Filed under: Giuseppe Martinengo, Martinengo's Family, Mormon Church, Mormon Missionaries
I have previously written about what I think prepared me to receive and understand the message of the Mormon missionaries. I will now focus on the time when I met them and received my testimony of the restored Gospel.
At the end of 1984, I was almost 20 years old. By that time I had dropped from school, since I had realized that the physics taught at the University would not help me find what I was looking for. Most of my friends and relatives couldn’t understand exactly what was going on with me and some of them tried in different ways to help me but without any concrete result. The problem was that I knew what I didnâ€™t want, but I was not sure about what I wanted.
Nobody around me seemed to have the answers I was looking for. However, I had the feeling that I was in the right path. I had faith that by following the best principles I had learned and trying to improve my life by getting rid of what was not in harmony with my ideals I would finally find the answers.
On a certain day close to the end of the year 1984, I was in my home, reading a book, when I felt the sudden urge to go for a walk in downtown Asti, my home city.
While I was walking in Corso Dante (one the main streets of the city) I saw two young men, two missionaries, walking toward me. One of them later told me that he didn’t really want to talk with me, but I looked at them and they looked at me and we stopped and started to converse. I remember that they asked me what I believed about the Savior. I can’t remember what I answered them, but they left me with a pamphlet about the Mormons, and asked for my home address.
A few days later, the same missionaries rang at my doorbell. My mother answered, and since they asked for her husband, she said that he wasn’t there. The missionaries then left before I could talk with them. I wasn’t completely ready yet.
A few more days passed and I finally reached the right point. I can remember that I was laying down on my bed, tired of my apparently fruitless search. I offered a simple silent prayer, in which I basically said, “I have done all that I knew I should do, now I really need help since I don’t know what to do next”
As soon as I expressed my thoughts to God, I started feeling an incredible peace and I felt as if heaven was close to me. In that exact moment, the doorbell rang. This time I was alone at home. I went to answer at the door and the missionaries were there. When they entered the living room, and shook my hand, I knew that they had the answers I was looking for.
Later, I realized that what I was looking for was not just a set of doctrines or a nice church, but the feeling of the Spirit. When they entered my home, I felt that they brought with them that nice Spirit, even if I didn’t know what it was at that time.
I understand now that the Lord gave me several experiences in which I felt His Spirit. Those experiences were so sweet that I was always looking for that feeling, even if I couldn’t name it.
The missionaries’ teachings fit perfectly together with my understanding. They were answering my questions about where we come from, why we are here, and where we will go after this life.
As I have written elsewhere, when the missionaries showed me the filmstrip of the Prophet Joseph Smith‘s First Vision, it was difficult for me to contain my tears. I felt that the story of his search for truth was in some ways similar to my own. My search had lasted longer, while his had been probably more intense. Moreover, he had been chosen to have the glorious vision of the Father and the Son while I had to content myself with two missionaries. However, those two missionaries were like angels to me, bringing with them the answers to my deeply heartfelt questions.
However, in spite of all these feelings, I still didn’t have a solid testimony. It was the reading of the Book of Mormon that brought to me the confirmation of the truthfulness of all those teachings and experiences.
Early in our discussions, the missionaries mentioned the practice of fasting. They didn’t stress that point too much, but for some reason I began to read the Book of Mormon while fasting at the same time. My later experience in teaching families and individuals with other missionaries showed me that it is not easy to find someone who accepts the challenge to fast while reading the Book of Mormon. However, those experiences also convinced me that when people do it, and they are sincere in their search, it is almost impossible for them not to receive an answer. And, in fact, that happened with me.
In less than a week, I read the entire Book of Mormon. I would fast for 24 hours, then have a lunch, and then fast for another 24 hours. My mother really thought that I was behaving strangely. At some point in that process, I decided to kneel down and ask if those things I was learning were true. I did it, and, after my prayer, an incredible feeling of peace surrounded me, a feeling similar to the one I had just before the missionaries came to my home, but much stronger. Together with those feelings came the answers to my specific questions about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and of the Church. I received a confirmation by the Spirit of God that all that the missionaries were teaching was true. From that moment, to paraphrase the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “I had a testimony; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither wanted I do it”.
I knew that the Church and the Book of Mormon were true and I was eager to learn all that was possible about the Church. However, my mother was not at all happy with my new “discovery” and, although the missionaries tried to teach her the day they challenged us to be baptized, it became clear that she was not interested like I was. Her opposition created some problems that led me eventually to leave my home.
However, I had finally found what I had been looking for after many years and this was what really counted. More than 20 years have passed since that day and I have had many experiences that reinforced that initial testimony.
