A Real Treasure
In October 1983 I was attending a party in Rosario, Argentina, when to my surprise, I noticed a young lady reading a book. It was not just any book—it looked exactly like the one I had been searching for. Rays of light actually seemed to be coming from it, as if it were saying, “Here I am.”
The young lady had not been introduced to me, but I overcame my shyness and approached her. I glanced at the open book but could see nothing except the word Alma at the top of the page. My heart beat with excitement. It had to be the right book.
“Excuse me,” I said, “but could you please let me see your book?”
Again to my surprise, she started asking me questions.
“Yes, that book.”
“Do you know what book this is?”
“No. That’s what I want to find out.”
“I’m interested in it.”
“Yes, but why?”
“Well—because. It’s very important to me.”
“But can’t you tell me why?”
I began to be exasperated. “If you don’t want to lend it to me, at least tell me the name of it.”
Again she said, “But tell me why! Why do you want to know what book this is?”
I realized I would have to explain. “I came to this country about two years ago,” I said. “I didn’t know a soul, so I spent a lot of time reading the Bible, reading it very conscientiously. The more I read, the more I became convinced that my church is in error. One day I fasted and prayed and asked the Lord if my church was the right one or if I should search for another.
“The Lord answered my prayer. I had a dream in which the Lord showed me a prophet named Joseph. I learned that he is somehow associated with the right church. The doctrine of that church is based on a book that is as important as the Bible. When I find it, I will find the true Church of Jesus Christ. The only thing I know about the book is its outside appearance and the one word I saw inside, the word Alma. I think it is the same book you have in your hand.”
Now the young lady was taken by surprise. She told me the book was the Book of Mormon, and understanding that my intentions were good, she at last gave the book to me. I glanced at the title. Then it was my turn to ask questions.
“Do the Mormons have this book?”
“Who wrote it?”
“Several prophets who used to live on this continent.”
“Didn’t a man named Smith write this book?”
“No. By divine command he translated the writings found on gold plates.”
“Well, then! It is a real treasure!”
“It definitely is.”
The young lady with the book introduced me to the missionaries. They soon gave me my own copy of the Book of Mormon.
Since I found it, the Book of Mormon has been my inseparable companion. When I read it, I feel comfort from pain. I find hope when I am discouraged, and I feel the love of God when everything seems futile.
My Niece’s Testimony
My niece Mariela was only eight years old when her mother died. Afterward, her father—my brother—took her, her brother, and the children’s grandmother and moved to another part of the country.
At about the same time, I dreamed of my niece’s mother. Because of the dream, I felt impressed to pay special attention to Mariela. I determined to do so; however, it was difficult because she lived far away. We usually saw each other only during vacations, but at those times, I told her about the Church, about gospel standards, and about the love God has for His children.
As the years passed and Mariela became a young woman, I grew to feel a mother’s love for her. Eventually she finished her university studies and began working. The missionaries visited her several times, and I fervently hoped she would be baptized. Then she was transferred in her employment, and she moved farther away. I continued to pray for her.
Not long after this, Mariela suffered over the deaths of three people she loved very much. Her grandmother, who had raised her, died. Later her boyfriend was killed in an automobile accident. This loss was followed shortly by the death of her father. These events plunged my niece into despair, and she lost much of her interest in life. I continued to try to encourage and comfort her and to explain that she could endure even these sad experiences.
A year after her father’s death, I arranged for his temple ordinances to be performed. His wife and a daughter who had died in infancy were sealed to him, and both he and his wife were sealed to their parents.
The next time Mariela came to see me, I showed her the family group records. I told her what temple ordinances we had done for her family members. Then I explained that they would have the opportunity to accept the gospel and these ordinances that had been performed in their behalf, and I assured my niece that families can be together eternally. She was deeply moved and asked to borrow some past issues of the Liahona (Spanish). After that she began visiting me more regularly, and we often spoke about the gospel.
One day Mariela told me the missionaries had taught her the discussions and she had accepted the gospel. She said she was convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel because of the importance it places on families. I wept with happiness.
I give thanks to my Father in Heaven. I believe this is what He desired all along—the bringing of the gospel to family members on both sides of the veil.
I Relied on the Lord
I was baptized on 17 November 1996 in Samara, Russia. Immediately after my baptism, I was filled with the desire to serve a full-time mission and bring souls to Jesus Christ. Eagerly I waited for a year to pass so I could talk to my branch president about a mission.
When the time came, I had the necessary interviews and filled out the missionary recommendation forms. Then I realized I had a problem. Although I had lived in Russia for two years, I was a citizen of Armenia. I had not yet served in the Armenian army, which I was obligated to do.
I began fasting and praying that God would open a way for me to serve a mission. In March 1998 I was drafted into the army and had to return to Armenia. I trusted in God, knowing that He loved me and wanted me to be obedient.
While I was in the Armenian army, I kept the covenants I had made and lived the Word of Wisdom. I often bore my testimony to the other soldiers, and I prayed throughout the day. I fasted and asked Heavenly Father to protect me. And I also asked that I might be able to serve a full-time mission as soon as possible.
After two and a half months in the army, I became ill and was admitted to the hospital. When the doctors examined me, I was surprised to learn I had a heart disease—an illness they believed I had had since childhood. It was now affecting my lungs, liver, and spleen. My body swelled, and I looked as if I had gained considerable weight.
The diagnosis meant I might be released from the army, but the reality of a serious illness scared me. All I could do was trust God to help me.
After I had been in the hospital for a month, an Armenian member of the Church, Brother Ararat, unexpectedly visited me there. He and two missionaries gave me a priesthood blessing.
Three weeks later I was released from the army. Before long I was feeling strong enough to serve a mission.
Now I needed my military release papers. I fasted and prayed. When I rose from my knees, I had my answer. I would rely on the Lord.
Days passed. Whenever I would inquire about my military papers, the officials would say, “Don’t expect them this year. It is not possible.” Still I trusted in the Lord and waited. Finally on 15 December I received word: “Come in and get your papers; they are ready.”
My next problem was getting a passport. The end of the year is a difficult time to secure one, and I was told I could not expect a passport until June. Again I prayed. And again I felt inspired to be patient and rely on the Lord.
And so I trusted, believed, and waited—but not for too long. On 5 January 1999, I received my passport, and on 7 January, my visa. I could begin my missionary service.
All I needed to do now was complete my interviews, finish some paperwork, and receive the required medical examination. Although I felt well, I feared that my heart disease might prevent me from serving. The doctor who examined me knew my medical history and ordered a test of my heart. When he looked at the results, he blurted out in surprise, “You are completely healthy! There is no sign of heart disease. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life!”
I smiled and said, “I believe in God. I received a blessing from bearers of His priesthood and was healed.”
Soon I was called to serve in the Russia Moscow South Mission. I know God lives. I know He performs miracles now just as He did anciently. And I know He blesses us when we exercise faith in Him.