Instant Messages

By Andrew Confer, as told to Miles T. Tuason


The Answer in the Book

“Elder Confer, teach me,” said the voice on the other end of the line, “but don’t teach me about the Book of Mormon.” Christine Yong, our new investigator, was wanting to know more about our religion.

As missionaries in the Singapore Mission, my companion and I were excited to have an investigator like Christine. She and her sister Sara seemed to be sincerely interested in the gospel. But during the weeks we had shared the gospel with them, they had some doubts about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. We weren’t about to give up on them, though, so we set up another appointment.

I went with our branch mission leader, Patrick Lim, while my companion went with another member to other appointments. Brother Lim and I planned to teach Christine about repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We usually invited people to be baptized when we talked about baptism. But both of us wondered, given all the challenges she was facing, whether Christine would be ready for baptism. We prayed for the Spirit before meeting with her.

During the discussion, Christine seemed to understand repentance and baptism. But as Brother Lim taught about receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, Christine voiced her concerns.

“Elders, I’m not sure if God is there and if He would really answer my prayer,” she hesitantly admitted.

We described to her the calm, peaceful feelings the Spirit brings, but she wasn’t familiar with the influence of the Holy Ghost. She had tried to pray and read the scriptures, but things just didn’t seem to be coming together.

For a moment, we were at a loss for answers. Then a scripture came to my mind, and I felt impressed to share it, even though it was in the Book of Mormon—the book she had requested us not to teach from. I asked Christine to read Ether 12:6: “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”

As I explained that our faith in the Lord is tested before we receive an answer from Heavenly Father, I felt the Spirit strongly in my heart. I prayed Christine would feel it too. And she did.

“I’m so touched. I’m really very touched,” Christine said, as tears flowed down her cheeks.

“This is the Spirit, Christine. This is what the Spirit feels like,” Brother Lim and I said as tears started to flow down our cheeks too.

After we had shared that verse with her and taught her further, Christine accepted our invitation and was soon baptized.

“You’ve Always Known”

When I turned 14, I was excited to finally be old enough to attend stake youth conference, which was held on a ranch owned by our stake. I was from Seattle, so the remote location was quite a change from the traffic, concrete, and buildings I was used to. The ranch had a rustic beauty with lots of trees, grass, and clean air that made me feel peaceful and close to God. It made me think about Joseph Smith. I wondered if the Sacred Grove was similar to our surroundings.

I had a wonderful time and wished the conference could have lasted longer, but soon it was the final day and almost time for the testimony meeting. I lingered behind for a few minutes and found myself alone in my bunkhouse. I felt that this youth conference was the time to figure out for sure if the Church was true. I had borne my testimony before and said I believed it was true, but I wanted to be able to stand as others had done and say that I knew it was true.

I believed that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ had spoken to Joseph Smith when he was 14, so I thought that since I was now 14, Heavenly Father could tell me, too. I didn’t expect a vision, but I believed God would somehow let me know if this was His Church. I decided that as soon as the testimony meeting ended, I would go a little ways from the lodge among the trees to kneel and pray as Joseph had.

During the meeting, I listened intently to the testimonies, and I recognized that the Spirit was very strong. My sister’s friend stood to bear his testimony. As he said the words, “I know the Church is true and that God lives,” I heard a still, small voice whisper within me: “You know it’s true, too. You’ve always known.” Tears filled my eyes because I knew God had heard my prayer before I had even spoken it.

How grateful I was then, and still am, for the knowledge that the Church is true, that God knows me, and that He hears and answers even my unspoken prayers.

My Forgotten Prayer

As a junior in high school, I had just entered the hardest year of my academic career. I was swamped with classes and other activities. One Thursday, I had a swim meet that took all day. I not only missed school, but I didn’t get home until seven o’clock at night.

As I tried to prepare for the busy Friday ahead of me, I found myself burdened by the amount of homework I had to do and several tests I had to study for. I was worn out from my swim meet and felt stressed about everything I had to get done.

In desperation, I said a prayer to my Heavenly Father. I told Him of my troubles and all the deadlines I had to meet. Despite my prayer, I could not avoid a sense of doubt. I thought to myself, “How can the Lord help me if what I’ve done just isn’t enough?” Mentally and physically exhausted, I fell asleep before I had finished preparing for the next day.

On Friday, I was amazed at how everything I needed fell into place. I didn’t miss any deadlines, and I had been able to complete all my homework. Some of my teachers allowed me to take my tests on Monday, enabling me to study for other tests and finish other homework. After doing all I could do, things had somehow worked out.

But in the consuming events of the day, I had completely forgotten my prayer from the night before. It wasn’t until later that night, as I remembered the words of my prayer and reflected on what had happened, that I recognized the Lord’s hand in my life. I am grateful the Lord heard and answered my prayer, even when I wasn’t sure it was possible.

[photo] Photograph by Eldon K. Linschoten

My Turning Point

I grew up a member of the Church in Belize, but I wasn’t always a faithful follower of the Lord. My family was among the first members in Belize, but we had many trials. My father left us, leaving my mother jobless with three kids.

My mother’s faith in the Lord allowed us to overcome our trials. My mom worked hard to support us and to bring us to the Lord, but I had to gain a testimony for myself. For a time I chose wrong paths, mainly because of the company I spent my time with. They influenced me to draw away from—rather than near to—the Lord.

My turning point was when I started to spend most of my time with youth of the Church. I witnessed the marvelous spirit they had. It brought an unusual joy in my life. Seeing my friends going out to serve the Lord on their missions brought an even greater spirit.

Serving a mission was the last thing on my mind until I decided to turn to the Lord in prayer to find out if this was the way for me. As I prayed I felt the Holy Spirit’s power bursting in my heart. I have never before witnessed such marvelous power. It led me to know that a mission was right for me. I talked to my branch president, prepared spiritually and financially, and later served a full-time mission.

I can now say without any doubt that I know that this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and that President Gordon B. Hinckley is a living prophet, seer, and revelator, called by God to declare His word and to bring all people to our Heavenly Father’s fold. As Moroni said, you need to read the Book of Mormon, ponder it in your heart, pray, and you will receive answers to the questions in your heart (see Moro. 10:3–5).

[illustrations] Illustrated by Justin Kunz