The day the Laurels went camping along the Colorado River, I had an important announcement to make. I had decided to begin meeting with the missionaries. As my new friends exclaimed in delight, I interrupted, cautioning them not to expect too much. “I’m not getting baptized or anything like that. I just need a more organized way to learn about your beliefs.” My friends smiled at each other knowingly.
As the weekend progressed, I found that just being in an LDS environment was educational. The first thing I noticed was that Mormons prayed more than any other church people I had met; and in my search for religion, I had met many of nearly every faith. Their prayers were different. They had no book of prayers, like the one my grandmother had owned. They just talked to God. They lived what they learned in church, too. This was no Sunday religion. It was all day, every day, and I liked that.
In the evening, we spread out our sleeping bags and admired the billions of stars in the sky. Some of the girls began asking me questions. How had I been introduced to the Church? Where had I gone to church before? How did I feel about what I was learning?
I didn’t know how to answer that last question. How could I describe my confusion without hurting their feelings? No other church had affected me this way. I had spent hours sorting through LDS doctrines, trying to guess which ones were true. I had always hated guessing. I wanted to know the truth. But there was no research method to prove the Church one way or another. I sighed. “It’s hard,” I admitted. “Everything you teach is so different, and it’s going to take a while to know what’s true.”
“I know what’s true,” one girl said quietly. Then she bore her testimony, confidently, without embarrassment.
I felt that feeling again—the feeling I had felt when I was ten and heard the story of the First Vision while visiting the Los Angeles Temple. It was also the feeling I felt when I heard an especially moving lesson. I didn’t know what the feeling meant, but I suspected it was important. Suddenly, more than anything, I wanted to know, to really know and not just to guess.
“You said you know these things. How do you know?” I asked.
“I’ve prayed about them. You’ve learned about Joseph Smith, haven’t you? About how he was searching for truth and went into the grove to pray?”
I nodded. “Yes, and I’ve tried to pray, but God isn’t going to come down and tell me the answers.”
“Well, probably not, but he doesn’t have to come down in person in order to talk to us. He talks to us all the time. All we have to do is learn how to listen.”
I sat up, interested. “I’ve prayed before, and other churches have told me God answers prayers, but no one ever told me how. You mean I can ask him if your church is true, and he’ll tell me?”
“Of course. That’s how I did it.”
I was amazed. “If it’s that easy, you would think everyone would join your church.”
My friends laughed. Then they began teaching me how to get a testimony. A few months later, I had my answers. And just after my 17th birthday, I was baptized. They were right. All I had to do was listen.