God Is with Me

By Anna Albano

Anna Albano, "God Is with Me," Liahona, Mar. 1999, 9

It was the morning of the examination, and I prepared my backpack hurriedly. No, I wasn't forgetting anything—not my schoolbooks, my glasses, or my trusty Book of Mormon. I had everything—including anxiety, which worsened as soon as I saw the university buildings.

It was still early; the professor hadn't arrived, but other students were waiting with me. Everyone else was talking, but I sat in silence, close to panic. I couldn't back out now. This test was too important for me and for my family. I had to show my relatives that, even though I had many Church commitments, I hadn't neglected my studies. I had to pass this oral exam—but anxiety was shutting down my ability to smile and to remember what I had studied.

I looked out the window. The sky over my beautiful city of Naples, Italy, was incredibly blue, and my thoughts immediately turned to God. For several minutes I looked into the immensity of the heavens and spoke with my Heavenly Father. Peace came over me. I felt an assurance that God was with me.

While the other students continued to talk among themselves, I took my Book of Mormon from my backpack and began to read. I lost track of those around me as I was comforted by what I read in the scriptures. All of a sudden, a thought shook me: "It's useless for you to stay here. You can't answer the professor's questions. Get out of here. Take the exam next month." I made the mistake of listening, and again I felt very alone and very close to panic. The words penetrated into me, and I was about to shut my Book of Mormon and leave, believing I couldn't succeed.

Then I remembered my prayer to Heavenly Father earlier, along with the peace I'd felt. With all the strength I had, I cried out in my heart, "God is with me."

This time, joy overcame me, and I had no more fear. All my worries vanished in the warm light of heavenly reassurance.

Finally the professor arrived. When it was my turn to be questioned, I went into his office with a look that gave only a tiny indication of the peace I felt in my heart. And I came out of the office with a radiant smile. I had answered all the professor's questions and scored the maximum possible!

Discouragement is one of Satan's strongest weapons. He must have known that if he could hit his target this time, my family would have thought they had a reason to criticize the Church.

But with Heavenly Father"s help, I overcame doubt and discouragement. Now I know that if I do my part, Heavenly Father will help me. I need not fear. I cannot imagine a greater joy than knowing God is with me.

Gospel topics: Book of Mormon, courage, prayer

[photos] Photography by Steve Bunderson, posed by model; photograph of Naples by Randy Wells, © Tony Stone Images

© 2005 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Call Those Missionaries

By Ortensia Greco Conte

Ortensia Greco Conte, "Call Those Missionaries," Liahona, Oct. 2000, 33

In 1972 my husband, Giuseppe, and I—both originally from Italy—decided to immigrate with our young family to Australia. At that time we knew nothing of the difficult but wonderful spiritual journey still ahead.

As our three children began to grow up, I became concerned about their religious education. I had been reared in Italy's dominant religion, and I was familiar with a number of others. But I didn't feel any of them were right for my children.

One sunny day in 1980, I took the children to the park. As I sat under a tree watching them play, I began to think once again about which religion to teach them. I looked up into the sky and uttered a brief, sincere prayer. "Father in Heaven," I said, "I am so confused about all these religions. I want to teach my children the truth. If the true Church is on this earth, I ask Thee to help me find it."

Two days later I was talking to a neighbor when I saw two young missionaries walking down the street. My heart beat hard, and I heard a voice inside me say, Call those missionaries. My neighbor tried to dissuade me, but the voice was insistent: Talk to them. So I did.

I discovered that they belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Something about them impressed me, and although I didn't speak English well and they didn't speak Italian, I invited them to my home.

The missionaries told us that the true Church had been restored and that it had a prophet and apostles, just as in Christ's Church anciently. They told us about the Prophet Joseph Smith, about how he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and organized the Church under divine authority. It all made perfect sense to me, and a wonderful spirit enveloped us. I felt that Heavenly Father was answering my prayer.

