“My Personal Hero,” Ensign, Mar. 2006, 68–69
On that November day in 1972 when I got on the bus to go to school, I had no idea this day was going to be one of the most important in my life.
I was 13 and an ordinary student. I mainly tried to have a good time at school, and I had many friends who were like I was. Óscar Italia was not like the other boys. He really did study and, as a result, was on the honor roll. But I didn’t know him well. He was a quiet fellow.
When I entered the classroom that day, he was wearing a button on his lapel that read, “I Care. What about You?” At that time the Church in our area had a program to help members share the gospel. They wore this button so when people asked about it, they could explain about family home evening and the family.
I asked Óscar, “What’s that?” He explained that he had been baptized three months before and was the only Latter-day Saint in his family.
During the breaks that day he noticed my interest and explained the plan of salvation, and he gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon. He read me the promise in Moroni 10:3–5 and told me that if I prayed, I would feel a burning in my heart that would confirm to me that the Book of Mormon was true. Óscar was a great member missionary, and I believed him.
The next morning, while my mother was doing her shopping at the neighborhood market, I decided to read the Book of Mormon. When I was almost finished with the first page, I had a desire to pray. I went to my room and knelt beside my bed. I had never prayed before, but I remembered I had to ask God in the name of Christ. I asked if the Book of Mormon was true, and I asked God to tell me if He existed. I expected to feel what my classmate had testified I would feel. After some minutes I heard my mother coming home and was afraid she would find me praying, so I stood up and got ready for school.
As I rode to school a real battle of ideas was going on in my head. “Is it true or not? Nothing happened,” I thought. I had a lot of doubts.
I can’t explain why, but no sooner had I stepped from the bus onto the sidewalk at school than the doubts disappeared, and I knew it was true. It was extremely simple.
Óscar came up to speak with me at the classroom door. I said, “I will be a member of your church.” He couldn’t believe it. A friend of mine was listening, and he told my other friends what was happening. Soon they were all around me, asking me why I was going to change religions. They told me I was crazy. I couldn’t answer their questions and started to cry. They finally went away, and I was left alone with Óscar. Suddenly I had an overwhelming feeling of joy. I had never felt anything like it before. It was the burning my friend had said I would feel, and it came as a confirmation of the decision I had made.
The next day Óscar brought me a button, and we wore them proudly.
Thirty years later I returned to my hometown to speak at a youth fireside. I had titled my remarks “How to Be a Hero” and had intended to analyze how Nephi, Abinadi, and Alma can become our heroes. While waiting to speak, however, I saw my friend Óscar and his mother among those in attendance. I remembered that wonderful day 30 years before and instead told the youth about my personal hero, Óscar Italia, a brave young man who had a determination to share the gospel, a young man who changed the course of my life.