Talk went really well…But I messed something up, got more nervous and I think I kept speeding up. Supposedly, I’m a good story teller. But it went well, the congregation’s reactions to my jokes was better than I expected. And I even saw one woman crying, which both made me happy and sad. It was very touching that my words actually caused emotions that strong in someone but I wanted to run down to her and give her more Kleenexes.
I’m extraordinarily bummed out about Halloween this year. I can’t even muster the motivation to carve my pumpkin….
Anyways, as promised, my talk:
Good morning my brothers and sisters,
I’ve been asked to speak on my conversion to the Church; how I found out about it and as I began to convert, my experiences with the missionaries and all those who’ve taught me, as well as my thoughts and feelings throughout the journey that was my conversion.
First, just a little history so you have an idea as to where I’m coming from: Before I joined the Church, I was pretty much opposed to the idea of Church. My siblings, who were all baptized LDS but are no longer practicing, had dragged me along to various churches, all of which I found myself to be a loner in and very uncomfortable with everything about them. To be honest: I hated Church and would do anything to keep from going to it.
I first found out about Mormonism, besides the little bits I knew from my family, not long after I met my best friend; Corey Crapo. He mentioned and did things that I found odd but intriguing. He wouldn’t drink coke or pepsi, which baffled me, wouldn’t swear like others, which, once again, baffled me and he would occasionally mention doctrinal things, which got me interested but he would only tell me a bit then tell me to ask the missionaries. But there was no way I would call them up back then so I did what any self respecting teenager would do: I googled it.
Just a little note so you can understand this better: Before I actually met any missionaries, I was pretty much terrified of them. I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to speak to two guys I’d never met before about my interpretation of God, the Bible, etc. And I was especially terrified of them coming over and saying “You don’t believe what we do? You’re horrible!” A very unreasonable fear, but that was how I was.
Anyways, besides researching Mormonism on the internet, I found I had an interest in the religious ideals of all faiths. So I spent much of my spare time looking up all sorts of different religions, from obscure branches of Christianity down to nature-focused Polytheistic religions. Besides being on a quest for knowledge, some part of me was hoping that in all my research, something would hit me and I would know ‘This is it; this is where I’m to belong’. While it never actually hit me like I was expecting, I was consistently coming back to Mormonism. Finally, I determined I liked the ideas of Mormonism, but certain parts didn’t make sense. So I decided, for lack of anything better, to be ‘98% Mormon’, while I still waited for something to hit me and push me towards Mormonism.
Five or so years passed and I began to have a sense of urgency concerning what faith I was going to belong to. I went back to researching, but with the same results. Corey told me about ordering a Book of Mormon online and that gave me an idea. I figured, if I ordered one and read it through, then I would know for sure whether I would join or not. So I went online and started ordering a Book of Mormon. After I filled out my mailing address and clicked to send it in, the most terrifying pop up I’ve ever seen appeared on my screen….”The missionaries will arrive shortly to deliver your Book of Mormon”. Keep in mind, as I said, I had a fear of missionaries. Clicking the ‘back’ button was completely futile, they already had my info and I was scared. I started trying to plan how to get my Book of Mormon without having to actually let the missionaries in. I couldn’t exactly open my door, grab the book from them and slam the door closed in their face. As scared as I was, I did have some manners.
At around the same time, something did hit me in a way; the spur-of-the-moment desire to try going to a Mormon church. Figuring my life was over anyways, I emailed Corey to ask for a ride to Church the following Sunday. Very surprised, he told me when they’d be by to pick me up. That week was probably the most nerve wracking I’ve ever been through. The missionaries, much to my displeasure, came knocking a few days before Sunday. I had no idea they’d actually teach me one of the lessons at that time too, but in they came and I actually, once my nervousness wore off, thoroughly enjoyed myself. That was when I met two of the most awesome guys ever: Elders Drummondo and Lewis. We agreed on another lesson the following week and I finally had my Book of Mormon, which was filled with many circled scriptures for me to find, as well as Elder Lewis’ testimony. If I had to pick a point exactly when I decided to convert, it would have been when I read his testimony. That was the hit, though it may have not exactly been a hit, I had been waiting for, I’m not sure why. I didn’t even know him at the time, but something in it helped me make the connection and I knew where I was headed. But just in case, I didn’t let anyone know my ideas at the time.
However, my struggle wasn’t complete; I still had to endure my first voluntary attendance at Church. But it went much better than I expected, The Crapos were totally awesome, they were even willing to give up their permanent front row seat for the sake of my feeling comfortable if I wanted, and Mrs.Crapo made sure I understood everything. I couldn’t ask for a better first time experience. The only bad part was when my Sunday school teacher, not realizing I was new because I believe he was new too, asked me to say opening prayer. Hoping to look like I knew a bit more than I did, I stood, crossed my arms and bowed my head…And that was as far as I got before I whispered to Corey “How do I pray?” Thankfully, he took over for me before I made myself look even more foolish.
