Friend to Friend

“Friend to Friend,” Friend, Oct. 1993, 6

Friend to Friend

Thou has inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth (D&C 6:15).

Elder Hartman Rector, Jr.

Until I was married, I had never heard of Mormons. My grandmother was concerned with my religious upbringing, so she used to read the Bible to me. I grew up as a member of a Protestant church. However, I always thought that the minister did not explain things about Heavenly Father very well.

My father thought that I should make up my own mind and choose my own religion. As I became older, I searched a lot to find the true church. My sister was in the Catholic church and wanted me to join it, but I didn’t understand their beliefs. The same thing happened when I was eighteen years old and learned about the Christian Science church—I didn’t understand their beliefs either.

I always had certain questions that no one could answer, such as: “Where was I before I was born?” and “What is the meaning of life?” Since joining the Church, I’ve learned about the plan of salvation, which answered all my questions.

While I was in the Navy in Hawaii, my wife, who stayed at home in San Diego, California, was visited by missionaries who asked her the same questions that had bothered me. The missionaries left a Book of Mormon with her, and I read it when I came home.

I started hoping that the Book of Mormon was true, so I asked Heavenly Father for it to be true. As I kept reading, I knew that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that the Book of Mormon was the word of God. I knew that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the true church.

My wife and I kept seeing the missionaries and asking them many questions. They told us about the Word of Wisdom and about how we should obey it. In the Navy I flew airplanes. Once my plane went down into the water. The water was cold, and when I was fished out, I was offered an alcoholic drink. I simply said, “No thank you. I don’t drink.” At that moment I realized that accepting the gospel would change my life for the better.

While I was on a Navy ship headed toward Japan, I attended Church meetings. Only a few Church members were on that tour of duty, but they could always answer my questions. When you are raised in the Church and hear the gospel, the Holy Ghost will help you remember what you’ve been taught so that you can teach other people.

I decided I wanted to be baptized. Back then a person usually investigated the Church for a year. Although I had only been investigating it for five months, the members on the ship felt that I was ready to be baptized. So on February 25, 1952, I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because it was February, it was extremely cold outside where I was baptized. In fact, there was a layer of ice on top of the baptismal font!

While we were apart, my wife and I wrote to each other about the gospel and what we were learning. One month after my baptism, she was baptized in San Diego. About one year later our family was sealed in the temple together, and fifteen years after that, I was called to serve as a General Authority.

I searched a long time before I found the true Church. When you’re searching for the truth, you will be led to it. And once you have found it, you must always live according to its truths.

1. Elder Rector’s school

2. Ready to fly

3. In the Navy

4. Holding the Book of Mormon

5. With Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Seventy