I grew up as the son of a recently converted Roman Catholic father and an LDS mother whose roots in the Church extend back to the early days in Nauvoo. For the first few years of my life, we lived within earshot of the Los Angeles International Airport. The Church was still small in that area when I was a boy, so nearly all of my friends were from other religions. My grandparents were practicing Catholics who immigrated to the US from the Austro-Hungarian state of Croatia. None of my paternal cousins, with whom I grew up, were LDS. As one might guess, I was exposed to several religious ideas, but I was baptized into the LDS Church at the age of 8, and then my family moved to Utah.
I sensed at an early age that I had a Heavenly Father who loved me, cared for me and watched over me. I had a great love for learning and read voraciously as a young boy. Each week in those days, my mother would accompany me to the library and check out several bibliographical books on the lives of great men. These books impressed upon me the desire to learn truth and the importance of good character. In Utah, I found many good LDS friends, so I really didn’t see any reason to change my course in life. Then I was called to serve a mission for the LDS Church in South America.
Up until that time, I had relied mainly on the testimony of others. At a conference I had attended previously, I had heard the words of Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, who was then an Apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as he admonished us to read the Book of Mormon and promised great blessings to those who would do so – and in his own inimitable manner described the alternatives. Finally, though long overdue, I read the Book of Mormon through for the first time. I studied the Bible, read the book Jesus the Christ and I prayed. The assurance of the truth that I was seeking did come to me, but it did not come in a single spectacular event as I had earnestly hoped for, nor did it come in a single instance that I can identify. Rather it grew as I learned, and with that learning I obtained a spiritual assurance that what I was learning was true. This process of receiving a spiritual witness of the truth has continued regularly throughout my life as I have studied, pondered and prayed. After some time had passed, my mind reflected back upon the promises which had been made by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith. I now understood what he was trying to teach.
Alma, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, compares the evolution of faith to a seed which “beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.” That phrase echoes the feelings that I have had as my faith grew, was confirmed and became knowledge. Still today, many years later, I regularly study things in the gospel that I have read before, and new insights pop into my mind and enlighten my understanding. This testimony is anchored in a witness from the Holy Ghost. As such, words are often difficult to find to express the assurance I have received regarding the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But that assurance is real, and has become a driving force and a sweet fortification to me as I have had to deal with the crucible of life.
As I developed my interests in life, for some reason I was led naturally to study Electrical Engineering. My desire to continue my education to obtain a PhD led me on an interesting and rather enjoyable path. As a result, I have come into contact with some of the great scientists and thinkers of the world. I have observed the careful attention that they give to finding the truth in their fields and my interests have expanded in many directions. Some of the most noted and respected scientists and scholars have been most fastidious to make sure that new facts they were learning were indeed true before they would accept them and go on. Throughout my life, I have enjoyed being around these great thinkers in several fields and I love to learn from them. Yet almost as interesting as the learning has been the opportunity to observe the care with which they search for the truth.
Rather than causing me to distance myself from God, these experiences have distilled upon my soul a great admiration for Him as the Creator of the universe who is personally aware of each one of us. As I compare and observe the wonders of science at the nano and micro levels and then gaze into the enormity of the heavens, I marvel at the greatness of that Being who loves each of us personally in the midst of the greatness of all of His creations. I know that He provides revelation to living prophets for us today just as He did anciently. I marvel at the sweet experience of the modern day Prophet, Joseph Smith. But amidst all of this, I know that He will provide a personal testimony to any who sincerely desire to know the truth and ask Him for that personal knowledge which will assuredly come to you as it has come to me.
Douglas M. Chabries received degrees from the University of Utah (BS), California Institute of Technology (MS) and Brown University (PhD). He is married to Ada Smith Chabries, his childhood sweetheart, and they have six children. He has served in several positions for the LDS Church including Bishop, High Councilor, Counselor in the Stake Presidency, District President and served two missions – one to Uruguay/Paraguay as a youth and a second mission to Croatia with his wife after retirement from Brigham Young University. Currently he serves as a Primary teacher and is a temple worker in the Mount Timpanogos Temple.
Professionally, Dr. Chabries worked for the US Navy as a civilian scientist for just over 10 years and then joined the faculty at Brigham Young University. His research and academic focus was in an area of Electrical Engineering which dealt with processing of signals for imagery and sound. He holds 14 US patents and has published approximately 70 articles in the academic literature. He received the BYU Blue Key Faculty of the month award, the Outstanding College Faculty award for the College of Engineering, the BYU Technology Transfer award, the UEES (University of Utah) Pathfinder award and the Governor’s Science Medal for the State of Utah. Dr. Chabries also served as Department Chair, Dean, and Asst. Academic Vice President.
His work broadened out into several related areas with FARMS which involved the imaging of ancient texts from such places as Petra and Herculaneum as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls and Maya glyphs. He worked on the development of low power digital hearing aids. This work was featured in several articles in the popular literature such as Forbes, Business Week, USA Today and Parade magazine.
Posted May 2011