by Bonni Jensen
I am responding to the story "Faith for the Prodigal Child."
I was raised by an amazing mother who has been an active member of the Church her whole entire life. She always went to the temple, and we always went to church. Even if we were camping, I always remember her driving until we found a LDS church to go to--I even remember going in pants.
She has always paid a full tithing, and we blessed our food at every meal, and did family prayers every night before going to bed. She held many callings in young women and also Relief Society. She never raised her voice, nor ever hit or spanked us, and we always had wonderful home-cooked meals, fresh baked bread, and desserts.
But then, just like your worst nightmare, I wandered away from the Church. When I was nine years old, we moved to a new house they had built, and it put us in a new ward in a different building, and for some reason the kids in the new ward did not like me, or seem to like me.
Every kid needs friends, so I picked up some friends in my new school who did not do such nice things; therefore, I picked up their bad habits such as smoking cigarettes, and then came the alcohol, and by high school came the drugs. After a couple years, I had a bad reaction to the drugs, and of course, that just caused my mother more heartache. I did shy away from the drugs from that point on, but I did continue to smoke and drink.
My mother was always praying for me and putting my name on the temple prayer roll. And finally in 2008, my mother's prayers were finally answered, when some missionaries came walking by my house.
I was sitting out on my front porch smoking a cigarette, with my head facing down so that we wouldn’t make any eye contact, hoping that they would just keep walking. Lo and behold, they stopped, and started asking questions like how I was doing, and how long I had lived there, and if there was anything they could do for me.
They seemed to come by my street a couple times a week, and it got to where I would wave as they were coming, and then they asked if they could rake my leaves, then after they had done that, they asked if I would take the discussions. Never in a million years did I believe that day would change my life forever.
Soon after they started the lessons, they were transferred, and I remember feeling sad, but a couple of weeks later I ended up with some sister missionaries, and they were my rock. They gave me the discussions but also helped me through giving up the alcohol and cigarettes, and they were there for me continuously. Now I am a full-tithe payer, and I have held a temple recommend since November 26, 2010, and I have a strong testimony.
Don’t ever give up on your child who has wandered, as I know deep in my heart that they still believe, and they will return to the Lord. Don’t give up hope, and pray that faithful members of the Church where they live will somehow plant the seeds needed to help fellowship your wanderer back.
That is why home teaching and visiting teaching are so important. Maybe if I would have had home teachers or visiting teachers in all those years, just maybe I would have come back sooner.
I will always be grateful for my little missionaries. See if you can locate the ward in which your wanderer lives, and see if there is anything they can do to help your wanderer return. I will keep your wanderer in my prayers, in hopes that you, too, will have a happy ending.