I love that Elder Jairo Mazzagardi speaks about his process of seeking answers to a perplexing and long unanswered question. The actual question he grappled with–why did the Restoration happen in New York rather than elsewhere—is a fascinating one in and of itself. It’s one that tripped up many investigators in Russia who could not believe that God would work through an American prophet. But the more significant aspect of Elder Mazzagardi’s talk is how he describes the road to revelation.
He first descries the rush of his conversion and the joy that he felt. He got an answer to his payers “[a]fter a great spiritual struggle” and was was then baptized and sealed in the temple. Therefore, he had the foundational understanding that “the Lord knew and cared about me as He answered [his] prayers.” And he also understood that getting answers is hard work. These basic experiences likely helped him to know what he had to do when later doubts emerged.
Then, he faced a question that he could not easily resolve. He struggled to understand why the Restoration happened where it did rather than in the land of his ancestors. And therefore began to doubt or question key facts of the restoration narrative such as the existence of crowds of people debating religion.
So, he turned to read “everything [he] could” in two languages. And he spoke to a lot of people about his concerns. “But [he] found nothing that could calm [his] heart.” Nevertheless he continued to search.
He also formed a tentative answer for himself. This answer did not fully satisfy his desire for knowledge, but it tides him over and gave him increased faith.
Then, he chose to seek out a sacred place to pray and get an answer. He was eager to do so when the opportunity arose to visit Palmyra for himself. He prayed in the Sacred Grove, but still did not get the answer he sought. Finally, he was led to someone who “had an intense glow in his eyes” and he felt promoted to speak to him about his concerns. As the man spoke his “mind was enlightened and [his] spiritual eyes were opened by God.” “In [his] heart an immense joy and peace calmed [his] soul. [He] was filled with gratitude.
As all of this flood of insight and understanding came, he “now clearly understood why. Once again the Lord had given [him] knowledge and light.”
Elder Mazzagardi’s conclusion ring’s true: “If you who hear me have any questions in your heart, do not give up!” When he declares this, he is able to do so with power and authority because he has experienced it personally.
This story resonated with me as it was consistent with my drawn out process of getting answers to difficult questions that I have described elsewhere.I agonized, prayed, pondered, made tentative conclusions, and sought light. And ultimately I was led to the place where I could get answers to my concerns. Like Elder Mazzagardi, I know that we can get answers to our concerns and doubts. God will help us to know.