|Note: David and I were asked to team speak at Stake Conference last night. We spoke on the stand together about our conversion experiences and the blessings that have come into our lives from keeping the commandments and living the gospel. Here is our scripted talk for you to read.|
David: Good evening brothers and sisters my name is David Munoz.
Sarah: And I’m Sarah Munoz. We’re from the 3rd ward and we were asked to speak on how the gospel has blessed our lives.
David: We’ve been married for 84 days 8 hours and 34 seconds roughly, which rounds up to almost three months, and they have been nothing short of an adventure. Sarah and I had the blessing of being sealed in the Salt Lake temple to each other. It has been a wonderful few months but we would not be standing here in front of you if it wasn’t for our Heavenly Father’s plan, the gospel and a lot of answered prayers.
Sarah: David and I met at the University of Utah in 2015 at a philanthropy event, had a business class together and were friends long before our first date. Once we got serious the conversation of religion came up and it was really the first test we had faced in our relationship.
David: I grew up Catholic, born and raised with a devoted Catholic mother. I had friends who were LDS but I wouldn’t say I knew anything about the gospel. In fact, Sarah was the first person to take me to Temple Square.
Sarah: I was nervous to start dating David because I had recently regained my own testimony of the gospel and I was worried that his Catholic upbringing would conflict with my renewed faith. However, I had reached a point in my life where I began vocalizing my conviction for the gospel instead of hiding it to fit in. So, I made it very clear when I started dating him that I wasn’t going to renounce my beliefs.
David: We made an agreement that I would attend church with Sarah one week and she would come to mass with me the next. After about 3 months of trading off churches and asking each other about the beliefs we grew up with, Sarah told me that she wasn’t getting as much out of the Catholic church as she did the LDS church, and she asked me if I would be willing to take the missionary lessons. I was nervous to say yes but I knew that she was so committed to her beliefs that if I didn’t show up, then I would lose her. So I agreed and we started trying to contact the missionaries.
Some of the most profound moments of my conversion were the times we would read and discuss the scriptures together. The spirit was so strong that eventually the idea of converting to a different religion no longer seemed like a scary idea. I was baptized into the church in August of 2016 and just over a year later, Sarah and I were married in the temple.
Sarah: Before David and I had started dating and I shared my testimony with him I went through my own conversion. A series of events had led me to be pretty inactive in the church while I was in college but I reached the point that people commonly call “rock bottom”. I was depressed and lost and knew that I needed to reevaluate my life decisions. After pondering how my life choices could have taken such a turn for the wrong, I remembered my mother’s favorite scripture, Mosiah 2:41 which reads:
“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”
After rereading that scripture I felt the love of Heavenly Father and the power of the atonement leading me back to the gospel. After that realization, I promised Heavenly Father that I would make the necessary changes to have the spirit with me again that I would never let someone become a barrier between my relationship with God.
The emptiness I felt without weekly church attendance, taking the sacrament, regularly reading my scriptures and speaking with my Heavenly Father was what gave me the courage to tell David when we first started dating that my faith comes first. And it was what gave me the courage to share my testimony with him and the missionaries consistently through his conversion process.
David: Sarah and I both consider ourselves converts to the church and we have both lived without the guidance of the gospel in our lives. Because of this, we have been particularly sensitive to the blessings that come from being a member of this church. We receive many great blessings from the gospel. The three we wanted to mention today that we felt helped strengthen our testimonies the most are 1) Families are Forever 2) Heavenly Father Forgives Us Continually Through Repentance and 3) We Can Receive Frequent Spiritual Guidance.
Families Can Be Together Forever
Sarah: First we wanted to talk about how the fact that families can be together forever has blessed our lives.
During the first General Conference David and I watched together in April 2016, President Henry B. Eyring gave a talk on eternal families. He stated that “we must strive to be sealed to an eternal companion in the temple of God” and “encourage others to make and keep the covenants that bind a husband and wife together, with their family, in this life and in the world to come”. Being blessed with our families for eternity gives us comfort knowing our loved ones will always be with us.
