I remember asking my mom many years ago, "What is the most important thing for me to know?" And I will never forget her answer. Without hesitating she said, "That Joseph Smith was a prophet of God." Through my teenage years and on into adulthood I have often pondered her simple but profound answer. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, then the Book of Mormon was true. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, then the church was true too. My mom had pointed out that by knowing this simple truth, my life would change and my testimony of the gospel would grow.
Now, I had always believed Joseph Smith was called of God, but I don't think I really KNEW until near the end of my mission. When I sent in my papers to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I had no idea what a mission it would be. First of all, I have a major handicap, I can't memorize to save my life! And when I got called to serve a Spanish speaking mission, I was terrified. The first thing they had us do when I got to the MTC (Missionary Training Center) was memorize the First Vision in the words of Joseph Smith in Spanish. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't do it. So I didn't.
When I got out into the field (Anaheim, California), I could hardly speak any Spanish I was so terrible, let alone teach the gospel. But as time went on I became more efficient and fluent in the Spanish language, and grew to love the people I had the opportunity to teach. But one thing didn't change, I couldn't teach the First Vision of Joseph Smith, and my heart ached. Luckily, all my companions had no problem teaching it instead. I almost got away with it... until I became companions with Sister Mietzner. I loved Sister Mietzner, and we quickly became friends, but it was only six weeks until she was scheduled to go home. It was really hard for her to want to work, and I couldn't blame her, she was really tired.
One day, we were set to go teach a young woman who was very pregnant and alone. We started off by teaching her about the Book of Mormon and then I turned the lesson over to Sister Mietzner to tell about Joseph Smith like I always did, but she remained silent. Her face looked a little green, and I realized that she was feeling sick. I asked her if she would teach the First Vision, and she said, "No." I was stumped! I panicked inwardly. I couldn't do it. I begged her, "Please!" and once again, "No." So I said a quick prayer in my heart and turned to the young woman. My mouth opened and my lips moved, but it wasn't my voice. The words were perfect, they were beautiful, they were divine. I said (in Spanish):
"I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me... When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake to me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other -- This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
By the time I finished there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Tears ran down our faces. The spirit of the Lord was so strong in that tiny room, I could hardly breath. It was at that moment that I KNEW without doubt, that it really had happened. God the Father and Jesus Christ did appear to Joseph Smith. He was in fact a prophet of God. My mom had been so right! It didn't matter how many times people told me it was so, I had to know for myself, it was true! That moment in time is forever burned in my heart, no one can shake the testimony I have for Joseph Smith, no one. All because of the witness I received that summer day.
From that day on, I never forgot the words of that First Vision. I taught the story of Joseph Smith with all my heart for the rest of my mission in the field, and I will continue to bear testimony of him and his divine mission until I die and forever after.
If you have doubts about Joseph Smith, I implore you to go to the Lord in sincere prayer, just like Joseph did so long ago, and ask Him if all this is true. He is our Father in Heaven, he will guide us and answer our prayers because He loves us so much. He wants us to find truth in this world, and above all he wants us to return to him someday.
"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