Promise Me You Will Read
January 2003

“Promise Me You Will Read,” Ensign, Jan. 2003, 71–72

Promise Me You Will Read

As a 16-year-old boy living in Pioche, Nevada, I was not active in the Church. Though my family had Latter-day Saint roots, we didn’t know much about the gospel. It was during the era of the Great Depression, and my father and brothers and I were out of work.

About this time, Brother John Kroenke was assigned to be my senior home teaching companion. He and his wife had joined the Church in Germany and immigrated to the United States. He was fortunate enough to have a job as a night watchman at one of the mines. Brother Kroenke invited me to go home teaching with him, but I avoided it whenever possible.

One Wednesday, Brother Kroenke met me as I got off the school bus. When the other boys realized he was there to see me, they teased me. Brother Kroenke said to me: “I would like you to come up to my home. My wife has a chocolate cake. I think you would like it. And I would like to talk to you.” We seldom had sugar in our home, let alone cake. I agreed to go.

When I arrived at the Kroenkes’ home, the smell of freshly baked chocolate cake drew me in. But before any cake was served, Brother Kroenke opened a Book of Mormon, explained its origins, and began to read to me. After a short while he bore his testimony of its truthfulness.

Sister Kroenke then cut a piece of cake for her husband and a great big chunk for me. Brother Kroenke handed me a Book of Mormon and said, “Lory, I want you to promise me you will read this book.” I agreed to read.

I read in the Book of Mormon during the week, and then on Wednesday when I got off the bus, Brother Kroenke caught up with me and said: “We’ve got chocolate cake again. We want you to come up to our place.”

This time Brother Kroenke and I talked for two hours over cake and milk. We talked about how the Book of Mormon testified of Jesus Christ and how it taught the same gospel that was taught in the New Testament. I became more and more interested. As I was about to leave, he asked, “How much have you read?”

“Maybe one-fourth,” I answered.

“Read it, read it!” he said.

So I went home determined to read. I stayed up nights and finished the book.

The next time we met, after cake and milk and more gospel discussion, we knelt to pray together. Then he asked me, “Is the Book of Mormon true?”

“Well,” I said, “I don’t know.”

“Why don’t you know? You’ve read it. Talk to the Lord about it.”

I had never really prayed. I didn’t know how. But I told him I would. Almost every night I asked Heavenly Father to let me know if the Book of Mormon was true. As I prayed and thought about the book, I had many questions, which I wrote down.

Shortly after this, the stake president from Moapa came to speak to our branch, and I attended. When he stood to speak, he hesitated, then said he felt impressed not to give the talk he had prepared. Instead, he proceeded to give a talk in which each one of my questions about the Book of Mormon was answered.

A warm, sweet feeling came over me. The Holy Ghost testified to me that the Book of Mormon was true, and therefore I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Lord. I knew the Church was true. That knowledge was so strongly implanted in me that I have never doubted it from that day.

How grateful I am to my wonderful home teaching companion, Brother Kroenke! He has since departed this life, but his influence lives on through the blessings of Church activity that my family and I have known over many years.

  • Lory M. Free is a member of the Pleasant View First Ward, Provo Utah Sharon East Stake.