Taking the Challenge

One year ago members of the Church around the world finished reading the Book of Mormon in response to President Gordon B. Hinckley’s August 2005 challenge. Church magazines received an unusually large outpouring of letters of testimony, experience, and gratitude from those who met the challenge. A few of those responses follow.

How We Did It

“I think something remarkable must have happened to the people of this Church. They were observed reading the Book of Mormon while riding the bus, while eating lunch, while in the doctor’s office waiting room, and in scores of other situations. I trust and hope that we have drawn closer to God because of the reading of this book” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Seek Ye the Kingdom of God,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2006, 83).

Every night at 7:00. My wife, two daughters, and I read together each night at 7:00. If someone happened to be visiting at that time, we asked him or her to read with us. The reading itself was a great blessing. But our daughters (ages 12 and 13) also increased in reading ability, and we all learned about prioritizing, disciplining ourselves, and managing our time. We understood more about having a house of order. And as a family, we felt an increased love and unity in our home. B. Akanit Sapprasert, Pakkret, Thailand

Closer to heaven. I am a flight attendant, and it was inspiring to pass through the cabin and see passengers reading the Book of Mormon. After all the passengers had been served, I tried to find enough time to read a chapter or two, and I challenged myself to write down at least one thing I learned that day. I usually work the morning flights, so I was in the air and reading before the sun came up. I found that there was something special about reading while feeling closer to heaven. Emily Bryn Arnell, Farmington, Utah, USA

Audio scriptures. When I drive to and from work, I tune my radio to news or commentaries. But for the last four months of 2005, I listened to the Book of Mormon on CD. I finished the last chapters of Moroni in my home office on December 29, 2005. After this great experience, I love the Book of Mormon even more. Arturo Maldonado, Los Angeles, California, USA

Paint buckets and plundering. Our lives are busy, and it was difficult to read every day. We finally decided that we would read no matter what, and we found ourselves reading in some rather unusual places—sitting on paint buckets as we worked on our remodeling project or around a campfire in our backyard. We wondered if our four-year-old was even listening at times, but then one day when asked why his room was so messy, he replied, “Someone has been plundering in there!” Buxton family, West Point, Utah, USA

Completing the picture. My husband and I and our three children decided that we would each read the Book of Mormon individually. We cut a print of an ancient prophet holding golden plates into five pieces. Each family member was responsible to complete the picture by completing our reading. Our youngest son does not read yet, so I read an illustrated Book of Mormon with him. One by one we finished our reading and began to pray for those still working on the challenge. We all finished by the end of the year, and we showed by following the living prophet that we value the words of our ancient prophets. Cinara Lilian Leão Machado, São Carlos, Brazil

Reading aloud. I read aloud to a dear friend who is 91 and lives in the cottage next door. As we read we would stop and discuss how teachings apply to our lives. I will always consider this one of the richest experiences of my life. Sometimes the Spirit was so intense I was brought to tears. I am thankful for a wise and inspired prophet, who extended this challenge. Sylvia Willis, Hampstead, North Carolina, USA

Book of Mormon commuting. My fiancé and I were proceeding very slowly in our Book of Mormon study. Then we learned about the challenge, and we began in earnest to meet it. We both take the train to work, and during the commute I was able to let go of the things of the world. When several people on the train were interested in what we were doing, I shared my testimony and gave out pass-along cards. I know the Book of Mormon can transform our lives for the better. Luciana Martins, São Paulo, Brazil

Making it mine. Having read the Book of Mormon many times, I felt it was time to use a different approach. I had already downloaded the Book of Mormon to my personal computer and color coded the verses, using recurrent themes. I went through it again, highlighting in bold verses that explained important principles to me and in italic verses that were interesting for historical or other reasons. I also inserted notes and references that gave useful background. As I continued, many impressions came to me. I inserted them as notes. As the months went by, the notes increased—many of them applying to situations in the lives of my family members and myself and in my Church assignments. Many writers have written about the Book of Mormon, but this collection of notes helped me make the Book of Mormon my book. The copy I printed out is personalized for my needs and those of my family. Jon M. Taylor, Bountiful, Utah, USA

What It Did for Us

“Last year I asked members of the Church throughout the world to again read the Book of Mormon. Thousands, even hundreds of thousands, responded to that challenge. The Prophet Joseph said in 1841, ‘I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book’” (Liahona and Ensign, May 2006, 83).

The gift of time. When I read about the challenge, I immediately made the excuse that I was too busy to even attempt it. When I later began reading, I constantly reminded myself that if I didn’t finish, I could always say I was just too busy. But something amazing happened. On the days I read, time seemed to stand still and allow me the chance to get everything accomplished. This blessing was the remedy to my busy life. I was able to spend more time with my family and on my Church calling, while still being able to accomplish all I needed to in my job. I realized that Heavenly Father will provide what is necessary if I put Him first. Julie Major, Nibley, Utah, USA

Peace and forgiveness. Early in 2005 my husband gave two men a ride. When my husband returned home, he discovered that his sapelu (machete) was missing. This really hurt him: he’d done a good deed, and this was how he was repaid. The incident bothered my husband to the point that he was having trouble finding peace. Several months later, we awoke to find that our house had been broken into. Worse, we realized the intruders had come into the rooms where our children and we had been sleeping. I was angry and thought, “If my husband was so upset about a knife, he will go completely nuts now!” But he had a spirit of peace that spilled over to the rest of us. He expressed gratitude that nobody had been hurt and hope that the people who had taken our things would use them to improve their lives. I was speechless at the change. Why was I not able to feel the same peace? Then I realized: while I had been “too busy” to start reading, my husband was firmly entrenched in the Book of Mormon. Kathleen Arp, Pesega, Samoa

