Monday, June 15, 2009

The Sacred Bench

Anthony Diaz's Conversion Story

I had always wondered about those life questions that people found so cliche but knew they thought about too: Who are we? Why are we here, where did we come from, and where are we going?

However, I never really acted on those questions. I was baptized Catholic, but never active in that faith. I grew up as a precocious little kid, always wondering and analyzing. My mother and father split up while I was still young. At about age 7, I moved with my mom and her then boyfriend, and later husband. He was verbally and physically abusive to both of us, but looking back on it I forgive him now, because I know those trials made me the person I am today. Later on in my pre-adolescence, my mother and I started attending a Baptist church, and we enjoyed it. It was in lamens terms, and was rather family oriented. I remember one day as I was in Vacation Bible School, the teacher had us all gather round and close our eyes. She asked something like, "if anyone would like to recieve Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, please raise your hand." I thought about it, and did it. She then had us open our eyes. It turned out I was the only one. She later talked to me and my mother about how special that was. I still didn't realize the meaning of it, but would later learn that that is what they felt allowed a person to recieve salvation, through such a simple act of faith.

Much later into my teens, after having moved around various times and not going to any church, I found myself going downhill. My mother had left the man I lived with for so long and had found another, who was nice to her, but for some reason it didn't matter to me. It got so bad that it was to the point where I was almost always thinking negative. If you looked up the word pessimisstic in the dictionary, you would have found a picture of me there. I just didn't see the point to life, and was so unsure of myself and who I really was. I had gone through various ups and downs, at one time even smoking pot and cigarrettes, though I luckily stopped that just as soon as I had started.

That's when things started to happen. I was probably about 15. It was 2006. My uncle died at no more than 35 years of age, and it hit me like I never would have imagined. I started wondering why it would happen, and if there really was something beyond death. It was around that same time that I heard some of the most beautiful music I had ever heard on tv one day. It was an English boy choir named Libera. I was instantly captivated with it and found its celestial music comforting in a way the world just wasn't. Even still, I was stubborn in my ways and unhappy with what I felt life had dealt to me.

2007 came. One September night, my mother, the kids, and I, had walked back from the deli to the downtown area of our city at night. We sat on this bench that was missing a piece of wood. It was then that I saw them. Two college aged kids, in black suits and white shirts and ties, walked up to us seemingly out of nowhere. They asked if they could share a message with us, while explaining that they knew it could be strange to talk to two people you didn't know. God Bless her heart, my mother accepted their invitation. They walked away and we made our way to the house.Their names were Elder Hancock and Elder Kelsey.

They started teaching all of us, but it got to the point where it was just me. I was fascinated with what they taught, especially the plan of salvation and the idea of a young boy getting a heavenly manifestation simply because of a prayer of faith. It all made sense to me. It answered those life questions that I had pondered for so long. They told me to pray about the Book of Mormon. I remember reading it for hours on end, so much so that my mom would complain that I had become a hermit crab. I didn't realize it at the time, but I felt the Spirit each time I read. Finally it was December, and they commited me to be baptized on the 15th of that month. I remember praying to know if I should be baptized after having repented, and getting an answer in such a vivid manner that it was undeniable. Elder Kelsey was there with me in the water, and he raised his hand to the square. I looked up out of the font and saw my mother and father there. As that wonderful, loving man said the prayer, I felt a feeling so strong, so pure, so full of love and light that it took over my whole frame. My face made one of the biggest smiles I could have ever made. I knew at that moment that my sins were forgiven me, and that I was in the right Church.

It has been quite the journey in these past few years, but the memory of that Spirit I felt at baptism has never left me. I think of how my whole demeanor and outlook on life has changed, done a whole 360, and how even my mother can attest to the great change of heart that I have undergone. I have never been more happy in all my 17 years of life, even with all the good and bad that I go through in this life. I know I was with my Father in Heaven before I came here. I know that I was placed here on this earth for a reason, and that if I continue to follow His guidance, and use the Atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ in my life, that I can be with Them again. I may never be sealed to my earthly mother and father, but I know that they can recieve the same blessings that I have, whether here or in the next life. I know they love and support me. But most of all, the thing that keeps me going is the sweet knowledge that my Heavenly Father loves me. That is what has made all the difference. I so testify of these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much, especially for that bench picture! I have to save that :)

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  2. I love hearing conversion stories!! Love it!!

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  3. I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^

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  4. I came across your story today and it truely was a blessing for me. Thanks for taking the time and having the courage to pst it.

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