“Where Do I Pay My Tithing?”

The Lord Blesses a Faithful Woman for Her Sacrifice

photo-scaled-50013This experience comes from Julio Cesar Merlos of Texas, and was published in the September 2009 Ensign.

I was serving in the mission office of the El Salvador San Salvador Mission when the mission president transferred me to an area that had been closed for many years. The leaders of the branch there had not only prayed and fasted that missionaries would return, but they had also prepared for that day.

When I arrived, every family in the branch had friends who were ready to receive the missionaries. One member introduced us to a lady named Ana Oviedo, who sold fruit and homemade food on one of the busiest street corners in the city. While she was there selling food one Saturday morning, we asked if we could visit her at her home and share a message about Jesus Christ. She accepted.

When we arrived that night, Ana and her four children were waiting for us. We introduced ourselves and started teaching them. We felt inspired to teach about the blessings of keeping the Sabbath day holy. We also taught the family about tithing and the promises made by the prophet Malachi (see Malachi 3:10–12).

In response, Ana told us that she had already prepared to sell food the next day—Sunday—just as she always did. We then offered a prayer, asking Heavenly Father to bless this poor family, which needed the mother’s income.

The following day we were surprised to see her come to church with her children. We welcomed them and asked her what had happened with the food she had prepared to sell.

“Elders, I spent last night pondering God’s promises,” she said. “He will bless me.” Then she added, “Elders, where do I pay my tithing?”

We were moved by her show of faith, and we prayed that the Lord would answer our prayers for this family.

The next evening we went by her house again. She was crying tears of gratitude because God had blessed her so greatly that day. She said she had been selling food on that corner her whole life—Monday through Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.—and that she always had leftover items that didn’t sell. But that Monday she had sold all of her food by 1:00 p.m.
Heavenly Father had answered our prayers. The Lord continued to bless Ana, and she no longer needed to sell food on the Sabbath. Her children were soon baptized, but Ana’s husband would not consent to her baptism. Nevertheless, she remained faithful to the gospel and attended church until the day she died.

I know Heavenly Father keeps His promises when we obey His commandments with all our heart.


The Power of My Children’s Faith Stopped a Flood.

“Even now, 40 years later, it is hard for me to believe what I saw

IMG_0381This story comes from Pirkko Kassinen and was published in the Ensign October 8 2011.

It was a spring day in Helsinki, Finland. The sun was shining brightly, and the snow was melting fast. For hours I had been working with my boys, Juha, eight, and Hannu, six, to keep melting snow from flooding our cellar. The nearby drain that should have handled the pooling water was still frozen solid.

As my husband left for work that morning, he told us to make sure we kept the water out of the cellar. We worked hard until the afternoon, when it was time to leave for Primary. (At that time Primary was held on a weekday.) I told my boys, however, that they would have to miss Primary in order to help stop the water from getting into the cellar. Besides, my husband wasn’t a member of the Church, and he would not understand how important Primary was to our sons.
In unison, Juha and Hannu assured me that if we went to Primary, Heavenly Father would see to it that the water wouldn’t reach the cellar. I looked back and forth from the pooling water to the faith-filled faces of my sons. Part of me said, “You cannot go because no power can stop the water from flooding the cellar.” I appealed to Heavenly Father with a prayer in my heart. Then I made a difficult decision.

“We are going to Primary now!” I declared as I threw down the buckets. No matter what happened, I was not going to injure my children’s faith.

The boys had a wonderful time at Primary. But as we drove home afterward, the closer we got to our house, the more my fears grew. Reaching the yard, the boys ran quickly to the cellar door. Looking down, they cried out, “Mother, what did we tell you?” I hurried over. I will never forget the sight that greeted my eyes. The area was completely dry, as if it had been mopped. There were no signs of water anywhere. Even now, 40 years later, it is hard for me to believe what I saw.
The glow in my boys’ eyes reflected joy and trust in Heavenly Father. Joy—and gratitude—filled my heart too!
No power in the world can beat childlike faith. The scriptures say that if we believe and doubt not, we can move a mountain (see Matthew 17:20). That day the power of my children’s faith stopped a flood.

“How Would I be Able to Perform?”

A Trumpeter’s Prayer

ArmyTapsFuneralBugler-300x200This story comes from Tom Sullivan of Arizona, and was published in the March 2012 Ensign.

Since I lived in a small Arizona town with a predominantly Latter-day Saint population, missionaries and Church members often approached me about the Church. They frequently invited my children and me to attend church, read the scriptures, or both. I had no interest in accepting their invitations but politely thanked them for their interest in my family.

