My conversion story began in 1960 when two young missionaries were tracting through a housing development in Escondido, Calif. My future husband was living in the house we had put a down payment on prior to our marriage. While he was out washing his car one day, two young men in suits came by and asked him to take a book they offered. He didn't really want the book, but in order to get rid of them and due to their persistence, he took it.
After he finished washing the car, he took the book into the house and tossed it on a shelf in one of the closets in a bedroom that was not being used.About a year after we were married, we were moving to San Diego. While helping us pack, one of my brothers uncovered the book - the Book of Mormon - and asked if he could have it. Since neither my husband nor I wanted it, we told him yes.
My brother was 16 at the time. As he read the book he asked a lot of questions of his cross country track coach, who was a member of the Church. Several of my brother's friends were also members of the Church. Within a few months, having gained a strong testimony of the gospel, and with our parents' permission, my brother was baptized.
Less than a year later, my brother brought our younger brother into the Church, through taking him to youth activities.
In December 1962, at our family Christmas gathering, my brother gave me back the Book of Mormon we had given him, and made me promise I would read it. I really didn't want to make him that promise, but he was very insistent, so I took the book home and tossed it on my dresser. I thought to myself that I hadn't promised when I would read it, and I would get around to it later.
The Lord has His own time table, I was to discover.
In three weeks, I became very ill and was bedridden for more than a week. A friend came in to take care of our baby daughter. I had read everything in that room, and finally, the only thing left in the house that I had not read was that Book of Mormon on the dresser. I kept looking at it, and I kept putting off reading it.
Finally, I asked my friend to hand me the book. I opened it and read the introduction, the testimonies of all the witnesses, the Joseph Smith story, and the first chapter of 1 Nephi. I was given a powerful testimony by the power of the Holy Ghost that every word I had read was the absolute truth and that the entire book was, in fact, true and had been restored exactly as Joseph Smith said it had been, and that he was a true prophet of God and that this book was something very precious indeed.
I couldn't put the book down. I read it from cover to cover in two days and nights.
I then started petitioning my husband to have the missionaries come and give us more information about the Church. I had learned from my brother that this Church was a family-oriented Church and knew that I didn't want to be baptized without my husband joining and having a testimony also. He reluctantly agreed to let the missionaries come.
We went through several sets of missionaries before entering the waters of baptism in May 1963. It was the happiest day of my life.
To me, the interesting thing about my conversion is that I never knew who those missionaries were who left that Book of Mormon with my future husband three years before we became members. I have often wanted to thank them for what they have done for our family. That single copy of the Book of Mormon and the diligence of two faithful servants of God have resulted in 21 members of my family becoming members of the Church. Both my brothers served full-time missions and brought many people into the kingdom. They have sons and daughters who are talking about serving missions.
Our eldest son completed an honorable mission in Peru where he baptized 75 people, and our twin sons served in Brazil, where they have brought this glorious message to hundreds more children of our Heavenly Father.
I have a strong testimony that the Book of Mormon converts people and that every book placed will someday result in the conversion of someone, and possibly hundreds - like the one left with my then-future husband.
It is like throwing a pebble in a lake. The ripples go out and out. It is endless; almost mind boggling. When President Ezra Taft Benson emphasized that the Book of Mormon is a tool the Lord needs in these latter days, it is not just to help us, but to reach all these people.