Sunday, June 27, 2010

My testimony of the Book of Mormon

I want to share how I found out for myself that the Book of Mormon is true.

In high school I remember hearing repeatedly about the importance of gaining my own "testimony" and not relying on my parent's testimonies or beliefs.  I was encouraged to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it was true.  Obediently, I read and prayed every night to find out for myself if the Book of Mormon really was another testament of Christ.  I'm not sure what I was expecting.  I'd heard of other's experiences gaining a testimony.  They described feeling the holy ghost testify of it's truthfulness to them.  They described feelings of warmth, like a burning in their bosom, others said they felt as if they'd been enveloped in a warm hug.  This seemed foreign to me, but every night I continued, hoping, maybe even expecting something miraculous.  Weeks went by, and then months.  Nothing.  I began to grow skeptical of the book.  "How could it be true?  What are the chances?", I asked skeptically.  I continued to read and pray, but did so with increasing doubts in my heart.

Finally, one afternoon I approached my dad.  I began to cry and said I didn't have a testimony.  "I just don't believe. " He began to laugh.  This caught me by surprise.  How could he laugh when I was being so sincere.  "Michelle, do you really think that Joseph Smith could have written that book?"  Then he began to reason with me.  He explained to me chiasmuses, and how each book contained in the book of mormon has shown evidence of distinct writing styles, indicative of several authors and not one, and he spoke about the little education Joseph Smith had, etc, etc.  My dad reasoned with me in a way that I left asking some of the same questions, but doubt and skepticism were beginning to be replaced by a little spark of faith.  It was a few days later that I would read Alma 32.  I don't think it was a coincidence.

"Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.  Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves- It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me."

As I read this verse, among others in Alma, the spirit ever so gently testified to me that what I was reading was true.  It was a feeling of peace and a feeling that I wanted to know more.  It appealed to me and felt wholesome and good.  It's hard to explain.  The spirit speaks gently, but powerfully.  Even so, my testimony then was so small- a seed that needed nurturing.  I've continued to nurture it.  I've lost track of the times I've read the Book of Mormon- somewhere upwards of 20 times.  Each time my conviction that this book is of God grows.  Each time I grow closer to the Lord.

Currently, I'm studying the Old Testament.  Thirty-four more pages to go.  I've learned a lot.  I've learned to see how the law of Moses pointed to the atonement of Christ.  I've grown to understand and appreciate the temple more.  I've seen the ill effects that happen when people are unwilling to listen to the prophet.  I've seen apostacy and restoration, priesthood and prophecy.  It's been a good experience.  Yet, I must admit, I can't wait to get back to studying the book of mormon as my main scripture study.  The Book of Mormon has helped me come to know the Lord more than anything else I've ever read- new testament included.

One last story- Victoria, Spain.  My mission companion and I went to pay a visit to a girl we had met in the streets that had been interested in learning more about the Book of Mormon and our church.  We knocked on her door.  No answer.  Disappointed, we began to leave the apartment building to head out to the streets.  To our surprise, we found the woman we had been trying to visit.  Veronica was her name.  She was from Peru.  Veronica had been hiding from us.  (It's funny to see what people will do to avoid talking to mormon missionaries- haha).  We were determined to share even a little bit with her.  So there, in the stairwell of this apartment building, we shared a brief overview of how God has always called prophets, but how, as foretold in the Bible, there was an apostacy followed by a restoration of God's church and that God, through Jospeh Smith, restored this church and translated the book of Mormon.  Then we showed her the Book of Mormon and briefly explained that it was a record of an ancient people that lived in the Americas that came from Jerusalem.  They too believed in Christ.  I shared the scripture Moroni 10:3-5.      

"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall 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 ye may know the truth of all things."

As I shared those verses, I felt the need to stress the part about asking with a sincere heart and real intent.  It caught me off guard when she blurted out, what do you mean "verdadera intention" (real intent).  I explained that you sincerely want to know and you're not just reading to read.  Only you and God can know you're true intentions.  We left her with a copy of the Book of Mormon and that promise, but had little hope for her, after all, she had hid from us.

But, Veronica read.  And she didn't just read a few chapters.  She read the whole book, including the index in the back.  And more than that, she read with a sincere heart and real intent.  It was amazing to see the changes that took place in her.  The intimacy in which she prayed changed, her thirst to know more about things of God changed, she desired to be baptized and she began sharing her new found faith with her friends.  She truly had a change of heart.  The Book of Mormon was key in this change.  I've witnessed this in others lives and seen it happen in my own.

I know the Book of Mormon is true.  I know it will help people draw closer to God.  I sometimes think, I don't understand how someone could read this book and not believe it to be from God, but then I remember how I had initially read the book with skepticism.  I would hope that all might be able to read the Book of Mormon with real intent as did Veronica.

Testimony of apostle Jeffrey R. Holland regarding the Book of Mormon  (okay, so for some reason it's linking another message from Jeffrey R. Holland- which is also very good- but just click on the Book of Mormon link video that will be on that same page)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Baby Easton

For those of you that are unaware, my sister Sheena found out that there were some complications with their baby. Through testing they discovered that the baby had a rare condition called triploidy. The baby would not survive and also put Sheena at risk for developing a whole slew of things, including cancer. The doctors said they would need to induce her early.

This past Thursday, being 21 weeks along, Sheena was induced. I told Sheena I would take pictures. They didn't expect the baby to live long, so I got to be in the birth.

It was beautiful to see Sheena's courage and the way Sheena and Bradley pulled together as a couple as they faced this painful experience.

Sheena holding her baby for the first time. It was a tender moment to see the love she had for her new baby.  I still cry every time I see her grief in these pictures.

Baby Easton.  So tiny.  So sweet.  Such a special little spirit.

Payson and Sadie were so anxious to see their new little baby brother, especially Payson. He's talked about this baby with anticipation for months now. Although Bradley and Sheena had tried explaining that the baby would go live with Jesus, I'm not sure they really understood. As they waited outside in the waiting room i suspect they sensed something was wrong. Lynnae & me couldn't hold back tears. Sadie seemed nervous and a little confused as she comforted Lynnae by playing with her ear and giving her a hug.

Sadie and Payson get to see their new little brother for the first time. He's already passed away. I think they were a little confused. Bradley and Sheena said the baby was with Heavenly Father now, yet Payson was holding the baby. Although Sadie and Payson seem like their normal selves, I think there must be some level of comprehension. Sheena says that Payson doesn't ask about baby Easton any more.

Families can be together forever. Until we meet.

Easton Reisner    June 3, 2010

an applicable mormon message video