We are all in this life searching for something. But I know we are all here for a similar purpose. I know where I am going in this life and in the next. I have peace of mind and joy in my life daily. I believe that every human being is a Child of God, and that He indeed loves you..no matter what.
I was born into a family that went to church every Sunday, had Family Home Evening (AKA Mormon Family Night) most Monday nights and even read our scriptures daily and prayed as a family. Although we had our ups and downs, you could say we were pretty devout to our faith. My Dad grew up Catholic and was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) when he was about 30. My Mom grew up Mormon and was baptized into the LDS church at 8 years old. (Which is customary in the LDS church) Ever since I was a child I remember wanting to serve a mission for the LDS church and never questioned whether it was actually true or not. I don’t think I ever doubted it. But I was encouraged to pray about it and find out if this church was true for myself, or if there even is a right one or if we all just go to church for kicks.
I think religion is something that is important to discover for yourself. You can lean on someone else for a period of time like your parents, but then you have to decide for yourself. Is it something that really benefits you, is it something that makes you happy? To me, most importantly is there a God, and does He care what religion I am in. I never questioned whether or not there was a God so I knew what I had to do was simple: do what Joseph Smith did and ask God which Church was true.
(As I encourage everyone to do for themselves)
When I turned 14 I was getting ready to go to a Mormon Youth Camp. (Like Young Life or Bible Camp..) It was called Especially For Youth. My sister had gone before and LOVED it. Everyone told me it was the coolest experience ever. To an outsider, going to a Bible Camp doesn’t really sound that thrilling. I was intrigued. I decided this week would be the perfect week for me to fast and pray about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The first day or two were a bit of a struggle for me. You are put in a group of boys and girls that you may or may not know and you go to classes and play games and eat. But when you are a shy 14 year old (yes I am shy!!), making friends is scary! I felt lonely and sad even though I had been very excited to be there. By the end of the second day I was making more friends and had a ton of fun at the dance. Reading my journal I was so cute because a boy walked up to me but I was sitting down and didn’t make eye contact with him because I was so nervous and shy. I said that I loved the dance and had so much fun and was excited for the next day that was game day. However, everyone had always told me the best day at EFY was Thursday. Wednesday you come up with a cheer and a routine for your group and compete in Game Day with the whole camp. It is tons of fun! I was certain there was no way I could have a better day then that. I wrote in my journal Thursday night, that I was 150% wrong . (Remember I was only 14!)
Thursday came and I had decided to fast and pray that day that I would receive an answer about if this church was true or not. I chose to fast because I felt that that was a better way to show God that I was serious about this, and that I was willing to sacrifice food to show my sincerity in the matter. (Fasting is a common LDS practice)
I wrote down the day started out like any other. We had a variety show and had a few classes and in the evening we met as a group to go into the large room with all of the kids at EFY. Preparatory to this meeting we had practiced singing what is known as the EFY Medley. It’s a song where the girls sing the song ‘As Sisters in Zion’ and the boys sing ‘Armies of Helaman’ and then both come together to sing at the end, a verse continuing ‘To Bring the World His Truth’. It’s a very powerful and beautiful medley and I was excited to sing it. Before we went in, we started to sing hymns because it is a very Spiritual and Reverent meeting. I remember singing “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” which is a song about when Joseph Smith prayed and asked God which church to join. He received the answer that although the churches had bits and pieces of truth, the church Christ had established on the Earth was no longer in fullness so Christ led and guided Joseph Smith to help establish Christ’s church again on the earth. As we sang this song, I felt this wonderful feeling of warmth inside me. I remember thinking, is this what everyone feels when they say they feel The Spirit? I felt so wonderful it was like a warm hug and I was so happy, joyful even.
The Song we sang:
We walked into this room full of kids aging 14-18 and sat with our group. After the Director of the EFY program spoke, we all stood up and sang The EFY Medley. As we sang proudly and beautifully, I felt that warm feeling stronger and looked around at boys and girls alike with tears streaming down their faces. It was a moment I will never forget because you don’t forget moments when you feel a power stronger then yourself burning inside of you, as well as young teens (especially boys) crying out of happiness. We sat down and ended with a prayer and that’s when I began to cry. If you know this feeling you understand why I was crying. It is hard to explain if you have never felt it. It’s warmth as I said before, goes all through your veins and you just feel this joy that can only come from Heaven. The reaction is to cry with joy because you feel you would just burst with all the love from God you feel inside of you. It is a very sacred feeling.
We separated into groups and broke off into little rooms where you have a testimony meeting. Once a month in the LDS church we have a testimony meeting where anyone can get up and bear their testimony in front of the congregation. This was similar except it was just us kids in a group of maybe 30. I sat and listened to these young kids go up and talk about how good they feel inside, how happy this Gospel makes them, and so on. When I decided to go up, I think I could hardly speak I felt so wonderfully happy and grateful. God had answered my prayer. I knew this was my answer. I couldn’t create this peaceful joyful feeling inside me. It came from above.
After the meeting was over we went to bed and I went up to my room but got the feeling I needed to go see my sister. I went up to her room 2 floors above mine and she wasn’t there. I was so sad because I wanted to see her so badly. Although I do love my sister, we do not hug very often or tell each other we love each other or are were even very kind to each other at that age. But I heard “Cody?” and I turned around and saw my sister and gave her a huge hug. She said she had gone down to my room but they told her I had come upstairs to see her. That is one of my best memories from EFY. I’ll never forget that hug, it brings me to tears today just thinking about it.
After EFY was over I knew I had gotten my answer and decided I would never forget it. I think sometimes people seek for answers and receive one in whatever way, and brush it off as coincidence or that they made it up in their head. I knew this was not one of those things for me. Years later there are days where I still get that same feeling I felt at EFY. I feel it when I pray and ask God if He loves me. I feel it when I ask God if the Book of Mormon is true. I felt it when I was praying about whether or not I should marry Josh. The feeling comes back because God continues to remind me of the truth I was searching for.
So in case you are confused, I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I know it is the church God leads and guides today. We have a Prophet just like in the old times. We have Apostles and The Priesthood, the authority to baptize on the Earth like John the Baptist. I know all of this because of my humble prayer. This is why I do not have to question whether or not my choices in life are leading me in the right direction. I know God is guiding my path, and bringing happiness into my life. I know because when I have strayed, I was not happy. It is very simple.
I served a mission because I want everyone to have the happiness, joy, and peace that I have in my life. That when I am struggling I can just get down on my knees and simply talk to God about it. I can feel His love when I am sad. (Anyone can, and should) That I can know that even when I die, I will be with my husband and my family forever. I don’t have to wonder. It is a very peaceful feeling. I want everyone to be happy because that’s what this life is about, happiness.
Even if you haven’t in your whole life, I invite you to pray and talk to God tonight, alone. Get on your knees and have a conversation. Tell Him about your day, the good and the bad. And then, ask Him if He loves you. Then sit and listen. Ask in faith and with patience. I promise you will feel His love for you. He’s there. I know, because He answers prayers. Maybe in His own time, but he answers them.
If you want to know more about my conversion or why I’m a Mormon you know you are always free to ask me anything. Or you can ask another Mormon here. Or if you just are curious more on what Mormons believe click here.
I went to EFY every year after that. 2003-2007 🙂 If you can..you should go to EFY, it is an amazing experience I will treasure forever.
This song describes my experience very well: