My name is I Maritza Ardila Perez. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
I was baptized on May 27th , 1978 in Cali, Valle del Cauca Colombia. The first ward I visited was the Colon ward. They had no baptismal font because the ward meet in a house and so I was baptized in the chapel of the San Fernando Ward in Cali, Valle del Cauca, and Colombia in South America.
When I found the chapel of the church of the saints Church. I was learning playing guitar in a room that has Catholic Church where they gave classes. That day pass by the house which was a serving as the chapel where the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Colon gathered.
It was not far from my house, and it was close to the room where I took the guitar course. As I like to play guitar and learn and listen to music, my attention was caught when heard angelic singing in the Colon neighbourhood of Cali where I lived. When I passed through the street I listened more closely to the music that had caught my attention.
I approached the door and a member spoke to me and invited me to come and participate in the activity. I asked him “what are you doing here? What is this church? ”And they told me, “This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called Mormons”. He said that the members read the Book of Mormon and believed in the Bible, and who whoever wants to know more could come on Sundays and take part in Sacrament meetings and others meetings of the Relief Society and Sunday school.
He called over the missionaries, Sister Rosa Nova of Bogota, Colombia, and Sister Baker of America and they explained the church to me and told me that they taught in their homes. I said that I was here now because I like the music they were singing and I knew I did not want to join, but if I asked if I could spend Sunday and then would ask my Mom if I could go to the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints.
When I met the church had not yet turned 18 and had to ask my mother if I could go on a Sunday and participate in sacrament meeting at the church. I asked my mother, and she was said very upset and said that she would tell the missionaries to leave the house if they came. As I had already made an appointment with missionary few days later, I went to the meeting and they were waiting for me in the house which was a chapel where they met.
They were outside the door stops waiting for me, I said hello, and told them what my mother had said. She did not want me taught and they could not go in my house. So I told the very nice sisters that I could not have them in my family’s house, and sister Nova said “if you want to hear about the church there are some members who let us lead discussions in their homes and they live nearby.” I said “Well, I will listen at the home of members”
The missionaries told me about the church and the book of Mormon. They told me to read a passage in the book to read Moroni 10: 4, 5 and Nephi 11, about the visit of Christ in America. I read and felt that Jesus Christ visited the Americas and in a dream I saw it as if he came to me – Jesus Christ and angels, and I knew had visited the America and said “Touch my hands and my side” and he said that he was Jesus Christ who had redeemed to the world. When I prayed and read my spirit felt and knew it was true, and listening, I knew without any doubt that it is true and I listened and felt that everything they told me in the discussion was true.
They asked me if I believed in the prophet Joseph Smith in the first vision. I said if I know that Joseph Smith himself saw the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I had prayed on my knees myself and I received a very strong confirmation that Joseph Smith was called by the Heavenly father to restore this church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it is the same church that he had left on earth. I testify this is true!
They also asked if I sister Ardila believed the Book of Mormon was true I said and I felt and knew that is true thanks to the Holy Spirit and my humble prayer. I knew that the Bible was another testament of Jesus Christ. Ezekiel in the Bible mentioned two books and I said it is true and days later what He told in the bible.
The missionaries asked me, Maritza Ardila Perez if I was ready to be baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and answered them with spiritual joy if I would be baptized member, but the obstacle was that I had to ask my mom since a was not 18 years old. When I asked my mom if I could baptize my mom was very angry and said no, and that was further more “do not bring anyone from the church the house”. I told the missionary and she asked me “Do you want be baptised?” and I said yes but still cannot, but hopefully when I am 18. And so, just a little time and I kept preparing for baptism in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints.
We chose the day and May 27th, that was the heavenly day, and the year 1978, a wonderful white year. I image in my mind there was a big party in heaven when I was baptized on 27 May 1978, and I felt joy in my heart and great gratitude to our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, It is true.
Despite the opposition, I have continued firm and have been a member of several wards in South America and in France, the United States and in England and in 1980 began helping the mission in Cali to accompanying a missionary who had no companion, and it was a nice opportunity to have helped the mission and missionary. In 1981 I was in the America ward in Cali Colombia. At that time was Bishop Trochez and sent in the papers for me to be full-time missionary and although my mother did not want anything to do with the church, I serve as a stake missionary in Cali in the Americas and Versailles wards and in other neighborhoods.
I received my call to be full-time missionary was in 1981 and in the letter was from the prophet at that time, Prophet Spencer W. Kimball. The letter said that I should go to Missionary Training centre of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1981. I served the mission in Bogota Colombia and at that time President James M.Dunn who was called to be a general authority and member of Quorum of the seventy was my mission president in 1981 and 1982 in Bogota Colombia. When I went to Missionary Training centre in Sao Paulo Brazil South America. I had many beautiful spiritual blessings. In May 0f 1981. I had the opportunity to talk and share my testimony with the apostle Elder James Faust who was later named as one the counselors in the First Presidency.
That same day I saw the prophet Spencer W. Kimball who gave us hugs and kisses on the cheek, and called me by my name and said that “Bogota mission” would be blessed and that I would a great missionary”, seeing the prophet come out of the temple dressed in white, looking so radiant struck me with such spiritual joy, and it was a very nice experience.
Also the Mormon Tabernacle Choir visited at the MTC in Sao Pablo Brazil in 1981, and had the opportunity to listen to them practice and chat with them and hear their beautiful spiritual music. I know that their music was music to my ears and very spiritual. It was wonderful to hear them sing at the stadium in Brazi. It was a beautiful musical spiritual experience
in my heart the beautiful experiences of my baptism and my spiritual experiences of my baptism and my spiritual experiences in the mission and in temple still live in my heart.
I am grateful for the love of our Heavenly Father and the leaders, my companion’s missionaries and my mission president Dunn and his wife. Thanks to them I was able to have success in my mission and the opportunity to be able to serve my people in Colombia was beautiful. My mission and my beautiful baptism the church have filled me with a beautiful spiritual life.
Every day I learn more how to be like Christ and his beautiful example. More than a few years later our country was short of missionaries because there was problems there, and I was able to again enter into missionary service. President Jorge Leano asked the returned missionaries to help the mission as they had no missionaries who could continue to teach the investigators. Maritza Ardila Perez accepted and serve as missionary for a while in 1989 in Cali Valle del Cauca with President Leano he and his wife and his family are from Bolivia but served in Cali, Colombia. I also learned a lot from him during the year that he was president of the Cali mission.
I thank him for his service. I also thank you President Harding, Michelson, President Davila and others who served as presidents in the mission Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, and South America mission. My companions and I continually taught and invited people to be baptized when. I preach with my companion. I am grateful as 3 Nephi 11, and I have felt that it is true where it says that Jesus Christ himself with his own words said, to touch him and feel that he was Jesus Christ.
I know this is gospel is true and I am thankful for his teachings and to learn more of the gospel.
I live in London England’m working temple in London and I’m happy to be a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints. I know that Heavenly Father is our Father that his son Jesus Christ came to this earth and paid the price for our sins, and thanks to his example and his baptism we receive this baptism by people who have the authority of the Heavenly Father. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Today the prophet Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God.
I know the book of Mormon is true as is the Bible. I have gratitude for having served 38 years as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and have served my full-time mission.
I have also served as first counsellor in the Relief Society and as teacher of youth and in other callings. I am grateful also to be working in the house of the lord. It is spiritually wonderful.
I know I feel and believe that this is church is true. This is my prayer and humble testimony and leave it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
~ Maitza Ardila Perez