May I Read That Book?
Neil R. Cardon, Utah, USA
About 50 years ago, my missionary companion and I were tracting near the University of Córdoba in Argentina when a young man invited us into his apartment. Immediately it became apparent that he and his roommates had invited us in only to argue about the existence of God.
We didn’t want to argue, so instead we agreed to meet later to discuss our message in an environment conducive to learning. When we returned, the young man explained why he believed there was no God. He said man had invented God because of his need to believe in something greater, something supernatural.
When it was our turn, I asked, “How do you know the United States exists?” I testified of its reality and asked if there was other evidence that proved its existence. He said he had read about it in books and newspapers. I then asked if he believed my testimony and what he had read. He emphatically said he did.
“So we cannot deny the testimonies of those, such as I, from the United States,” I said. “Nor can we deny the testimony of those who have written about it.” The young man agreed.
I then asked, “Based on this premise, can we deny the testimonies of those who have seen God and written of their experience?” I showed him the Bible, telling him that it contained testimonies of men and women who had seen and talked with God and Jesus Christ. I asked if we can deny the testimonies contained in the Bible, and he reluctantly said no.
I then asked, “What would you think of a book written by a people other than those in the Bible who saw the same God as the writers of Bible?” He responded that no such book existed.
We showed him the Book of Mormon and taught him of its purpose. We testified that it was true and that God still communicates through living prophets today.
Surprised, the young man said, “I’ve been able to confound all the preachers from other churches. You have something I’ve never heard of before. May I read that book?” We gave him the book and testified of the love God has for His children.
Because the semester was ending, we weren’t able to visit this young man again before he returned to his home in Bolivia. However, I prayed he would read the book and receive a testimony.
In 2002 I was called to serve as a Spanish branch president in the Provo Missionary Training Center. One Sunday I related the above story to the missionaries. Afterward a missionary from Bolivia told me he had heard an older man in his stake tell the story of his conversion—the same story I relate here.
Tears filled my eyes. After 40 years, I had received an answer to my prayers about the young man from Bolivia. He had come to know of the existence of God and His great plan of happiness. I know that one day we will meet again, and I will rejoice with him in the gospel.
Mamá Sefi’s Trip to the Temple
Betty Ventura, Utah, USA
One day while I was in the Mexico Mission office back in the 1940s, a sister arrived from the little town of Ozumba, located at the foot of Popocatépetl, an active volcano about 43 miles (70 km) southeast of Mexico City. We all knew her. Her name was Mamá Sefi.
The full-time missionaries lived in her little adobe home, where she always kept a room just for them. Mamá Sefi, not even five feet (1.5 m) tall, earned her livelihood by selling fruit in the marketplaces of towns around Ozumba. Each town had a different market day, and she went to each market to sell her fruit.
She came into the mission office that day carrying a large flour sack. It was full of tostones, silver half-peso coins she had saved through the years. Some of the pieces had come from the days of Porfirio Díaz, who ruled Mexico from 1884 to 1911. Mamá Sefi had traveled from Ozumba to the mission home by bus with her sack of money. She told President Arwell L. Pierce she had been saving for many years so she could travel to the Salt Lake Temple to receive her endowment.
She obtained permission to leave the country, a missionary loaned her a suitcase, and we took her to the train. President Pierce telephoned someone in El Paso, Texas, to meet the train across the U.S. border and to put Mamá Sefi on a bus for Salt Lake City. Members of the Spanish branch in Salt Lake City were to meet the bus, take care of her housing needs, and help her at the temple.
A few weeks later, Mamá Sefi returned to Mexico City and then home to Ozumba. She had made the long journey safely. She then resumed selling fruit in the marketplaces.
Mamá Sefi did not speak English, so we asked her how she had managed to order food while traveling by bus from El Paso to Salt Lake City—a trip of several days. She said someone had taught her how to say “apple pie” in English, so every time the bus stopped for meals, she would order apple pie.
Because those were the only words she knew in English, she lived on apple pie during her stateside bus travel—going and coming. But Mamá Sefi didn’t mind. Rather, she returned grateful for and radiant from her experience in the temple.
Go Fix His Stereo
Kent A. Russell, Florida, USA
Our next-door neighbor was the youth minister at a local church, and the youth of his church often visited him. It was not uncommon to see several cars parked in front of his house both day and night.
Some of these teens played loud music on their car stereos all the time. We could hear them coming for several blocks, and as they got closer, the windows in our home would shake. Often the loud music would wake me at night. My annoyance festered, and I began to view these teens as my enemies.
One day while I was raking leaves, I heard a car stereo blaring several blocks away. The sound soon came closer and got louder. By the time the driver turned the corner and headed for my neighbor’s home, I was angry and prayed that Heavenly Father would destroy the stereo.
My desperate prayer turned to one of praise and gratitude when the stereo suddenly went blissfully silent just as he pulled up. I had worked on car stereos and knew by the sound that it hadn’t been turned off—it had died.
The young man was upset that his stereo had quit working, and his friends gathered to console him. I, on the other hand, felt a smug satisfaction in witnessing what I thought was the hand of God smiting the stereo.
But as I continued watching, I realized I was looking at myself as I had behaved many years ago. My heart softened, and I began to think that maybe this boy wasn’t my enemy after all. Then the Spirit whispered, “Go fix his stereo.”
I was stunned by the prompting and tried to dismiss it. Why should I repair something that was making my life miserable? But the prompting came again, and I followed it.
After I had offered my help, I immediately saw the source of the problem. It was a quick fix. Soon the stereo was playing again as loudly as ever.
The young man expressed his gratitude and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I told him I had to get up early for work, and if he could turn down his music in the evenings, I would really appreciate it. He smiled and assured me that he would do so.
Not only did he keep his stereo down at night, but he also became my personal stereo cop and made sure his friends turned down their stereos as well. From then on, we never had a problem with loud music after dark.
Heavenly Father really did hear and answer my prayer. His solution provided peace and quiet, a valuable lesson about following the Spirit, and a better understanding of what it means to “love your enemies” (Luke 6:27).
Hello, Little Lamb
Colleen Solomon, Ontario, Canada
My husband and I were assisting our daughter and her two sons at the airport, where they were preparing for their return flight home. We helped our daughter as she juggled luggage, located passports, and managed an active three-year-old. Tommy, our one-year-old grandson, was fast asleep in his stroller until he awakened abruptly. He panicked as he struggled to take in all the noise, bright lights, and general chaos.
I saw his expression and knew what was about to happen, so I cried out to my daughter. She quickly stooped down, cupped Tommy’s face in her hands, met his gaze, and lovingly said, “Hello, little lamb.”
In an instant his furrowed brow, turned-down mouth, and tensed-up shoulders relaxed as his whole body sighed with relief. He gave a little smile before his heavy eyelids closed again. His fear was replaced by a calm assurance and a peace that seemed to envelop him. It was a small but powerful manifestation of the trust Tommy had in his mother. Her familiar touch, voice, and presence comforted him.
Like Tommy, we all have felt fearful, uncertain, and overwhelmed. It is comforting to know that Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, calls out to us. He knows His flock, and we can trust Him completely. He lovingly said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
I know that during times of uncertainty we can receive comfort and assurance as we turn to the Good Shepherd with faith and trust. When I am blessed with comfort amid chaos, I like to recall that moment at the airport with my daughter and grandson. Like Tommy, I breathe a sigh of relief as my burdens are lifted. During those times, I feel a personal “Hello, little lamb” from my Shepherd.