Finding Faith

As a child, I always knew there was a God. I knew there was something or someone who was looking over me. Growing up in a home where religion or God was not talked about, I could still always feel His presence. However, I never knew what our Heavenly Father had prepared for me in life!

At the age of 15, my home life had deteriorated to nothing at all. There were drugs, and abuse abounded. I knew that there was something more in life, and I wanted out. I prayed and prayed to God that if He would elevate me from my current position in life, I would always try to serve him. One week before my 16th birthday, that prayer was answered. I was adopted by a family in Sandy, Utah. They took me in as one of their own children and saved my life. I was introduced to the church and quickly gained a testimony of its truthfulness. My life completely turned around. It was a miracle!

I know that all of this was possible because of faith! I knew even amidst all of the craziness of life that there was a God and he knew me. I don’t know how I knew. It was just something that I felt. If we put faith in our Heavenly Father and allow him to bless our lives, he will! All we need to do is ask in faith!

Andre Rainey

Freedom From Mistakes

I had an experience on my mission that I will never forget.  I was in the city of Dandenong, Australia. It was a cold and rainy day.  We had tracted all day and had not found much success so we looked forward to our dinner of fish and chips; they taste soBegging good in Australia.  We bought our meal wrapped in brown paper and went to sit down on a bench.  The warmth of the food and the smell made our mouth water with anticipation. Just as we were ready to eat a homeless man, smelling of alcohol and looking very hungry, came over to ask for money for food.  We had spent all of our money and told him so.  We also judged him as one who would spend the money for alcohol so we really did not want to give him any money even if we had any.  He left in a hurry looking embarrassed.  As we sat there, we both realized we could have given him our food!  We did not feel like eating our dinner after this and we got up and looked for him to give him our food.  But he was nowhere to be found.  I thought of the scripture that said people “entertain angels unawares” and felt we had been tested to see if we were truly the Lord’s disciples. As we went to people’s homes that night to teach them about the gospel, we did not feel like His representatives at all.  I will never forget the heart-felt prayers I said that night asking for forgiveness.  I vowed that night that if anyone ever asked me for money for food, I would give them food.  I was grateful for the experience I had a year later when I was visiting San Francisco with friends. A homeless man came BeggingAppleup to me, again smelling of alcohol, and asked for spare change for food.  I did not hesitate at all, even with his alcohol smell, but I immediately jumped at the chance to help him – I think this startled him. We went to a local convenience store and I bought him an apple and some cheese.  He was thankful for the food.  I was grateful for this opportunity to be free of the guilt I felt for that mistake I had made in Australia as a missionary.  Repentance is a great blessing and I am thankful for the gospel, which helps me to be free from the guilt that comes from making mistakes.

Sara Staker

Scripture Study

I like to get up early in the morning and study my scriptures. I find my mind is a lot more clear at that time, and I like starting my day off with something spiritual. I feel it helps my day go smoother, also. I can’t think of a specific incident while reading the scriptures that would be considered a big spiritual experience, but the scriptures seem to testify of their truthfulness over and over again to me. There’s an app I like to use called “My Daily Book of Mormon Devotional.” I also use “The Gospel Study Series,” by David J. Ridges. They really help me in my studying.

I try to read a conference talk after reading my scriptures also. A talk that has had an impact on me is Elder Holland’s talk “None Were With Him.” It’s probably my favorite. Another one that really helps me is Elder Christofferson’s talk on trials called “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten.” It’s a good one to listen to or read often.

I remember the first time I saw the “Praise to the Man” movie at the Legacy Theater. It was so powerful! I don’t think there was a dry eye there. It made my faith and testimony in Joseph Smith grow so much!

I have a testimony that I know if we read and study our scriptures and study the words of our prophet and apostles that they can help with the problems we our having in our daily lives.

Julie Pehrson

Personal Study

About 2 years ago, I was really struggling with some personal things going on in my life.  Prayer has always been difficult for me not because I didn’t believe in it I have just never had those great experiences you hear people talk about where they just felt the Savior’s arms around them while praying.  I have never experienced that.  But I knew that I needed to get some answers to some questions and help how to deal with the issues I was having.  I started for the first time really in my life being very diligent about praying and reading my scriptures every day.  I had never done it consistently I would pray here and there or read my scriptures here and there but never had been consistent every day.

