Filed under: Giuseppe Martinengo, Mormonism
I always enjoy the opportunity of testifying and tell the story of my conversion, and so I accepted his invitation, even if I consider myself just a guy with a PhD, who published a few journal articles, and not a scholar like many of the others who are listed in the website. In any case, to share my testimony is always a privilege and a blessing.
Mormon Scholars Testify states in its home page:
One of the unique characteristics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is its emphasis on education and scholarship. Studies have shown that among Latter-day Saints (Mormons), higher levels of education are strongly correlated with higher church attendance, and higher levels of devotion.
In LDS scripture, Mormons are encouraged to study and learn. In the book Doctrine and Covenants, a book considered to be a collection of modern day revelation from God, it says:
D & C 109: 7 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith;
This website gives LDS scholars the opportunity to express their views and feelings about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are some who may feel that people of education and learning can't be religious. It is hoped that these testimonies will help dispel that myth, educate, and give insights into the thoughts and feelings of LDS scholars.
I think that it is particularly interesting to notice that among Latter-day Saints (Mormons), higher levels of education are strongly correlated with higher church attendance, and higher levels of devotion. This is not always true of other denominations. Why?
The study cited in Mormon Scholars Testify concludes, according to Fairmormon.org, that
Among other things, such statistics put the lie to claims by critics that believing Mormons are either ignorant, dupes, or ill-informed. As members of the Church become better informed, they give more, not less, attention to their beliefs. This suggests that LDS beliefs provide a spiritually and intellectually satisfying aspect of their lives. Furthermore, the Church leadership places a strong emphasis on members furthering their secular education and merging that with their testimony. This has been the case since the time of Joseph Smith, from “Study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.” D&C 90:15 to “The glory of God is intelligence” D&C 93:36
In short, Mormonism would not fit Karl Marx’s description of religion as opium of the masses, a religion used (according to a quick explanation given by About.com)
…by oppressors to make people feel better about the distress they experience due to being poor and exploited.
Mormonism is not a religion established to control poor and ignorant people, to enslave them, but to make them free. The more people understand, the more Mormonism makes sense. But more importantly, Mormonism is the only religion that I know that ask people to ask God, to know if it is true. This is how we get our testimonies, and this is why we can say that we know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.
Filed under: General Conference, Luca Martinengo's mission
My son Luca (Elder Martinengo) will come home in 3 days from his mission in Massachusetts. A little more than a week ago, he asked a member of the Church over there to call me, in order to ask me to contact a person interested in the Church, who was ready to be baptized, but who had some concerns to be resolved. (Elder Martinengo did not call me personally because Mormon missionaries are not supposed to talk to their parents while in their missions – unless it is Christmas or it is mothers’ day ))).
The previous Sunday, Elder Martinengo had taken several people interested in the Church to a special conference with Elder Ballard. One of them, Monica (from Brazil) , was particularly thrilled while listening to Elder Ballard. It looks like Elder Martinengo, after the end of the conference, decided to take Monica to meet Elder Ballard for a few moments. Many tears were shed by Monica during that conference, but she still had a problem. She had received her testimony of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormon Church) but she was still struggling about being baptized, because she was afraid of offending her parents, who are good catholics.
At that point Elder Martinengo felt inspired to have her talk to me, since he obviously know of my experience at the time of my own baptism. I was also raised a catholic and I had to become a member of the Church against the will of almost any relative or friend.
To be honest, initially I thought that it would not make a real difference, but I decided to do what I was asked to do and I called Monica. After explaining her who I was (Elder Martinengo’s dad) and after a few seconds of surprise, I went straight to the point of my phone call, and explained why I was calling. After a few minutes I realized how powerful is to sincerely and openly share what you know to be true, and how powerful is to be able to relate to the specific problem of an investigator of the Church. I was catholic, and I had a similar struggle, therefore it was easy for me to relate to her.
While talking to her, I thought of a couple of powerful recent talks from general authorities of the Church that could help her undertand and make the correct decision.
