Hugs for Zaida Van Syckle

IHACD 3 storiesWhen I pray at the end of the day, I always thank my heavenly father for never letting go of me. Most of you here are born into the church. For us giving our testimony, we had to find our way back to our father. That is what I thank him for.  We were not blessed to be born in the truth we came from a world full of many sins and many mistakes. I personally think that I must have loved my heavenly father so much that he gave me the opportunity to find him in this jungle of a world.

I wouldn’t  be here today if it wasn’t for the sisters that first visited me, Sister Roberts and Sister Shank. Later on for Elder Shaw and Elder Norton that have been with me throughout my transformation. The Rasmussen’s family that have been a great support for me and which I cherish with all my heart.  Of course my Heavenly Father that heard my plea on that dark night.

My story began 41 years ago. When I first heard of a loving God in heaven and a creator of all things I was nine years old.  Please don’t do the math to find out how old I am but I think I already gave that information out. When I first learned about God it was from a family of Jehovah witnesses, a girl of my same age. I started going to church and was so passionate about what I learned that I went back home and talked with my mom. In a matter of 3 months, my mom started to go to their church and was converted so of course I grew up in that belief.

As time passed by I started to have deep questions like, what is the purpose of life? Why am I here and the most important question was why did God create Adam and Eve if he knew that they were going to fail and bring all this pain and misery upon us?

I asked these questions to my mother and to the elders of the congregation but never got a real answer. They would say, “Why are you trying to think like God?  It is his will of why and we cannot think like him because his thoughts are not our thoughts.”

That would leave me more confused so I stopped asking questions. I grew into an adult, got married had two children (my son Robert, who is in Puerto Rico and my daughter Jandy, whose here with me). Later on, they baptized me. Shortly after that, my marriage failed. Then I met my recent husband. I became pregnant with my 3rd child, Jonathan, and because I was not yet married I got disfelowedshiped from Jehovah witness.

We got married and made a new life. However, I never decided to go back to them but I still loved God and had him in my heart. In addition, I want to mention that Jehovah witness do not believe that we have a soul. They believe that when we die we just go to our grave until resurrection day.

Since I was missing God in my life, I went to a Christian church for a little while after Jonathan was born. However, not much of a believer, I could not completely get in my heart and head that we have a soul or anything else for that matter so I stopped going to church.

My life continued normally until October 11 of 2011 when tragedy hit my home. That was the day we lost Jonathan at the age 15 to suicide. We witnessed his death. He died in my husband’s arm as he was following the 911 operator’s directions. There was not much he could have done because it was a shotgun bullet to the head. There was a lot of damage. Nevertheless, he was still alive and he was trying to say something. It was a very weak mumble and then he took a deep breath and he was gone.

When I came to realize what had happened I fell into shock. It was a horrifying experience. It’s really something I do not speak of much because I hate to relive that day. I can sincerely say that when my son died that morning so did I. My heart was ripped out of my chest and I fell into a deep depression, all I had left was sorrow and heartache.

Then the strangest things started to happen. When I was in despair, crying for my baby boy, I would feel his presence. I would feel his touch on my face kind of whipping the tears away. I would feel his hands around my arms the way he use to hug me when he was alive. At that moment, I started to believe with all my heart that we do have a soul and there is more to this life and more after it.

I started to go back to church trying to make things right with God. Trying to amend my sins and trying to please my Father because I wanted to see my son again. I wanted to have hope and closure. I kept going to the Christian church for about a year or so.  Then the emptiness and the questions came back. What is the purpose of this entire life of mine, why did my son have to die, why did God allow this to happen?

Then to make things harder, I started to think with so many religions out there who knows where God really is? Which one is the one and true religion if they all claim to be the truth and the way? In addition, at this point of my life the big question surfaced once again. Why did God create all of this if this is nothing but pain and misery? I stopped going to church and gave up any hope.

I went back into the depression I was in, unhappy no joy, wanting to die. For two and a half years my life was nothing but pain and suffering. As a matter of fact, when I did have a good day and someone or something would make me laugh I would stop myself thinking how dare I laugh and have any kind of fun when my son was dead. I chose to be in the dark and not even try to get out of it.

However, as the story goes, one night I was in my deepest darkest place in my mind. I was thinking how little God cared for me. How much he did not even see my pain. How lost he felt to me, how far. I was planning to commit suicide that night. I just couldn’t feel better or happy. What was the point of living like this? Then my little grandson and my family came to mind. They were suffering the loss as much as I was so why would I increase their pain? I just couldn’t do it. Instead, I went down on my knees and I prayed to God this way.

Father, I just cannot do this anymore. I do not want to live like this any longer. I don’t have any happiness and to top it off  I cannot find you. I want to be with you where you are but there are too many religions out there it is too confusing to me to find you on my own.  If you love me or care for me please find me, help me. I will do what you ask of me if you find me because I cannot bare this on my own any longer.

That night I went to bed crying as usual. The very next day I was coming from work and as I was pulling into my garage. As I got out of my car I saw three young girls getting out of their car with such great smiles and waving like they were in a pageant contest. At first my thought was that they were Jehovah witness but as the approached me I saw their badges and realized that they were Mormons (REALLY GOD, MORMONS?)

Then they started to talk about God’s love for us and how important his children are to him. They asked me if I wanted to hear more about this message, in my mind I was woooow, I better listen to these girls because it seems like God is trying to say something to me. This is an answer to what I just prayed to him last night, so as such I better give them a chance.

