“Bless Those Elders,” Ensign, Mar. 1993, 65
For no apparent reason, I introduced myself to the Mormon missionaries in a local bowling alley in 1961 and invited them to come to my home for dinner. When they accepted the invitation and told me of their reason for being in Australia, I felt a desire to listen to them.
After listening to some discussions and attending a sacrament meeting, a baptism, and a youth activity, I began to understand that what the gospel meant was involvement—and I didn’t want any. But the missionaries were likable fellows, and I kept up my association with them for a time. I remember vividly that one day while we were sitting in the car, one of the elders bore a fervent testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. That testimony never left me; afterward my life was never the same. But I refused to recognize what I was feeling and finally decided not to be at home when the elders called.
Some time later, I found a copy of the Book of Mormon in my letter box. Throughout the time of my previous association with the missionaries, I had managed to resist their efforts to give me the book. Now I had one in my possession. I didn’t make any attempt to read the book, but often, as I walked past my dresser where it lay, I felt some influence beckoning me to pick it up.
I remember one day throwing it into the closet and piling clothes on top of it in an effort to get it out of my mind.
Four years later, just before Christmas, I sat on my bed in the early morning hours, unable to sleep. I knew that my life was lacking in purpose, and I longed for a second chance. I found myself wishing I could actually be reborn. I began searching the room for something comforting to read, and I finally found the Book of Mormon.
The book was marked with small pieces of paper on which were handwritten questions, with scriptural references providing answers. One read: “How can you know this book is God’s word? Moroni 10:4–5.” [Moro. 10:4–5] I read the text referred to and was impressed with Moroni’s promise. In plain terms, he was challenging me to pray about the book.
I continued to read as the days went by. Then, one warm afternoon in January, I took the Book of Mormon into the backyard where I could sit and read in the sunshine.
Again, I came across a small piece of paper. It asked, “Why repent? Alma 34:31–35.” I read with interest Amulek’s exhortation to the Zoramites not to procrastinate the day of their repentance, and I suddenly realized that that was what I had done for four years—procrastinate. With the missionary’s testimony ringing in my ears, I turned to Moroni’s words of counsel, and I decided then and there that I would pray.
Immediately I felt the distinct presence of some being telling me there was no use asking for an answer, for I was not worthy of one. But gathering strength from somewhere, I clenched the book firmly in my hand, looked up into heaven, and cried, “Dear God, is it true?”
Immediately I felt a deep burning within my bosom, and a sweet feeling pervaded the atmosphere. And then I heard a still, small voice which simply said, “It’s true.”
Ten days later I was baptized. And even today, years later, I ask the Lord to bless those two faithful, persistent elders who left that book, with appropriately marked passages, in my letter box.