16 August 2014

God Found Me When I Was Not Looking

My father is Jewish and my first cousin is a Rabbi. My mother is Catholic and one of my first cousins on her side of the family is a Catholic priest serving in the Vatican. I was brought up Catholic and attended a Catholic school in Santiago, Chile. Before turning sixteen, one of the priests gave us a very unusual assignment, to write a report on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our school was going to be sold to the Mormons.

My parents explained that I was fortunate, as the LDS Mission Home was only a few blocks away from our home. “Be careful,” my father cautioned. “They will try and convert you.” When I arrived at the mission home, one of the Elders gave me some magazines—and a copy of the Book of Mormon—on which I could base my report. I was somewhat surprised they did not engage me in conversation. Later on, I found out that the Elders are careful not to split families by teaching youth without the consent of the parents.

For the school report, I cut out some of the photos from the magazines. I was about to discard the book, however, as it contained no pictures. I opened the book one more time, and on the inside cover I read a scripture that had been excerpted from the writings of a prophet who had lived in the Americas anciently. It promised the person who would examine its contents with sincerity, and ask God, in the name of Christ, if the book was true, that by the power of the Holy Ghost the truthfulness of this book would be manifested. After reading the brief excerpt I was filled with the most beautiful spirit, which I felt from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet: a penetrating confirmation that I held a holy book in my hands.   

Despite the manifestations of the Spirit, I told myself I was too young to be religious. At the time I was not looking to come closer to God. Three years later I found myself studying agriculture at the University of California, Davis. As I was leaving for Christmas vacation in 1973, I loaded my carryon bag full of books. I saw the Book of Mormon from the corner of my eye and it seemed to be saying to me, “Take me.” A fellow student had given me another copy of the Book of Mormon. I packed it with the rest of the books and told myself that if I read all of these books, I would read the Book of Mormon. I am a slow reader, and I had packed many books, so there was little chance of that happening.

Once on the plane, I reached into my bag and to my surprise pulled out the last book I had packed: the Book of Mormon. The Spirit seemed to say, “Read me!” Beside sleeping and eating, I read for four days until I had finished. There was a change in heart that took place in me as I read. I not only felt a deep conviction of the truthfulness of that holy book, but I felt a very personal, tender invitation from the Savior to follow Him. I accepted the invitation with joy and was soon baptized. The next time I returned to Chile, in that very property that I received my assignment to write a report on the Mormons now stood the Santiago Chile temple.

I am now celebrating forty years of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My most treasured possession is the knowledge that Jesus is the very Messiah that my Jewish ancestors had been waiting for; that Christ has restored His Church once again upon the earth. I found Christ while reading the Book of Mormon. God found me when I was not looking. 

No comments: