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Students share their testimony grew through dramatic and gradual experiences

Graphic of a fruit basket with the words "my testimony fruits of the spirit, many small confirmations, strong dramatic experiences, blessings of righteousness, heart burning with the spirit, answered prayers, peace, and fabric made up of thousands of threads."

Students and faculty members share they have learned the Church was true through individual experiences, feeling the Spirit and living the gospel.

Professor Eric Marlowe, an associate professor in the Faculty of Religious Education, said, “I have had very strong, even dramatic, experiences that have confirmed the truthfulness of the gospel to me. But the real strength behind what I believe has largely come through thousands of smaller confirmations. ... The analogy I like to use is that of a strong fabric made up of thousands of threads.”

He said he had felt the strength of his testimony being like a tapestry of thousands of strands of confirmation through relatively simple, yet genuine efforts to live the gospel.

“Kindness, caring, forgiving others, prioritizing family, honesty, patience, seeing the good in others and seeking to understand before being understood are some of the things that helped him find his testimony.

Testimony building experiences 

At the Face to Face devotional on Sept. 13, Melanie Rasband, wife of the apostle Elder Ronald A. Rasband, shared how she received her testimony of the Church’s truthfulness. She said, “I was born in a devout Latter-day Saint family. The moment it really came was when I was 15 at a Young Women’s camp testimony meeting.

“The Spirit was so strong. It burned in my heart, and I just knew. I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of the restoration. I knew the Church and gospel were true. I knew I would never leave the gospel, and my testimony has grown ever since.”

Jared Horton, a sophomore from Utah studying human resources, said, “Being raised in the covenant, people assume you always had a testimony. I don’t think that is always the case. I think there is a point in everyone’s life when they need to decide what’s true to them and what’s not.”

Horton said it took him until he was on his mission to know the Church was true. He said building his testimony was gradual like a sunset, and it took a lot of scripture reading, fasting and prayer.

Oketi Teekiu, a junior from Tonga studying mathematics, said her best friend was a Church member growing up, but she was not. She attended many Church activities, but she was never interested in being baptized or attending a Church school. She attended a government school until teachers began to leave, and she was unable to receive the classes she wanted.

She said, “I felt I wanted to transfer, and I kept feeling I wanted to go to the Church school. It was bizarre because I grew up never wanting to be a member or to go to the Church school. But this time, it was different. I had a feeling I wanted to go, but I didn’t know why.”

Soon, Teekiu started remembering what the missionaries had taught her in the past. She said she felt the desire to pray and ask where she should be. After praying the next morning, she felt right about going to the Church school and wanted to be baptized.

She said she immediately went to her best friend’s house and told her, “‘I will be baptized!’ Her whole family was there, and they thought I was joking because it had been four years, but I confirmed to them again. The mom called the missionaries right away, and the missionaries came.”

Teekiu shared the truth of the Church was confirmed through her prayer and the confirmation from the Spirit. “The peaceful feeling that I felt, I didn’t know what it was at that time, but after I became a member, I recognized it as the Holy Ghost.”

She has thought about the many blessings she has received because of the gospel, and “it strengthens my testimony.

“Once I became a member, my life started to fall into place. I attended a Church school, entered the temple and served a mission. My family joined the Church. I was sealed to my family in the temple.”

Horton shared while serving in the Fiji mission, he desired to have a Fijian jacket unique to Fiji. He shared he fasted and prayed for this jacket.

“I remember getting on my knees and praying for it. I thought it was silly, but I wanted it. I fasted that day, and I said, ‘I know, Heavenly Father, that this is silly, and it’s no future or anything of great value, but if you give me this jacket, I will ... believe.”

He went out with his companion and did normal work, and at the first lesson he was teaching, he saw someone, and they were wearing the jacket. He asked if he could get one, and the person sold one to him.

“It was a defining experience. Over time it continues to be experience after experience. I could never doubt it,” he said.

Nourishing our testimonies

Horton said to nourish people’s testimonies, they have to look at their actions and thoughts. “[We need to be] making sure we are doing the right thing and also thinking about the right things [and] striving to live a more Christlike life.”

Marlowe shared alongside smaller experiences that build his testimony, keeping the commandments, which he considers guidelines to happiness, and seeking to emulate Christ reminds him of the gospel’s truth. “I am repeatedly reminded of the gospel’s veracity and truthfulness by the fruits it produces and the way it makes me feel.”

Teekiu shared her testimony of the blessings of knowing the Church is true. She said, “Thinking back on all those many blessings I have received from the Lord’s Church and seeing how it happened is not something that happens out of nowhere.

“I know I have been blessed for being a member. I know there is nothing that can give me this but the Church. I can know there’s a Heavenly Father who loves me and knows what I am going through.”