During the summer of 2001, I had the opportunity to serve as a young performing missionary in Nauvoo, Illinois. That summer I learned that when you devote your time to the Lord, you can have amazing experiences.
Every day the young missionaries performed in the “Nauvoo Adventure”—a musical depicting the pioneers’ life from Quincy, Illinois, through their journey west. After performances people would often tell me, “It looked like you were really crying up there. You should go into acting as a career.”
I never really knew how to respond to this statement. I was crying—but I definitely wasn’t acting. When you reenact the martyrdom of Joseph Smith once and sometimes twice a day, six days a week for over three months, something happens to you.
I remember the first time I cried on stage. There I was on the ground, at the foot of a coffin made to look like Joseph Smith’s, and my body started to shake. I was no longer acting the part of a missionary. I was a missionary. I loved this man, Joseph Smith, with whom I had never talked.
A missionary once asked me what I thought about to get the tears to flow. I told him that some days I cried for the widows. Some days I cried for the desire to do what was right. I cried because I know the truth and feel so selfish at times. I cried for spending more time in front of the mirror than studying the scriptures sometimes. I cried to say I was sorry. I cried out of sheer joy.
Day by day I became less ashamed of my tears. Toward the end of the summer, I no longer wanted to hide under a bushel, or under my bed. I wanted everyone to know the peace I felt, to know the peace that comes from having the Holy Ghost confirm the gospel is true.
I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He still is. I felt his humble spirit pervade Nauvoo and know that he could have only done what he did by a power larger than what mortal man can muster. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind.
One time a little boy said to me, “Why were you so sad?” I treasured telling this little boy that sometimes it’s possible to feel so happy that you think you’re going to burst with joy. When this happens, you cry. You cry because you have found the thing you love. You can’t explain it. You just know it.