As I began to study and pray, and not just read to get through it but really try to understand what I was reading, I couldn’t believe the difference of things that I was able to understand and actually retain or how something would jog my memory of another scripture, it was amazing!   For the first time in my life I finally completed the Book of Mormon!  And I actually had a desire to keep reading so then I read the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price too.  I couldn’t believe it, I had never been able to do that before but something had changed.  I don’t know if it was because I was earnestly trying and needing so much help from my Father in Heaven that I was able to do it but it was wonderful.  I have since slacked off again and I notice the difference, why I can’t keep on rolling is a question I am still wrestling with in my own head, but when I reflect back to that time and how I was really trying to study how the answers came so clear and prayers were answered I know it was because I was doing what needed to be done.  Although Heavenly Father and our Savior already know what we are dealing with it is our responsibility to go to them in prayer and to study and to ask for that help.  They are there and they are willing we just need to do our part, so as I have tried to apply that in my own personal study I have seen the blessings that come from it.  I am grateful that each day we get to start new.  I fail daily on so many levels but the knowledge that I can start again and just a little harder the next day keeps me going, and that is all that they expect of us is to just keep trying, never giving up.

I love the quote by Elder Jeffrey R Holland that says “Don’t you quit.  You keep walking, you keep trying there is help and happiness ahead.”  My testimony is simple of personal study, it works if we just keep trying and applying the principles that we learn while studying and the blessings are there we just need to ask.

Kristie Ison

Memories of the Atonement

I grew up in upstate New York. Occasionally during the winter we would have ice storms. Everything would be coated with a thick layer of ice. The year when I was in kindergarten or first grade, we had one of those storms. The school bus dropped me off at the end of our driveway. Our driveway was a fairly steep hill. I tried to walk up the driveway to the house, but every time I did I slipped on the ice and slid back down.  It didn’t take long for me to become frustrated and scared. I didn’t think I would ever get to the house. My older brother came to my rescue.  He knew if he stayed where the snow was deep he could break through the ice crust and get where he wanted to go. He scooped me up and carried me to the house. To me, this is a lot like the atonement. We all have things in life that we can’t handle by ourselves – sin, grief, pain, etc. – and our Savior, (our big brother) is there to help. He carries us over and helps us through the things we can’t navigate by ourselves.

Pam Allen

SnowHill

My testimony of the Atonement was strengthened and solidified as I studied my scriptures and was able to bear testimony of the purpose of the Atonement on my mission. I acquired a picture which is now inside the front cover of my scriptures. It is of the Savior standing by a door without a handle. This has brought many thoughts to my mind. First, the Savior is standing at our door, but if we fail to open the door at His knock He will not be able to help us. I testify that the Savior will never leave our door.  He will always be there; it is our responsibility to invite Him into our life. The Atonement is the same. The Savior has paid the price for you and me. We need to make the Atonement effective in our lives by inviting Him in and applying those principles of the Atonement. The Atonement is not only for our wrongs, but for the wrongs people commit against us, and for every pain and suffering we may have. It is truly a blessing to have a loving Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, to turn to and always know that they are there to help us and comfort us in any trial we may face.

Kevin Allen

jesus-at-the-door

A Family of Service

As children, we learned about joy. True joy can be found in loving and serving others. We pulled our red wagon around collecting Sub for Santa donations for years. One year, we collected enough for three station wagon loads!

My sister has been battling cancer for ten years. One family took soup to her every Monday night for a year. Heather told them she was feeling a bit better and didn’t “need” it at one point. Her neighbor said that her own family “needed” to do it because she noticed a lack of charity in her own family. Each of her four teenagers was in charge of buying ingredients, making, and delivering soup one week a month, boys included. Grumbling turned to joy as they served, and they actually looked for others to serve as well. One neighbor towed his trailer with a fully stocked fridge to Willard Bay so Heather’s family could have a three-day vacation after one of her many hospital stays. Even my sister found a way to serve. After her four-hour chemo sessions (five days a week for the first week of every month for three and a half years), she would often take a ward member in for a chemo session immediately after her own. Her doctor was astounded.

My brother Bryce always served others with his many talents and friendship to those seeming to be left out by others. Our family motto was “All for one and one for all” and our family truly lived it. My dad once bought tires for a down-and-out family we met on vacation, knowing they couldn’t pay him back. Bryce was like my dad. So many people have helped me because they say they could never pay Bryce back. They will pay him back by fixing my car or things outside. As sick as he was, Bryce still served me. I found his bucket list. Every line on two pages was for me. He supervised while his friends did for me what he could not do.

