After our first year away at college, we were both back in our hometown and his dad, who owned a construction company, asked if I wanted to work for him that summer. We had one job that was in a town about 5 hours away and I was driving up with his dad, Steve. Steve is also a convert, and he loves to preach, and to talk, and to preach some more. So there I was, trapped in this truck for five hours. Steve started talking about Joseph and the coat of many colors, then about the wind turbines on the side of the road, then he told me about when he was a cowboy down in Texas, and then we were back in in the Old Testament and that’s about how that drive went.
One night we were back in the hotel and Steve started to tell me about this young boy, who was just 14. He told me about how he saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I remember that it seemed odd to me, but it stuck. I returned home at the end of that trip and remembered that I had a copy of the Book of Mormon on a shelf at home. I received that copy as a gag gift from another non-member friend of mine. I never threw it away because it always felt weird to do so. It wasn’t special to me, but I grew up in a religious house and thought that I wouldn’t want someone to just throw the Bible away, so I kept it. And now I was reading it.
I started at the beginning, but it didn’t make any sense, so I thought I would try reading from the end, but that didn’t help any either. It seemed to me that every important person was named after another important person. I texted my friend and asked him about Nephi and Lehi and if they knew Mormon and Moroni. I think he was a little confused about how I knew those names, but he told me a little about it and encouraged me to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.
So that’s what I did. I know that I didn’t understand a thing about it, but I kept reading. I eventually asked Porter what I needed to do next and he said that I needed to meet with the missionaries. I got their number from him and called them up. I said, “My name is Kyle and I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon and I just have a few questions and I was wondering if we could meet.” They quickly said yes and we had our first appointment scheduled.
I came to the church building and I was either a few minutes early or they were a few minutes late, or both. A mother of another friend was there and asked me about what I was doing at the church at night. I told her I was just meeting with the missionaries and now I fully understand the reason for the look and smile on her face. The missionaries came in and we started talking.
I really don’t remember specifically most of what they taught me, but I remember them asking me to be baptized. I had been baptized when I was a baby, but I remember seeing baptism by immersion in a church we went to in high school. I had a desire to get baptized because I wanted to be submerged. I don’t know why that was the feeling that I had, but I did. But about my junior year of high school, I decided that I didn’t need any religion in my life so I was never baptized again. I don’t remember much in detail about what the missionaries said when they taught me, but they asked me to be baptized and I knew that’s what I was supposed to do.
One of the few things that I remember from their lessons was about eternal families. When I was 13, my dad passed away from pancreatic cancer, and I remember feeling angry about it. I felt that it was unfair that I had to lose my dad and have to do everything without him. I saw other families and longed for me dad to be back. One lesson, Elder Hancock looked me in the eyes and testified that families can be together forever. I knew from that moment that I would see my dad again, and that just because he was gone from me right now, he was not gone forever.
The lessons continued and one day I was at work thinking about my baptism. The thought came to me, “If I get baptized, will I serve on a mission?” When I though about that, I had one of the biggest spiritual confirmations of my life. I described it as a “warm whoosh” to my missionaries, and now I know that it was the Lord through the Holy Ghost telling me to serve. So about a month and a half after I started meeting with the missionaries, I was baptized by my best friend and one year and 8 days later, I entered into the MTC to serve in Russia.
I can never fully express in words what the Gospel means to me, nor can I adequately show my love for those who guided me to where I am today. There are too many times to count when the Lord influenced my life to bring me back to Him. I love this Gospel. Jesus Christ lives, the Church is true, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ has saved my life, in every sense of the word. He lives.
Thank you, Kyle!