I'm pretty excited to share the story of how my friend Kathryn Landis came to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I met Katie through her now-husband. She was well on her way to joining the church at this point. She shared the following experience during Sacrament meeting last week and it really touched me. I thought others would be inspired by her story as well! Here's Katie:
My first contact with the church was about two years ago. Andy and I were dating, and he asked if I would be willing to join him for a meal with some missionaries from his church.
At this point, I didn't truly know anything about Mormons. I knew Andy was a Mormon, but I also knew that he rarely went to church.
He didn't push his religion on me, but would answer any questions I had about his faith. I was happy to oblige when he asked if we could have the missionaries over, but I knew I didn't want anything to do with what they had to say. Maybe they could sense it in me, my lack of willingness, the wall I had built, because they didn't even bring up the Book of Mormon. They didn't ask me about my faith or religion. They simply asked about Andy and I, how we met, how many children I had, what I liked to do. It was a very nice meal as I recall. And then that was it.
For another year, nothing. I attended the Presbyterian church where I was a member. I would even drop Andy off here occasionally before heading down the road to my service.
Then, last November, almost one year ago now, I'm not even sure why, but I decided to come here with Andy. It was a fast and testimony service. I sat and listened to others testimonies, still a skeptic. I felt the Spirit and the love in everyone's words, and Heavenly Father working knots deep in the pit of my stomach...but I knew what I knew...and that was it! I left that day, convinced it was nothing.
Not until January, when Elder Done and Elder Staple walked through our door did things start to change. They asked me how I felt about hearing the gospel. I made it perfectly clear. I would sit, I would listen, but I’m a Presbyterian. I was born and raised into a very traditional, very active Presbyterian family. I had absolutely NO intentions of changing that. Yet again, they didn't push. Just asked if I was willing to hear what they had to say. It was nice. And I always enjoyed their visits. They would tell me something I didn't know about Mormons, I would tell them something they didn't know about Presbyterians. Some things wouldn't make much sense to me, some things stuck in my mind. One thing in particular...modern-day prophets. That’s all it really took for me. The one inclining that it may all be true.
One visit in particular made my heart soften, the wall break down. Andy was reading from 2 Nephi 32. As he began to read, the words touched his heart in a way I had never seen, and he couldn’t continue, so he asked if I would finish the scripture for him. I picked up the Book of Mormon for the first time ever and began...
And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after which ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do you ponder these things in your hearts?...Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye shall do.
As I finished reading, feeling the same spirit and love that I still do this very moment reading it again, I scrolled to the top of the chapter and read the heading which was as follows:
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost-Men must pray and gain knowledge for themselves from the Holy Ghost.
It was the answer that I had been looking for. I had spent my whole life as a Presbyterian because I knew no other way. Satan will use fear to keep us from knowing the truth and he had grabbed hold of every bit of fear I had.
I was afraid especially of what my friends and more-so my family would say and think about me even looking into the Mormon faith. I had heard it before, and a few extra times since I had met Andy, about how I should watch out for “those Mormons.”
I remember one time in particular when I was about 12 years old. I saw an advertisement on TV. It was a loving family, they were gathered together around the dinner table reading what looked like a Bible. It showed images of Christ and the Atonement and it said something along the lines of, call this number to receive this book and hear the true word. So I called. Well, bad move on my part. When the book arrived and it was the Book of Mormon, I got a lecture unlike any other. "Mormons are a cult. Mormons aren't Christians. Mormons are idolaters because they worship another man before God."
Over the years I saw movies, I read books, I saw the news, and each presented the same story: Mormons were "bad news."
How could I have known the truth?
I was never willing to listen. Like I said, when Satan wants to keep the world away, he does everything in his power to do so. And he had done a good job with me. But not anymore.
Men must pray and gain knowledge for themselves from the Holy Ghost? Well then, what was I doing??? I hadn't prayed and asked God to show me the truth.
The missionaries had asked so little of me, to read and to pray, to find for myself if the word was true, and I had been unwilling to do so.
The next day, after Andy left for work and the kids left for school, I sat down and said a prayer and began to read. We had been coming to church, but only staying for Sacrament meeting, and so we decided, to stay for the entire service.
I gave up coffee and the iced tea in the fridge has not been made since that time. I found that the questions I had prayed about during the week would be answered at lessons from the missionaries, gospel principals, or relief society. I found myself in awe. Everything they said, everything they had told me the first time they sat at our table, it was all true, and I could finally say it out loud.
The peace, joy and blessings in my life became even more apparent to me, and to others, and even began to multiply as I followed Heavenly Fathers commandments.
The day I knew I wanted to be baptized was a wonderful day. I had known for a while, but, that darn fear, it kept creeping up. Andy and I had just been married and I knew it was my time. The three people to know first were Andy, Sister Satteson, and Elder Done. They have all played huge parts in my life and I love them all dearly for that. Although I think Elder Done was probably the most excited. After all, what's better to a missionary than having someone baptized. I remember instant messaging him that I had decided to get baptized into the church which was promptly followed by a “Yeah, that's right!” and “I knew you would even before I left. I could see the change in you.”
How refreshing it felt to know that others could see a difference in me. The day of my baptism seemed to come quickly, mostly at the request of Elder West who wanted to be there before he was transferred. The peace within my soul as Elder Sparrow pulled me out of the water was undeniable. It was a feeling I had never experienced before and had spent my life searching for. D&C 18:16 reads
And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!Oh how true that is! I want to bear my testimony that I know that this church is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. And I have had nothing but amazing blessings in my life since I was baptized and received the Holy Ghost. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.