Through this time, I have been the recipient of the pure love of God – charity. Moroni states in Ether 12:33-34 that Christ loved us even to the laying down of his life for the world. Then he states, “Now I know that this love which thou has for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity, they cannot inherit that place thou has prepared in the mansions of thy Father.”                               

Heidi Jensen

The Power of Forgiveness

I come from a long line of grudge-holders. Sadly, my Grandma didn’t attend her own brother’s funeral because of a long previous offense that she couldn’t even recall. I have learned that holding grudges and withholding forgiveness feels a lot like carrying around a backpack full of heavy rocks. It sounds ridiculous to carry such a burden around unnecessarily, but when we choose not to forgive others the weight can be felt both physically as well as spiritually and emotionally. As we forgive others, we literally feel lighter as we toss off the burden of carrying around those “rocks.” As we try to become more like our Savior and learn by his forgiving example, we will enjoy the peace and light that comes through forgiveness.

Wendy Condie

Family Forgiveness

My experience of learning about forgiveness came with my father’s untimely death.  My father and I had a 13-year silence.  I would call him on his birthday and holidays, but not really in between. He came to town every few years, and he would come to say hi to his grandchildren.  However, he never was interested in my life or my children. He caused me so much pain in my youth that I thought I could never really truly love him.

When I found out that my dad was dead, I had so many emotions take over me.  There was never any closure.  I never got the apologies I deserved!  I never got to apologize for what I had done.  Well, God took that experience and made it beautiful.  I was able to find love and forgiveness for my father.  I was even able to talk to my stepmom after his death and honestly held no malice for him or her for the hell I went through as a child with them.

I have learned how freeing it is to choose love over hate.  How freeing it would have been for my dad had I ever been able to express that to him.  How different things would have been.  But it was the way God wanted it.  I learned a beautiful lesson out of something so horrible.  I never leave any fight without apologizing.  I never let someone who has hurt me or someone I have hurt go away without some closure.  It is so important to forgive and move on.  It is God’s job to judge.  It is our job to love.

Amanda Richmond

Family Tithing

In 1995 Angie decided to go back to church making sure our kids were brought up with good standards. At this time I was still offended and wanted nothing to do with any of it, so I did not participate. We had our struggles on and off just like any other marriage would have about money, what to do for entertainment purposes. Money always seemed to be a factor, there just was never enough for what we wanted to do. So we did like everyone else, play first then pay the bills with what was left, didn’t work out so well. So we decided to switch up who paid the bills. So one of us would pay for a while, and then the other would pay for a while, that way we both knew where the money went, not to mention getting a break from all the stress of paying the bills. No matter how hard we tried or which part of the year, it seemed like there just wasn’t enough money to go around.

In 1998 the brains of our outfit came up with this idea of paying tithing, yeah right, we don’t have enough to pay our bills and you want to give ten percent to the church, that by the way offended me back in the 80’s. Yeah still wasn’t over it. Well Angie started paying our tithing and low and behold what happened. It was a miracle, we were able to survive with what we had. We have not missed the money that we pay in tithing. And the blessings have never stopped. We have a wonderful home, healthy kids, (even Braden as many times as he has been to the hospital and can still function with all the breaks and sprains), best of all we were able to pay the hospital bills, we have our own business and everything else we need. This life lesson has helped me grow in the ward and the church.

-Jeff Parish

Not Room Enough to Receive

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  (Malachi 3:10)

I really like the idea of giving my tithing without knowing exactly where the money will go because I trust our church leaders to disseminate it to the right people and places.  I also am always interested and excited to see how the blessings will manifest, even though I do think a lot of those blessings aren’t always recognizable as related to tithing. I’ve had a lot of blessings come my way—and I definitely to attribute those to tithing. I’m not sure who said this, but I have always appreciated the saying, “You pay your tithing with faith, not with money.”

At one point when I was living in Spring City after my divorce, money was really tight.  One day, there was a knock on the door. My bishop was there w/ several bags full of freshly butchered and wrapped pork and beef. He was a farmer and had just butchered those animals. He asked if I could use the meat. “YES!” was my answer. The funny part was that I literally did not have “enough room to receive it”! (Malachi 3:10).  There was A LOT of meat, and I only had a tiny freezer—I had to get several different neighbors to store some of it in their freezers until I could use it, and there was plenty to share that bounty with them, too. I used that experience as an object lesson w/ my children about tithing and the promises of that wonderful scripture from Malachi.

