Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thank God for the People of the Light (AL)

Is the gospel really good news?

Yes, to me it was wonderful news, when I became a convert. You see, I had thought everything in the world was dirty and corrupt. I thought nobody was honorable, and me the lowest most despicable person of all. I had tried and tried to become the person I wanted to be, the person who lived up to all my ideals, and time and again I had fallen short, to the point that I had lost all hope. I was mired in disappointment and sorrow, seeing everything as bleak and cheerless in all the corridors of human discourse. I despaired of my species, and of myself. I wished for nothing so much as black nothingness forevermore. Anything to blot out this gray dreary horror of living. I collected up, like Vanya Karamazov, tales of the most brutal, evil, despicable deeds done against the innocent. I knew there could be no God, for how could he allow such things to happen? And if he did somehow allow them, then I cared nothing for any secret plan he might have to justify them. No conceivable plan could be worth such horrors. If God allowed those things then he was an evil God, and I wanted nothing to do with him.

But then I met some people who seemed unlike the rest of humanity. People who spread light wherever they went. Religious people. I had always thought people like that were rather simple minded or ignorant. Good people, but not very intelligent, maybe. I had always dismissed their fantastic tales, the wild theories with no hard evidence to back them. That was not a direction I had ever thought to consider seriously. I wasn’t like that, all pie-in-the-sky hopeful and willfully blind. I saw the truth, I thought. I faced grim reality, rather than making up pleasant fairy tales with which to comfort myself.

But the people of the light finally opened a tiny chink in my armor of cold rationality. I finally realized that I was hopeless and didn’t have a clue how to live. They seemed so happy and good, though humble and not at all pushy. They always had something to share, some joke or happy story of something that happened in their strong and loving families. My own family had been rather bitter and harsh, at times, and still was. Put-downs were the way it operated, with force and dominance games, and lots of mutual contempt. We constantly butted heads and wills. Not so these families of the light people. Everyone seemed to respect each other in their families and indeed loved each other, showing it constantly in numerous ways.

I was struggling, and they were praying for me. I was warmed by that, though I felt sure they were deluded. Deluded that anyone was listening to their prayers, and surely deluded that there was any hope for a sad case such as myself.

Finally at my darkest hour, I cried out for divine assistance, desperate enough and crazy enough to try, feeling silly and childish, but still calling with all my strength. Somehow it had dawned on me that it was just barely possible that those people were telling the simple truth about where all that power and joy they had was coming from. Somehow I hoped without hoping, believed without believing, enough to cry out for succor with all the energy of my soul.

An answer came instantly. I was calmed, and peace enveloped me. My mind eased. The situation suddenly became not so intolerable after all. I felt unaccountably sleepy. Drying my tears, I went to sleep. Since then the divine presence has never completely left me. I feel it more powerfully at some times than at others. It eventually led me to the church, and into the waters of baptism. From the day of my confirmation, my baptism by fire, the Holy Spirit has not left me entirely. If I ever start to stray or slack off, I know exactly what I need to do to get it back. I pray with my whole heart, read scriptures, strive to follow the commandments to the best of my ability, and I’m again made whole. I’m renewed. I’m healed in spirit and feel peace and that infinite love.

I’m a child again, and the whole world is bright and new, innocent and sweet as a newborn kitten, with all the promise of joy and beauty and solid contentment as that first day of summer back when we were small, when the days and weeks of careless play stretched into the future as far as we could imagine.

So yes, absolutely the gospel was and is unalloyed good news to me. I’m so lucky that I can never forget that truth now. I’m so blessed with this limitless faith. It’s a marvelous gift of life. A well that never goes dry. It’s all the metaphors in the bible, and more. It’s beautiful, plentiful, plain and precious good news.

Submitted by Sister B.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

If Someone As "Regular" As Sheila Could Be a Mormon (Scotland)

An atypically hot summer’s afternoon in a Scottish suburb found me looking curiously through the glass doors of a Mormon Church building. A kindly lady came out and asked if she could help me. I told her I wanted to join the Church, and, seeming a little taken aback (probably feeling a LOT taken aback), she invited me in and introduced me to a young man who she felt would be able to answer any questions I had.

His name was Jim, and he was preparing to serve a mission. His calling as ward librarian had fortuitously brought him to the meetinghouse that day, and he supplied me with copies of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, the last two of which I had been most curious to see for myself.

Some months before, I had started my own personal research project into “Mormonism,” using the resources of the public library system. Books such as The Mormon Story and Meet the Mormons, two publications geared towards nonmembers in the 1960s and ’70s, had given me a reasonable overview of the faith, and I yearned to know more. I consumed Talmage’s Articles of Faith and Jesus the Christ, borrowing every book on the Church that I could find. I was fascinated by the story of Joseph Smith, and unaccountably drawn to photographs of the temples published in some of these books.

My upbringing in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, while giving me a good grounding in Christianity, had not satisfied my spiritual seeking, nor had my investigations into the Baptist Church, or other world religions such as Judaism, although I identified very strongly with the Jewish faith.

That initial contact with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the direct result of the willingness of a family of members to be completely upfront and enthusiastic about sharing their beliefs with everybody they could. I had never met them, but they were a shining example of family life and clean living, excellent ambassadors for the Church and a byword for wholesome, American Mormonism. They were the Osmond family, and many years later I was able to meet their parents in person and thank them for helping me to change my life.

