“Then I Could Touch People’s Hearts,” Ensign, Sept. 1977, 72–73
Linda Turman was thrilled when she was asked to be a tour guide at the public showing of the Washington Temple. Two weeks before she was to begin, she was given her script, a six-minute speech full of information about the physical features of the temple. She was told that the speech had been written under inspiration, and that it was important that she repeat it verbatim, adding her own spirit and enthusiasm, but not her own words.
As she studied the speech, Linda became worried. She knew she would have no trouble learning the part about the temple structure itself, or the story of the Angel Moroni and the part he played in the writing and keeping of the sacred records. But the script called for the guide to testify, “I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I have read it, and I know it is true.”
Linda had joined the Church at the age of eighteen. Being a very serious and spiritual girl, she had received a witness of Jesus Christ and the atonement before she became acquainted with the Church. After receiving the missionary lessons, she had received another witness that cleared up all her doubts about one of the teachings of the Church, and she accepted the gospel on the basis of this witness and “after that, everything seemed to make perfect sense. There was no reason to doubt.” But her conversion hadn’t been based upon knowledge and testimony of the Book of Mormon.
Of course, Linda had read the book. She had studied parts of it as challenged by the missionaries. She had read it again after one of the General Authorities had challenged them to read it by a certain date. But reading had been a chore. She’d done it as a duty and to gain information. She hadn’t received any sensation that she could really call a “witness.”
“I knew the Church was true, and if the Church was true, the Book of Mormon had to be true. But I never asked for a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I think I was afraid.”
Some may have gone ahead with the temple assignment, thinking, “I have read the Book of Mormon, and I don’t doubt its truthfulness.” But Linda knew she could never bear testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon without having experienced complete conversion to the book itself.
She prayed for help, and gradually she was comforted and was able to put the matter in the hands of the Lord. She would do her part; she would study the book seriously and prayerfully, and if the Lord wanted her to bear testimony to its truthfulness, he would provide the answer she needed.
This time she seemed drawn toward the Book of Mormon. Where she had found the reading difficult and toilsome before, she now found it exciting. Yet she experienced some anxiety as she read. As she searched for the reason for her anxiety, she realized that at times when she read passages where the prophets were speaking to the people, she felt a vibrating sensation in her eardrums. Although she doesn’t profess to have heard words, she felt the physical sensation of receiving sound. It was as if the prophets were speaking to her personally, calling her to repentance, sharing a witness of the Savior. Prayerfully and tearfully she read the book she had come to feel was a personal communication between the Book of Mormon prophets and herself.
How did this affect her tour guide experience?
“Bearing my testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to all those groups of people who knew little about our church is the greatest experience, outside of childbirth, that I have ever had. I compare it to childbirth because as I bore my testimony I experienced a uniting of body and spirit that I have felt only while giving birth to my children. It is as if everything you own is united together!
“I don’t know whether I helped to convert anyone, but I know I was able to touch people’s hearts. I could tell which individuals were in tune, and I looked them in the eye as I spoke. I must have given that same speech hundreds of times, but it never sounded rote. My tours were outside the temple, in the cold autumn afternoons and evenings. At the end of the evening usually about midnight when the last onlooker had left the temple grounds, I would suddenly feel quite exhausted, and I realized I was cold and my feet ached. I had not noticed any such feelings while conducting the tours.”
This was three years ago, and as Linda speaks of the subsequent changes in her life, she says she now really understands God’s love by the way he spoke to his people in the Book of Mormon. As a result of the witness she received, she has found it impossible to resist the call to repentance that is so consistent throughout the book. She works on improving an area of her life frequently and is convinced that the Spirit shows her which one she needs to work on next. She feels that at last she knows what she must do to attain the celestial kingdom.