As I got to know the woman I would later marry, she told me she was a Latter-day Saint. I admired her spirituality and agreed to attend church with her after we married. True to my word, I started attending regularly and even enjoyed the atmosphere and camaraderie. But even though I studied the scriptures, attended church, and prayed alone and with my family, I still doubted God’s existence. No matter how hard I tried, I felt as though I couldn’t shake my agnostic roots. Because I felt no closer to God than when I had started, I declined all invitations to be baptized.

After I had attended church for six years, my father, who had been in the U.S. Army, passed away suddenly. My family and I wanted to have taps played at the grave site, and since I am a professional musician, I was asked to perform the song. I had performed at hundreds of grave site ceremonies, but because this was my father’s service, I knew it would be different for me. I also knew from my mother’s funeral that my heightened sense of emotion would affect my ability to play. I was determined not to let my emotions interfere with the music as they had during her service.

Minutes before the ceremony started, I nervously tried to warm up. Just a few practice notes had escaped my lips when I realized I was repeating my previous failure. Tears formed and I started to cry. My sobs impeded my breathing. How would I be able to perform?

I wasn’t concerned with accolades for myself, but I did want to honor my father. As I started to play, I found I couldn’t take a complete breath. It was uncharacteristic of me to ask for help, but at this point, I didn’t know what else to do. The first note that came out was weak. Inwardly I pleaded with my Heavenly Father: “Please.” As I played the second note, my lungs filled with air, and the sound rang out of my horn with a startling, beautiful tone. Throughout the rest of the piece, I played well beyond my ability. When I finished the last note, I was suddenly out of breath and choking for air through my tears.

As a musician, I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Simply put, I couldn’t have played that well even under the best of circumstances. It was obvious to me that Heavenly Father had answered my plea and blessed me with the strength and ability to honor my earthly father. I was given a special witness that Heavenly Father answers us in a manner that we can understand. His answer in my time of need helped me realize that He had always been eager to communicate with me.

After several months I cleared my agnostic hurdle and joined the Church. Although it was a leap of faith to be baptized, I knew that Heavenly Father would bless me. My experience while playing taps taught me that He will answer my prayers according to my needs and understanding.

“You are Angels from God!”

A Prompting from the Spirit Sends a Russian Couple on an Important Errand

7107551This story comes from Anna Nikiticheva of Scotland, and was published in the March 2012 Ensign.

Although we were very busy, my husband, Daniil, and I decided we should visit the Preston England Temple one more time before the end of 2009. It takes two buses and almost six hours to get to the temple from the small Scottish town where we live.

The morning we planned to leave dawned cloudy and rainy, but we were happy to be going to the temple. While we waited an extra hour to catch the second bus at the transfer point, it began pouring rain and getting cold.
However, the hope that we would soon be in the temple warmed our hearts. When we arrived in Preston, we felt a strong impression to go immediately to the temple. We were hungry and dripping wet, but we listened to the Holy Ghost.
When we entered the temple, a friendly temple worker asked for our temple recommends. He took off his glasses and looked again at the names on our recommends.

“Are you from Russia?” he asked in astonishment.

“Yes,” we answered, a bit surprised at his reaction.

“So you speak Russian?” he asked.

“Of course,” we said.

He then picked up the telephone and called someone.

Soon the temple president approached us. Through his glasses, we could see he had tears in his eyes. “You are angels from God!” he said with a smile, asking that we follow him. We followed him and soon saw a confused young missionary with temple workers standing around him.

It turned out that this missionary was from Armenia and spoke Russian. He had been called to serve in the England London Mission but had not yet learned English. There was not a single Russian-speaking person in the missionary training center adjacent to the temple. On that day he was supposed to receive his endowment, but temple workers had been unable to communicate with him—that is, until a thoroughly soaked Russian couple walked in.

Daniil immediately asked to accompany the young missionary. The missionary was overjoyed and later said he had felt a special spirit when we arrived.

I am grateful that despite our busy schedules and the rainy weather, my husband and I still decided to visit the temple that day so we could help a Russian-speaking son of God in Great Britain. I am grateful for temple blessings, which brighten our lives with a special light and purpose. I know that if we will heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost, He will lead us back to our heavenly home—just as He led my husband and me to the house of the Lord that day.

“I Could Physically FEEL Their Prayers”

The Power of Combined Prayers

imagesThis story comes from Amy, on her profile at mormon.org.