The first was the powerful talk by President Uchdorf, the Faith of our Fathers, then the one by Elder Holland about Mormons being Christian and a couple of others. That was all I did. I shared my testimony and my story, gave a couple of suggestions, and then gave her the opportunity to listen to general authorities’ talks that could help her.
This last Sunday I received a phone call, actually, she left a message where she was thanking me and saying that she had been baptized and she was happy. Later she send me this email (translated):
Ola Sr. Giuseppe,
Thank you for your email. I am very happy!! Your help in my decision, even with a simple email, made a big difference. Again thank you for everything and that God may bless you and your family.
That made my day, and probably the entire week! I did not really had to do very much in terms of time or effort, but thanks to an inspired Elder missionary, thanks to a good friend of Monica who prepared her for months or even years, thanks to an inspiring conference leaded by an apostle of the Lord, another soul was brought back to the fold.
Again and again I realize the power of our testimony and sincerity, and the blessing of having modern technology, such as good videos, Internet, telephone, Skype, and so on.
We only need to make a sincere effort to live the gospel and not be afraid of sharing our feelings and testimony. Then, the pure in heart will listen and we will be able to help change lives forever.
What a great cause!
Today I have received a request from a person who lives on the other side of the United States. His message was:
“Thank you for your son, who visited me today in Concord. I would like to view a video of testimony.”
I checked on the map and in fact Concord is close to Billerica, where my son Luca is now serving as a Mormon missionary since last month.
It becomes every day clearer to me that the Internet will facilitate missionary work and that in spite of all the evil that it is used for, its real purpose is to promote the work of the Lord. We just need to fill it with light and do not let darkness take full control of it.
We finally had a Christmas party, the first in three years since the More Good Foundation was created. It was a great opportunity to share happy moments with family and friends. More Good Foundation has in fact completed three years of existence, and we are moving forward fast. We have many great ideas that we will be able to implement in the near future to move forward the work of the Lord online. Follow a few pictures…
Filed under: Book of Mormon, Giuseppe Martinengo, Mormon Church, Mormon Missionaries, Mormon Prophets and Apostles
I have already published this story in another website, but since this is my blog I think I want to have this here.
In the past couple of weeks I have been talking to a special person in Italy who found my Italian blog and became interested in knowing more about the Church. While talking to this person by email I noticed how people do not get interested in the Mormon Church by chance, especially in a place like Italy. They are usually people who have the courage to ask themselves and others deep questions, and who do not accept things with blind faith, but look forward to find what they are looking for using a positive faith, the kind of faith I found by reading one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that D&C 1: 28; TG Humility; TG Teachable." href="http://scriptures.lds.org/en/ether/12/27d" >humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them (Ether 12:27)
For someone like me, who was born and raised in Italy, it really looks like a miracle when someone, in that country, has the courage to ask questions about religion and search for answers without becoming cynical and give up religion althogether.
So, this is the part of my story that starts from the beginning, while in another post I have the story about the last period before I met the missionaries.
” I was not born and raised in Utah, among the Mormons, but I was raised a Catholic in Italy. When I was 10 years old, my father died because of lung cancer (he used to smoke) at age 47. His death changed everything in my life. I was then the only child of a widowed young mother (33 years old). In spite of all the efforts made by my mother to help me cope with the situation, very soon I realized that something had changed not only in my outward normal life, but also inside me. I wasn't anymore like many other children who could go about being just children without many problems and especially without many questions about life or sudden sadness.
Because of the death of my father, I noticed that some people started to treat me differently and, over time, I had to face some hard questions about the purpose of our existence here on the earth. I didn't realize how important what was happening inside me was until I was 13 or 14. However by the age of 14, I was beginning to be highly unsatisfied with the world around me and with the answers that my teachers, family, or religious ministers gave me to the important questions of life. I was beginning to realize that perhaps something was missing in the worldview and beliefs of most people around me, but I was not sure what.
