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What Happened when I Finally Met the Mormon Missionaries
When the Mormon missionaries showed me the filmstrip of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s First Vision, it was difficult for me to contain my tears. The story of his search for truth was in some ways similar to my own.
At that time, I was 20 years old and living in Italy, the land of my birth. For five years I had been looking for answers my parents’ religion had not been able to give me. I had sought these answers in other religions and philosophies, but something seemed lacking in all of them. During the year before I met the Mormon missionaries, that search had become the most important thing in my life. I distanced myself from some of my friends and even left the university where I had been studying. My relatives could not understand me.
At the end of 1984, I met the Mormon missionaries on the street and gave them my address. I knew very little about the Mormon Church, but for some reason I wanted to speak to them.
Some days later I was in my room. I opened my heart to God, asking Him to show me what He wanted me to do. As I prayed I felt a great peace surround me. At that exact moment, the doorbell rang. When the Mormon missionaries came in, I knew they had the answers I sought.
During the second discussion, the Mormon missionaries challenged my mother and me to be baptized. Our reactions were very different. After reading a good portion of the Book of Mormon, I had fasted and prayed and received a confirmation of the truth of what the missionaries were teaching. My mother, however, did not have the slightest intention of being baptized.
When the missionaries left, my mother presented me with a difficult choice. If I chose to be baptized, I would have to live somewhere else. For me there was no question. I knew what was right; I left my mother’s home that night.
The following day the missionaries, the branch president of the local Mormon congregation, and I went to my mother’s home to try to resolve the problem. During the discussion that followed, I accepted my mother’s request to wait a month before being baptized—but I did so only out of respect for her and to prove to her that my desires were sincere.
During that month the missionaries continued teaching us. Nothing changed for my mother, and it became clear that she wanted me to again delay my baptism. But I could not wait, and on 15 February 1985—the best day of my life until then—I was baptized.
My mother was angry at my decision, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I met with my branch president, and as we prayed together, I felt inspired to ask my father’s brother to let me live with his family.
My uncle agreed but on the condition that I return to the university. Soon, however, our relationship deteriorated because he did not want me to go to church or to help the Mormon missionaries. Finally, he prohibited me from leaving the house for the district conference of the Church where I was to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Once more I had to choose between a tranquil life and the gospel. For me there was no question. That Saturday I arose early, packed my clothes, and left.
It was not easy being a member of the Church, but the Lord blessed me as I made my own way without the support of my family. One of my greatest blessings came when I went to visit the home of a newly baptized couple on an assignment from the elders quorum. There I met their daughter Giovanna.
After a time Giovanna was also baptized, and we planned to be married. But on the day of our wedding a legal notice arrived stating that the marriage could not take place. My mother had found a way to prevent it. After several difficult months we resolved the matter and were married. We now have four beautiful children.
As a family we have had difficult experiences, but these experiences have strengthened our testimonies. The Lord has blessed us greatly, and He has used our trials and difficulties to guide and bless our lives. Of this there is no question.
Italic textGiuseppe Martinengo