Letter to Kayla (2003)

     For those of you that don’t know me, I first became converted to the church when I was 18.  A large portion of my conversion came through independent study of all sides of the argument, (including the sides that were not favorable towards the church).  So I am no stranger to Antis, their “arguments” and false arguments, and the hatred that is associated with it. That being said, you have a brief background of where this letter came from, and you have a basic understanding that this came from a very significant and important time in my life.

     The following is a letter that I wrote to Kayla, a young girl that I had never met before, except on a religious forum around the month of August or September 2003. On the thread, people were asking mormons seemingly innocent questions about the church at first, but it quickly turned into a lively debate between 3 or 4 anti-mormons and several regular mormons (including me).  I still remember some the things that they wrote about the church and it’s teachings really shook me, and other members that had read the thread. I remember the casual member would occasionally come in, defend the church for a few posts, and then post something to the effect of, “wow, I never knew that about the church, I should really rethink my religious preference…”

     Now I’m not saying that they were being honest, because for the most part, they weren’t.  Rather they used tactics like using obscure church history references and scriptural references to support their claims–no matter how ridiculous they were. They purported to represent truth, but they really represented half-truths and outright lies sometimes. I remember that when we confronted one anti on his inconsistency in argument and logic, he explained “sometimes it is necessary to lie to bring the Lord’s children away from the Devil’s creation (the church) and back to the truth.”… Bullspit if you ask me. Since when is lying the method of God? It isn’t, and it never was.
     Anyway, Kayla came in to the discussion, and explained that she was investigating the church, and that she would probably be baptized. The “anti”s took this as the perfect opportunity. One after the other, each one explained how glad they were that she was looking for the truth, and that they were her friend, and that she should look into this, and look into that, and ask herself why this, and don’t read the book of mormon–because it is not true–trust their word, don’t talk to the missionaries about this–they are trained to overcome those questions just so they can get you baptized, the church brainwashes people, etc etc.
     She then, after reading their posts, became visibly shaken, and she shared it with us by posting that she was really confused and scared, and that she still really wanted to be baptized and not believe what they had said, but she said that she could not get those terrible things out of her mind (that’s what anti is designed to do).
     Her parents, upon finding out she wanted to become baptized, were absolutely against it. They threatened to disown her if she joined the church. They asked for her to sever all ties to the church, with friends, missionaries etc.. She was very very upset. She could not understand why they would keep her from doing something that would make her very happy, and give her the direction that she wanted.
     They kept working on her, and we did our best to answer those tough questions for her and give her links to places where she could find out for herself, because she, being young and not a member, did not have all the resources that we had. I realized that posting this to the forum would not have been incredibly helpful, as I know that anything that could be helpful spiritually would be immediately attacked or argued against. So, I wrote an email.  Here it is:

    Hi Kayla, My name is Diego. I am a member of the Church. I was born and raised within the Church, and although I was an active church-goer for all of my life, I did not really have a true testimony of the Church.
     Actually, around my junior year in High School, I started to become very, very, confused about the church, it’s teachings, and the teachings of all of the other churches around me.
     I had many questions run through my mind, and many of them contradicted my own set of beliefs. It came to a point where I was presented with a question: What did I believe, and Why?
     It was at that moment that I made a decision to figure everything out. I decided to immerse myself in all sides of the argument.
     I had pressure build around me, not only from my own individual studies, but from friends, and family also. I truthfully, at that point in time, could not discern truth from lie, or lie from truth. But, I did know that there had to be lie and truth. I seeked for weeks, even months, to understand the things of the Church, as well as other points of view.
     I prayed earnestly, and poured my heart out to the Lord that he would help me to overcome my afflictions, many many times. I knew that the Lord would guide the way. He would not — could not — lead me away from Him. I knew that he would help me in my time of dire need.
     And help He did. He helped me to calm down. He helped me to slow down. He helped me to concentrate. He then helped me to understand.

