Provided by Whitney Butters
“If they only knew what the Book of Mormon is really about.”
I remember the thought running through my mind back in 2011 when “The Book of Mormon” musical was first released.
The irreverent musical tells the story of two missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Uganda. While profane, it's also been popular, winning nine Tony Awards and being performed worldwide.
As a member of the LDS Church, I wasn't exactly offended by the production. I simply wished for the opportunity to tell those involved what I know to be the truth.
I never imagined the opportunity would present itself on my full-time mission.
In June 2012, I began serving in the New York Rochester Mission. I was assigned to the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center and sites, which included the Joseph Smith Farm, Peter Whitmer Farm and the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site. Part of my responsibility was to learn the history of the area, lead guests on tours and strengthen faith and understanding in the restoration of the gospel.
In March 2013, the site director of the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center received a phone call. It was a request to arrange a visit to the sites for members of "The Book of Mormon” musical cast while the show was on tour in Rochester. As with any other guests, the group was accommodated. When I found out my companion and I were scheduled to be at the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site during the visit, I couldn’t believe my wish was about to become a reality.
The day came. The group of approximately 30 cast members arrived, and my companion and I took half the tour group through the site while another set of missionaries took the other half. I was just shy of nine months into my mission and had directed many tours with many different types of people. I generally felt comfortable in these situations.
But I initially found myself flustered. After all, this was a big deal. I was bearing testimony to the cast, which was exactly what I wanted. Things had to be perfect.
From the introduction on the first floor through the original bookstore and on to the business office, I nervously regurgitated facts: the number of copies that were ordered, who painted the original portrait of print shop owner E.B. Grandin and where the King James Bible on display was printed.
By the time we reached the third floor, I still didn’t feel as confident as usual. But as I stood in front of the model of Joseph and Emma Smith’s home in Harmony, Pa., where the Book of Mormon was translated, I realized something. I wasn’t there to prove anything or persuade through logic and facts. All I needed to do is share what I know. It didn’t matter if I was speaking to "The Book of Mormon” musical cast, the president of the United States or a Sunbeam from Provo, I needed to just do one thing: speak from my heart by the Spirit.
The words flowed more naturally as my companion and I continued presenting the historical information about the site and bearing testimony. As my companion finished demonstrating the printing process and bore her testimony in the print shop, one man raised his hand and asked, “How does the Book of Mormon help you in your daily life?”
Immediately I thought, “How would I answer this question?” The answer that came to my mind was undeniable peace knowing that no matter what happens in life, the Book of Mormon anchors my life in Jesus Christ and brings me eternal peace.
The tour continued on. The cast was courteous, showed genuine interest and asked additional thought-provoking questions.
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