It is important to stress that the presence of the Catholic Church were so strong in my environment that I can still remember a time, when I was about 9 or 10 years old, in which during a lesson at school about people with other beliefs, I asked myself: "How can people not to be Catholic? Do they know that they will all go to live forever in... (a very bad place)? Why they don't change religion and become all Catholics?" Such was the power of tradition in my environment.
The death of my father, however, started to change my situation. The Lord sometimes works in mysterious ways to bring about His purposes. In fact, after the death of my father, my mother reduced her involvement with the Catholic Church. She was still a Catholic, but, perhaps because she didn't find the help she was looking for in that organization to cope with her loss, she started looking elsewhere.
She started reading books about oriental religions and philosophies such as yoga, Zen, and Buddhism; in particular, she started reading about and practicing yoga. Her exploration opened up a new world to me. Suddenly, I was learning about other religions and philosophies and I was discovering that there were a lot of good things to be learned. I began to realize that perhaps the Catholic Church didn't have the best answers to the questions of life. Moreover, and especially, I began to be familiarized with the concepts of spiritual progression and the idea of spiritual self-improvement. Not that these concepts are completely absent from the Catholic tradition, but in the daily life of a Catholic they are almost absent, since they are usually stressed only for those who abandon the "normal" life and became "full-time, forever single, priests or nuns." My favorite Catholic "hero" was Saint Francis of Assis, but I didn't like the idea that a religious man or woman should give up marriage to pursue a religious life at its best.
I had a dear friend, Stefano, who was a member of a small Protestant group. I had always been fascinated by the fact that this and other Protestant groups rejected the principle of celibacy in their church. When people like me are immersed in a strong Catholic culture, even these little examples or ideas can make a big difference over time and give us the courage to pursue something different in spite of the strong pressure of the tradition.
When I was 15, I had another key experience. The setting was a trip to Rome. The purpose of the trip was to take the Catholic youth from all Europe to meet with the Pope. At that time I was involved with the Catholic youth of my parish, even if I was beginning to question some of our beliefs. During that trip, something special happened.
On the specific day, thousands of youth were ready to meet the Pope in the Saint Peter's Basilica. We had been preparing for months for this special meeting. Youth from all over Europe had traveled to get there. Obviously, the Pope was not present when we arrived and so we all sat on the floor of the church and started singing. I really didn't sing, but I listened for at least an hour to those Gregorian lyrics but I started feeling bad. I had great expectations about that special meeting with the Pope, but after a while I began to think: "What am I doing here?"; "Why I am here after all? Just because others told me that it would be special?" I struggled for a while, but then I decided to stand up and leave. I had a feeling of relief when I left that strange atmosphere in the Saint Peter's Basilica. I had an uncle in Rome and I decided to visit him and spend some time with his family instead than meeting the Pope: not a big deal anyway, I thought.
On the way back to my city in northern Italy, while still on the train, I had the opportunity to tell what I had done to our main guide, a very outgoing and friendly priest. I told him about my feelings, my doubts, and the fact that I had left the meeting. I began to ask questions about Catholic beliefs. After listening and discussin with me for some time he finally said: "If you believe these things, then you are not a Catholic". That was really a strong and challenging statement, a call back to orthodoxy. I was a little perplexed, but I replied: "Then, I am probably not a Catholic!"
I suppose that the Spirit of the Lord was present that day to support me and open my mind, because I felt relieved when I said what I was really thinking, and I was not afraid of the priest's reaction. After that episode, my search for answers was directed mainly outside the Catholic Church, since even that apparently open-minded priest had failed to help me to understand. When confronted with hard questions, he couldn't find anything better than suggesting that I rely on blind faith or consider myself a heretic!
Several years passed after that episode and I continued to meet with my Catholic friends, but I was now always more involved in reading books about other religions. Books were my main font of information about religion. One author that really had a strong influence on me for a period, for example, was Sri Aurobindo. I can't remember the details of what I read at that time, but Sri Aurobindo, in his books, suggests that humankind can evolve spiritually beyond its current limitations and reach a future state of "supramental" existence. This would be like an "evolutionary" step for humankind that should lead to a divine life on Earth. (This make me thing of the Millennium now, even if according the Bible this "almost divine life" will not the product of "evolution"; but at that time it was an interesting concept that gave me some hope and meaning for the future).