About six months ago, I became critically ill and was hospitalized with pneumonia. I had never been away from my three young children for more than two days! I was frightened and worried that I may never return home again.”We’re out of milk! We have overdue library books! Who will pick the kids up from school? Moms can’t get sick!” I believe in the power of prayer. I know God hears and answers our prayers. As I was being rushed to the hospital in the ambulance, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to please take care of my family. An immediate peace came into my heart and my mind. Christ’s words put to music in a familiar hymn “How Firm a Foundation” entered my mind and calmed my “troubled heart” – “Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand…” As news of my critical condition spread to my family members, they joined with our church congregation (ward) and began fasting and praying for my recovery. I could physically FEEL their prayers, and God’s healing power strengthening me. There was power in those combined prayers in my behalf, and I am so thankful for their faith. I know the wonderful doctors who treated me were guided and inspired by those prayers of faith to know what to do, and how best to help me. The experiences which refine are not easy, but are there for us to learn and be tested. I realized my most important work is to be a wife and mother. I am so thankful that my health has returned, and that I am able to be with my family now and forever. I am never alone. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know me and love me, and are aware of my needs. Through this experience, I gained a greater appreciation for my life, for my family, and for the gospel.

“I was Surprised to Find Love in my Heart for Him”

A Miracle of Forgiveness

LDS_woman_photo_Qumsiyeh-1024x768This story comes from a remarkable pioneer in the church today, Sahar Qumsiyeh, who is the first Palestinian Mormon to go on a full time mission and is currently serving in London.   She was interviewed by the Mormon Women Project, and told this story of finding the ability to forgive her enemies through the love of Christ.

Dealing with the (Palestinian/Israeli) conflict has been a real challenge internally. I’ve seen a lot of injustices done to my people over the years: restricted travel and curfews, friends or relatives arrested or shot for no reason, humiliation, loss of identity, house demolitions. When I was 16 years old and attending Bethlehem University for my undergraduate degree, there was a demonstration on campus and some Israeli soldiers shot a student. The soldiers wouldn’t allow us to take him to a hospital. For two hours, he lay with a bullet hole in his head. That day, I developed feelings of hate towards the Israelis because of what I witnessed them do to my people. After I joined the Church, that hatred kind of dissolved, but I still didn’t love them.

One day when I was trying to go through the checkpoint to attend church, one of the Israeli soldiers told me to go back; he said I wasn’t allowed in. I looked into his eyes and remembered a scripture I read in Matthew that morning in which the Savior said, “Love your enemies.” It occurred to me that I didn’t love the Israelis, and it really bothered me that I could not obey one of the Savior’s commandments. I struggled with that and didn’t know how to overcome those feelings. I came across a scripture in Moroni—chapter 7, verse 48—which talks about charity as the pure love of Christ. It reads, “Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love.” I decided that this was the only way to gain love for my enemies; I couldn’t love them through my efforts alone. I needed help from my Savior who had perfect charity for everyone. He was able to love and forgive the very soldiers who crucified Him. If anyone knew how to love, He did, and I knew He could teach me. I decided to ask Heavenly Father to help me because living with anger and hatred damages the soul.

The Savior said, “Love your enemies.” It occurred to me that I didn’t love the Israelis, and it really bothered me that I could not obey one of the Savior’s commandments.

I prayed for this for a long time, and I thought He didn’t answer, because I didn’t notice a particular change. But about a year after I started praying, I was passing through one of the checkpoints and I looked into the eyes of a soldier (who told me to turn back) and felt an amazing love for him. I knew that we were all children of God, and we don’t have to hate the people who do bad things to us; we can just hate their actions, but we don’t have to hate the people themselves. It was a tremendous comfort to me to learn that when Heavenly Father tells us to do something, He provides a way for us to obey His commandments.

The Palestinians and Israelis are seeking to establish peace. In order to do that, they have met at a negotiation table for years. I believe the only true peace has to come from the Prince of Peace himself, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The peace that the Holy Ghost brought into my life after I was baptized has remained with me during days of trouble and conflict. The Savior said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Only He can soften hearts, provide feelings of charity, and supply that peace that my country needs.


“Move to the Center of the Road”

A Spiritual Prompting Helps Avert Tragedy

IMG00079This story comes from Sulet on her profile at mormon.org.

In small ways my prayers are answered everyday. We have a habit of praying before we go anywhere in the car for safety. A couple months ago, my daughter and I were driving home after midnight after watching my parents for a few hours. It was a dark and raining night and as we were driving, I had a clear impression to move over toward the center of the road. I have a habit of driving closer to the edge to avoid head on colisions. Anyway, I moved to the center and within a  half mile or so, there was a man staggering on the side of the long bridge crossing a lake. He was wearing dark clothes and I barely saw him, but because I was over I avoided a near tragedy. I have come to recognize many answers to my prayers come to me as a thought or impresson in my mind or a feeling. I am grateful to know I can pray and receive answers.