STANDING FOR SOMETHING
a faith inspired dossier for the thinking woman
(with their permission, I am re-posting it for you to enjoy! I invite you to stop by Standing For Something and leave a comment letting her know you're visiting from rise Above Your Limits)
BELIEVING THE PROPHET, JOSEPH SMITH
I said goodbye to my Mom, boyfriend and best friend and never looked back. I had just entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah where the over 60,000 missionaries all over the world train before serving. My life changed the minute I walked in the building and handed over my luggage and received my dork dot (a little red sticker saying signifying you were NEW). I left my familiar life to be cradled by the spirit that envelops you when you are about the service of our Heavenly Father. I was given my missionary tag, scriptures, class schedule and dorm room assignment. I was now a missionary. I was official.
The weeks passed of 10 hours a day of classes, endless trips to the cafeteria and lifelong friendships based on fear of the unknown…and spiritual bonding. It was spiritual boot camp. And there were some days when I think real boot camp might have been easier.
I was about a month from my departure date when I remember fear setting in. Did I really believe all of this was true? Would the simple testimony of my youth based on girls camp experiences, youth conferences and primary lessons allow me to teach a stranger the gospel?? I panicked. I prayed. And then I prayed again, hard. I remember walking around the MTC like a zombie; wondering if should even be there. I was afraid if someone made direct eye contact with me, they would know I was hanging by a thread, and a possible fraud of a missionary.
That night our teacher was having a hard time getting us to settle down. After studying all day and trying to speak another language we were a bit “hyper” to say the least. He took us out of class and found a quiet classroom that had a piano. We sat down and he told us that he was going to play some hymns that would bring the spirit into our little group.
We sang, “I am a Child of God” and “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” and then “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.” Before our teacher played the last hymn, he told us that this hymn was sung to Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum on the night they were martyred by the Apostle, John Taylor:
My head hung heavy after the hymn was over. Tears fell down my cheeks and chin and made there way to my black missionary tag. My tag had my name and the name of Jesus Christ on it. I represented him for the next few years and I would do it with honor. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t look up. My simple prayer to know if what I was teaching was true was answered in that hymn. Not the words, but the spirit confirming to me that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Church was true.
I never forgot that day as I entered into the mission field. And after having the privilege of serving our Heavenly Father in New York City, the spirit of truth confirmed to all who would listen the truthfulness of the Joseph Smith story (excerpt):
Whether this story was taught to someone affluent or lived in the projects the spirit confirmed the truth just the same, each and every time. It didn’t matter where we were, and this little story shows just that.
My missionary companion and I spent our day walking through an area of Long Island that had been tracted many times over. We felt like two people with their feet stuck in the mud. Everyone had heard or seen missionaries…and no one was interested in our message. But still we went on, knocking on house after house…rejection after rejection. We attempted to laugh our way through day since laughter made our heavy hearts feel lighter. We knocked on a rather strange looking house that was essentially falling down. It looked abandoned. The front porch was full of boards barely nailed together and we weren’t quite sure which door to knock on, since there were two of them. We knocked and knocked. Finally a young man came out of the house and kindly asked us what we wanted. We said we were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and asked if he had heard of us. He nodded. We asked if we could share our message about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. He agreed but because the house had quite a few occupants we needed to teach him out on the front porch.
In our broken Spanish we told him about the nature of God, Jesus Christ and about prophets. It was my turn to share the story of the First Vision, and I looked down at my missionary discussion to make sure I said everything correctly. As I told the account of Joseph Smith and how he had seen God the Eternal Father and Jesus Christ…it was silent. Not just quiet…but a silence that enveloped the three of us. The young man stared at us with eyes wide and spirit touched, he knew what we knew. That what we had told him was true.
This was one of a few beautiful experiences I’ve had teaching the Joseph Smith story. I am grateful for it, for it is the grounding of my testimony. And the best part is that anyone can know if Joseph Smith was a prophet for themselves whether you are a missionary in a foreign land, falling down house or kneeling down by your bed. Your prayers will be answered.