When I was 16 years old I had a friend by the name of Sarah Nordstrom. Sarah and I used to walk home after school and during this time she would share the gospel with me. I still remember when she shared with me the story of “The War in Heaven”. I remember thinking that it was the coolest thing ever to hear that we had lived with Heavenly Father before we came to this earth. I grew up Catholic and we were pretty devout. We attended the Catholic Church regularly and my father would read to us out of the Bible or he would make us read out of it. My Father was a very controlling, and abusive man. He would not allow my mother to join us while we read scriptures, her job was to cook and clean.
Around Christmas time Sarah decided to give me a present. When I got home I opened the gift and found that it was a book. No one had ever given me a book as a gift before so I thought this was very unique. I remember reading the cover of the book, which read “The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. I thought it was ok to read because it was about Jesus Christ. Shortly after I received it I started reading it. One day as I was sitting on my bed reading the book, my father passed by my room and asked me what I was reading and I said (in Spanish) oh, I’m reading this book called “The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. As he proceeded to enter my room he grabbed the book out of my hands and began tearing out the pages and with anger he began saying things like ‘this is of the devil and I never want to see you reading this ever again. He then started walking away and as I followed him I saw him throw the book in the garbage. I remember feeling like he had invaded my space and destroyed something that mattered to me. I was pretty upset about it, and now I really wanted to read that book. So when I saw Sarah the next day, I never told her what had happened with the copy of the Book Of Mormon that she had given me, all I said to her was ‘Hey Sarah can I get another copy of that book you gave me?’ and she said yeah, sure. It took Sarah a couple of days but she got me another copy. I remember taking it home and waiting until I knew my father was in bed. I would then take the book out from it’s hiding place underneath my mattress and I began to read it. As I began to read the Book I couldn’t put it down. I was so touched by the words and the stories. I had never read something so amazing and wonderful. Growing up in my home Peace was something that we didn’t have much of. My family experienced a lot of pain and abuse growing up. Fear was something I knew very well. The Book provided me with some of that peace that I so yearned for.
I remember one day my father turned to me and out of nowhere he said ‘from this moment on I never want you to talk to me, to look at me or have anything to do with me from now on.’ So I didn’t and I began to charter my course in life. One of the very first things I did was ask Sarah If I could go to church with her and she said yes, so I started attending church. Soon after I met the missionaries and they started teaching me about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Being the second oldest of seven I felt that my two sisters needed to hear the gospel as well so the missionaries taught all three of us the gospel. We couldn’t have the lessons at my home because I knew my father would not allow it so we had some of the lessons at Sarah’s house and at other times at the park. When it came time for Baptism, I was only 17 years old and I couldn’t get baptized unless I had my parents’ permission. I remember thinking ‘oh no this is never going to happen.’ It was then that the Bishop agreed that I only needed permission from one of my parents. So I went home that Sunday and I asked my mother to write a letter where she would consent for us to be baptized. In her best third grade handwriting in Spanish she wrote a note stating that she gives us permission to be baptized. I remember taking this note to the Bishop and translating it for him and that was all he needed. The baptism was scheduled, my father never knew what we were up to and my mom was not able to attend since she didn’t know how to drive or speak English. The baptisms were performed and we became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–Day Saints.
After that, we kept attending church and soon after I left to attend college. I remember driving back home on the weekends so that my sisters and I could attend church. I did that for about a year or so and then I couldn’t do it anymore I was too busy with work and school. A year later, I became inactive because I was dating a catholic boy and he wanted us to attend the Catholic Church together. Once we broke it off, I decided that I would study abroad in Spain for a year and take it from there. This was a trying time in my life. I needed to decide if the church was going to be in my life or if It wasn’t. So I found a ward near by and began attending it. After about my second visit the Bishop noticed me and asked me to visit with him. It was then that he wanted to know all about me and about my plans for my future. When I shared with him, my plans for studying abroad he asked ‘Have you ever thought about going on a mission? I told the Bishop that I had never thought about it because I had only been a member for three years and all I knew was the Book of Mormon and nothing else. He then said, why don’t you go home/school housing and read your Patriarchal Blessing. I remember receiving my patriarchal blessing but I could not remember where I had left it. After I found it and as I began reading it I couldn’t believe what I was reading. In about the fourth paragraph it said “Now, young lady, you have much to do in the next few years. The Lord wants you to fulfill a mission. I bless you that you will have the strength and the ability and the desire to fulfill a mission for this church. I bless you that you will be a successful missionary.” I remember thinking how did the Bishop know? I had received the answer as to the direction I was to go.
I had received a call to serve in the Texas Fort Worth English speaking mission for a year and a half. A year after returning from my mission, I was married in the Los Angeles Temple with my husband for Time and all Eternity. We now have three beautiful children and I have been able to do some Temple work for my ancestors.
It took me about a year to read that hidden Book of Mormon cover to cover. It has now been 22 years since I have spoken to my father. I don’t regret anything I have done. The Lord has blessed me in more ways than I can think of. I have a testimony that I know that this is the restored gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that our Heavenly Father is aware of our circumstances and if it hadn’t been for a good friend,I would be missing out on so much. I am so grateful she wasn’t afraid to share the gospel with me. It has made an eternal impact on my life, and I am so grateful for it. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior, Amen.