The Book with Answers
By Alessandra Maria Pereira de Paula
Ensign, Jan. 2008, 72
While watching a documentary on the Amazon jungle, I learned that missionaries from various religions had taught the Native Americans about Jesus Christ. I began to wonder about the salvation of the millions of their ancestors who had never heard about Jesus, the gospel, or saving ordinances like baptism. If the Savior came for the salvation of all humankind, why had so many throughout history been excluded from His glorious message?
I searched for answers in the Bible, but I couldn’t find anything suggesting that the Old World was even aware of the civilizations in the Americas. No pastor, priest, or Bible student could answer my questions.
One day I was moved by a hymn I heard. I learned the hymn in my own language, Portuguese, and as I struggled to translate it into English, I remembered that my Latter-day Saint neighbor, Jesuina, often received American missionaries in her home. I asked her if the missionaries could translate it for me. The next day they left a translation with a short note that read, “It was a pleasure to be able to help you. One day we would like to meet you.”
When I met the missionaries a week later, they invited me to visit their church. But I did not like Mormons. Members of my family and leaders of other churches I had investigated criticized them, calling them a dangerous sect. They made many absurd criticisms that I believed to be true. One rainy Sunday shortly thereafter, however, I awoke with a great desire to visit their church—to repay them for their kindness but also out of curiosity. During the first meeting, people went to the pulpit and testified they knew that the Church and the Book of Mormon were true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Somewhat disturbed, I left the meeting and went to Sunday School.
When the teacher mentioned scriptures or stories from the Bible, I was eager to participate. But when she spoke about the Book of Mormon, I remained quiet and pensive. Why another book if we already had the Bible? Before I left, the teacher thanked me for my participation and then surprised me by giving me her copy of the Book of Mormon.
When I returned home, I went to my room, knelt on the floor, and began a sincere conversation with Heavenly Father. I told Him that I felt something special about the Mormon Church but that I didn’t want the adversary to delude me. I prayed that He would help resolve my confusion and show me which church was true.
Afterward I felt a great desire to read the Book of Mormon. I prayed again for strength and direction. During my prayer, I felt a strong and good feeling—an interior warmth. I knew I was not alone at that moment. A thought came instantly into my head: “Read the book!”
I opened it and began reading. Before I had finished the introduction, tears began running down my face as the Lord revealed to me the mystery of the Native Americans. The Book of Mormon seemed prepared especially to respond to my concerns. I felt great joy to have my questions answered. It was as though the ancient Americans had spoken from their graves to tell me about their lives and to testify that they also knew Jesus and that He had suffered for them as well.
Amazed with my discovery, I sought out the missionaries and listened to their lessons. On Easter Sunday, March 31, 1991, I descended into the waters of baptism—the best decision I had ever made.
I feel immensely grateful to Heavenly Father for His mercy and great wisdom. I know that He is just, that He has not forgotten any of His children, and that He is eager to reveal His plan to all humankind. I know that the Book of Mormon is a sacred book. It is true.