I wanted to begin my first letter to you with something that is very important – something that may be of some use as well as perhaps giving you something of value.
I think it was 21 Aug 1980 that the missionaries came to my door for the first time. They asked a simple question, similar to one that you will use throughout your mission. They presented me with my first copy of the Book of Mormon.
In the Forward to A Witness and A Warning, President Benson stated the following: “The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God has designed to ‘sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out His elect unto the New Jerusalem’ (Moses 7:62)”
“This sacred volume of scripture”, he continues, “has not been, nor is it yet, central in our preaching, teaching, and our missionary work. We have not adequately used ‘the most correct of any book on earth.’”
Those missionaries used the book, I believe, the way the Lord intended. This was not common practice then, later when President Benson spoke or even today. However, I would like to share with you what I experienced, even if this is an old story you may have heard before.
I received that book on a Thursday afternoon. The sisters were not able to teach a single male and so had to invite the Elders to come see me – they said they would have them drop by on Friday. Friday, they did come by but I spoke only briefly with them at the door; we set an appointment for Monday – I was leaving out of town for the weekend. I remember that I took a bus for about three hours and read most all the way. I got to my friend’s home and read while waiting for dinner. I read that night and into the early hours of the morning. I fell asleep in the very early hours having read until Alma 32.
I was attending college and had likened myself as a scientist, so the experiment resonated with me. It resonated so much, in fact, that later that morning when I awoke, I shared my readings with my friend even giving away my book later that day. I returned home on Sunday, the book was completely captivating my thoughts and I could not put it down. Moroni 10:4 was a simple test and answer to receive.
Monday, the missionaries came over and we talked, they taught me using the old memorized lessons. On 3 September, I was baptized – only 10 days or so from that first visit.
These are the things that I have learned and the testimony I gained back then. First, the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It was the book that spoke with power to my heart, not the missionaries nor another person. My Testimony was based on it, and so I joined the church.
Secondly, the Book of Mormon is a true record of the people on this continent which was written and preserved for this generation. I have found direct answers to many of the problems I had then and since. I have found answers to personal problems, and worldly concerns, and warning how to live better.
Recently, I was talking with a friend. He made to comparison of the Book of Mormon being similar to him as the New Testament would be to the Jews. He has expressed many questions and thoughts - rather than shot gun answers about all of these things, I spoke to him with a simple message: The Book of Mormon is the word of God. If that is true, the Joseph Smith must be a prophet. If Joseph is a prophet, then the Church is true and the Priesthood restored. All truths connect to one simple point – The Book of Mormon.
Elder, I know that you have read much from the Book of Mormon and have a testimony of it. You will never have all the answers to questions that may be asked, but I do know that pure simple testimony is all that is required to “gather out His elect unto the New Jerusalem”. I also know how important your voice is and will be over the next 24 months. It will testify with power and authority – and in turn will be able to bless many in Ghana, as well as many of your friends, extended family, and those here at home. Pray for all of us. The Lord will put the thoughts in your mind, the words in your voice and His love will embrace us all.
I love you very much and want you to work hard, lose yourself fully in the work. See His hands do mighty things.