In January, 1961, F. Woodworth Whitlock, Jr. and his wife Betty arrived at Montevideo, Uruguay from the United States, on their full-time missionary assignment for the Methodist Church. As Pastor Whitlock cared for his flock and went about his ministry, he began to notice dark-suited young men going up and down the street in pairs, knocking on doors.
"I was sitting in my study one day when the doorbell rang. I half expected to find yet another beggar at the door, but instead, there were two big, grinning Mormon missionaries -- right at my own front door! 'Some audacity to come calling on a minister!' I thought." He invited them in, gave them a tour of the church, answered their questions, but there was no argument about religion. From time to time the Elders would return to say hi, and usually introduce a new companion. They remained on friendly terms.
During this time, he attended a Rotary Club meeting. The speaker was the mission president, J. Thomas Fyans. When the meeting was over, the Elders introduced him to President Fyans. President Fyans encouraged Pastor Whitlock to listen to the missionaries' message. "And then he looked me straight in the eye and said, 'One of these days you'll be a Mormon.' That really set me off, and I said, 'Well, if the Lord ever says so.'"
Later, Pastor Whitlock had an experience that deeply impressed him. He discovered the name of a young lady on the Methodist church register who he had never met. He was informed that she had joined the Mormons. He decided to visit her. "I went over to her house and knocked on the door. She answered the door and I explained: 'I'm the new pastor. I've come to call and see how things are.'" She invited him in and explained that he and her mother had joined the LDS Church and were very happy. "We don't go to the movies every Sunday as we used to, because in the morning there's Sunday School and in the afternoon we go back for sacrament meeting; and then all week we're thinking what a wonderful time we had at church Sunday and how wonderful it's going to be next Sunday." Pastor Whitlock reflected: "Well, I was just thrilled with the tremendous spirit in that home. This was exactly what I had been looking for; what I had come to help build up in the lives of the people I served. Here was someone that really loved the Lord and his Church.... I didn't have a thing to give this girl and her mother. I was completely uplifted; there was no other way to describe it."
He returned home, removed the name of the young lady from the church register and then made a notation in his notebook: "Lost to the Methodists, won to Christ."
After two years in Montevideo, Pastor Whitlock became spiritually exhausted. He went through a period of confusion and doubt. "I no longer knew what I believed about God or prayer, and I no longer cared whether I ever entered a church again or not." He wrote his resignation from the ministry, but was instead reassigned to a smaller church in another city.
"About this time, guess who came calling! This time they were mobilized on bicycles, four of them. On about their second visit the Mormon missionaries brought me a book, and they showed me that it was inscribed from some missionary friends of theirs down in the capital city who had intended to give it to us." He was impressed with the thought, but put the book on his shelf without reading a word.
A week later, on an old bus, a missionary felt impressed to approach Pastor Whitlock. They had a good conversation and the Elder told him about the Book of Mormon. "As we talked, I said, 'You people rank the Book of Mormon right along with the Bible, don't you?' He answered, 'Yes. If that book is false, our whole Church is a hoax.' As soon as he said those words, it was as if someone had turned a light on inside my heart. I wanted to read the book. I couldn't explain the change. Up to that time I had wanted to put off reading it, but now I had a big thirst; I wanted to read the book."
He returned home and the next day started to read. He was skeptical, but the words he read rang true. "I was getting upset about this whole problem, but by this time my wife was getting upset too! Each morning after breakfast I would disappear into my study and close the door, come out for lunch, then go back in to read, and so on.... From Betty's point of view it all seemed ridiculous. But to me it had become a very serious matter. I had to keep going, even though things were becoming pretty tense in our home."
Finally, he had to talk to someone. He decided to go visit the Mormon elders. "If this whole business was false, somehow I would be able to detect it; and if it was true, they could help me. Thus with book in hand I walked over to where the missionaries lived, just a few blocks away, and knocked on the door. I was trembling inside, for I felt like Daniel asking to be led into the lions' den. When one of the missionaries came to the door I said, 'I've come to learn.'"
They invited him in and bore testimony about the Church and the Book of Mormon. One of the elders asked him if he wanted to be baptized. "I replied that I thought perhaps I did when I came in, but I still had some doubts." They knelt in prayer. He resolved to spend the next day in fasting and prayer.
On the following day, he knelt in his chapel. "Then I poured it all out to the Lord -- everything that was churning inside me about the mess that I was in now, for I knew what would happen if I went ahead and was baptized. I knew it would be the end of my ministry, but I could take that. I was afraid, however, that it might also be the end of my marriage, for my wife was already extremely upset about what I'd been doing all week long." As evening approached, his prayers were answered. He realized that his fears and doubts were not coming from God. He went walked back to the elders' apartment and knocked on the door.
"This time I said to the elder who opened the door, 'I'm ready now. I've got a lot of fears yet, but no more doubts.' He invited me in and they all gathered around. One of them had a big grin on his face as he said, 'We've been having a great spirit here, fasting and praying for you all day.' Of course I didn't know they did that kind of thing and they didn't know what I was doing. But God knew, and together we won."
To his surprise, one of the elders looked at his watch and said that it would take about an hour to fill the font. Brother Whitlock thought, "I've fought this thing all day long. There's no more fighting to be done. I've gotten all the answers I need, and all that I'm going to get for now." That evening, March 22, 1963, he and four missionaries met at the new LDS chapel and he was baptized into the church. He went home, but could not bring himself to tell his wife until the next evening. She was terribly upset, but concluded they should stay together, at least until they returned to the U.S. He decided that he needed to go down to the LDS mission home in Montevideo to learn about the church he had just joined. Betty went with him. They felt a wonderful spirit in the mission home. President A. Theodore Tuttle taught them about Joseph Smith's first vision and the plan of salvation.
After a wonderful week, they returned to the parsonage, packed up their belongings, and flew back to the States. They settled in Salt Lake City, Utah. Seven years later, after a moving experience at the Hill Cumorah Pageant, Betty was also baptized into the Church. "Today our family is united in the gospel, and we can see the gracious hand of our God gently leading us toward the eternal joy he so much wants us to have."
(From "Paying the Price" in Hartman and Connie Rector, _No More Strangers,_ Vol. 2 p.33)