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George C. Stanton and his wife enjoyed their visit to Temple Square last year. What capped the experience for them was a guide's gift of a personalized copy of the Book of Mormon.

The Stantons were touched by the simple expression added inside the book-- a photo and brief testimony.When they returned home to Johnson City, Tenn., they contacted a local bishop for more information. He sent missionaries over. The Stantons took the lessons, studied carefully and were baptized in August.

They are among the many whose lives have been touched by personalized copies of the Book of Mormon. A book is "personalized" by the adding of a photo and testimony.

Photos and a testimony in the books seem to make a great deal of difference, said Vernon Proctor, a volunteer with the Family-to-Family Book of Mormon program.

"The testimony of a person who has no ax to grind, who is not a top leader, not a paid minister, becomes much more meaningful to people not in the Church. A picture and testimony bring forth the Spirit."

The personalized copies are coordinated at Church headquarters, and by stakes at the local level. The success of this program in the past three years speaks for its effectiveness, said L. Farrell McGhie, director.

In 1986, the number of personalized copies placed in the United States increased by 59 percent (from 217,000 to 344,000); in 1987, by 25 percent (from 344,000 to 429,000). Personalized books placed out of the United States increased 268 percent in 1986 (from 28,000 to 103,000) and 373 percent in 1987 (from 103,000 to 487,000), said McGhie.

Even so, the books placed during 1987 in other countries equals only about one-third of the 1.6 million requested by the missions, he said.

McGhie said members become excited to take part in the program because it gives them a chance to be a missionary.