Another time, when I had moved to a different house and the bishopric had shifted to a new bishop and counselors, I was going through a really hard time (both financially and physically). One day, just minutes after I’d been on my knees and had offered up a big prayer about my situation, there was a knock on my front door. When I opened it, the entire bishopric was standing on my front porch! I thought to myself, “Thanks, God, for sending out the whole brigade!” They had been driving around the neighborhood, with freshly butchered and wrapped beef from a cow that had been donated to the ward. They had been seeking inspiration from the Lord inspiration as to who could use the blessing, and they felt moved to come to my house. They asked me if I wanted the meat, and of course I said “Yes!” They also gave me a beautiful Priesthood blessing before they left, and that helped tremendously with my physical condition.

These two examples may seem to be only temporal ways in which I have been blessed, but the truth is, both experiences strengthened my faith and also my testimony of tithing.

-Alyssa Wolf

Testimony of Christ

On a beautiful fall day, a child came to this earth to begin her mortal journey, coming to gain all types of experiences of her own. This little girl was me, Anita. I was born of loving parents. They taught me the value of the gospel, hard work, and unconditional love. As most of you know, you may be taught the gospel, but you will have the opportunity to gain your own testimony of the gospel through those experiences that you have. I was no different. I was raised in the mission field in Daytona Beach, Florida, where I was exposed to many different beliefs, which I believe was a good thing. We had family prayer twice a day, Family Home Evening every Monday night, Relief Society on Tuesday, MIA (young women) on Wednesday, Primary on Thursday, school activities on Friday, and on Saturday we had church activities. Sunday was a day of worship, twice a day. We were never allowed outside to play on that day. We never had a big meal on Sunday. We always seemed to have peanut butter and jelly with potato chips for dinner. My mom cooked our big meal on Saturday night. As you can see, our days were filled with great opportunities. We were taught at an early age to choose between the good, better, and best. I loved my youth and the firm foundation it laid for my future. I flew out to BYU the week I graduated from high school and found myself away from my family for the first time in my life. That is where I truly believe my testimony grew. I then got married and found myself slipping away from the church, yet I always knew the gospel was true. I wanted to raise my three children the same way I had been raised. I wanted them to know about our Savior’s love and atoning sacrifice. I wanted them to know that things never needed to be hopeless and that there was always someone who loved them. I know that Christ loves me and knows what is going on in my life. I know that the experiences I have are for my own good and will make me a stronger person, drawing me closer to my Savior and giving me empathy towards others. I know that this is Christ’s church. He is the head, the leader, and oversees what is going on. I know that he atoned for my sins and he loves me no matter what. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who also knows me and loves me. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of the restoration. He translated the Book of Mormon. This book was written for our day; it was written for us. It is another testament of Jesus Christ.  We have a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who leads and guides us. This life is for us to prove ourselves so we may return home to our loving Heavenly Father. I love the statement that we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, not earthly beings having a spiritual experience. We will have the opportunity to return home and stand face to face with our Lord and redeemer, Jesus Christ. He loves us and wants us to be happy. These things I say in the name of Jesus Christ Amen

-Anita Hill

Christmastime

At Christmastime, we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we do many things that are symbolic of his long-prophesied coming to earth. We read the story of his birth in the bible, of Mary and Joseph, of the journey to Bethlehem, of the manger, the angels singing, the shepherds coming to see Him, the wise men and King Herod, and then the little family’s escape to Egypt.

In our family, we have a little nativity that we get out that our kids have played with over and over since they were tiny and also a nativity puzzle that has been put together ten thousand times or more. I marvel at how good it makes me feel every time I see those worn toys come out of the big Christmas box, the many memories that flood my mind, the peace that fills my soul, and the love fills my heart. I know that Jesus came to this earth, He lived a perfect life, and He showed us the way to gain eternal lives, how we should love one another, and how we can return to our father in Heaven. And so, every year at this time, I find myself humming Happy Birthday to the little wooden babe in the manger.