Based on my current knowledge and testimony of the teaching of the Mormon Church, I can't avoid thinking that by reading his writings I was moving a step forward in the direction of understanding key Mormon concepts, some of which are not clear or even accepted by many traditional Christians. I believe that the Spirit of the Lord teaches people according to their language and understanding, and moves forward the true seekers one step at a time until they are ready for the fullness of the Gospel.
My search for the truth continued to intensify until it reached its climax when I was 19 years old. One day, I was in Torino, where I was supposed to be moving forward with my studies in physics. I had chosen to study physics not because I wanted to become a new Einstein, but because of books such as The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra, books that discuss the parallels between modern physics and eastern mysticism. It is probably unnecessary to say that since my interest for physics was nothing more than another step in my search for the truth, I was very disappointed with my undergraduate program at the University of Torino. Therefore, as in many other occasions, on that particular day I was not studying physics but I was reading a book about the history of Indian philosophy.
At a certain point, that day, I decided to go for a walk to relax and think about life. While I was walking downtown someone stopped me and asked me if I wanted to do a psychological test. I didn't mention it before, but I had also been interested in psychoanalysis and psychology, and I especially liked books such as Eric Fromm's The Art of Loving or To Have or to Be? and so on. Therefore, I was somewhat curious about this test.
That test was the beginning of my last step in my search for the truth. After that, I had lost my fear of disconnecting from the Catholic tradition, and I was almost incomprehensible to my family and Catholic friends. I can say now that I was ready to meet the Mormon missionaries, and especially to understand and accept their message, less than a year later, because of all those experiences.
But who was behind that psychological test? The people of Dianetics and Scientology. Their focus on personal improvement and their blending of scientific, religious, and psychological knowledge attracted me for a short period, even if I never became really involved with them, because after the initial interested, I realized that they didn't have the answers I was looking for. However, even this relatively negative experience had at least one important positive outcome. Scientology completely severed my last psychological (and some doctrinal) connections with the Catholic Church. I freed myself even more from the weight of tradition and I grew stronger in the belief that there was something out there, in some place, in some organization, or in some book, that could help me answer my questions about the purpose of life.
It may seem of little importance to some, but to have the courage to be unorthodox, to challenge at least in our own mind the tradition is an important step before we can be ready to receive a testimony and to accept the restored gospel. This was especially true for me, since I didn't accept to be baptized in the Mormon Church for social reasons or out of a temporary interest, but only because I was touched by the Spirit, after contemplating the simple but powerful architecture and logic of Mormon doctrine. The concept of obtaining a testimony of the truth by the Spirit of God implies that to rely on tradition to believe is not enough, even when the tradition is true.
I can testify with all my conviction that the scripture that read "seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Luke 11:9) is true, because the Lord guided me by the hand through many different experiences until I found what I was really looking for, the true Church of Jesus Christ once again established on the earth.
The Dark Ages of my life were dispelled when I finally met the missionaries and I can only be thankful that I was born in a time when the true Church is present in the face of the earth. I can't imagine the hardship imposed on those people who tried to find the Church when it wasn't on the earth.
I need to recognize that I owe to the Catholic Church my first limited understanding of and belief in Jesus Christ, belief that never left me even when I was focusing on other religions. However, I owe to these other religions and philosophies a better understanding of many true principles and a more opened mind that helped me not to be afraid when I finally found the true Church of Jesus Christ.”
You can follow the link to find a version in video of Before becoming a Mormon.
There may be a few differences among the video and the written story and this because when I write I am more relaxed then when I am in front of a camera! But these little differences or omissions should not be used against me. In fact, I understand better now why there are a few slightly different accounts of the First Vision of Joseph Smith.
Our memory is not always perfect, our audience may not be the same, the circumstances in which we find ourselves may be different, or we simply want to stress different points at different times.
