In the Lord’s Way
During my military service, my crew was sent to Seattle, Washington, where we boarded a ship headed into the Pacific by night. I remember lying on my bunk among the many men and reading my Book of Mormon. Many passages held special meaning for me.
In 1 Nephi 15:11, I read the promise: “If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.”
When I reached the final promise in Moroni 10:4–5, I blocked it in solid red:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
On a crowded ship taking a horde of men into battle, I explained to the Lord that I wanted to know whether the Book of Mormon was or was not true. “I must know for sure that it is,” I fervently prayed, “for if it is not true, then I’m not sure that it is important whether or not I come back, because things in the world seem to be all undone anyway.” And so I continued to plead for an answer—an answer which, in time and in the Lord’s way, came to me.
A Remarkable Feeling
When I reflect on my life there has never been a moment when I doubted that the Church was true. In my youth, raised in a Mormon community, testimony was never a question among my peers because virtually all of our activities centered on the Church. Belief was automatic. Without seminary there was almost no dialogue about our knowledge or our understanding of the gospel. The Church was just there and we were a part of it. Then I was called to serve a full-time mission in the Spanish-American Mission, working with the Mexican people.
My companion and I entered the mission field at the same time and for some reason, unknown to us, we were assigned to begin our missionary labors together. Neither one of us knew the Spanish language, and both of us were virtually illiterate in the gospel. (This was before there were any Missionary Training Centers.) We were timid, untrained, and a little frightened, but eager to start to work.
In those days there were very few member referrals. We knocked on doors from morning to night and did our best to communicate with the Mexican people, using a few words of Spanish and a lot of English. For the first time in my life I was required to bear my testimony to nonmembers who had little knowledge or respect for the Church. It was a challenging and humbling experience.
One day, to our surprise, we met a couple who brought out a Book of Mormon, saying that in their church they also used this sacred book as scripture. We were overjoyed until they began to criticize us and mock the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We discovered that they were missionaries from another religion who had been serving for 11 years. They were very knowledgeable and skilled in using the scriptures. My companion and I were no match for them. We were just boys fresh off the farm. They totally intimidated us, demeaned us, and tried to destroy our faith. In my heart I prayed for divine help.
Then, as I looked at that couple, a remarkable feeling came over me. For the first time in my life I felt the power of the Spirit rest upon me. Although I was somewhat ignorant, unlearned in the things of the gospel and the world, there was an absolute assurance that I held the holy priesthood of God and that they did not! That I was His minister of truth and they were not! With all the power of my soul I told them that I knew we were just boys and that we were not experts in the doctrine of our religion, but I knew that what we were doing was correct, that the Church was true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. They were silenced. They could not refute my testimony.
The testimony I bore that day was different than any other I had ever given. It was not a passive thing, nor simply an accepted thing. It was real. I knew it. And my testimony which began at that moment has grown stronger and stronger every day of my life. There is no doubt, you see, for it is true!
I Knew He Cared
As a young child I was taught to pray. I felt a love for the Savior and wanted to feel His Spirit with me. When I was perhaps only seven or eight years old, I remember helping my mother one day and thinking to myself, “If I had lived on the earth at the time of the Savior, would I have recognized Him and been one of His followers?” My testimony was very small then, so I didn’t know what the answer was, and the question continued to concern me as I was growing up.
When I entered Young Women, I loved going to Beehive camp. It was an amazing experience—enjoying the out-of-doors, singing the songs, and listening to testimonies around the campfire. I felt the Spirit of the Lord then and learned to recognize that Spirit. As the years passed, I came to know myself better. My question had been answered. Had I lived when the Savior was on the earth, I felt I would have recognized Him. I would have loved Him then, just as I love Him now.
As a teenager, there were many times when I felt the Spirit of the Lord. When I was 16, I participated in a dance festival at the University of Utah’s stadium. It was June, and the sky was completely overcast and threatening to rain. As we were ready to march onto the field with our flags, the opening prayer was given. In the prayer it was asked that the weather be tempered so it wouldn’t rain. I vividly remember marching onto the field, looking up, and seeing the clouds part. The Lord had answered our prayers, and having watched it happen, I felt the warmth of the Spirit and knew the Church was true.
During this time, I was having difficulty getting along with my mother, as teenage girls sometimes do. I can remember after disagreeing with her once, I went down to the basement to be alone. Full of confusion and remorse, I prayed for comfort. I was still sobbing when in my mind I heard these words, “Blessed art thou, Carol.” At that time I wasn’t understanding my world very well, and I felt like Heavenly Father was comforting me so that I could get through a difficult time. It strengthened my testimony so much to know that He cared.
Throughout my life, I have prayed about most everything. Prayer has been the thread that has kept me close to Heavenly Father and helped my testimony and love for Him grow.