The missionaries began visiting us. When they had finished the discussions, they asked if we wanted to be baptized. I was excited about being baptized, but Giuseppe was not as sure. Nevertheless, he and I and the two oldest children became members of the Church.

One week later some of my husband's friends had a long talk with him. They got him to drink alcohol, and they said a lot of negative things against the Church. He came home angry and told me he didn't want to have anything to do with the Church. He said the children could not go to services, and if I went by myself, he would not let me in when I came home.

I felt very confused. I went into the bedroom and curled up on the bed. I thought about everything my husband had said. Then I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help me.

I soon fell asleep and had a beautiful dream. In my dream, I was with a large group of people. Half were on the left, and half were on the right. In the middle was a figure in white with two missionaries. The missionaries were wearing name tags that read, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They began walking toward me, and I knew that I was not to worry, that I had made the right decision.

I woke up crying, but I felt great peace and joy. I tried to tell my husband about the dream, but he didn't want to hear anything about it. I was more convinced than ever that I had found the true Church.

I also knew the Lord would not forsake me. So when Sunday came, I gathered my courage and went to church with the children. When we returned home, we found the house locked and all our belongings outside. I was worried for the children's sake, but I also felt we were being protected. I checked all the windows and found one that wasn't locked. My son Luciano crawled in and opened the front door, and we took our belongings back in. From that day on, my husband and I had many arguments about the Church. In spite of this difficulty, my children and I continued to be fully active.

Two decades have now passed since we joined the Church, and we have been blessed in many ways. Two more children were born into our family. The year 1996 was especially wonderful. Luciano went on a mission to Italy, and our eldest grandson was baptized. And if that was not enough, Heavenly Father touched my husband's heart concerning the Church. In December 1999 our family was sealed in the Sydney Australia Temple.

I have learned that Heavenly Father does hear our prayers. I also know that if we have faith in Christ and are determined to grow spiritually, we will, in time, receive all the righteous desires of our hearts, whether in this life or the next.

Gospel topics: conversion, endurance, faith, prayer

© 2005 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.  All rights reserved.

A Study Plan

By Anna Albano

Anna Albano, "A Study Plan," Liahona, Mar. 2000, 10

When I was only five years old, my father told me he was impressed with my first-grade notebooks. He told me I should learn in every free moment I could find. Because he died shortly thereafter, that moment was the last time I saw my father really pleased with me. As a result, I have always studied for my own pleasure, but also for my dad.

Many years later as a university student, I worked hard and enjoyed my education. When I was baptized a member of the Naples Centro Branch, Naples Italy District, my joy became complete. I had found the truth I'd always searched for. I spent happy hours reading the Book of Mormon, other scriptures, and the Liahona (Italian). The more I studied such inspired works, the greater was my desire to learn. What joy I found studying the gospel! I loved to put the commandments into practice and enjoyed visiting teaching and working with the missionaries.

But as my attention to spiritual learning increased, my university studies slipped. I even missed exams because I had not studied enough. When my nonmember mother found out about my changed habits, she said, "Enough of this Church! Enough with these Mormons!"

Her words stung me. My behavior was not the Church's fault; the guilt was mine. I felt ashamed for setting a bad example for my mother.

I knew my college studies were important, but I couldn't give up the studying that was so delicious to my soul. What could I do? I went to God in prayer. Finally, after many prayers, I had my answer.

Today there are two stacks of books on my desk. On the right are the scriptures and the most recent issue of the Liahona; on the left are the books for my next exam. Each day, I start and end my studies with a scripture. I have restricted myself to a firm schedule in which I reward myself during study breaks with an article from the magazine or a chapter in the Book of Mormon.

From this experience I've learned a great lesson. We should develop ourselves in all good things so we can be positive examples and serve others. Jesus Himself "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52).

I continue with my study plan, always trying to stay close to the Lord and find ways to serve Him in all my activities—spiritual and secular.

Gospel topics: education, scripture study

© 2005 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.  All rights reserved.