Before I continue, I have to tell you how skeptical I was when it came to Mormons. What did I think of them? Weird weird. WEIRD! Who baptizes dead people? When I heard that the first time, I was thinking literally a dead body sunk into water. Come on you have to give me some credit here, be honest, if you were thinking the way I was it would be very weird. Who would not freak out at that?

However, I accepted the invitation for another visit. That was not too far away. Elder Shaw and Elder Soloai were knocking on my door the next day. I almost missed them because I was not home. I got there just on time to see them and I asked if they could come another day because it was a little late and not a good time. We agreed on another day and they were there right on time. They explained to me God’s plan and they talked about the prophets of these days. It was interesting to me, but I had to ask why they baptized the dead I had to get that out my head in order to keep having them come to my house, they did.

Now it makes  sense, as a matter of fact we are in the process of baptizing my son Jonathan, not so weird now.

The elders would come to my house and answer all my questions and concerns I had. I would ask them not to answer from the Book of Mormon because I was not such a big fan of it, I wanted all my questions answered from the Bible since that was the only book I knew that speaks the truth of God.  I wanted to know where in the bible it says there are 3 heavens and where in the world did they get the fact that we had a pre-existing life. I read the bible many times and I did not ever read that.

They would come next visit and make me read it myself so I could hear myself out loud. (Smart kids) Every time they left, I wanted to know more and more, I was impressed. Still today when they come for my lessons I do not want them to leave and I want to talk more about it. However, I cannot be selfish. There are many people to teach out there.

They invited me to go to church and I accepted. What really caught my attention was the class with the gospel principals. I browsed through pages and I saw a picture of Adam and Eve and it left me intrigued. That night I downloaded the app for that book, I started to read it, and the most amazing thing happened to me. As I was reading Heavenly Father 1 and Heavenly Father 2 and the Plan of Salvation, the answer to the question of why God created us in the first place was answered. I felt his embrace. That darn question that no one could give me an answer to for 40 years was finally answered. For the first time I cried with joy instead of sorrow. I finally saw my Father for the first time. All the pieces of the puzzles came together and was solved. I could see and understand everything so clearly. The blindfold that I had around my eyes all my life was removed.

I am going to share a personal thought:  I am  sure we all see our Heavenly Father differently, but this is the way I see him: Picture a loving dad holding his 2 sons. The one on the right hand is the one that grew in the church. Always obediently  following him and not letting go. The one on the left is the one converted. That one on is fidgeting trying to pull out of his hand because he wants to climb that nice fence and the tall tree. The father says you’re going to get hurt son. Stay with me. He keeps on going with the fisting and the fidgeting so the father lets  go. He reminds him of the consequences. The kid goes on and climbs the tree, the fence, and everything else he can. Then to the ground, he falls and gets hurt. As he sees his knees bleeding, he comes back crying to his father. The loving Father grabs him, cleans his wounds, cares for them and they heal. This is my experience. I went and climbed, and did things. Bad things and good things, but at the end I got hurt very bad. I went on crying to my father showing him my wounds. He, with his love and compassion cleaned my wounds, cared for them and healed them. 2 and half years ago I would go to bed crying and praying for him to let me die.

The next day I would wake up and think of my little boy and all the disturbing images. That is how I started my day, down, depressed no hope sometimes no feelings. No care for the world or for myself.  Now I wake up, the first image in my head is heavenly father, and I say thank you Father for another day with my family and here with all the amazing people I have learned to love. For you investigators I would say you could have that. If you really want to have joy and peace in your life and your heart no matter what your burdens may be you can have it. All you have to do is want it and ask heavenly father, he will answer you as he answered me.

This is my testimony and I close this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen


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  1. Thank you for all the support, it sure lifts my spirit up and gives motivation to keep on going.

  2. Thank you for sharing! I just got back from a four day vacation without our three sons. As I waved good-bye to them, it felt like I was leaving three parts of my heart behind — and I only had to say goodbye for four days!
    Later that day in the temple, tears ran freely down my cheeks as I thought of all the mothers who had to say goodbye to their sons (and/or daughters), not knowing when (or maybe even if) they would ever be reunited. What I had felt was just a small portion of that pain. And I was so grateful to be able to participate in sacred ordinances that would reunite them!! Your story reminded me of those impressions. 🙂
    Your story is beautiful, and I’m so grateful you shared it. Love to you!

  3. I’ve been a member all my life! I have a brother that committed suicide, I have severe depression, I have had a recent tragedy, and I’ve been suicidal at times.

    1. This is a continuation…iPad did not cooperate!:(
      As I was saying… You are an angel to me, you don’t know how much this touched me today! You’ve strengthened my testimony by sharing yours! I know Heavenly Father knows us and loves us. I know the Savior atoned for our pains! I know families can be together forever! Thank you for sharing your story! It is so deep and personal! Huge hugs to you!

  4. I’m so sorry about your son Jonathan.
    What a personal story, thank you for sharing. I especially love how you felt him and knew he was there with you…so neat!

  5. Thank you for sharing something so incredibly deep and personal. You must be so valiant and have an important work yet to do here that Heavenly Father would send you missionaries the very next day! And what awesome missionaries listening to the Spirit!! I love the analogy of the Father and two sons.

  6. Wow! Heavenly Father seeks for all of us to find Him. What a beautiful reunion with God. Thank you so much for sharing. You have added such a sweet spirit to my day.

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