By Bonnie Howell
For many years I studied the Bible out of concern for my own personal salvation and hoping that I would find the answer to many of life’s questions. You know those questions, Why am I here? Why am I me? Where was I before I was born? And most importantly, Where am I going?
I remember asking these questions when I was 10 yrs old. By the time I was an adult, I attended many churches and became aware of the vast differences in church doctrines. I was convinced that somewhere on this earth there was a church that taught all of the gospel, not just part of it, the same Gospel that Christ taught. After all, how could all churches be entirely true and differ in doctrine?
I investigated religions and attended various churches. Out of frustration and desperation, I prayed an earnest and sincere prayer to my Heavenly Father. I asked Him to show me where the true church was. The next day, two missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to my door bearing a copy of the Book of Mormon offering it to me for free.
My first reaction was “Oh, you’re delivering it to me in person!” You see, I had already ordered the Book of Mormon but had not received it yet. It did not occur to me at that instant that these young men did not know my physical address since I received my mail at a post office box in a nearby town.
They looked at each other confused and informed me that I was not on their list of people who had requested the Book of Mormon. Then I explained to them that I had ordered the Book of Mormon not once, but twice within the past 3 months and had still not received it. I invited them in and agreed to take discussions to learn about the church.
To this day, almost 17 yrs later, I have still not received my Book of Mormon in the mail. All that study and prayer had prepared me to receive the missionaries and, you see, Heavenly Father was just waiting for me to come to Him in prayer to find out where the true church was.
When I read the Book of Mormon, I cried tears of joy because the Spirit whispered to me and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was reading true scripture, written by prophets thousands of years ago, just like in the Bible.
In fact, the Book of Mormon supported the Bible. Ezekiel 37:16-22 explains that two records would be kept, one for the tribe of Judah, which is the Bible, and one for the tribe of Joseph, whose descendants traveled to what is now the Americas and which is the Book of Mormon. John 10:15-16 testifies of this group of people whom Jesus referred to as his “other sheep”. Is. 56:8 speaks of “others” that the Lord will gather unto Him.
My favorite scripture reads, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)” I did just that.
I found the Book of Mormon and the Bible to be true and sacred and I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on September 30, 1990 and immediately afterwards received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those having authority.
Since my baptism, I have been blessed tremendously, both spiritually and temporally. I have never known such peace. I have been placed in many callings which have helped me to overcome many personal obstacles.
My self-esteem has shot “through the roof”! I am now not afraid of public speaking because I have been asked to give many talks before a congregation. I am an effective teacher, something that I never knew I could or would ever be.
I have taught Relief Society lessons, Primary, Young Women, and Sunday School. I had not played the piano for years before joining the Church. The day of my baptism, I arrived early, sat down at the piano and began to play “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” and “Israel, Israel, God is Calling”.
Within minutes, the meeting room was full and I was playing for a congregation. I immediately received the calling as Branch Pianist, although I received less than 2 years of formal instruction as a child, I was 37 years old and had not played a piano in over 10 yrs.
I sometimes think back to when I was 10 yrs old when my parents gave me a small table top organ for Christmas. 27 years later, when we built the 2nd phase onto our meetinghouse, it included a beautiful organ and I clearly understood that I was prepared for this calling from an early age.
Someone not aware of my conversion commented there was something ‘different’ about me, “Bonnie, you must be living right. The Lord must really be with you.” . A stranger said I looked “as if I were at peace with myself”. I knew that ‘difference’ was the Holy Spirit.
I testify to you that I know Jesus is the Christ, my Savior and my Redeemer, that He has a Prophet today who leads and guides his church and that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the word of God. I know that under Heavenly Father’s plan that the family unit can continue throughout eternity.
And thanks to the missionaries who taught me I now have the answer to those questions that plagued me many years ago.
If you are wondering how you can have this much peace in your life, just remember the next time two young men in dark suits and white shirts come knocking at your door. Talk to them and find out for yourself.