David: The idea of having your families with you for eternity drew me closer to the gospel when taking the missionary lessons. My family has always been my motivation, both at work and in school, I would always remind myself who I’m representing and who I’m working to give a better life and set for success. Knowing I will always have my family with me encouraged me to continue searching for answers through the scriptures and prayer. Now that Sarah and I are married, we have begun building our own family and I am grateful that we were able to be married in the temple.
Sarah: David and I have done a lot of things for the first time together, starting with getting our endowments. Recently we went and did sealings for the first time in the temple with my parents and it was comforting to be in such a holy place with the people I love the most. Having my family together in the temple has been one of the most special and binding ties. I know that we can be together forever and that Heavenly Father brought us together for a reason. My faith is strengthened frequently simply knowing that I am bound to my family forever.
Heavenly Father Forgives Us Through Repentance
David: The second blessing we wanted to mention is the blessing that our Heavenly Father forgives us through Repentance.
Brother Stephen W. Owen gave a talk at this past General Conference about how repentance is for everyone. He reminded us that “repentance both puts us on the right path and keeps us on the right path. It is for those who are just beginning to believe, those who have believed all along, and those who need to begin again to believe.” They were encouraging words that reminded us that our Heavenly Father forgives us and loves us when we have stumbled.
Sarah: Repentance has been one of the most necessary blessings for me both before and during my marriage. Before David and I started dating, the healing power of repentance brought me back to the gospel. After our marriage, I constantly pray to be forgiven for my shortcomings when it comes to being a new wife. I know that no matter how small or how large, Heavenly Father wants to heal our souls so that we can be perfected and live with Him again someday. I am grateful for the power of repentance in my life.
David: In Luke 15:7 it reads, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
I have a testimony that Heavenly Father loves and desires all of us to be worthy of entering His presence again. The Atonement is a gift that should be used frequently because we are all imperfect beings. It has blessed our lives to not only know that Heavenly Father is forgiving but that, as we follow His example, we can forgive each other as well. Forgiveness and repentance have been important blessings in our lives.
We Can Receive Frequent Spiritual Guidance
Sarah: The final blessing we wanted to share today is that we can receive frequent spiritual guidance.
Elder Richard G. Scott said in his October 2009 talk entitled “To Acquire Spiritual Guidance” that, “Father in Heaven knew that you would face challenges and be required to make some decisions that would be beyond your own ability to decide correctly. In His plan of happiness, He included a provision for you to receive help with such challenges and decisions during your mortal life. That assistance will come to you through the Holy Ghost as spiritual guidance. It is a power, beyond your own capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants you to use consistently for your peace and happiness.”
David: Finding the correct missionaries for me was a test of our faith and required us to rely on the spiritual guidance of the Lord. I was living in Taylorsville at the time and Sarah was living in the student ward at the University of Utah. She wanted me to meet with the missionaries in her ward because we were both familiar with everyone there but we couldn’t connect with them. Then we tried meeting with the missionaries in her parent’s ward and they weren’t a good fit either, however, they were able to give us the contact information for the Taylorsville missionaries.
Elder Alvarez and Elder Abel were the missionaries assigned to my ward in Taylorsville. I remember the first time I met with them and they explained the gospel to me in a way that was easy to understand. The other missionaries we met with tried to explain things that were over my current understanding of religion and left me feeling confused, but Elder Abel and Alvarez connected to both Sarah and I and we knew that Heavenly Father had sent them to us specifically and it was one of the first moments that I felt the power of the gospel in my life.
Sarah: Not only have David and I relied on the spiritual guidance of others, but we have relied on the scriptures and our personal prayers to guide us through challenges we’ve faced together. I have a testimony that Heavenly Father knows and loves us and that if we follow the advice in Alma 37:37 and “council with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good,” then we can receive frequent spiritual guidance. I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers and provides us answers through scripture study and the Holy Ghost.
David: Brothers and sisters we’d like to share that our testimony of the Gospel is true and that it blesses all our lives if we listen to the spirit when it calls us. The road is different for all of us but what will always remain constant is the love our Heavenly Father has for each of us and blessings that come with following His Plan for us.
Sarah: We know that by living worthy of the blessings of the gospel we are able to have our families together forever, the frequent forgiveness of our Heavenly Father, and constant spiritual guidance. We say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.