     I sought to know Him and His ways, and the Lord, true to his word:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let Him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)
     And the word of God became my source of solace, inspiration, and wisdom:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:2-3, JST, footnote “2a”)
“The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish…” (Proverbs 10:3)
“…the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.” (Psalms 140:12-13)
     And it is by the word of the Lord, that I came to realize that the doctrines taught by most others, did not fall in line with the scriptures — but the doctrines of the church did.
     The Lord guided me to “the promised land”, as Tom called it earlier. He led me to great happiness, joy, and understanding that I know that I could not have partaken of if I had not pressed through.
     I am so very glad to read that you do have a testimony of the church, and of all of its teachings. I am glad that you have decided that you would like to become baptized into the church. I am glad that you seek out the truth and light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in whatever shape or form it may come. I am glad that you have a deep and sincere desire to nourish a healthy relationship with your mother and father. I smile to think about the strength of your testimony when you bear it to others. I wish that I could meet you, and know you, and congratulate you on your many accomplishments.
    From reading your posts thus far, I have gathered that you love your family very much. I would say that you feel a great deal of stress at this moment in time in making a decision. I understand your feeling of being torn between two wonderful things.
    I advise you: If you feel for any reason that it is not the right time for something to be done, postpone pursuing until a better time. I encourage you to try to find the right decision for the time being, and to pursue others at a later time. Do not pursue any decision that you are not ready for, or are not willing to make. If you will but be careful in your steps, praying continually unto God, He will guide you from all of your afflictions.
     In the D&C it says:

“Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means…but be diligent unto the end. Pray always, that you may come off conquerer; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (D&C 10:4-5)

     Your family is very important. It is through your family, that you were raised to be who you are today. It is through your parents, that you have a conscience, to know right from wrong, and good from bad. It is through them that you learn to love others. Families are “the fundamental unit of society,” and without them all of society would crumble and fall, for there is no support, and no foundation. Without a strong family unit, the offspring come in danger of straying from the path, and falling into the pits and snares of the world. It is in a family that all human virtue is nurtured.

     In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles declare:

“The Family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan…Happiness in family life is most likely to be acheived when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities…We call upon responsible citizens and officers everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

     Know that you may entrust your entire soul upon the Lord:

     “He was born of Mary at Bethlehem, lived a sinless life, and wrought out a perfect atonement for all mankind by the shedding of his blood and his death on the cross. He rose from the grave and brought to pass the bodily resurrection of every living thing and the salvation and exaltation of the faithful.

     “He is the greatest Being to be born on the earth–the perfect example–and all religious things should be done in his name. He is the Lord of lords, King of kings, the Creator, the Savior, the God of the whole earth, the Captain of our salvation, the Bright and Morning Star. He is in all things, above all things, through all things, and round about all things; he is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last; his name is above every name, and is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved.

     “He will come again in power and great glory to dwell on the earth, and will stand a Judge of all mankind at the last day.” (Bible Dictionary, Christ)

     Do not be afraid to read your scriptures, and to search for solutions to your goals. It is through His servants the prophets, that all things are revealed unto all of mankind (Amos 3:7).

     I promise that if you will tread in faith and in prayer, that the Lord will be ever at your side.     I know that He lives. I know that he will manifest himself to all of mankind once more, to bring to an end all of evil and wickedness of the world, and to make everything anew, and to reign personally here upon the earth. I know that if we could all realize, that if we all believed Jesus Christ, and followed his teachings in all that we do, that there would be continual peace on earth, and goodwill towards men at all times, and that there would be no contentions or confusions among the children of men.

     I know that the Church is true. It is a living church, because it has continual revelation flowing through it, from a great man which we call prophet. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know the Book of Mormon to be true. I know that the Lord’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. He has re-established his Church to help and to guide all of us back to Him, so that we may glory in his presence.

Your Friend, Diego.

PS: Extra scriptures that I couldn’t fit above:
D&C 4:6-7: “Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.”
D&C 46:33: “And ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen.”
D&C 88:40: “Intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth it’s course and claimeth it’s own; judgement goeth before the face of Him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.”
D&C 88:86: “Abide ye in liberty wherewith ye are made free; Entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.”
D&C 121:45: “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence from God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.”
13th Article of Faith: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow in the admonition of Paul – We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”