Mormon Senator Harry Reid: Why I Believe

John Dehlin Mormon

I’m sure others have blogged about this, but I just discovered (via buddy Eric). A good, classic Mormon Story.

Why I Believe: Harry Reid
by Harry Reid
March 15, 2002
Printed from Mormon Life (http://deseretbook.com/mormon-life)

For me, the title of this…would better be Why I’m Glad I Believed.

I was born and raised in Searchlight, Nevada, a mining town of about two hundred people. Mining was not the main industry in Searchlight when I grew up; the number-one business was prostitution. At one time in my youth there were thirteen separate bordellos in town.

I went to a two-room school, and most of the time one teacher taught all eight grades.

I thought we had one of the best homes in Searchlight. But on reflection, I realize that it had no hot water, only an outside toilet, and was heated by a wood stove.

During all the time I spent in Searchlight there was never a church or, as I remember, even a church service. So when I went away to high school in Henderson, some forty-five miles away, it was a real adjustment. I hitchhiked or obtained rides in other ways to and from Basic High School. I would stay with people during the week and go home on weekends.

My first boarding site in Henderson was with my father’s brother, Uncle Joe. His wife was Aunt Rae, who many in the family thought was a little strange because she was a Latter-day Saint.

Aunt Rae was very good to me. She was strict but fair. One thing she suggested was my going to something called seminary. A boy named Ron was nice to me and said he also went to seminary. I thought it unusual to go to class before school started, but because of Ron and Aunt Rae I agreed to try this thing called seminary.

The seminary instructor was named Marlan Walker. He was also a high-school Spanish teacher and, as I learned later, an LDS bishop. To say he was a good teacher is a gross understatement. He was mesmerizing. For the first time in my life, I heard the message of Jesus Christ.

In my high-school years, I took two years of Spanish from Marlan Walker as did my wife-to-be, Landra Gould. Marlan went out of his way to be kind to everyone, especially to me and my Jewish girlfriend, Landra. He set an example in kindness that was impressive.

I obtained an athletic scholarship to attend the College of Southern Utah, where I lived in a dormitory with two of my Nevada friends. It was a room for four, so we were assigned a roommate named Larry Adams, who was a Korean War veteran and a returned missionary. He always acted as a returned missionary should.

Because Landra’s parents did not want her to marry a non-Jew, we decided, following my sophomore year in college, to elope. Our former Spanish teacher, still a bishop, heard of our secret marriage plans and said he would save us the twenty-five dollars for a justice of the peace and would himself marry us, in his LDS chapel, no less.

After he married us, we two nineteen-year-olds went to Utah State University to complete our education. My brilliant wife sacrificed her remaining college to work so I could become a lawyer.

Landra rose before dawn each day to take a bus to Thiokol Chemical Company about fifty miles distant, where she worked to pay for my college education. The bus driver, Mr. McPherson, was a stake missionary. Because of his teaching and his patience, we were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints.

After more than forty years, Landra and I believe our joining the Church to be among the best decisions we ever made. We accepted the Church and a new life because of the power of example. Many contributed to the change, from Aunt Rae to Marlan Walker, from Larry Adams to the stake missionaries. They were effective because they lived their lives as shining representatives, even models, of the life of Jesus.

Our blessings are many. We have five children and soon will have twelve grandchildren. All five of our children have attended BYU, and all have been married in the temple. Each child has been a positive example for us.

After these many years I believe that the Church has been a steady, positive blueprint for my life. Without the direction of the Church, I would have been without a compass.

So you see, I am glad I believed.

This and other moving testimonials from rank-in-file and well-known members of The Church can be found in the remarkable new collection, Why I Believe.
© 2002 Deseret Book Company.