I was born and raised in Southern California. Growing up as a child my family was not associated with any church or religion. My father, however, was raised in a religious home but did not carry on that tradition after he married my mother. They were good and honorable people who worked hard and loved their children. My parents were a “perfect match” for each other and enjoyed the blessings of an exceptional marriage, but practicing a particular religion was not a part of their lives.
I, on the other hand, had friends who “went to church”, so I “heard” about God from them. Often, as a young girl, I would lie on the green grass in our front yard looking up into the sky wondering to myself, “If I looked really hard in the sky, would I be able to see God”? Then I would ask myself, “I wonder if His face will appear in a cloud, or will He be standing on a cloud?” I really didn’t know what to expect, but I always thought in my mind that God would be in the image of a man.
Over the course of my childhood, I attended a few churches of various denominations – none regularly. Sometimes I went alone but mostly I went with girlfriends. I don’t remember looking for any particular “doctrine”; I was simply drawn to “going to church”, and finding out what God looked like.
Years flew by and soon I found myself graduating from high school in 1956. I had a best friend who was a Mormon, and she was planning to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She and I decided that it would be fun to be roommates, so, I asked my parents if I could attend BYU with my friend. They replied that if I could save enough money, I could go. I worked and save all during my senior year and the summer before I was to leave. Finally, I had saved a whopping $500. I could go!
It was there at Brigham Young University that the Joseph Smith story sank deep into my heart. When I heard that Joseph Smith, at the tender age of 14, actually saw a vision of the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ, as two separate and distinct personages in the form of a man – my youthful questions were answered! I knew without any doubt that this was right. There was a special feeling that came into my heart that told me that this doctrine was true. We were created in His image, so why would He look any different – except that he is an “exalted man”, and therefore, has a “glorified” image. It is in Joseph Smith’s testimony that I learned of our relationship to our Heavenly Father and to His Son Jesus Christ. He is the Father of our spirits, and Jesus Christ is His perfect and only begotten Son in the flesh. Jesus came to earth to teach us how to live, and to redeem us from our sins through his infinite Atonement. We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Though we are eons away from perfection, we can become like Him — that is Heavenly Father’s promise to His children.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Mormons”) was restored to the earth in this last dispensation of time – as prophesied by ancient prophets – through the latter-day prophet Joseph Smith. He was visited by Heavenly beings and given keys of the Priesthood in order to establish the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful to know where I came from, why I am here on Earth, and where I am going after I die.