|Christmas Day Skype call with Elder Alley :)|
December 28, 2015
Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey, Ashley, and all my Family & Friends,
It was awesome to be able to skype you guys for Christmas! The best part about skyping is not what was said in the session, but just being able to see your faces and hear your voices. I'm grateful to just be with you guys, even if it's only through technology.
I'm also stoked about Sam's Mission call! He is going to do awesome in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission. Alley family missionaries unite! (First spiritually, then physically after two years) ;) In the words of Grandpa Alley, "Go give them Heaven!" Good luck, Sam!
This e-mail is going to be a special one because I want to share with you my testimony and and how I came, and am still coming, to know that Jesus Christ lives and that His Gospel is true. First of all, I want to thank everyone who sent me letters with their testimonies and conversion stories. They were amazing and I loved reading them! I apologize for crying during our skype call and talking about how frustrated I was about the work here in the West Virginia Charleston Mission. Despite the difficulties, I know that Jesus Christ lives, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord's true church, and the Gospel and all that accompanies it is true! I have had too many experiences to think otherwise.
It all started with my childhood. Like Nephi who wrote in the first part of the Book of Mormon, I was also born of goodly parents. Even better, I was born of a goodly family, with grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, sisters and a brother who are all strong in the gospel and many of them served missions. Growing up with such a wonderful family, I didn't have a reason to doubt about whether God existed or not, I just knew He did exist. As I got older, I was blessed to have friends and youth leaders who were also strong in the Gospel as well. I couldn't have asked for a better family and group of friends.
However, I will admit that my faith did get tested at one point. I guess it happened when I started middle school. While I have always been blessed with great teachers and friends, it was also a time when I finally took notice of foul language and poor moral values. If you don't believe me, just take a look at what's written on the bathroom and locker room walls. After seeing this, and not being a social-butterfly to begin with, I avoided socializing in school for a while because I didn't want to risk getting in with the wrong crowd and was also afraid of being ridiculed for a belief that I was struggling to understand myself. I knew God existed but I was becoming unsure about the Book of Mormon and the whole Joseph Smith story.
To make matters worse, I did not have a habit of reading the scriptures. I didn't read much other than what the teachers assigned us to read. I still attended church, but mostly because that is where all my family and friends were. Despite my struggling faith and less-than-noble reasons to go to church, I knew that the church was good and this is where I belonged.
Luckily, through the Lord's tender mercy, I was blessed to attend Seminary and Especially for Youth activities during the summer. And, while I'm not much of an outdoors person, I also enjoyed going to four high adventures as well. These experiences helped me to come out of my shell and also to strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel. What helped me was that through out this journey, I worked on my scripture reading habit by reading at least one verse to memorize and/or ponder about (#ScriptureMasteryWorksWonders). This led me to read other verses in the scriptures because I developed a love for reading and memorizing short, summarized statements and phrases. This eventually led me to read the entire Book of Mormon from start to finish for the first time during Seminary and even praying about it its truthfulness in the middle of one night. An experience that was powerful and that I'll never forget. When that happened, I knew that the Book of Mormon was true and this church had to be God's true church! There was just no other explanation to to why I felt so much joy that night.
There is so much more to my conversion story than what I have shared with you. But let it suffice to say that this was just one of many experiences that I had that helped me become a better disciple of Jesus Christ.
I know this church is true and that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I love you all and miss you all. Hurrah for Israel!
Elder Michael Alley