So, why do I believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Simply because I know that it is true. The Spirit of the Lord testified it to me over and over again after that first experience. I don’t believe what I do because the Church is a wonderful organization, I don’t believe because I have friends, I don’t believe because the doctrine is clear, understandable, and sound, I don’t believe because someone told me so, but I believe because, in fact, I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.
After all we can say and do, each person will have to honestly search, ask, and receive an answer directly from God about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and of the Church. I searched, asked, and received my answer, and therefore I can honestly say that I know that these things are true.
Filed under: Book of Mormon, Mormon Church, Mormon Missionaries
I think that it is time for me to write my testimony of the Gospel in this blog. Everybody who reads the pages of my blog can easily realize that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) but I have never explicitly written about my testimony.
Members of the Mormon Church know very well what a testimony is, but others may not. In a few words a testimony of the gospel or of the Church is an expression of the members’ knowledge and feelings about the gospel and the Church. Usually this testimony is received through prayer and personal revelation. In this blog, I will divide my testimony into two parts. First, I will write about the experiences that prepared me to obtain a testimony or, in other words, what happened in my life that opened my heart to accept the gospel and gain a personal testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then, in the next blog, I will write about how I obtained a specific testimony of the Church.
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 couldnâ€™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 wasnâ€™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.
Next time, I will write about what happened just before meeting the Mormon missionaries and what happened at the time of my conversion to Mormonism, but I believe that this first part shows that I had been prepared, over the years, by a loving Heavenly Father, to understand what the missionaries had to say.
Filed under: Mormon Church, Mormon Doctrine, Mormon Prophets and Apostles, News & Politics
A very nice video has been posted on Google. Its title is Only the Gospel. It is about the hope that the gospel offer in spite of all the problems and disasters, natural or human, that are becoming so common in our days.
Unfortunately there are always those people who live to criticize and fight the truth. Some of those people have posted their comments the video. One particularly made me think. It is about the fact that the prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley didn’t warn the world about such dangers as 9/11 or Katrina.
In the Mormon Church we are aware that the prophets of God warn people unceasingly, but we know that their warnings “focus on the keeping of the commandments and not on the details of the consequences”. It would be too easy if the Lord were to tell us every detail of what will happen in our lives, good or bad. Our faith needs to be tested and it is part of God’s plan that we go through good and hard times, so that we can learn from our experiences.
We need to have an eternal perspective and know that the end of our life here on earth is not the worst things that can happen. In fact, if we have been faithful, death will only open a new door of glory and eternal life.
However, for those who don’t like to follow the commandments and the warning of the prophets, as it is clearly stated, for example, in the Book of Revelation, these days of warning and destructions will be hard to stand. The great and terrible day of the Lord is close.
Filed under: Mormon Church, Mormon Doctrine
“We want peace in the world. We want love and good will to exist throughout the earth, and among all the people of the world; but there never can come to the world that spirit of peace and love that should exist, until mankind will receive God’s trut and God’s message to them…
We will never have peace until we have truth…it is a very common expression today that there is good in all religions. So there is; but there is not sufficient good in the denominations of the world to prevent war, nor to prevent contention, strife, division and hatred of one another…
And put together all the good doctrines, in all the denominations of the world, together, and they do not constitute sufficient good to prevent the evils of the world…
It is my testimony that these are true words and that the Mormon Church has the answers that the world is not able to find.
O Anderson DC do Brasil colocou no UTube dois comerciais da Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Ãšltimos Dias (Igreja Mormon).
O primeiro Ã© sobre a importÃ¢ncia do tempo que usamos em nossas famÃlias. A Igreja MÃ³rmon convida nÃ£o somente os membros da Igreja mas todas as pessoas e atÃ© os governos da terra a fortalecer as famÃlias pois muitos dos problemas que estamos infrentando neste mundo confuso sÃ£o uma consequÃªncia da decadencia dos valores familiares.Veja proclamaÃ§Ã£o sobre a famÃlia feita pela primeira presidÃªncia e o quorum dos doze apostolos de A Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Ãšltimos Dias (Igreja Mormon).
O segundo video Ã© sobre caridade e serviÃ§o atÃ© com as pessoas que nÃ£o merecem…Gostei muito do contraste entre o benestante que anda de carro e nÃ£o ter respeito para o camponÃªs que anda de bicicleta e a reaÃ§Ã£o do camponÃªs quando tem uma oportunidade de ajudar quem antes o ignorou.
Que possamos ser sempre como o camponÃªs, sensivÃ©is Ã¡s necessiades dos outros.
Este Ã© o link ao video in UTube: Comerciais Mormons
Precisamos de mais boas mensagens sobre a Igreja que sejam colocadas a disposiÃ§Ã£o do publico na internet. ParabÃ©ns Anderson DC do Brasil !