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Submitted by Dan Crites on 6 April 2007 - 4:31pm. | | |

This is not meant to be an example of good writing, I'm not ready to hope for that! This story is true and important to me. I wrote it for my personal history and I share it here in hope that someone may find value in it.

My name is Dan Crites and I hope to explain in this writing how I came to know that God lives and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s true church.

I grew up in Portland, Oregon where my parents lived following my fathers return from World War II. Mom and Dad had met each other when my father was stationed at Topaz Camp in Central Utah. My mother was born and raised in Fillmore, Utah about 50 miles from Topaz. My mother’s family were members of the Church but had quit attending by the time my mom was old enough to be baptized. My dad was not a member of any Church.

While I was growing up we always made a summer vacation trip to Fillmore. I had aunts, uncles, and many cousins there. I loved it as we would go up Chalk Creek Canyon to fish, out to my uncles farms to see the livestock, up in the mountains in a jeep, or out to the desert to hunt jack rabbits. It was great adventure and fun for a young boy and I always enjoyed going there.

My Mom died after a long illness when I was 11 years old. I loved her as much as any boy loves his mother, she was so good to me. My Dad, a good man, died 3 years later when I was in the 9th grade. After that, I lived with my brother, Gary, and his family.

When I graduated from high school I went to college at Oregon State University for one year. I was lost, not knowing right from wrong really. I was searching, searching without knowing I was searching, for the meaning of life and what was worth pursuing. I didn’t go back to school the following year but got a job working for a landscaping company where I stayed for several years.

Just after my 21st birthday I took a trip to Fillmore to see my extended family there. I can’t explain why I made the trip, I hadn’t seen any of them for 6 or 7 years, but I had good memories of Fillmore and used my vacation time to go. I took my dog, Beorn, with me and left in my Volkswagon Beetle early one morning a little before Thanksgiving. My car broke down near Bliss, Idaho and I had it towed to Burley where I learned that the engine repair would be major. I decided to sell the car there and I got a ride to Fillmore. This is where my story really begins.

I enjoyed being in Fillmore, enjoyed visiting with my extended family. I stayed with my Uncle Londo and Aunt Edith. Londo was my mom’s oldest brother. Edith was a woman of great faith and always attended church meetings, read scriptures, listened to recorded inspiring talks and music, and lived a life of service. She invited me to go to church with her, and though I really didn’t want to, I felt an obligation to do so, knowing that it would make her happy. I remember going with her, arriving a bit late, and having to sit on the first row. On another day I went with Errol and Joyce and their family to a Church road show. It was great fun and I enjoyed being with them.

I went to say goodbye to Errol’s family the night before I left Fillmore. My plan was to drive all the way from Fillmore to Portland, a trip of over 900 miles taking about 14 hours. When leaving Errol’s, he asked me if I’d like to stop on my way home at the Visitor’s Center at Temple Square. I didn’t have any interest in stopping there, knowing what a long trip home it would be. I said no, that I couldn’t do it and explained my reasoning. He tried to talk me into it and asked again. I said no again. He asked again. He told me that I would enjoy it, and that he would bring his family and meet me there. He suggested having his brother Lon, who had recently returned from serving a mission in Germany, meet us there. I don’t remember how many times he asked, but I do know that he asked one more time than I said no.

The following morning Lon and I met at the Visitor’s Center. We started our tour by looking at the large murals that depicted scenes from the old and new testament. It felt good there and I enjoyed hearing about what was depicted in the murals. Lon was a great guide, perfect for me, able to show and explain gospel principles. We then went to a diorama depicting Joseph Smith kneeling in prayer in a grove of trees. It was at this diorama that the story of the First Vision of the Father and the Son was first explained to me. I had never heard before a credible explanation of a modern prophet, and this opened up a whole new world of possibility. I believe it was just after that that we met up with Errol and his family. We went to a room that describe the Family Home Evening program and purpose. It was both entertaining and heart warming to hear of the importance of families and of a practice to help them be close and protected.

As I was driving home I decided that I needed to learn more about what I heard at the Visitor’s Center that day. I had a copy of the Book of Mormon that Aunt Edith had given me and a pamphlet or two from the visitor’s center. When I got home, around the 10th of December, I started reading the Book of Mormon. I liked it. I wasn’t reading very fast, only having read 30 or 40 pages when I got bogged down in the events surrounding Christmas. It was then that Lon called to see if he could come, just after Christmas, to visit me and see some of the sights of Oregon.

Though he has never said so, I have to think that Lon had a more noble purpose than just visiting me and seeing Oregon. We went to the beautiful Oregon coast, to Mt. Hood to go cross country skiing, and into the Columbia River Gorge. Because I had been thinking about what I had heard at the Visitor Center, and the things I had read in the Book of Mormon and church pamphlets, a few questions had arisen in my mind. I would occasionally ask Lon questions while we drove. His answers were always given in a very good manner. His responses made me very comfortable in asking more questions because they were always taken well, answered well, and were never “preachy”. He never gave more than what I asked for which left me wanting to ask more.

On Saturday he let me know that he wanted to attend church. We went to what was my home ward, it was the ward that I would have attended had I been a member while growing up. There I found people I knew, including two young women that I went to school with who had since joined the Church. Lon was instrumental in my introduction to the gospel and early learning of it. Looking back, I doubt that I would have taken the steps I needed to continue reading from the Book of Mormon and request missionaries had he not come and spent those three days with me.

We had a great time traveling and playing, but for me it was worth much more than that. By the time I took Lon to the airport I was determined to learn more about the church and this religion that had the ring of truth to it. I had had some concerns about talking with the missionaries, but had gotten to the point that I needed and wanted to. After I got back to the house where I was living I asked a roommate, Chris Kendall, a member of the church who no longer attended, if he knew how to find the missionaries. He said that he did and that night he arranged for them to come.

The missionaries, Elder Grant and Baker, came at the appointed time a day or two later. After a brief “get-to-know-you” discussion they asked for permission to offer an opening prayer and began to teach. They first told me about Joseph Smith’s First Vision. I loved it. I had heard it at the Visitor’s Center and I enjoyed hearing it again, it had the ring of truth. They then told me about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. I had previously heard that too. Then they told me about the restoration of the Savior’s true church, as it was originally organized, and through His authority. They ended by teaching me how to pray.

As a boy I remember my dad asking me to offer a blessing on a Thanksgiving day meal when my Aunt Eva and Uncle Pratt were visiting. I didn’t want to because I didn’t know how. We never had prayers in our home and I really had not heard someone pray very many times. One of the missionaries asked me if I would like to offer the closing prayer. I didn’t. I had only prayed one time previous to this in my life, just after my mom died. I definitely did not want to pray in front of them. They told me they would leave their flip chart open showing an outline of how to pray and asked if that would help. I told them that I didn’t need it, that I did not want to pray then but would do so in my own room after they left. They asked again, and I reluctantly agree to pray.

I closed my eyes and bowed my head. I’m sure I followed the outline, it was a very short prayer though I don’t remember what I said. After I closed the prayer in the Savior’s name I experienced something I never had before. It was a most amazing combination of feeling and intelligence. The feeling came as a warmth, though not physically warm, and accompanied with it was the knowledge that what I had just been taught was true. I sat there enjoying the feeling and being amazed by it when Elder Grant thanked me for saying the prayer. I thought, “Oh, let’s just sit here and feel this”.

We arranged for another visit and I started pouring through the Book of Mormon. I read it every chance I had, in the morning, during work breaks, at lunch, and in the evening. I found so many great things in it and I knew it was true. I continued with the lessons and was invited to be baptized on January 28, 1978.

My baptism occurred on the appointed day. I was confirmed a member of the Church by a childhood friend, Terry Walworth, who had returned from a mission a few months earlier. While hands were on my head, and the words “Receive the Holy Ghost” were pronounced, I had a similar experience to what had happened after praying at the end the first missionary discussion. I felt that I had received the promised Gift of the Holy Ghost, and though I know that there is much to receiving that gift, I did receive it that day.

That was 29 years ago. Since those days I have been greatly blessed in many ways and am so grateful to God and all those who helped me begin to learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ and gain membership in His Church. I have read the Book of Mormon over 30 times now. Prayer has become an essential part of my life. Church attendance has been a regular part of my life since joining and I have felt the Spirit many, many times. But, I still remember the unique feelings of the Spirit that came to me as I started to have, as it were, the scales of darkness fall from my spiritual eyes, and the Holy Ghost begin to communicate with me in ways that I could understand.

I know that God lives. His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Savior of the world, the Savior of every person who ever lives in it, if they will follow Him. He is greater than I have the ability to understand, yet I know something of his personality. I have heard his voice. I seek to live my life better by following Him, though I frequently have cause to be disappointed in my actions. I know that the Book of Mormon is literally true. It is what Joseph Smith claimed it is, an ancient book of scripture written by men of old for the people of today, translated by the gift and power of God. It was written for me. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s church, the only one authorized to administer the ordinances of the Gospel. It brings peace to the hearts of man in this life and salvation and exaltation in the life to come.

I am so grateful.

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