Filed under: Giuseppe Martinengo, Luca Martinengo's mission, Martinengo's Family, Mormon Missionaries
Luca’s mission in Massachusetts keeps having consequences in connecting me again with my past, the time when I was first baptized as a member of the Mormon Church in Italy, long time ago…
In a previous blog I mentioned how he helped me to reconnect with the missionary, Elder Burton, who first found me in Italy.
Now, through the same James Burton, I got a picture of Emanuele Smorta, who was baptized just a few months before me in Asti, Italy, and who was one of my first good friend in the Church. I remember him exactly the way it looks in this picture, but I suspect that currently he looks a little older…
Filed under: Luca Martinengo's mission, Martinengo's Family, Mormon Missionaries
This is really a very interesting experience that happened to my son, Luca, while in his Mormon mission in Boston, Massachussetts. He found the son of the missionary who found me more than 20 years ago in Italy.
These are Luca’s words to me in one of his recent emails (in parenthesis are my comments to help understand what Luca is implying)
I don’t know why I had it, but it was interesting and a testimony builder to me… this is what happened…
I had asked you to give me Forbes’ email (Forbes is one of the two missionaries who taught me the gospel more than 20 years ago in Italy) and you did so. That week I wrote to Forbes and asked him to tell me a little bit of the story about how they found you in Italy and what happened… Forbes wrote back the following week and I read the email kinda fast, printed and put it in a backpack, not really paying much attention to it.
Well, I usually pray every morning to find out what the Lord wants me to study and for some weird reason I was not getting any idea, I did not get my answer, so I got frustrated and just almost gave up, until a thought came upon me, to open my backpack and look at what was inside, which I did and I found that email from Forbes. Then I felt inspired to pull out your conversion story that I had printed from the internet, so I decided to read those 2 papers.
I think I read your conversion story first, then I went and read Forbes’ email, and I read it all the way through but nothing special came, until i decided to read again and pay more attention. When i did that again, I noticed the name that i saw on the email was BURTON, who Forbes told me was the one that found you, and at that exact time I saw a missionary’s face in my head, who was trained by my good companion in Pittsfield, right as i came to the island, whose name is also Burton…
I had about 10 different questions pop in my head and the thought of him being the son of the missionary who was with Forbes when he found you…. Because Forbes told me that Burton got transferred right after they found you. So I called Elder Payne who was not serving with Burton anymore but I asked him a few questions, to see if maybe it would hint to that possibility, of this Elder Burton being the son of the Burton who found you in Italy. The Spirit that i felt was so strong that i could not really describe it. As I asked the questions Payne answered them and asked me why i was asking that, and I told him that maybe BURTON’s father was the one that found you.
So then i called BURTON and i asked him the same questions and he answered the same way and we both basically started crying and could not believe the Spirit that we felt. I don’t know why i had this experience, but…ya… so his son is serving 40 minutes away from me. I don’t know if you remember him at all or if he ever found out weather you were baptized or not…but that was an experience for me…
I do not believe in chance, but at the same time I do not know exactly why this happened, but at least it was another great experience that my son, Luca, had in his mission. Really Mormon missionaries do the work of God, and when they serve faithfully, they are entitled to many blessings, including this type of experience that strengthens their testimony of the truth of the gospel and of the importance of serving missions for the Lord.
Filed under: Giuseppe Martinengo, Mormon Church, Mormon Prophets and Apostles, Mormon Videos, News & Politics, Videos
Yesterday a friend told me that he found something interesting about me at this website:
If we scroll down we can find one very nice video about the conversion story of brother Ott Dameron (my good neighbor)
and my own conversion story. The funny thing for my friend was that they titled my video by saying
Watch The founder of More Good Foundation, from Italy:
I have been working for the More Good Foundation from the beginning, and I am still doing it, but the real founder is David Neeleman, the famous Mormon, the same person who founded JetBlue and now Azul, in Brazil.
