for hours, I found myself in a little town about eight kilometers from Monterrey. It was about 9:30 P.M., nearly time to go home. Suddenly I saw two young men on foot. They were wearing dark trousers and white shirts, and they were drenched from head to foot.
I opened the door of the taxi and called out, “Get in! I’m going to Monterrey.”
The taller one, who had a very fair complexion, replied, “We don’t have any money.”
“No charge,” I replied.
As I drove, we talked. They asked if they could share a message about Jesus Christ. I agreed and gave them my address.
When I got home, I woke my wife and told her about the two young men. “What a coincidence,” I said. “One is Mexican and the other is American, and they are both named Elder.”
“Elder means missionary,” my wife answered, knowing just a little about the Church.
From deep within me, I felt something stir. These young men had left a feeling of exquisite wonder in my heart. I felt close to finding the water that would quench my thirst.
The missionaries came to our home, and I was happy to listen to them. Two weeks later, I was baptized. My wife was baptized four months later. Our oldest daughter had been receiving religious training at school. When she went to the LDS Church for the first time, she cried, “Papá, this is so much better than what I am learning at school!” She too was baptized.
In December 1995 we were sealed as a family in the México City México Temple for this life and for eternity. Now as a family we enjoy harmony, peace, and happiness. We know whom we worship. We know where we came from and where we are going. We love God’s holy word, especially the Book of Mormon, and we love His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through these gifts we have found that well of living water the Savior spoke of to the woman of Samaria: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Serving Any Way I Could
I was baptized on 14 December 1974 in Shih Lin, Taiwan. Although I was 70 years old and the water in the outdoor baptismal font was just above freezing, I felt only warmth.
After I was baptized and confirmed, the branch president ordained me to the priesthood and asked me to visit the members. At the time there were about 100 members in the branch, but only about 20 attended church. I obediently visited members every month, and attendance at church quickly rose to more than 80.
As wonderful as the increased attendance was, it presented a problem. We were meeting in a small building off Chung Cheng Road and did not have room for all who wanted to come. So we moved to a larger building on Chung Shan North Road. Though the building was larger, we did not have enough chairs, and in those days it was difficult to obtain materials through normal Church channels. We felt blessed when a member bought 100 chairs and donated them to our chapel. He also bought a piano to replace the old, dilapidated organ we had found in the building.
Yet we had still another problem: no podium. As we prayed to know how to get one, I learned that a local elementary school had some wood we could use. For days I searched for a carpenter who could build a podium from the wood, but I couldn’t find one. Finally, on a Saturday, I decided to build it myself. I had never carried such heavy objects, and I would never have believed I could finish the podium in one day, but God helped me. The podium was ready for church the next day. All the members were amazed, but not as amazed as I was. It seemed a miracle to me.
Since joining the Church, I have not let one day pass without serving in some way. As a result, my life has been blessed with joy, fulfillment, and spiritual riches. Before I joined the Church, my body was weak, but now I feel strong and healthy even as I grow older. I am able to serve often in the Taipei Taiwan Temple. I am grateful for all of God’s blessings, especially the Book of Mormon. In it are words of great beauty. I know that studying the Book of Mormon can bring us spiritual strength and help us deal with the difficult challenges of our time. I know, too, that serving God, no matter what our calling, results in a multitude of blessings. Sometimes even miracles happen.
My Weeping Ceased
Even when I was young, I wanted to be useful, to help others, and to be close to Jesus’ Church. But I didn’t know how. As I grew older, my desire grew stronger and I began looking at ways I could serve God through my religion.
In time I went to a boarding school in Riobamba, Ecuador. I became acquainted with the mother superior at a convent. We became friends, and she eventually influenced me to become a nun. I took my first vows and became a novice.
During the next six years I prayed every day to Heavenly Father to help me know Him better. For some reason, I felt comfortable praying to Him directly instead of through intercessors, as I had been taught. I knew that by getting to know Him, I would get to know myself. I would also be able to see others with a more Christlike perspective and thus serve them as He would have me do. Though I prayed fervently, I felt an inexplicable void. The emptiness I felt became so great I decided to leave the convent.
One day while the bishop was visiting, I talked with him about my decision to leave. He asked me to ponder and pray about my decision. I did and felt even stronger that my decision was right. I knew if I waited until after my solemn vows, which would take place in a year, it would be even more difficult for me to leave. I would have to get the pope’s permission, not just the bishop’s.
The next time I met the bishop, I told him of my decision, and he asked me to request dismissal in writing. Eventually my letter reached him. He was surprised because he thought I would not follow through on my request. When he granted the dismissal of my vows, I bid farewell to the nuns, thankful for all the good I had learned and experienced, and I left in peace.
At least I thought I would have peace. Instead, I faced insults and rejection. Slanderous speculations circulated about my reasons for leaving the convent. Frustrated and filled with feelings of worthlessness, I became confused and decided on the most deplorable course of action—taking my own life.
On 21 November 1995 I wandered down a street, with thoughts of suicide filling my mind and tears running down my cheeks, when I happened upon a church building. Trying to keep my tears private and find some relief from my pain, I entered the building. Inside, I came upon a bulletin board. I was surprised to see a friendly and warm illustration of the Savior, accompanied by words so simple and understandable that I was instantly captivated. It was the Christ I had been searching for. Without realizing it, I had stopped weeping.
A few minutes later a kind woman asked if she could help. Not knowing what to say, I blurted out, “What is this church about?” She started to explain, and suddenly tears came to my eyes again. I told her, embarrassed, that I needed a friend. At that moment her husband joined us, and I told them of my sorrow. They said they knew a Friend who had all the answers—Jesus Christ—and they invited me to learn more about Him and our Heavenly Father’s plan. Without hesitation, I agreed.
For 10 days I met with this loving and kind missionary couple. They never pressured me, just shared their testimonies and taught me. They also shared one of the greatest gifts we can receive—the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I read it, studied it, and put Moroni’s promise to the test (see Moro. 10:3–5). The Holy Ghost witnessed to me that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. What had been mysteries to me became clear. I knew who the Lord was and how to serve Him. Two sister missionaries taught me the missionary discussions, and I was baptized on 3 December 1995.
I am grateful to all who brought me the light of the gospel. I am grateful for the members who shared their love, their concern, and the warmth of their homes. Above all I am grateful to my Heavenly Father, who answered my fervent prayers. While I still don’t have all the answers, I know where to look for them. I know Nephi’s words are true: “He that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (1 Ne. 10:19).