My parents, on the other hand, good, hardworking people, were completely thrown by my interest in this bizarre sect. They knew next to nothing about the Church, and while my father never did show any interest in learning more, my mother was anxious enough about what I was getting into to accompany me to a Sunday School service (yes, this was in the days before the block programme) to see for herself the kind of people that Mormons really were. She was astonished to meet a lady who worked across the street from her own workplace, and who through the years continued to demonstrate to my family everything that was good and positive about the Church. That encounter set my mother’s mind at rest to some degree; if somebody as “regular” as Sheila could be a Mormon, then it would very possibly be safe for me to have something to do with the Church, too.

However, this did not mean that my parents were willing to give their permission for me to be baptized. As I was only 14 at the time, they were naturally concerned for me, but I was equally concerned that here I was, trying to do the right thing and follow the Saviour, and it wasn’t happening. Several sets of missionaries and eighteen months later, the revelation broke upon me that this was, as Sister Dew so succinctly puts it, “only a test.” The Lord was allowing me to wait in order to prove I was sincere about joining his Church. Though countless attempts to persuade my parents to agree to my baptism had failed, I now walked through to the living room, asked them again, and after a short conversation, they signed the necessary paperwork. It was as simple as that.

That evening, a very wet, typically Scottish spring evening, I arrived late for sacrament meeting and was met by one of the missionaries. “How many people are getting baptized this Friday?” I asked him.

“Six,” he replied. (Those were the days, you British folk out there!)

“Make that seven,” I told him, and left him speechless as I went to wring out my raincoat.

That was thirty-three years ago last week, and not once, not even on the toughest of days on my mission in London, did I ever regret my decision to join the Church. From that has come all the things I hold most dear: the gospel of Jesus Christ and my testimony of it, my husband and son, my friends, my health and knowledge, and my understanding of what the Lord wants me to do in this life. The gospel has served as my bedrock, and like no other thing possibly could, it guides me and gives me hope. I love it!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My life and everything has been changed. (India)

I grew up in a life-style that most non-members would consider ordinary. School was a great time that I will never forget and it gives me a different perspective on life having been on both sides of the fence. In high school (Intermediate) at age 16 was an interesting one. I was not much interested in going to church except for (to see) friends. I was attending a Baptist church and C.S.I. (Church of South India). It was the same thing over and over. So I was not very excited in going to any churches. My extended family are all Christians.

My friend from college was talking to me about her church. She had invited me to a Church and introduced me to missionaries. I attended the Church. Missionaries who were from India asked me “you seem very interested in the Church. Is it OK if missionaries come over to your house?” I replied with a yes. They had called me to set up a day and time to meet. There were some problems in the home with my parents, so I had told the Elders if it was OK to meet at the Church.
Few days later they told me to pray about getting baptized, and I did. I felt that good and peaceful feeling to be baptized. Before we did set up a date and time, I had to talk to my parents about it first.
I was talking to my parents about it and, it did not go as well as I hoped. But I felt I should be baptized on March 17 no matter what comes on way. I wanted my friends to be there and take a part of my baptism since my parents were not really happy with my decision.
Because of my friend, she has changed my life in so many ways. Because of her, I can return to my Heavenly Father. Because of her, I can serve my Heavenly Father. Because of her, I found the true Church. Because of her, I found the church that could answer all the questions to my prayers.
My friend met missionaries very interestingly. Her cousin’s brother was interested in collecting different types of dollars from foreigners around the world and they happened to meet the missionaries and my friend was interested to take the discussions. Her mother was Christian and her father was a Hindu so it was very hard on her to join the church. So she secretly joined the church but her parents came to know later.
It was definitely hard for me to be only church member from my family as I did not receive much support initially. But as I kept coming to church my testimony about the church and Book of Mormon was strengthened and was active ever since then. Then, after two years I met this wonderful young man (Praveen Sumarajan) who just returned from his mission. We got married and were sealed in the Hong Kong China temple.
We were sealed on September 20, 2006 in the Hong Kong China temple and it was just the two of us. As it very hard to afford to go we went alone, it was really very hard to save so much money and it required much sacrifice. But nothing is impossible if we have strong desire to go the temple and make covenants. But I am glad we made it. I know that nothing in this world would give so much peace than being in the temple.
My husband joined the LDS church when he was 12 years old. His elder brother joined the church first and then my husband and then his second brother joined. My husband’s parents were from Kerala and they are also Christians. He served his mission from 2001-2003 in India and all three brothers and their families are strong and sealed in temple.
There was one question which always bothered me before joining church. Why am I here? Why did I ever born on this earth? I am happy that the lord answered my questions through THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS.
Ever since that decision which I have taken, my life and everything has been changed. I can say I am truly converted. My attitude towards life has changed. I know the purpose of my life. The Lord has blessed me abundantly in all things and protected me from all dangers of this world for which I am ever grateful to my Heavenly Father. I know that this is the only true church and Jesus is my Savior.

Quoted from "New Author - Sangeetha from India: My Conversion Story" - (As If From the Dust)