-John McClellan

Sister Barbara Honey

First Couples Mission, 1991-1992 Sister Barbara Honey and her husband Leon went on a mission to the San Paolo, Brazil mission where her brother was the Mission President. They sold their home in order to be able to go on that mission. There were also many miracles that transpired that allowed them to go.

Brother Honey was the financial secretary, and Sister Honey was the executive secretary. Their whole mission was spent in the office. They learned Portuguese and were in that mission for a year and a half. Sister Honey took care of the missionary information board, wrote transfer letters, and helped write letters from the Mission President to the parents of missionaries.

One of the interesting things that happened on the mission was that Brother Honey was asked to take all of his piano tuning tools with him to Brazil, and once there, he tuned all of the pianos in the San Paolo mission. He had the skill, and the local people would have had no way of getting the pianos tuned otherwise because of the expense. Sister Honey said that the traffic in San Paolo was wild. If there wasn’t room on the side of the road where people were driving, they would cross into the lanes for oncoming traffic to go forward! She never drove–she was the navigator and used a guide book to help find the way around the mission district.

Sister Honey enjoyed the missionaries. She also enjoyed the flowers in San Paolo, where there were “bougainvilleas that were every shade of color you can imagine.”

Second Couples Mission, 2000-2002 Sister and Brother Honey went together on their second mission to the Denver Colorado South Mission. They were in Woodland Park, Colorado the whole time. She said it was beautiful there at 8,000 foot elevation.

The mission in Colorado was strictly a proselyting mission. Sister Honey remembers one family in particular with which they used pictures to teach the lessons to a nine-year-old boy. Eventually, the whole family returned to church. She also remembers a woman who had had a stroke. She and Brother Honey used to read the Book of Mormon with her. Eventually, they were able to go to the Temple with her when she went for the first time.

Many miracles happened along the way throughout the time of their mission. One was when they really needed more money and Sister Honey’s sister-in-law sent $1,000 to help them. Sister Honey felt really blessed by that.

Sister Honey loved her missions–she has very fond memories of those times in her life

Service Story

I signed up to clean the church one Saturday in April and little did I know that doing that service would change my life.  I had recently purchased my Grandma’s house, and I was finally able to have access to all the rooms in the basement. I was working on trying to get my basement cleaned and finished so I could move the kids down there.  My first step was to enlarge the windows so it didn’t seem like such a dark and gloomy hole.  I needed help with that and couldn’t seem to find anyone until the Saturday when I went to clean the church.  Kevin and his mom were also there cleaning, and I told his mom about my dilemma. She introduced me to Kevin, and he said he could help.   He unselfishly gave of his time and talents and helped me with my house.  It was the beginning of a great friendship that became more—a marriage.  Kevin came into my kids’ and my life just when we needed him. He has been an example of service and love for both my kids and me.

-Amy Watts

Family Sabbath

As our family has grown, we have looked to see the things that we can do to better keep the Sabbath day holy.

Here are a few of our ideas. We try not to watch television on Sunday unless it is a church- based program or videos about the Savior. We  ask the children not to go online except to lds.org or to do genealogy. We want to fill Sunday with things that would honor the Savior and learning to think of and serve others. We do our best to fill some of the time with genealogy and stories of our ancestors.

As our children grow, they must choose for themselves, but we can give them patterns to follow. Hopefully, they will build family traditions that will bless their families also. We know that we have received many blessings from obeying the law of the Sabbath.

There is a highway that runs alongside of our home; everyday it is very busy and loud. We do notice on Sunday that the road is quiet. We liken that to the fact that on every other day of the week, our lives are very busy with worldly things. On the Sabbath, our lives and attitudes should be different and special, more quiet and reverent.

-Todd and Angie Jorgensen Family

Sabbath Story

I was 12 years old and had just obtained my small-game hunting license.  I was so excited to go hunting ring neck pheasants with my father, brother, and cousins.  We hunted all Saturday morning and evening. Many pheasants were taken, but I had not been able to shoot my first pheasant.  Sunday morning came, and I went out to feed the horses.  There in our field was a big rooster pheasant.  I ran and got my shotgun.  As I got ready to harvest my first pheasant, the thought that came to me was “This is the Sabbath Day and our family does not hunt on Sunday!”  I went back in the house and put my shot gun away. Even though I wanted to shoot my first ring neck pheasant, I knew I had made the right choice to observe the Sabbath by not hunting.

-Bishop Troy Jorgensen