It was a cold, dark day in Moscow, and Morgan Choi didn’t know what to do.
She’d come with her husband to Russia for his work but in so doing had left her own job behind. In a new country with no friends, no family, and a foreign environment, Choi felt lost.
She was no stranger to traveling for vacation and even moving to live in a new country (she and her husband had lived in Turkmenistan the year before). But this time was different. They’d been trying to grow their family, but it seemed like Choi would have to keep waiting to become a mother.
So she decided to do the only thing that makes sense when the world brings you to your knees: she prayed to God to give her direction on what to do while living in this frigid new home. His answer was to write a book.
Choi had considered writing a book before. When she was a Sunday School teacher, she had noticed how plenty of people struggled to make sense of the overlapping timelines in the Book of Mormon. She’d even compiled a spreadsheet with different tabs for each story and drawn sketches of what happened at what time period. She had thought it would be interesting for someone to take these ideas and create an illustrated Book of Mormon Timeline book.
But she’d never really thought it would end up being her.
When You Give a Girl a Prompting
“I found myself with a lot of time. I was also struggling to know what to do with my life… . After praying for guidance, this book idea kept coming back to me,” Choi says. She continued to ponder the idea while trying to make new friends in her local congregation.
Choi remembers visiting a museum in Russia with her friend and fellow Church member. While wandering around the museum, the idea of writing a book popped up again and would not leave her mind.
“While explaining my plan to [my friend], I felt the Spirit very strongly. It was one of those moments when I felt a ‘burning in my bosom’ but also a recognition in my mind that this was an answer to my prayers for guidance,” Choi explains. “After hearing my plan, my friend grabbed me and pointed out that she was feeling the Spirit as well and that I needed to make this book! This experience was sort of a catalyst for getting me started, and it also strengthened my testimony in a Father in Heaven who loves each of us, knows the details of our lives, wants to see us succeed, answers our prayers, and knows our unique strengths.”
Choi took Heavenly Father’s answer to heart and began the long process of writing a book. She wrote almost the entire manuscript while living in Moscow. Despite the cold and gloomy weather outside, Choi felt the warmth of the light of Christ as she dedicated herself to her project.
“I dedicated entire days to breaking down the Book of Mormon book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse,” Choi says. “I bought a large drawing pad and started sketching out drawings and putting scriptures I wanted to include in the book next to them. It was quite a process and there were many times I thought to myself: ‘The reason this book hasn’t been made before is because it’s so complex!’”
Perfecting the Illustrations
While working on the manuscript, Choi relied on her husband to check, edit, and verify her work. They both referred back to the Book of Mormon as they went, and it was a period of spiritual edification for Choi.
As the technical side of her project was wrapping up, Choi had to decide who would bring her pencil sketches to life in a fully illustrated timeline. The obvious choice was Choi’s longtime friend Joy Nevada. Though they lived far apart, with Nevada in Scotland at the time, they were able to use technology to connect regularly and work on the project.
“I’ve always loved her style and asking her to be my illustrator was a no-brainer. I never even entertained the thought of a different illustrator,” Choi says.
The two women messaged each other daily with progress updates, finished layouts, and full-color spreads of their images.
Looking back at their work, Choi says, “I love so many [of our illustrations], but both Nevada and I would pick the picture of Riplakish from the Book of Ether [as our favorite]. He was a wicked, greedy king, and Nevada drew him sitting on top of gold and jewels. It’s quite lovely.”
A History Book for Kids and Adults Alike
While writing The Book of Mormon Timeline was an answer to Choi’s prayers for guidance, she hopes that the product of her efforts will help guide others on their spiritual journey.
“This book is for everyone!” she says. The fun, vibrant illustrations in the book make the war chapters more accessible for children. And other more doctrinally dense sections are infused with perspective, levity, and humor.
The scripture references and detailed timeline can help adults who want to dive deeper into their Book of Mormon studies. Each page is a testament to what is possible through revelation and with God’s help. Essentially, Choi hopes that she and Nevada have created a book that everyone can learn from because, as she puts it, “When we understand the background of scriptures, the scriptures become more powerful to us.”
Choi’s book acts as her testimony of Jesus Christ and reminds her that He is always with us, even in the coldest of places. “Whether readers are members of the Church, non-members, children or adults, I want this book to help them gain testimonies of a loving Savior.”