The Beginning of My Journey
I grew up with a Catholic background and my mother always tried to get me to church on Sundays. I hated going to church, it was boring and I didn't understand a thing the priest was talking about.
Every time my mother would bring me, I would fuss and kick the pew for the whole 45 minutes I was there. The Priest would give my Mom dirty looks and eventually, my mom was so embarrassed that she stopped bringing me to church.
My understanding of the gospel was non-existent. As I grew up, at about 13 years of age, I began to be very intrigued by the gospel as I started to attend a church group called Messiah. We often went on outings and discussed the gospel briefly. I got my own Bible and began to read from it. I remember memorizing John 3:16 which reads;”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life“.
My interest quickly faded into just an old memory and I continued on the path of misery, heartache, and confusion until about 20 years of age.
The Thought That Changed My Life
At the end of 2005, my entire life changed! While I was lying in bed one night, trying to get to sleep, a thought came very strongly into my mind; “What happens to me after I die?"
I could not get this thought out of my head. Honestly, it freaked me out. I was really worried! What if I go through this entire life, just to never again exist? That's when I offered my first sincere prayer. My first prayer went something like this; "God, if there is a God, please let me know that you're there because if you're there, I have a purpose and if I have a purpose, I want to live it. Amen". From that moment, I started praying daily and often multiple times a day. I just wanted to know the truth. What am I here for and where am I going? After about 5 days of praying, I had a strong desire to read the bible. I figured it wouldn't be hard to get one as both my Mom and Grandmother were devout Catholics. I was wrong. Neither one of them had a bible. So I started to search and finally, after 2 weeks, my Grandmother found someone that had one - her brother. I went to visit him and his wife and they were very kind and welcoming people. Along with the bible, they gave me some memorabilia pertaining to Jesus Christ. They were happy that I was on the path to following Jesus.
So FINALLY, I got my hands on a bible! Just as a side note, I've always hated reading so this was not easy.
I started reading the new testament - because it was the smaller portion of the bible..lol and something incredible happened! The more I learned about Jesus Christ, the happier I felt. I actually got to a point where just walking outside was a beautiful thing with the trees and the skies and all the beauty that surrounded me. I started to notice all that God had given me, from small to great. And the more I got to know Jesus, the more I felt a love for Him. My heart went out to Him and I wanted to know more. But let's rewind a little. My question still wasn't answered. What happens to me after I die?
This thought continued on for almost a week when finally, at about two in the morning one night while lying there in my bed once again half crazy due to this thought and lack of sleep, when suddenly another thought came into my mind. I thought "surely this is the solution to my problem!"
As I laid there, completely confused and going half crazy thinking about this, I sprang up from my bed and said in a loud voice;”I NEED TO GO TO CHURCH!!!”
Well… my girlfriend at the time woke up and wasn’t very pleased that I had scared her half to death. When she was awake enough to figure out what I had exclaimed, she just laughed at me and told me to go to bed. The next day, I discussed my decision to attend church with her and she couldn’t quite get her head wrapped around the fact that I had (just a week prior) no interest in God and HATED religion and now I wanted to attend CHURCH where I would have to listen to a priest for 45 minutes.
I then told my friend of my decision and he laughed me to scorn. It took me a while to have the guts to go against all the laughing, but I started my journey to find the truth. I remember having this urge to go see a fortune teller that I knew very well, but it cost $20 to have my cards done and at the time, money was very tight. I asked everyone I knew to lend me twenty dollars until finally, about a week later, my mother gave me the twenty dollars to go see her. I never went to get my cards done and had no idea why I wanted to see her, but I just HAD to. I made an appointment and the day came, I went over, rang the doorbell and a friend of hers answered the door and told me to go upstairs. I went up, I was VERY nervous and anxious at the same time. I wanted to know the reason for this urge to see a fortune teller. How could she lead me to the truth I was looking for? The Bible speaks against this practice, so I was a bit confused. I walked into the room and she greeted me pleasantly.
As we began, she started to question me as to why I had made the appointment and I explained to her my dilemma. She explained to me a bit about the savior and his teachings. I was very intrigued by what she was saying and this gave me the courage I needed to start attending church. She also told me a bit about my future, but I don't remember anything she said. My focus wasn't on future events, but more focused on the gospel. In the end, she only charged me $10 and that was it.
Later that week, my Grand-Mother told me that the fortune teller was starting a little gathering every week to teach people about spirituality and wanted to know if I was interested in helping her teach the class. I said I was interested and began to attend her classes. I never actually got as far as to teach a class, but it was great to connect with like-minded, friendly people. The group and I grew very close. The Sunday after I went to get my cards done, I finally went to church and I felt very good about what I was doing. As I attended, I listened attentively to what the priest was saying and I started to diligently study the Bible. As I read the Bible, I began to feel happier and more at peace with myself. I was on a spiritual high. I learned a lot about Christ and what he had done during His earthly ministry. I would pray, practically from morning till night, for guidance and direction as to what I must do to find my answer and to do what He (God) wanted me to do. From this point on I began a serious study of the gospel.
