“I’d like to share a true story with you, a story that can be both an example and a lesson. It can show you how to get closer to the Lord and access greater power to resist temptation.
“This is a story of a young girl, living in New York, who before age three lost her father when his boat sank on a large lake. She, her mother, older brother, and younger sister moved to a new city in another state to live with her aunt and uncle. Sometime after the family arrived, missionaries and members of a newly organized religion came to their town with the glorious news of the Restoration of the gospel. They told a remarkable story of an angel delivering an ancient record to a young man named Joseph Smith, a record he had translated by the power of God. Two of the visitors, Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer, had actually seen the engraved metal pages of the ancient record with their own eyes, and Whitmer witnessed he had held the golden plates in his own hands. This record had been recently published, and Brother Whitmer brought the book with him. The name of the book, of course, was the Book of Mormon.
“When 12-year-old Mary heard the missionaries speak about the book, she had a special feeling in her heart. Even though the Book of Mormon was thick with many pages, Mary yearned to read it. When Brother Whitmer departed, he gave one precious copy of the book to Brother Isaac Morley, who was a friend of Mary’s uncle and a local leader in the new church.
“Mary later recorded: “I went to [Brother Morley’s] house … and asked to see the Book; [he] put it in my hand, [and] as I looked at it, I felt such a desire to read it, that I could not refrain from asking him to let me take it home and read it. … He said … he had hardly had time to read a chapter in it himself, and but few of the brethren had even seen it, but I plead so earnestly for it, he finally said, ‘child, if you will bring this book home before breakfast tomorrow morning, you may take it.’”
“Mary ran home and was so captured by the book that she stayed up nearly all night reading it. The next morning, when she returned the book, Brother Morley said, “I guess you did not read much in it” and “I don’t believe you can tell me one word of it.” Mary stood up straight and repeated from memory the first verse of the Book of Mormon. She then told him the story of the prophet Nephi. Mary later wrote, “He gazed at me in surprise, and said, ‘child, take this book home and finish it, I can wait.’”
“A short time later, Mary finished reading the book and was the first person in her town to read the entire book. She knew it was true and that it came from Heavenly Father. As she looked to the book, she looked to the Lord.
“One month later a special visitor came to her house. Here is what Mary wrote about her memorable encounter that day: “When [Joseph Smith] saw me he looked at me so earnestly. … After a moment or two he … gave me a great blessing … and made me a present of the book, and said he would give Brother Morley another [copy]. … We all felt that he was a man of God, for he spoke with power, and as one having authority.”
“This young girl, Mary Elizabeth Rollins, saw many other miracles in her life and always kept her testimony of the Book of Mormon. This story has special meaning to me because she is my fourth-great-aunt. Through Mary’s example, along with other experiences in my life, I have learned that one is never too young to seek and receive a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon.
“There is a personal lesson for you in Mary’s story. Each of you young men, young women, and children can have the same feelings she had. When you read the Book of Mormon and pray with a desire to know it is true, you too can receive the same impression in your heart that Mary received. You may also find that as you stand and bear witness of the Book of Mormon, you will feel the same spirit of confirmation. The Holy Ghost will speak to your heart. You can also feel this same spirit of confirmation when you hear others share their testimonies of the Book of Mormon. Each of these spiritual witnesses can lead to the Book of Mormon becoming the keystone of your testimony. (“Look to the Book, Look to the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 2016)