Monday, October 13, 2014

One Step Closer to Myself- How I Became a Mormon


So, I had asked earlier if anyone was interested how I decided to become a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than a few were interested, so here is the story. I will title it, "How I Became a Mormon" or "My ENTIRE Life Story"...HAHA Read if you'd like. If not, scroll on, my friend.
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I have the wonderfully unique opportunity to be the "baby" of five siblings. What makes it so unique is that we are spread out in age and most of my siblings were adults my entire childhood. I LOVE the fact that my parents have been married for SIXTY years!  My parents were both raised in separate religions pretty strictly. My father is the son of a Baptist Army Chaplain and my mother was raised Roman Catholic, which produced a lot of "fireworks" with their parents when they fell in love.
Imagine what THAT was like when my older brother met a Mormon in high school and decided that was the religious path he wanted to choose. From what I've heard my parents were very supportive. I was a baby so his decision didn't have much of an influence on me. However, my middle sister, was affected by his conversion and began learning about it for herself in her teenage years. Along with great friends, an obsession with Donnie Osmond and a blossoming testimony, she decided to get baptized when she was sixteen. My brother was called to serve a mission in Scotland and my father still says that was the most blessed two years of their life. At that time I was still very young, so I remember two things....talking on cassette tapes to send to Elder Drake in Scotland and the cutie missionaries coming to our home to teach my teenage sister.
From then on I really did not have much to do with any sort of religious experiences. My parents had taught me about God, Jesus Christ and prayer but going to church was never anything we did. I really had no idea if I was Baptist, Catholic or Mormon-by-association. But I was busy living my worldly, social and MTV driven life and really didn't give it too much thought.
Of course, late teen years are when we are trying to "figure it all out". I headed to Southern California, Fullerton College and later to Cal State Fullerton, where I only knew one person. I chose that area because I could go to the beach during the day and go to parties at night. I quickly began having one college experience after another and, looking back, it WAS a great time of my life. Being a character at Disneyland, a passionate romance, changing my major FOUR times and learning that I loved working at a hotel were just a few of the highlights. I met some very great people who I'm still very close to. I cherish those years!
It was in my senior year of college that the LDS Missionaries came into my life. My roommate began seriously dating a Mormon guy (and they got married YAY!) and they began knocking on our door. I felt this incredible need to defend the Mormon church when it came up, because my siblings believed in it and I often got into controversial dialogue about it. One time when my roommate was "dodging them" I said, "Hey, I would love to chat with you. BUT I will never cook you dinner AND I AM NOT getting baptized. I really just want some questions answered so I can defend your religion to others." HAHAHA
I am a firm believer that there is a "missionary" out there for everyone. "My" Elder Hatch had just converted a year prior and did not judge me for all my exciting lifestyle choices. Even though I was NOT looking for a life-change, I was very happy with where I was going, I asked them to come back because I wanted to know why my sister wore different under-clothes and we hadn't gotten to that yet! The next time they came over they brought me a copy of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, but I went over to my bookshelf and took one my brother had given to me before his mission.
Now, at that point in my life I had been doing quite a bit of reading for school. When I opened the Book of Mormon and began to read something felt very different. Not different in an unfamiliar way, different in a feeling way. I didn't understand much of it, but I knew right away, without a doubt, that an unlearned boy COULD NOT have written these words. I knew that what I was reading was divine and the word of God. That was the moment where I decided to listen more clearly to what it was that was written. I had learned about the Bible and Bible stories and never doubted them. When I read the Book of Mormon it was like the Bible all made sense to me. They complimented each other and it felt right. The missionaries asked me to pray about what I was reading to know if it was true...I already knew.
People often ask me how I went from drinking alcohol, coffee and doing a variety of other worldly things to NOT doing them OVERNIGHT. I stopped a plethora of things, "Cold turkey", because once I knew that the words I was reading were true and divine, it was very easy to change my actions. The missionaries asked me to come to church. They really wanted me to go to a college congregation so that I would be with people that I had things in common with. I chose not to since I was so far from my family, I was interested in the congregation that had families in it. This decision changed the course of my life. Sitting in that church I looked at the families. The dads in suits, moms with diaper bags full of snacks and little kids with runny noses and I KNEW that I wanted to be in a building just like that, every Sunday for the rest of my life. That day I called my parents and said, "Will you come to my baptism?" They said, "Into what church?" and when I told them which church they, again, were very supportive of my choice. As a matter of fact, almost every single member of my family (including my Catholic Nana) traveled to Southern California to be a part of my baptism. That day I didn't feel different from myself, I just felt closer to the REAL me.
If you are looking for the "next season spoilers"...hahaha...here are some quick highlights. THE VERY SAME MONTH that I chose to get baptized Elder Bottom, far away in Kobe, Japan wrote a letter to his father saying he did not want to go to University of Utah and, that for some weird reason, he felt he should go to Cal State Fullerton. Looking back, it was very clear WHY he was inspired to change his school. I continued on with my studies and became active in church life. When Elder Bottom returned from his mission he quickly began dating another girl. He and I became friends and I really, REALLY didn't think anything about him. He was cute and a surfer but I had Mormon boys to date and a plan to return back to Northern California to get my teaching credential. I did not have TIME or A NEED to meet a husband. But, everything happens for a reason, and the next thing I knew I was telling Mark that he needed to dump that girl and date me because I would treat him so much better...the rest is history!
Hey, if you even made it to the end....thank you for listening. I don't regret ANYTHING I did before those missionaries taught me because I learned how (first hand) our Savior, Jesus Christ, forgives us. If His Atonement works for me, it can work for anyone. I have been active every single day since I made the decision to get baptized. I AM THE strict one with our teens because I HAVE SEEN IT AND DONE IT. I love knowing that we can be together after we die. I love the fact that I can know that I can see my ancestors again. I love focusing on the good in people, instead of all the scary things we are presented with. AND I LOVE knowing that a loving Father in Heaven has a plan for EACH of us and wants us to be happy. 
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to chat me up...HOWEVER, no haters please. 

1 comment:

kati powell said...

Did your parents ever convert?