I love hearing the testimony of those people we are working with! Certainly the highlight for any missionary is to see the testimony and faith of a person develop, and from that to see them accept this gospel and be baptized. I am grateful for those who have shared it in the past, and today I am grateful for Amy and the testimony and conversion she has shared with us. I wanted to share the experience we had in working with her. But more than just what I have to say, I had thought it would be more interesting for you to read her side of things.
We first met Amy in November of 2010. I met Amy through a Mormon.org chat, such as it might look in the window attached. We had talked briefly about tithing and then set up a time to talk more. Some notes I had written from our first talk included things like “helps a child with a tumor,” and “has seen God work in her life.” With the work we do here, I do not feel like we are teaching something brand new to everyone we meet. Rather, from my experience, we are simply able to add to the things which people have. Amy is one example of this. She is someone who came to us already having a relationship and desire to follow God. As she has let the gospel come into her life I have see a greater sense of optimism and joy come from her. I have seen her have a greater desire to learn and follow more closely the example which Jesus Christ gave. As I said, it wasn’t that this was all new for her, but something I feel has grown. I do know this gospel does bring the power of Jesus Christ more centrally into our lives. I see it constantly in my own, and I have seen it with Amy as well.
To say the least I never thought that even few months ago that I would be writing my conversion story. You see only a couple of months ago; I had sworn off religion and decided that I wasn't going to believe in anything. My introduction to the LDS church has been one that has been fostered by simple curiosity about the church. I had often seen news stories about Mormon men being charged with polygamy in the US or the Elizabeth Smart story. Even before that the LDS church had an unknown presence in my home, as during the early 90's the church ran commercials offering free a Book of Mormon if you call the 1-800 number. My sister loved to get things in the mail so she ordered a couple of copies. I remember trying to read one of those copies, but found it similar to Bible, so it didn't retain my interest for long. Over the years to supplement my curiosity about the church, I visited the LDS website occasionally, but often with the feeling that what I was reading was sacrilege, as I had been taught in the other churches that I went to that Mormons weren't Christians. For example, I did a research project on the LDS church for one of my church groups. The book that I used as my reference stated this about the churches beliefs: Mormon men believe that when they die they will each will reign of over at celestial kingdom. This is why Mormon men have multiple wives, as one of these wives when they die will be chosen by their husband to rule the celestial kingdom together. (Well, it was something like that.) To say the least I was driven further as from the LDS church. Yet over the years, the curiosity continued.
About 2 years ago, I met my brother’s girlfriend who grew up in the LDS church. The first questioned I asked her was, "Do you believe in heaven?" She briefly told me the plan of happiness. This perked my interest and she seemed normal enough, so I went back to the LDS website (mormon.org) and started researching. Eventually, I called and met with some missionaries for a little while, but at the time I was still struggling with my old Christian beliefs and felt pressure from the missionaries to believe that the Book of Mormon was true. I wasn't ready yet.
I contacted the missionaries again in November of 2010, this time through the online chat of Mormon.org. Here I met Elder Spencer and Ahlstrom. We talked on the phone regularly for a couple of weeks, but as with the time before I got scared and backed out.
About 6 months later in April of 2011, I was having a discussion with my sister about religion and during the conversation she stated that she had read that it was believed by some that Christ visited the early American natives. I thought to myself, yes I had heard that from my teachings with the Mormons, maybe I should give them a call and chat. I began to research the LDS church online at Mormon.org like many times before, but this time everything I was reading, I understood and sat right inside me. So I called Bishop Nabrotzky’s number on the LDS site, I got his daughter on the phone who told me that neither of her parents were home, but I could talk to her just as well. The Nabrotzky’s daughter gave the number for the Sister missionaries and I met with them later that day.I began meeting with Sisters Alger and Stanbourgh. It’s hard to explain why meeting with the missionaries was different this time, I don’t even really know why. The one thing that kept me coming back to the church was the Plan of Happiness. This plan gave me comfort in knowing that even though my family members were not believers, that they would not end up in hell, unlike all of the other churches that I had been to had taught.
Then more that I learned, the better I felt about things. I did get scared at one point when the topic of baptism came up and I stopped seeing the Sisters for a little while, but eventually I warmed up to the idea and invited the Sisters back.
I met with the Sister until the beginning of May when I met Elders Barber and Germann.
The elders began to prepare me for baptism. I seemed to be going well until a week before I was to get baptized. I started to get cold feet and told the Elders that I changed my mind, but the Elders told me to pray about it and talk to them in the morning. That night I knew that I was to be baptized the following weekend.
I was baptized by Brother Sharp on May 15, 2011. I didn’t feel much different afterwards since I had been baptized 3 times before. But I was confirmed on May 22, 2011. And when they placed their hands on my head and began to pray, I had this burning sensation deep inside my stomach. I’ve had this feeling before, like when I heard the Prophet Thomas S. Monson speak.
It has been 5 weeks since I was baptized and so much has changed. I’ve noticed many changes in myself. I am praying more, studying more, and just generally more at peace.
I can't wait to see what God has in store for the rest of my life.