An eternal family. My family members and I are converts. My dad was baptized in 2000, and he had attended several temple preparation classes but was reluctant to go through the temple. Then my family accepted President Hinckley’s challenge to read the Book of Mormon, and I truly believe it prepared us spiritually so we would be able to receive the blessings of the temple. In October, a high councilor firmly but happily told my dad he needed to set a date to receive his endowment and to be sealed as a family. My dad agreed, and from then on everything fell into place. My dad went to the temple in late October, and we were sealed on November 19. We had been waiting years to enter the temple, but as we diligently read the Book of Mormon, the Lord prepared a way for us to enter His house and be sealed for eternity. Danielle Crane, Sandy, Utah, USA

Small and simple. I took the challenge—no major miracles, just small and simple things. In difficult circumstances, I felt the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit. Mark Vader, Riverton, Utah, USA

Really for us? I honestly thought that President Hinckley must be talking to those who weren’t reading. After all, we had nightly scripture study, family home evening, and family councils; we prayed together. We thought we would just continue reading a few verses a night. It was a few days later that it hit me: a prophet of the Lord asked us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, and I’m going to ignore it? That night we met as a family, and I was astonished at the resounding “Yes” I received as a commitment to meeting the goal. I told the kids that we would have to read on vacations, birthdays, nights when we were tired. “No problem” was the response. It didn’t take long for the spirit of that great book to take over. We started to understand gospel principles, to communicate more as a family. My wife and I felt our testimonies were strengthened, and I heard the kids explaining scripture stories as if they had served missions and taught the gospel for years! Taking this challenge has changed our lives forever. Shawn O’Leary, Poulsbo, Washington, USA

Insights for others. While responding to the challenge, I read Mosiah 18 and couldn’t get it out of my mind. About two days later I sat down with a new member (I served as branch president). This brother wanted to know again why he needed to be baptized into the Church when he had previously been baptized in another church. Without hesitation, I opened to Mosiah and asked him to read in chapter 18. When he finished we were both silent for a while. Then the brother told me that he had felt prompted to counsel with me. I silently bowed my head and thanked Heavenly Father for the gift of a prophet and his challenge to reread the Book of Mormon. Akingbade A. Ojo, Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria

Blessings available. When I started to read my Book of Mormon, things started to change in my life. I found myself waking up so I could pray to my Heavenly Father to tell Him how grateful I was for the blessings of knowing of Him and the plan of salvation and the restored gospel. I know that I got to this place because I rose to the challenge from our prophet, who knew how much we would be blessed if we listened and obeyed. My experience does leave me with questions: Why did we have to be challenged? How long will it take us to learn that these blessings are constantly there for us if we will read the Book of Mormon daily? Angela Broderick, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“If each of you will observe this simple program [to read or reread the Book of Mormon by the end of the year], regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Testimony Vibrant and True,” Liahona and Ensign, Aug. 2005, 6.

Border © Artbeats

Photograph by Lana Leishman, posed by model

Young women from St. George, Utah, responded to the challenge and experienced, as President Hinckley said, “something remarkable.” (Photograph courtesy of the Diamond Valley First Ward, St. George Utah West Stake.)

Photograph by Craig Dimond, posed by models

Something Remarkable: Testimonies of the Blessings

An Added Measure of the Spirit of the Lord

When I had need to be guided, the Holy Ghost was there. I was better able to turn to my Heavenly Father to find counsel. When I had opportunities, I shared the gospel with more confidence. Sarah Berthier, Dijon, France

Every morning I asked that the Holy Ghost be my companion so He could enlighten my mind. A miracle occurred: the Book of Mormon was opened to me anew. I received answers to questions I had had for years. Tatyana Vyshemirskaya, Krim, Ukraine

I was able to feel an extra portion of the Spirit throughout the day. I felt an inner peace inside, which was reflected in my relationships with family members. Libia Zulema Luna de Rubio, León, Mexico

A Strengthened Resolution to Walk in Obedience to His Commandments

An unparalleled blessing of spiritual strength helped me make enormous strides in overcoming weaknesses. So great and humbling is this blessing that I know there is no better way to begin or end the day than in the scriptures. Michael B. Clark, Syracuse, Utah, USA

We have been blessed with the desire to hold regular family home evening, morning and evening prayer, and, of course, scripture study. Studying the scriptures consistently makes me crave the fruits of the Spirit. Leslie Quinn, Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA

I went from reading the printed words on the page, to hearing the words in my head, to speaking the words each day, to living the words, to writing the words on my heart, and finally to making the words a permanent part of my soul. C. E. Tapie Rohm Jr., San Bernardino, California, USA

A Stronger Testimony of the Living Reality of the Son of God

Because I studied longer each day, I made connections I had never made before. The Book of Mormon truly is full of testimonies of Jesus Christ. Because of the Spirit I felt, my own testimony of my Redeemer increased. Dagmar Leiß, Hamburg, Germany

By reading the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I gained a more perfect knowledge of Him who will be my advocate when I stand before God. I am grateful to have found His restored gospel. Horacio Chemin, Rawson, Argentina

By the time I got to 3 Nephi, I noticed I was thinking about Jesus Christ more often. I found myself wondering what my Savior would think about what I was reading or doing. Thoughts of Him came as a gift, and I began to understand how I could “always remember Him.” Alice M. John, Ogden, Utah, USA

Photographs by Marina Lukach, posed by model