Dear Chris Heimerdinger,
I first came across your Tennis Shoes series in my aunt's basement one Thanksgiving about five years ago. Dinner had ended, and I was looking for something to entertain myself with when I first picked up Tennis Shoes and the Feathered Serpent: Part 1. I didn't get very far before it was time to leave, so my aunt offered to let me borrow the first seven books of the series. I excitedly agreed to her idea. However, I admit, I never touched them until four years later, but I will be always grateful that I did.
I've always said I've had a testimony in the Book of Mormon...but I guess not enough of one to actually read it. Reading the scriptures on a regular basis seemed like a chore to me. I knew it was a commandment and that by following that commandment I could gain blessings, not to mention a real testimony of the Book of Mormon, but I couldn't work up enough motivation to get the job done. It wasn't like I didn't know what they said—my family has been reading scriptures every morning since before I was born—and I would read them myself sometimes, but only when I had a few extra minutes before going to bed, which usually meant I was too tired to really understand what was going on. Don't misunderstand, I did like reading in the Book of Mormon… but it was so repetitive, hardly applicable to me, and I had no time. Soon my reading became more grudging and less steady until I was going weeks on end without personal study of the Book of Mormon.
It was during this time of guilty protest when I discovered your books again, this time while I had been cleaning out under my bed. As I placed them on my bookshelf, I pulled out Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites and began to read. As I turned page after page, I realized Jim's situation was similar to mine; he didn't care much for reading the Book of Mormon either. To him it seemed like too long ago those "fathers came from far across the sea," and he never really took the time to read it for himself let alone apply it to his life. However, when he discovers the Rainbow Room and gets transported back to the time of Nephites and Lamanites, he no longer needs to apply the scriptures to his life, because he's living them.
As Jim and Garth meet characters as famous as Teancum and Helaman and others as infamous as Amalickiah, my imagination takes flight. Through this book, the awe-inspiring Captain Moroni and other scriptural characters finally took on a form and personality in my mind that I had never considered before. Prior to reading Tennis Shoes, I believed the characters in the Book of Mormon really lived, but for some reason I could never associate a face, a voice, or soul with them. They were static, but your books have taught me to see them as otherwise.
Also, your books have revealed the true excitement of the stories in the Book of Mormon. Now I feel that this book could be compared to your favorite adventure story that you've read millions of times before, but still feel the same grip of suspense and discovery as you flip pages. And not only is there renewed feelings for the literal meaning, but also for the deeper message. Now every verse has a hidden truth and instruction waiting behind it, waiting to be received.
I know my view of the Book of Mormon has been significantly altered because you took the time to write these books and I took the time to read them. I have only read the first three, but every time I have read one, my motivation for searching and pondering the scriptures has been strengthened. I have felt the Spirit through your books. No book besides the Book of Mormon itself has yet strengthened my testimony of its sacred words more than your books have. For that, I thank you.