This is Gabe's mom. HI! He didn't send a letter this week, so I thought I would share a powerful conversion story that was sent to me. I am sharing it with her permission.
The Book of Mormon makes me feel spiritually whole. It is my main source of spiritual light. Of course I didn't always know that, but I know that now.
(Taking place in January, 2015)
I always went about feeling empty inside. I never felt whole--just like there was something always missing. One night, I was feeling very empty and I contemplated a bit over the matter. I wondered if this was a feeling that I would have forever. I just felt so empty. I decided to pray about it. I remember specifically what I prayed for--that I was not happy, and that I was afraid that I was never going to be. I also asked God to teach me how to pray.
I believe that it was three days later, when my LDS friend Allison and I decided to go to the school talent show together. After the show, we were having a casual conversation, and eventually the topic of God came up. We talked a little about the church and I remember her telling me that she has “never known anything so true”--whatever that meant. It was a short and simple conversation, but she ended up inviting me to church that Sunday, and I went. Church was good.
I remember being at Allison’s house one day, and both her and her mom were telling me about Joseph Smith. They didn't go into much detail. All I really knew was that he prayed and was led to the church. I thought, “hey, that's kind of like me, I prayed and I am being led to this church.” I always compared myself to him in that sense. I believed that he was a prophet.
(Taking place in February, 2015)
I believe that it was the second Sunday when I met the missionaries. Their names were Elder Taylor and Elder Pettingill. I had my first missionary lesson at Allison’s house very soon after I met them. I invited a few friends. The lesson was on the restoration. It was good. After everyone left, Allison and I ran upstairs to her room. I remember telling her to hurry up as we were going up the stairs. For whatever reason, I had a sense of urgency. It was as if my spirit subconsciously knew that I was going to have a holy and miraculous spiritual experience, and it could not wait to get to it. When she closed the door, I kind of collapsed on the floor and just bawled. I was overcome with such perfect joy, and my heart felt perfectly whole. I kept saying two things one after another, repeatedly, because it was all I could say. “I know for a fact that this church is true.” And, “I am SO happy.” I no longer believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet. That belief was gone--diminished. I knew it. “I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it…” And the fact that I was feeling a happiness so intense, was a miracle. One night, I am afraid that I am never going to be happy.. (one missionary lesson later) ..and I am overcome with this unspeakable joy and happiness. It is safe to say, that God silenced that fear. ...“And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!”...
I slept over at Allison’s house the next Saturday. I remember feeling a crazy amount of peace as I was going to sleep that night. I remember feeling so blessed. I felt like my life was perfect. I had just experienced a God-given miracle, and I was going to continue on that road to happiness. I was going to be baptized soon, and I was going to attend church the next day, and I was going to have another missionary lesson on Monday, and it was only going to get better from here on out. Nothing could go wrong. It seriously felt like nothing could go wrong.
It was after church that Sunday when I received a rather insensitive phone call from my dad’s girlfriend. It was followed by a car ride home full of ignorant criticism about the church and I. I took a BoM with me when I left Allison's house that day. I held on to it in the car as I was being told all manner of silly things. As she would talk to me in such a way, I felt strongly that I should not say a word, so I didn't. When I came home, I went straight to my room, and sat on the floor, and held onto my BoM, and just cried. I didn't read it because I couldn't understand it at the time. I just held onto it because all I knew, was that it was true and holy, and that I needed to hold onto it.
My dad and his girlfriend made me stop going to church, stop having lessons, stop using the internet, stop hanging out with friends, and they took me out of Track. She took my BoM’s away from me, and she called it trash as she threw it in the trash. They read me anti-Mormon literature--which is only convincing if you do not know anything about the church, and at that time I didn’t know much. Not to say that I was convinced, because I wasn't. I was just a little confused.
I remember this one specific prayer I had one night after they read me anti-Mormon literature. In my prayer I just kept repeating to God, “I know the church is true.” After a while of repeating the fact, and trying to convince myself of the matter, it finally hit me.. I know that the church is true.. because I already asked Him.. The thought of my missionary lesson came to mind. I remembered my words.. “I know for a fact that this church is true..” I remembered the feeling, and I remembered the unshaken certainty that I had. That was it. It was true and nothing could convince me otherwise. I held on to that lesson with everything I had in me. It prepared me. God allowed that one lesson, to prepare me for all the adversity. “And behold I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come..”
I also remember asking myself one night, why I wanted to believe so badly that the church is true. My answer to myself was, “because nothing has ever made me so happy.” ...Then it must be true right? Right. There is no way that lies and deceit could ever cause such joy in one’s heart. (Alma 30:35) And that was very plain for me to understand.
The journey to my baptism was tough, but Heavenly Father prepared me well. I was definitely being cooked in the refiner’s fire. And as I would come to understand why this trial was happening, I would often wonder to myself why I was so blessed to receive such attention from God. To literally be molded in his very hands, I felt so blessed.
This the beginning of my story. This is how it all got started.
Adriana Alexis Acejo