A year after I was baptized, I received my mission call and entered the Missionary Training Center in Manila, Philippines. It was there that I made some treasured friends. The first was my companion, Sister Loh, a convert from Singapore. Since I couldn’t speak her language and she didn’t know any Filipino dialects, our only option was to communicate in English.
The 16 days I spent in the MTC were the most spiritual of my life. Although we were far from our families, we still felt loved thanks to a special person—Sister Luda Lee Cottrell, the wife of the MTC president. She was always smiling and happy. She gave us comfort and love and taught me about charity in words and in deed.
On our last night in the MTC, Sister Loh and I wanted to give something to Sister Cottrell as a remembrance and to thank her for all the love she gave us. We didn’t have anything nice to give, so my companion suggested that we sing a song for Sister Cottrell. I immediately agreed. Because we were new in the Church, neither of us was familiar with most of the hymns. We chose to sing “I Am a Child of God” (Hymns, no. 301).
We found Sister Cottrell in her office. We told her of our simple present, and she gladly and patiently listened to us. While Sister Loh and I were singing, a memorable spiritual experience happened. I realized that we were three people of three different races, cultures, and languages. My companion and I were singing in English so that our beloved Sister Cottrell could understand what we were singing.
At that moment I forgot all our differences. The Spirit was telling me that what we are here doesn’t really matter, because the three of us are literally daughters of Heavenly Father. The Spirit taught me why and what brought the three of us there. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the gospel that brought Sister Loh and me to the MTC. It is the gospel that made Sister Cottrell such a wonderful, loving person. It is the gospel that gave the three of us the knowledge that we are all children of God.
No Place like Home
As I got closer to completing my years in Young Women, I was struggling to know whether the Church was really true. I went through a difficult time, which challenged me but also answered my question whether or not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church on the earth.
One day I was alone at home, and I had been instructed by my mother to clean the house and wash the windows. However, when my mother returned, the things she had asked me to do were not done. My mother started to scold me, and the more I was scolded the more stubborn I became. Some of the words she said were said in anger. Some bad thoughts came to me, and the adversary’s influence became very strong. I then wrote a letter to my family and made plans to leave the following day.
After I had hurriedly packed my stuff, I suddenly remembered a talk by Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy. We had read it in our seminary class, taught by our cheerful teacher, Sister Leone A. Aiono. I picked up the seminary book that lay next to me and read the words I had written: “There’s no place like home.”
I took the letter I had written and threw it in the trash. Although at that time of spiritual immaturity I was not fond of praying, the temptations that I faced urged me to pray often. I became convinced that the lessons I received in seminary are true and honest. I am grateful for my parents, for raising me in the gospel filled with good lessons that slowly change my life. The Church is true.
The Prophet’s Influence
Since I joined the Church in 1994, many Church members have had an impact for good in my life. However, the positive influence of the prophet, President Gordon Bitner Hinckley, cannot be overemphasized.
I may not have met him physically, but spiritually I feel I have. Whenever I read his inspired messages, I imagine him talking to me one-to-one with his hand on my shoulder. A First Presidency Message entitled “Life’s Obligations” (see Liahona, May 1999, 2) helped me understand that although income is important, I do not need to be a multimillionaire to be happy. This message has brought me inner peace and satisfaction.
Encouraged also by the prophet’s counsel in that same message not to waste the great days of preparation for my future work, I decided to enroll in a computer engineering training college for one year. I was undertaking my one year of National Youth Service and resolved to use my time judiciously. At the end of the program, I knew how to repair and install computer systems. Now my first successful appointment after my year of National Youth Service is based on my added knowledge of computer systems.
I am closer to my friends and relatives than ever before. They understand and respect my standards now—simply because I’ve been living the counsel of the prophet. What a positive influence he has on me! How grateful I am to be under the guidance of a living prophet.