by Eliseo Ramirez
I still remember when I was invited to attend the Affirmation Conference (in Mexico City, November 14-16, 2014). A mixture of emotions and feelings were present in me. For a long time I had longed to find a group where I felt comfortable and free, where I would not be judged by my lifestyle and preferences. I gladly accepted the invitation and for some months I was looking forward to the arrival date.
From the time I was a child, Ether 12: 4 has been of great help to me:
Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
From personal experience I know that the promises of ancient prophets and modern-day prophets are always fulfilled. That scripture has helped me personally to keep my faith and has literally been an anchor in my life when things got tough. This scripture was used as the theme for the conference and I like to believe it was proof (among the many proofs he gives me daily) that my Heavenly Father loves me and always will.
I had the opportunity to attend the activities of Saturday morning. In every talk, I could find answers to questions I had been asking myself for a long time. I could feel the Spirit and I also had that sense of belonging that I had been seeking. When sitting in that session, I could understand that we are never alone, there are others who are facing difficulties similar to mine, and once again I could strengthen my testimony that the Father always puts people in our lives to lighten our burdens. I know that God also works through his children and personally that Saturday morning that was confirmed for me.
Certainly the experience I most prized from the conference was having shared my testimony with people who speak and understand my language, with whom I share beliefs and faith. It was a testimony meeting I will always remember. Listening to the testimonies of my brothers strengthened my testimony, and again I could feel the Spirit in that meeting. While listening to the testimonies, 1 Nephi 11:17 came to mind, where Nephi testifies “I know that [God] loveth his children,” and humbly acknowledges his ignorance by stating “I do not know the meaning of all things .” I, like Nephi, know that God loves his children. I know He loves me. And though I often want to know the meaning of all things — especially the things I’m experiencing now — I understand that He has a plan for me, that everything that happens to me is part of that plan, and that someday He will help me to understand the why behind everything.
After the activities had come to and end, and as I was saying goodbye to some of the guys with whom I had been able to talk and make friends, a feeling of warmth and happiness stayed with me. By sharing life experiences with them I realized that there are still good people in this world. I know our preferences do not define us, that that’s just more of what we bring with us. During the days I was able to participate in the conference, I always felt I was where I belonged, with the right people, and where God wanted me to be that weekend. In other words, I was in the right place at the right time.