Finding answers to important questions in unexpected ways

Sarina Keane, currently a student at Cleveland State University in Ohio, has learned that God answers questions and gives guidance in many different ways: through thoughts, feelings, personal letters, and sometimes even fortune cookies. (Karmen Kodia)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — While fortune cookies are not always the best source for advice about crucial life decisions, the fortune in one cookie in particular led Sarina Keane to take her first few steps on a journey that would answer many of her deepest questions. When she read “Sunday is a good day,” she knew she needed to accept the missionaries’ invitation to attend their worship services despite her hesitations.

As a student at Ohio State University, Sarina was used to seeing young men in white shirts and ties with name tags walking around campus. It wasn’t until she took a class about religious diversity in America that she began to take an interest in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “After studying their religion, I decided I really wanted to talk to those missionaries because I thought they believed in a lot of weird stuff,” she said.

A year or so passed before she saw missionaries on campus again. One cold winter day as she was leaving her research lab, she saw two young men dressed in all black walking toward her and she knew they were missionaries. “I thought, ‘If I don’t make eye contact, they won’t stop me,’ but they did, and they began asking me all kinds of questions,” Sarina said. Though she didn’t express interest in learning more at the time, she agreed to meet with them, and that’s when they invited her to church. Just as the fortune cookie suggested, Sunday was a good day for her to attend church. She continued meeting with the missionaries in the following months to learn more.

When it came time for her to make the decision to be baptized, Sarina felt that she wasn’t receiving answers to her questions. She said, “I had only one question, and that was whether baptism was right for me, and I just did not feel like I was getting the answer.” Finally, she turned to a letter that she had written to herself months before about her negative feelings toward the church. “I realized,” she said, “that I didn’t feel that way anymore. I felt like that was my answer. I just needed to hear it from myself.”

After more than eight months of studying, Sarina decided to be baptized. “I didn’t necessarily have a strong feeling,” she said, “but I just knew. That’s how most of my experience in the church has been. You just do what you need to do and then you’ll just know.

Now, she has a whole network of church leaders and friends who are there to answer her questions. As a convert, she has different perspectives from lifelong members, and she said, “I like to ask questions that make other people in the church stop and think.” She has also learned that not all of her questions can be answered in this life. “Something that (my bishop) will remind me is the teaching that we shouldn’t ‘look beyond the mark.’ We need to work with the knowledge we have and try not to give it all up because we’re trying to see past the point.”

Sarina sees youth all around her struggling to make big life decisions and wondering what their purpose is. “Many young people want to fill the void of meaninglessness,” she said. “They want to know for what specific purpose they are here as they’re trying to figure out which career path is best for them.” One piece of simple advice that Sarina offers is this: “It just takes putting their faith in God to help them through this time period of life.”

If there’s anything Sarina has learned, it’s that God answers questions and gives guidance in many different ways: through thoughts, feelings, personal letters, and sometimes even fortune cookies.

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