“I Had Read This Book Before!” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 53
I was born to a religious family in 1949 on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. There I received a Christian education and attended church regularly.
The people of Sardinia have always been quite independent, so it is not surprising that, despite being governed by Italy, they have kept their native tongue as their only language. Consequently, as I grew up I spoke only Sardic, a language similar to Latin, until I started school at age six.
All of our communication at school, however, was in Italian. This new language fascinated me, and I tried hard to learn it. I was disadvantaged, however, because no one in my family had any books in Italian. All I had to read were books from school.
Other than having this unusual interest in Italian, I was a typical boy. After school, my five friends and I would play in town. One day we went to the city dump to look for bicycle parts. When we left the dump, we showed each other our “treasures.” I had found a steering wheel, and my friend Franziskeddo wanted it. He offered me in exchange a book written in Italian he had found. I immediately agreed, although the book was severely damaged, missing the cover and several of the first pages. I was very excited. I had my first book in Italian—in fact, the first book I ever owned.
When I started to read the book, I discovered religious stories of people with strange-sounding names whom I had never heard of. I had a warm, safe feeling when I read in the book, and I read it often. By the time I turned sixteen, I had read the book at least ten times, still without knowing its name. Then I left Sardinia and settled in Italy. I eventually lost the book, but its stories and teachings stayed in my memory.
Years later, in the 1970s, I moved to Germany and found a job in Hagen at a sugar-machine factory. One day an engineer with the company returned from a business trip to the United States. He brought with him a book in German titled Das Buch Mormon. Knowing I was interested in religion, he loaned the book to me. Unfortunately, my language skills in German were not very good at that time, and I understood very little of what I read, though somehow the book seemed familiar.
A few years later, two young men came to my door. They introduced themselves as missionaries and asked for a little time to introduce their church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I listened as they told the story of the Prophet Joseph Smith. At the end of their presentation, they gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon and asked me to read it.
By that time, my skills in understanding German had improved. From the very first verse onward, I liked what I read, for I too had been “born of goodly parents.” The book spoke to my heart.
As I continued to read, memories flooded my mind. I had read this book before! I marveled at the miracle that had brought into my hands the book I had so eagerly read as a child while trying to learn Italian. With the memories also came the same good, comfortable feeling I had always felt while reading the book in my youth. The Lord’s hand in the situation was clear to me, and I found it easy to believe that the book was truly holy scripture and that the Church of Christ was on the earth. I soon became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.