Browsing through some family history files my Grandpa gave me on a CD, I found this account of Elmira Pond Miller written by herself in 1890. This history is unique because it contains not only a chronology of her life, but also her religious feelings that led her to convert to Mormonism in the early days of the Church. She recounts:
"Father did not belong to any church. My mother was a Methodist, also my two sisters and one brother. I was religiously inclined. In my young days I read the New Testament often, and many times wished that I had lived in the days of Christ and His apostles and often wondered why the same gifts and blessings were not in any of the churches. We were told that they were no longer needed. That seemed a mystery to me. My desire was so great to prepare for a future state that I made up my mind to unite with the Methodist Church. That was in the year of 1827. In 1829, we moved to Adams County, Illinois. From that time I was not a member of the Methodist Church. I found that I could not believe as they did. I did not believe in shouting or in calling out amen before a prayer was finished. I believed that God was a person as I had read in the New Testament, that Christ was in the exact image of the Father. I had a great anxiety to find something that would satisfy my mind. I was sometimes impressed with the hope that greater light would come, and it was my sincere prayer that I would be prepared to believe it.
"On the 19th of June 1831, I was married to Henry William Miller. He was not religiously inclined, but I believed that he was the one for me, for I loved him the first time that I met him."
. . .
"In 1839, I heard the first true Gospel sermon I had ever heard in my life. It was delivered by Elder Able Lamb. I could not help but express my gratitude to my Heavenly Father for sparing my life, and giving me the opportunity of hearing the same gospel taught by Christ and His Apostles. . . . Brother Lamb held meetings at our house. After having a few meetings he gave an invitation for baptism. I was one of the first to accept. He said he did not like to baptize me, as my husband was not then at home. He wanted me to wait until the next meeting which would be held in two weeks, and he promised me that my husband would be ready to be baptized at that time. I did not like to wait, but did as he desired, and the promise that he made me was fulfilled, as we were both baptized at the next meeting. This was about the middle of September 1839. The Gospel was so plain that I could not believe that my relatives would reject it, but only three of my sisters believed. One of them did not join the church because her husband refused to let her be baptized."
. . .
"I feel to bear my testimony to this work. I know it is the true church, the only one the Lord has on earth, and whatever I may have to pass through I never can doubt it. This knowledge I received not only by those appointed to lead, but by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost which is a sure guide. I have many testimonies to bear. I have seen the sick healed by the laying on of hands and prayer of faith. I have been healed myself and so have my children."
Elmira's loyalty to her faith was put to the test, as several years after joining the Church she was forced out of her home in Illinois and eventually walked across the Great Plains to settle with the Mormons in the Salt Lake Valley. Although I have not had to do anything like this, the reasons she gave for believing are the same ones that I feel. I find it thrilling to belong to a Church that believes that God is literally a person, a father, just as it says in the scriptures. To me it makes so much sense that Christ's church would be directed by him, and would have apostles, prophets, and miracles, just as in the Bible. I think many people believe these things deep inside, and that Mormonism resonates in the soul of people who study it with a sincere intent to find God's will for them.