Note from Editor: The following story was related by my brother, Michael Smith, who served a mission in Warsaw Poland from 2010-2012.
Meeting Jonas, Letter of 10-3-2011
We had about 20 minutes until a session of General Conference so we decided to contact right around the chapel while we waited. We met this super super cool guy named Jonas. He’s irish/swedish and just got to the city of Lodz where he’ll stay for about three months for work. He was very open and we didn’t have an english Book of Mormon on us so we asked if we could come by his place the next day and give it to him. He accepted gladly. We got his address and headed to the General Conference broadcast.
We had our meeting with Jonas the next day and it went amazingly. He really is searching for the truth. After we taught a first discussion and bore testimony of the Book of Mormon and God’s love, he said, “I want to have that feeling.” He said, “I feel an emptiness inside and heard of other people tell of this feeling of God’s love and that he exists and I want to have that assurety for myself.” We assured him he could feel that if he reads from the Book of Mormon and prays earnestly wanting to know if its true. His eyes swelled up and he smiled accepting it and thanking us. We then invited him to watch General Conference that night at the senior missionaries apartment. He said he would definitely be there.
He did indeed come to the Sunday morning session which was at 6 pm for us. He loved it, watched intently and told us after that he really liked the talk about the Book of Mormon (with the circle and lines through it). It it was very clear and bold that the Book of Mormon is either of God or of the Devil. There is no middle ground. Jonas even said it was his favorite talk. He’s already read up to Nephi 10 in less than a day and said “it’s exciting. Unknown. I know the Bible but these stories are something new.” Jonas truly is a miracle of God here in Lodz, Poland.
A Burning in the Bosom, Letter of 10-11-2011
This past week was probably one of the best weeks of my entire mission and it’s all because of Jonas. He is the most prepared of the Lord I’ve ever met and he is already strongly converted to the Gospel and just after one week! Every time we meet with him my testimony grows that those who are truly open and searching and read the Book of Mormon and pray to know WILL get an answer.
Jonas has been living in Sweden. He is an engineer and his company kept trying to get somebody to come to Poland, but NOBODY wanted to. They kept throwing more and more benefits to get someone to go and once they included a company car, Jonas was all in. His second day here in Poland he ran into the Mormon missionaries (us). He said in Sweden he never would have stopped and talked to us at all, but being in Poland he knew absolutely no one and had no friends so he willingly accepted the only two english speakers he had met.
When we taught him a first discussion, we challenged him to baptism on the 29th of October and to prepare himself for that day. He accepted saying however that he wants to be sure he’s ready, he doesn’t want to feel like he was tricked or something and go back to his old life style and habits. He said he’s going to read the whole Book of Mormon, and we promised that if he sincerely read it and prayed to earnestly know if it’s true, he will receive an answer well before the end of the book.
A few days later we had a meeting with Jonas and taught a second discussion. He said that the strangest thing happened to him the previous night. He went home and he sat down and started reading. He was towards the end of 1st Nephi, and he thought to himself, “what did the missionaries say? Oh yeah, pray. Dear Lord, help me know it this is true or not. Help me find the truth and know of that feeling.” He said his chest just felt like it was on fire. He said then he just started to cry and he NEVER cries. Now he said he knows, and nobody can make him think otherwise. He said no scientific proof or anything. He knows how he felt and will never be able to reject or doubt that. We then asked him if he wanted to wait till Oct. 29th to be baptized or as soon as possible, this Saturday the 15th. He said as soon as posible.
This amazing spiritual experience has been the foundation of everything else: his testimony of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, sacrament meeting, and President Thomas S. Monson. Everything in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ he has fully, openly, and sincerely accepted because he has such an amazing spiritual experience. He always tells us that he couldn’t believe this could happen to someone like him. He was a strong agnostic. He never thought he could have had that feeling that religious people have and be a religious person. And then he said he’s especially amazed at how quickly it happened. He thought it would take a month or two, if ever, to know. But 8 days. Wow! We told him when someone is ready, God doesn’t wait, and he was ready.
From this spiritual experience he had, he truly has changed his life. He used to drink beer all the time. After all he’s Irish! He said the past week was the first week since he was 16 that he’s gone without any alcohol. He’s only 21, but he had 5 more beers in the fridge when we taught him the Word of Wisdom. He said he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to go cold turkey so he’ll drink these last 5 and then start. He really wanted to do it HIS way. But he said that after we left he poured all 5 beers down the sink and threw out his cigarettes and coffee.
I have never met someone like Jonas on my mission. I can tell his conversion is true and real. I love Jonas for being so willing and for recognizing the Lord in his life and I love the mission for giving me the opportunity to play a role, as tiny as it is, and bringing this joy to these people.
Jonas’ Baptism, Letter of 10-17-2011
In the beginning of the week we looked everywhere for a pool and could not find one. We did however find a very nice small lake close by. It was really really cold but Jonas said that he still wanted to do it. Jacek, a young single adult in the who was baptizing him, was all for it as well. They were excited and scared and nervous but so willing to do it. All the members said that it was crazy and we should just postpone it to next week when we could find a pool, but we told them everything would be fine. We woke up on Saturday morning and it was freezing cold and raining on top of that. We stopped by Jonas’ place just to make sure he was okay with it and he said it was.
At the service before we went to the Lake, Jonas had the opportunity to bear his testimony. He told his conversion story with much more power than I ever could. He claimed to be agnostic, and this was his chance to find out if God really did exist or not. If he didn’t find out now he would have remained atheist his whole life. He told about his prayer and how he felt the Spirit so strong. He told the whole branch that he knew without a doubt that this was from God. He said he will always have his proof that this Church is true.
We went to the lake and everything went perfectly. Without hesitation they walked into the lake and had a very calm, spiritual, baptismal ordinance. When they came out, we had blankets and sheets for them to change. I asked Jonas how he felt and he said “it’s truly indescribable. I feel relieved and amazed at where I am and what I’m doing. It’s just simply put, wonderful.” It was an experience none of us will ever forget.
I love this work so much and am so glad to have been able to see the gospel really bless someone. Jonas has changed so much in the last weeks that it is undeniably the power of God. He felt it and knows it. We can all feel that love and power of God again and again in our lives. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and the happiness is brings us.