The next week, the missionaries took my mother and me on a fascinating Church tour and Brother and Sister Pierson were there too. At the end, we were sitting behind the pulpit, enjoying the quiet. The Elders were going to leave us there after we had a closing prayer so that we could ponder what we had learned. But before they left the room, they asked me if I would agree to get baptized. Without hesitance, I said yes. In fact, looking back, I think my answer was out before I even fully knew what they asked. I’m pretty sure if my mom hadn’t been wearing glasses, her eyes might have just popped out of her head in her surprise. After they left, my mom, as much as I love her, didn’t seem to grasp the idea that pondering meant quiet. I was bombarded with “Are you sure!? This is huge! You didn’t even think about it!” while Brother and Sister Pierson giggled good naturedly at my mom’s surprise and my ignored hushings. I have to say, my mom, even with all her doubts, was the one who consistently supported my decision full heartedly. Had she not, I’m quite sure all this would have been extraordinarily difficult to go through.
I began going to seminary, reading scriptures regularly, doing personal progress and attempting to catch up on the five years I had missed when I was trying to get over my unreasonable fears. Over the course of April I finished my missionary lessons and met another fantastic person during that time: Brother Hornberger. He explained the one thing I never before really understood: The Holy Ghost and he helped me to understand and listen for it better than I ever could have hoped before.
I don’t think I really told anyone besides my mom, the Piersons and the Elders I was planning to get baptized until a week or two before, which resulted in emails and phone calls from many shocked and…we’ll say disgruntled…people. Looking back, that could have been avoided had I expressed my interest in and knowledge of Mormonism back when I started researching it.
I was baptized on May 1st 2010 and because I figured it would be suiting since he introduced me to Mormonism, I asked Corey to baptize me. It might have been wise to ask someone with a little more experience to do it though, because Corey almost dropped me. Overall, my baptism and the month leading up to it are all pretty much a blur but I remember most pointedly that it was the happiest month of my life, despite my nervousness going into it.
I’d just like to say a bit about the Elders who taught me, since I kind of skipped over them. I’m sure all missionaries are awesome, but of course, these two stick out in my mind because they’re the ones who taught me. I’m quite sure I weirded them out very often with my odd sense of humor, but besides that we had a great time. The things I remember most were two things: Elder Lewis’ motto of “Did you pray about it?” and Elder Drummondo’s explanation of the Atonement, another thing I had a bit of an issue understanding.
Whenever I would tell them about any issues in my life, Elder Lewis would unfailingly ask “Did you pray about it?” While usually quite funny at the time because of the way he would ask it, he drilled it into me over the weeks. I think it is a reminder we could all use on a daily basis when we’re faced with uncertainties. I know, personally, I will often consult many other things before even thinking to pray about things and I’ve come to know, it should be the other way around because the best and most straightforward solution for life’s troubles comes from prayer.
Elder Drummondo explained the Atonement the best way I’ve ever heard it. He said to imagine you wrote a test but it was impossible to score 100%. But the one who could score 100% was Jesus and He helped you get there. In short: Jesus would meet you wherever you were at and bring you the rest of the way. This both explained the Atonement for me and gave me hope. It was one of my favourite lessons.
In my time so far as a member here, I have met some of the most amazing, inspiring, loving, determined, beautiful, creative, joyful, spiritual, knowledgeable and in short fantastically wonderful people here. I have given a short mention to some of you, but there are so many more of you and so much more I would like to say but I’m pretty sure I’m already pushing my time limit. Pretty much, if I have met you, you fall into the categories I’ve listed. If I haven’t met you yet, I’m sure you belong in one of those categories too. Please know I love you, my brothers and sisters, so much and I am so grateful to all of you for helping me realize where I belong.
Because of the missionaries, the friends in the Church I knew and made and all those who have taught me, I’ve learned quite a few important lessons. I know that with prayer and scripture study, usually quite a bit of it, you can find answers to all the big questions concerning life and spirituality. Through these methods, I have come to know that we are guided by a living prophet today and that this is the true Church of God. To know that brings me great joy and I am so grateful to our Heavenly Father for blessing us with a modern day seer and revelator. I am also grateful that we were blessed with Joseph Smith, whom I have also come to know to be a prophet and the translator of the Book of Mormon, without which, we would be lost still. I am exceptionally grateful for the Holy Ghost and the guidance it gives and I know that, no matter where we are in life, Jesus will meet us where we’re at and, through the Atonement; we will be forgiven and lifted up.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ,
Live long & Prosper!!♥