In any case, the website also call the Prophet, president Gordon B. Hinckley,
Revered President Hinckley…
We do not call “reverend” our prophets, but what is important is that they provided a great link to a very good video, where President Hinckley shares his testimony
Filed under: Luca Martinengo's mission, Martinengo's Family, Mormon Church, Mormon Missionaries
This is a very interesting picture of the day of my baptism.. I was skinnier and younger, obviously
Now Luca, my son, is in the mission field, looking for people like me, ready to accept the Gospel and the Church. My son had an exchange of emails with one of the two missionaries who taught me the gospel first, and the one who confirmed me a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This is an excerpt from the email that was written by Lynn Forbes (Elder Forbes) about how he remembers those times:
I would be happy to share my recollection of how I met your dad…. It was sometime in December of 1984. I had only been in Italy a little over two months, so was still in the process of really learning Italian. Me and my senior companion (Elder Burton) were doing street contacting in Asti, where we would go to the busy streets and try to talk to people about the gospel, and arrange to visit them in their homes if they would let us. I actually think I remember some of our conversation with your dad on the street that morning. We would typically look for men who would be in the age range where they might be married, so your dad was younger than we might usually stop. I really believe that Heavenly Father knew your dad was ready for the gospel – so, we ended up stopping him anyway. I think I totally messed up what I wanted to say, but, somehow your dad invited us to come to his house with our message. It wasn’t until January that we ended up getting to talk to him. By that time, Elder Stout (I think you’ve met him) was my senior companion. I do remember the day that we finally spoke with your dad, because I wrote about it in my journal. That afternoon, we had been tracting (knocking doors) without much success. At one apartment building, we actually had a couple of interesting things happen to us – first, on one floor, after we knocked and told the person inside who we were, we heard a dog barking as someone who was angry was unlocking the door – we decided to leave that floor and go to another floor. On that floor, a lady got really angry with us and told us we better get out of the building or else. So, we left the building. As we left, that lady dumped a bucket of cleaning water on us from above. We talked about what we should do – and decided we would try to pass by some of our street contacting names. Your dad was the one we decided to see (he was only a name on a sheet of paper, at that time). Anyway, we went by his place (his mother’s home), and he let us in, and we taught him the first discussion. We asked him to read from 3 Nephi (Christ‘s visit) and we made an appointment to return in a couple of days. When we came back, he had read all of 3 Nephi, and had started at the first of the Book of Mormon. He said he knew it was true and that he wanted to be baptized. It seems like we returned every day, or every other day for a week or so. He finished the BofM soon. The only problem we ran into was his mom. Because of her, we put off his baptism until February – she was still very angry – you probably know that part of the story from your dad. But, he ended up being baptized. Elder Stout baptized him and I confirmed him. His confirmation is still one of the times of my life that I felt the Spirit the strongest. I don’t think that Elder Stout and I were “special” missionaries. We were just out, doing our best, and Heavenly Father did the rest. That is the key to missionary work, I think – to be out “opening your mouth” and doing your best – it sounds like you’ve learned that. I’m glad you are having a great mission – seeing the gospel change people’s lives – it really is a beautiful thing. You will look back on your mission as a great time in your life – when you had the privilege of devoting all your time to the Lord. There will be times in the future when you will miss that.
Filed under: Luca Martinengo's mission, Martinengo's Family, Mormon Missionaries
We have received another email this week from our missionary. It was in Portuguese, since Luca is working with many Brazilians at Martha’s Vineyard and he is practicing his Portuguese more and more.
This is a little excerpt from his email,
This week was good, but a little slow, it rained a lot, no hurricanes, but strong winds.
This week we had a wonderful lesson with the Brazilian who will be baptized in few weeks. He told me that he knows that the Book of Mormon is true and he believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet but he already changes church once and he want to make sure that this is going to be the last time. He really wants an answer from Heavenly Father. Therefore at this point we can only wait and pray for him…
Yesterday I taught in Sunday School for the first time in Portuguese. Was very good, I loved it, I like to teach.
We are teaching several people and I am improving my Portuguese every day…