Remember Me?

My parents were baptized members of the Church just before I was born. We went to church every Sunday, and we would pray together. But after my ninth birthday, my family moved from Toronto, Canada, where the Church was strong, to a rural area with few members.

A few months later my family fell into some difficult financial times and became less active. For many years I lived in a home that did not have the gospel. I heard anger and even bitterness towards the Church expressed in my home.

When I was 17, some missionaries came to see us. At that time most of my siblings and I were caught up in worldly lifestyles and had no desire to change. We were disrespectful and rude to this missionary and his companion.

A year later I moved back to Toronto to work. I was lonely, so I looked up some members of the Church who had known me as a child. I visited them on Saturday, and before I left they had asked me to go to church with them the next day. I agreed.

When I arrived, they introduced me to a young woman about my age, who took me to the Gospel Principles class. A missionary was teaching the lesson. I kept thinking I had met him before, but I didn’t know where. At the end of class, I remembered. He was the missionary who had visited my family a year earlier.

After the closing prayer, I went up to him and described the day I had met him. He remembered me and my family. I told him that my parents had become less active when I was a child and had fought about the Church. My mother said the Church was true, but my father said it wasn’t. I asked to be taught the discussions so that I could learn for myself if the Church was true. He arranged for some missionaries from my area to teach me.

The missionaries came and taught me the discussions. They challenged me to read the Book of Mormon. I agreed, and once I began reading, I couldn’t put the book down. I read the Book of Mormon everywhere and could barely eat—I had such a desire to read the book. My soul hungered for it.

I didn’t know right away if the Church was true. I continued reading the scriptures and attending Church meetings. I repented of my worldly ways. My testimony grew as I kept the commandments.

I felt the influence of the Spirit in my life. I realized that Christ had died for me so that I could repent. I began living a righteous life and have continued to do so. I became born of God in my heart, mind, and spirit. It’s been a hard, long road, but I’ve overcome many obstacles, and now I rejoice in my testimony of the gospel.

[illustration] Illustration by Sam Lawlor

Valued Friends

Because my school has only six members of the Church, it was extremely hard for me to find friends with the same values. I felt lost and confused. The youth in my ward were nice people, but we never really hung out. I didn’t know the other youth in my stake very well because it was so spread out.

At the peak of my confusion, my stake put on a dance festival. I love to dance, so I immediately signed up for the dance team. I think that was the best thing I ever did. I got to know most of the youth in my stake that I never would have known otherwise. These people have been welcoming and friendly, and best of all, they have the same values I do.

Since making these friends, I have been so much happier. The people I hung out with before didn’t have my values, and I felt so trapped and weak. The people in my stake have made me a stronger person, and I’m grateful for them.

Making Grandpa Proud

My dad tells us stories about my grandpa all the time. My grandpa was very strong in the Church, and so is my dad. The stories my dad tells us help me to stay strong in the Church because I can feel how strong my grandpa’s testimony was. My grandpa’s strength helps me to overcome challenges because it gives me the desire to make the right choices so that we can be together again in eternity. I want to make my grandpa happy, and I want to make him proud of me.

[photo] Photograph courtesy of Caitlin Jenkins

What I Taught My Teacher

My English teacher has a habit of taking the Lord’s name in vain whenever there is a distraction in the class. One day I approached her privately after class and said, “I feel very uncomfortable when you say God’s name when someone disturbs you while you’re talking. Maybe you could use other words, but I feel very uncomfortable when people say His name that way around me.”

My English teacher thanked me for coming to talk to her, but she said she would have to think about it. After that week, she didn’t profane the Lord’s name for a long time, except once or twice when the word would just come out of her mouth, but I understood how hard it is not to make a mistake again when it is a habit. I realized how important it is to spend time with people to let them know what your standards are. Never be ashamed of doing what is right, because there’s always someone that stands on your side. I was so grateful to see this change in my English teacher. Not only does she not use the Lord’s name, but I realized that her attitude has changed, too.

As it says in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” I won’t ever feel ashamed of asking people to not misuse our Heavenly Father’s name, because it is sacred. We should always stand up for our standards, and for our Heavenly Father, because of the blessings and courage that He gives us.