Instant Messages features personal experiences, favorite hymns and scriptures, and other uplifting thoughts. If you have a personal experience that has strengthened your testimony and you’d like us to consider it for Instant Messages, please send it to

New Era
Instant Messages
50 E. North Temple St. Rm. 2420
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-3220, USA

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Hidden Fruit

On a beautiful afternoon towards the end of August, my friend and I made a discovery. Along the old railway embankment at the back of a park were scores of blackberry bushes with the biggest, juiciest fruit we’d ever seen. We hurried home to collect containers and then returned to the park to pick the blackberries. We worked methodically in the warm afternoon sun, stripping the bushes bare of their treasures until we reached the end of the path.

As we made our way back, we were surprised to see more luscious berries we had not seen before. We stopped and continued to fill our containers, amazed that we could have missed those berries the first time. At last our containers were full, and we were ready to make blackberry pie.

I was disappointed not to be able to pick more of the fruit before the season ended, but school was about to begin again and with it, early-morning seminary. On the first morning of seminary, our teacher welcomed us to the class and went through the requirements for completing the course. I listened with enthusiasm. Knowing that we were required to read the Book of Mormon as part of the course, I had read it all during the summer break.

Following the class, I explained to my teacher that I had already fulfilled the requirement to read the Book of Mormon. My teacher insisted that I would need to read it again. But, I thought, “I don’t need to read it again!”

Disappointed, but obedient, I began to read the Book of Mormon a second time. And in reading, I discovered “fruit” I had somehow missed before.

It seemed that the Book of Mormon had more verses since I had last read it, and inspiring new scriptures stood out from the pages. Even characters I did not remember appeared. It was like picking blackberries. Wherever I looked, more fruit seemed to appear.

I realized that if I followed the commandment to “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ” (2 Ne. 31:20), I would need to read the Book of Mormon over and over throughout my life. But unlike blackberry season, the season for picking this fruit will not come to an end.

Ruth Bardsley is a member of the Buchan Ward, Aberdeen Scotland Stake.

My Great-Great Temple Trip

A few days after my 12th birthday, my grandparents, parents, and I went to the Denver Colorado Temple. My grandma and grandpa had done the family history work for many of my ancestors so I could be baptized for them.

In the temple everybody was kind to me. There was a reverent feeling, and I could tell the Holy Spirit was there. When I was being baptized, I felt warm inside. Every time I was baptized for one of my ancestors, I could picture in my mind each one of them being set free.

Since then, I have been able to return and perform more baptisms for the dead. I have even been baptized for my 12th great-grandmother, who lived in Switzerland in the 1600s.

I love going to the temple and the feeling I have while I’m there. I’m glad my grandparents are doing family history work so I can get to know my ancestors and help them receive the blessings of the temple. By doing this, I know my family and I are receiving many blessings.

Rachelle Simonsen is a member of the Conifer Ward, Golden Colorado Stake.

Words of Warning

A few years ago, my 10-year-old cousin was in a car wreck. Johnny was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle. He was in a coma for a few days, and the doctors said he would not live. Aunts, uncles, and cousins joined to fast and pray for him. The day after the fast, he woke up from the coma.

It was a miracle.

A few months later, my teammates on the Dixie State College debate team and I boarded a 15-passenger van, heading to the regional tournament in Casper, Wyoming, hundreds of miles away. After a stop for dinner, I had the backseat of the van all to myself. It was the perfect place to get extra sleep to be ready for the next day’s competition. Of course, by lying down I wouldn’t be able to wear a seat belt.

I was nearly asleep, when suddenly the Spirit reminded me of a conversation I had had with Johnny earlier in the week. As I drove Johnny and his father home from our house, he told me, “Remember to buckle your seat belt. I wish I had.”

At first, I thought I was just being paranoid. But the words kept coming into my mind, over and over, urging me to buckle up.

Finally, I listened. I buckled myself in and unsuccessfully tried to sleep. Meanwhile, we had entered a late-winter blizzard. As we made our descent into Casper, our van hit a patch of black ice, spun, went off the road, and rolled.

The next thing I remembered was waking up spitting mud and glass and wondering why I was suspended in midair. My seat belt had held me in place and saved me from being thrown from the vehicle. Fortunately, everyone in the van had been buckled in, and only two were slightly injured.

I am grateful on a night when I needed some sleep to get ready for a busy day that I was able to listen to the voice of the Spirit. I’m grateful I heeded that warning.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Sam Lawlor

Stephen Vincent is a member of the St George College Seventh Ward, St George Utah College Second Stake.