09651_000_019A series of fortunate events led me to join the Church.
I first heard about the Church while babysitting. The children I was watching asked me to read out of the Friend magazine with them. We read through a few stories together, but then it was time for bed. Once they were asleep, I returned to the brightly colored magazine on the table. The children inside were so happy and lovingly talked about a Heavenly Father.
When I was finished reading, I noticed “The Living Christ” hanging on the wall behind me and beautiful prints of temples in the kids’ rooms. I had such a great feeling in my heart looking at everything, but after I went home, I forgot about my amazing discovery.
I encountered the Church a little while later when I was over at my friend Zach’s house for a movie night with some other friends. While we were choosing a movie, I noticed Zach’s family’s collection of Church materials in an adjacent bookshelf. “Pick something for me, Zach!” I pleaded jokingly.
“These are all lesson manuals,” he explained. “But here—try this instead.” He handed me a book titled Book of Mormon Stories. I took it without much thought as we all paraded into the living room. But during a lull in the movie, I decided to open it, and I began reading about Lehi and Sariah’s family. I couldn’t put it down! I felt something stirring in my mind, something I’d never experienced before—the feeling that what I was reading wasn’t just some made-up story but something more.
Zach let me take the book home, and I read the whole book in two nights. Then I read it again and took notes. When I returned the book to Zach he offered me my own copy of the Book of Mormon, full and unabridged.
The small feeling in my heart continued to grow as I read the Book of Mormon. I finished it in a little over a month. Sometimes I would read for hours at a time. I carried it with me everywhere and read it every time I got a chance.
During this time I started going to church. I cried at my first sacrament meeting—I felt the Spirit so strongly! As I listened to the testimonies of others at that first fast and testimony meeting, I remember wondering if I would ever have my own testimony. Young Women was my favorite meeting. I loved being with other girls who shared my values and some of my interests and learning about how I was a daughter of God. I felt so much love at church.
That night, I asked Heavenly Father in prayer if joining the Church was the right path for me. My mind was filled with one word: John. I had never read much in the Bible, but I knew I’d find my answer in the book of John. I found John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Christ was meant to be the way for me too.
I also prayed to know the truth when I finished reading the Book of Mormon. However, I didn’t receive an answer the first time I asked. After nearly a week of frustrated, tearful prayer, I watched The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd. As I watched the movie, I felt a burning in my heart, and I knew that now was the time to ask. I got down on my knees and asked in full faith and with an open heart if the Book of Mormon was true. I knew that if I received an answer, I would act upon it, regardless of the consequences. The answer I got was so powerful that I continue to feel it every day.
After I finished the Book of Mormon and received my answer, I began taking the missionary discussions. I am so thankful for the missionaries who taught me. I learned so much and began to prepare for baptism. I also began attending seminary and going to Mutual. My knowledge of and love for the Savior and His Church grew so much during those first few months.
I was baptized on April 26, 2009, by Zach’s dad, Brother Simons. I had the support of the entire ward, my family, and my friends. I have never felt so beautiful in my life as I did in my white dress and as I made that wonderful covenant with my Heavenly Father. Afterward, I was given the gift of the Holy Ghost by Brother Davis, whose entire family was especially supportive of me while I was investigating the Church. I was so touched, and I knew that the words he said were from Heavenly Father.
Every day it’s difficult being the only Church member in my family, but they are incredibly supportive of my decision to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They aren’t investigating the Church, but they are continuing to have open minds. I have been blessed with a wonderful, loving family, and I love them very much.
Since my baptism, I’ve moved to a new ward, so I don’t get to see Zach and the other families that supported me very often. But I know that friends in the gospel are friends forever. I also know that this is Christ’s true Church, we are all Heavenly Father’s children, and He loves us very much. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith was a prophet, and President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He lives. Nothing happens without a reason. When I asked Zach to pick me out a book at movie night, I had no idea it would change my life. I am so thankful that I was given the beautiful opportunity to come unto Christ. The gospel has changed me forever.
Illustrations by Dilleen Marsh