I attended the Catholic church as often as there were meetings to attend, which was about three or four days per week. I was very active by that time and knew the priest personally. We talked on many occasions concerning the gospel. But one thing was still missing, I had not yet had my question answered concerning death and where we go after this life. There was talk about heaven and hell, but that just wasn't enough to put me at ease. What did I have to do to make it to heaven? What exactly was heaven? I was still confused :S
The Search Continues…
So, I continued to attend church and I encouraged my girlfriend to go to adult catechism so she could learn the gospel and be baptized Catholic. I attended Catechism with her and something neat happened. As the instructors discussed certain gospel accounts and tried to make sense of it, I would feel impressed to share my feelings on the subject and every time I did, everyone, including the instructors, seemed inspired and impressed by my answers. It’s as if I was teaching the instructors instead of them teaching me.
I had been praying daily for a greater understanding of the gospel and I felt I was truly gaining that greater knowledge and I was glad to see that my understanding of it was increasing. As I kept reading the bible, I ran into a little dilemma - the church described in the bible by Jesus and His Apostles was not the same church I found in the Catholic church... Now I was lost! I thought this was it! I was sure I was on the right path but now what? How do I find this church?
This is when I decided to visit the library often to find books that would enlighten my mind. I found many books that taught some principles I agreed with, but most seemed abominable to me. I would measure the teachings of the books I would read to what I was learning from the Bible. If the doctrines or writings contradicted the Bible, I would discard those teachings, but if they would compliment the Bible, I would retain them in my heart and mind. I read books from Methodist, Anglican, even Scientology! THAT was way out there...lol
This is how I gathered all of the information that would prepare me for a certain future event.
One day as I came home from the library, I came across a very peculiar book. While reading this book, I remember looking at my girlfriend and saying to her;”I don't know whether this book is speaking to ME or if it’s speaking to the people in the book! It feels as thought it's telling me exactly what I need to do”
Regardless of this experience, I put that book down and continued on my search. Within the next few days I picked up another book from the library and had the SAME thing happen with this one! I was very impressed by these two books, but I set it aside and continued my search.
In the meantime, I had started to take violin lessons and had gone for my second class. On the way home, after being flashed by 2 cars, I was pulled over by two young men who were dressed up in suits and ties on the street I lived on. They asked me a very peculiar question. They asked; "Have you ever heard of Joseph Smith?" I had never in my life heard that name up until about 1 week or so earlier so I surprisingly said yes because those two books I had previously read, had his name mentioned in the introduction. The two books I speak of are The Book of Mormon and The Doctrine and Covenants.
Before I had read these two books, I knew NOTHING whatsoever about Joseph Smith, but these two books spoke of him and these two books spoke to me. The Book of Mormon speaks of his name in the introduction and was translated by him through the gift and power of God. The Doctrine and Covenants is an inspired book of scripture containing Joseph’s revelations from our Father in Heaven.
When these two boys said that name, it struck me like a ton of bricks. I invited them to my home. I then happily and anxiously waited for that day to come. That day was Thursday January 13th 2006. When they showed up, I listened attentively as they shared their message with me. The more they shared, the more I felt that peace that only God can give. Everything they were telling me was coinciding with what I had been taught personally by God (I say that God personally taught me because I brought everything I was learning to His attention and He confirmed everything before I would receive it as truth).
They were teaching those exact truths, with some added knowledge I was not yet aware of. At the end of the meeting with these two young missionaries, they said; “We don't want you to take our word for it. Tonight, before you go to bed, Ask God if what we shared with you is true." This struck me again, because no one else I had talked to ever told me to ask God! They simply taught and expected me to take it or leave it.
The Final Answer
Before the meeting was done, I made sure to ask them my question; “What happens to me after I die? Do I just perish and never exist again?”
They assured me that God had much more planned for His children. They said God had a plan which He calls “The Plan of Happiness”. This plan makes it possible for us to return to live with God after this life in a perfect state of happiness. And then they said, we'll teach you more about this next time we meet. What a hook!...lol
When I heard the entire plan it just made perfect sense! It answered life’s toughest questions –
Where do I come from? Why am I here? And… where do I go after this life?
That night, I knelt down beside my bed and did as the missionaries asked; I prayed and asked God if what I had been taught was true.
I bear you my solemn witness that what those two young men taught me that day WAS the truth. At that very moment the spirit of God did witness to my heart, with great power, that it is true. I had never in my life felt the peace I did at that very moment.
A New Beginning
I invited them over again within the next 3 days and feelings of peace and joy filled my heart as they taught me the gospel. I expressed the feelings of my heart and we wept together. I said I wanted to be baptized and we made arrangements at the end of that meeting. I was baptized January 28th 2006 and was given the gift of the Holy Ghost and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints January 29th. When I attended the church for two weeks prior to my baptism, those same feelings of peace were present, I felt I was home. The members were very welcoming and the missionaries became like brothers to me.
The peace and joy that have entered my life are unmistakable. I felt it then and I continue to feel it now. Through the church, all of my most important questions have been answered. I also met my wife there and now have three beautiful children. I received the priesthood (The authority to act in Gods name) and now serve faithfully in the church as a representative of Christ in various callings.
I know this gospel is true and that anyone who desires to know of its truthfulness can do so by hearing its message and asking the Father in the name of Christ if it is true. If you will ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, you may know the truth of all things.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
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