by Emily Lewis
I didn't always love the Spanish Book of Mormon.
In fact, not even after months and months of reading it did it sway me to think otherwise. To me, it was just a leather book with gold rimmed pages.
September 29, 2013. The sun sneaked in through the wooden slats covering the window. Eyes open, back flat, sheets tossed to one side, I laid in quiet silence. I was becoming slowly aware of the inevitable back pain from the ancient dirty mattresses that we were forced to sleep on. I wondered if the floor was more comfortable. I waited in peace before the phone alarm rang, ending my tranquility.
'Another day in this country,' I grumbled so unwillingly in my head.
I flopped out of bed. Glancing over my shoulder to see my companion do the same. I knelt down, and prayed. I did not want to be there. But I pretended that I did. I was a robot, passing through the normal morning routine. I sit at my desk, with my mind and heart thousands of miles away, wandering in its own wilderness.
I clenched my Spanish Book of Mormon, walked to my bed, and sat down. I read. And read some more. I had read the Book of Mormon over ten times in English, yet, now I was reading lines and words and characters that I did not understand. I did not love this book. It wasn't my book yet.
I slammed it shut. My heart's frustration began leaking through my eyes. I let my head fall back on my pillow. I looked at my watch. It was 11:23 am. But what I really saw was a time clock telling me 11 more months as a missionary.
My vision blurred and the tears streamed down my face, soaking my pillow. I looked up at the wall—hanging there perfectly by four small pieces of scotch tape, a painting of Joseph Smith’s first vision, ripped out of the latest Ensign. Time stop. In this instant I knew everything was true. My heart opened in that moment to a flood gate of peace and happiness—I was feeling pure gratitude for Christ’s gospel being restored on the earth, by a man, just as human as me. I felt an immediate love for the book that I held in my hands that I didn't understand. God taught me something through feelings. It was then I felt the reality of Him in my life—how much He had prepared me to feel this change.
It was this morning I began living the Book of Mormon. I now knew who Lehi, Nephi, Ammon, and Alma were. All these lives and characters who were once just a part of history became now part of my story. Our lives and experiences had common threads.
We were both missionaries. We both knew what suffering felt like.
We both had prayed earnestly, spending much more time on our knees.
I believe they had moments like I had. Searching in the wilderness for a concrete understanding of what I had always been told was true.
I was in my own wilderness.
I came from a wonderful home up above, where life was perfect. I lived with a Heavenly Father who loved me. But then came to earth, where challenges and trials became more every day life.
Like Lehi, he left his precious jewels and riches, a comfortable bed and home, a place where his family resided, and he left for the wilderness. It was in the wilderness, that Lehi’s greatest learning experiences took place. It was there that he pleaded with God for help and support. It was in the wilderness--away from their comfortable home-- that Alma and Amulek were trapped in the prison walls, seeking a solution from God. It was in the depths of the wilderness that Mormon--the only righteous man held up to his standards to be an example for the rest of the people.
We've all been in our wilderness.
It's in the wilderness that we have to learn to survive to become something.
I was in my wilderness for a long time. Over seven months, I struggled and suffered, patiently waiting for my exit. And now, I realized, it is better to be in the wilderness--He gives me enough to survive in this wilderness.
I'd like to stay here in my new wilderness.