In 1968, as she was attending a southern university, Carlene Petree prayed morning and night to know what the Lord wanted her to accomplish in life.
She felt impressed that some of her friends who had recently joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might have an answer.One evening a friend, Donna Kury, who had recently been baptized into the Church, stopped in to visit. She gave her friend a big hug and told her how happy she had become since her baptism. She told her about the Church and about the Book of Mormon.
"I now have a reason to live, and I know where I am going," Sister Kury said.
Her friend's "ears popped up like little radio antennas when she said that," Carlene Petree recalled.
When Carlene asked if she could borrow a copy of the Book of Mormon, the new convert gave her a copy, and told her of the copy's interesting history. It had been given to her by a stake president, who told her that someday a young lady would ask for the book. Now, Sister Kury felt the book was meant for her friend.
"I took the book to my room and I'd only read a couple of pages before I asked the Lord if this book was from Him or from the adversary, because I knew no man could have written it.
"I felt the Spirit so strongly that I read the book straight through. It took a day or two. There was no way I could doubt it. The Spirit was so strong while I was reading it that I could not deny the fact that this book was of God."
She was baptized Nov. 2, 1968.
She has remained an active member. In 1991, she was diagnosed with diabetes and was hospitalized for 22 days. During that time, she read the scriptures and prayed to know if there was another, non-medical purpose for her extended stay. She felt strongly impressed that she was to do missionary work.
Sister Petree then began a "hospital mission," and shared copies of the Book of Mormon with patients, nurses and doctors.
"I have been in the hospital 12 times since then, and each time I have been able to share copies of the Book of Mormon," she said. "The Lord has led people to my room. I had a special place where I would keep the copies so people would know they were available. I have given away 122 copies of the book since then.
"The Lord has blessed me through this disease to help share copies of the Book of Mormon."
She is currently serving as a stake missionary in the Winston-Salem 1st Ward. Often, to introduce people to the subject, Sister Petree recites some of the Christian poetry she has written. She feels that another purpose of her life is to provide temple ordinances for her ancestors.
The Book of Mormon continues to be an influence in her life, she said.
"Every time I read the book, I feel closer to Christ. He has helped me to understand Him more, and feel His great love and compassion. I also feel closer to Heavenly Father to know that He cares so much for me. This means everything to me. I wish I could share the Book of Mormon with the world."