Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"I married Nephi, the true story of Conversion"

Shawna Iverson's Story

I grew up in Utah a Pentcostal Mormon hater. I used to carry my Bible in my backpack and try to "Save" everyone I could. I would pray over the high school in the mornings on the football field with my best friend.

I was not happy about being surrounded by Mormons and never ever ever thought I would join. Then my senior year of high school my parents moved me to a new school and I met, fell in love with and married my high school sweet heart I met there three years later. He was a member of the church and his parents were both converts. They loved me and welcomed me with open arms.

About two-three years into our marriage I found out that my husband the person I thought I knew was a herion addict. My life was turned upside down. I spent the next two years trying to save him for his life style that he kept hidden from so many people. I came across an LDS 12 step meeting for addicts and their family members. I started attending the meetings faithfuly and couldnt deny the spirit I felt when I was there.

I started asking my boss at work questions about the church and desided to take the missionary lessons for like the third time, only this time I wasnt trying to "save" them. ;) I made the choice that night that I wanted to be baptised and two weeks later I did it.My boss who is like a brother to me baptised me. 162 people attended, I think they all wanted proof that I was really doing it. It was the best day of my life.

I know now looking back that Heavenly father knew I needed to be humbled and broken to finally except the gospel. Unfortunatly my husband never cleaned up his life and I knew I was supposed to leave him. I prayed, fasted and knew it was the right thing to do. I moved home with my parents and three months later on ldssingles.com I met my new husband, Nephi Alma Iverson. Never in my life would I have dreamed about dating someone named Nephi let alone marry him. We just got sealed as a little family with our 19 month old son in Sept. of this year. Although my family still struggles with my choice they love me and it has all been so worth it.

From Catholicism to Mormonism

Linda Bacigalupi-Blackhurst's Story

I was raised in the Catholic church by a father with strong catholic roots and a mother who was raised with nearly zero religious or spiritual upbringing. She was probably agnostic but bordered on atheist. My father had several cousins who became catholic priests and others who entered the seminary but never became priests. But the Catholic traditions ran strong in his family line. We went to mass on some but not all Sundays and to Saturday confession more often than I like to remember! I wouldn’t call my father a deeply religious man but religion and church meant a lot to him and raising God Fearing Children was very important to him.

Even as a young girl I was never satisfied with who God was portrayed as being in the Catholic church. He didn’t feel warm, personal, individual and loving to me in the Catholic Church’s portrayal of Him but all those traits were who He was to me in my heart, mind and soul.

While a young girl of 12 or 13 my two older siblings became interested in the LDS Church through associates in High School, football and baseball teams and because of LDS friends and influences they had met. My brother originally took the lead going through the missionary discussions with my sister taking a close second in the process. My father was not very enthusiastic about my brother’s immediate desire to be baptized and asked him to wait a short time before deciding. He reluctantly did as my father asked but my sister just a year his jr. wasn’t so patient or obedient and decided to be baptized without his blessing and without the wait he had hoped for. Once she did so, my brother followed her lead within a few months time.

They convinced my parents that it would be a good thing for my younger sister and I to also hear about the church and somehow they agreed. So Laurie & I along with our Mother sat through the missionary discussions together and Laurie & I were baptized together very shortly thereafter. It was clear to me almost from the beginning that the message the missionaries had to share with me was just good & right and true. It rang in my soul as HOME – it clarified who exactly God was for me. This loving Heavenly Father that they taught me about WAS the God I had always felt existed but who I had NOT found within the teachings of Catholicism.
Joseph Smith seeing the Father & Son, the Book of Mormon, the Word of Wisdom, Eternal Families, being an eternal daughter of God who He loved & valued and for whom Jesus Christ had come to die and pay the price for my sins – THIS was the God, the doctrine, the Savior, the religion that was always in my heart but never found until I learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I knew it was true almost immediately. I remember sitting in my first testimony meeting and tears began to flow almost immediately when that meeting began – the spirit was so strong I could hardly contain it on that day. I could not wait to be baptized. My sister, my mother and eventually my father followed in baptism. Over the course of a years time my entire family had converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. My father was a hard sell…. Having to sit through 3-4 sets of discussions – but his hard shell was eventually softened to the truth thanks to the goodness, grace and mercy of God and thanks to the outpouring of the spirit that became too strong to ignore

That was over 35 years ago – my brother served a mission. All four siblings married in the temple to good return missionaries and our spouses and children have produced 18 children, several dozen grandbabies, 9 missionaries in the field and years of joy, happiness, trials, tears, deaths and yet continued faith & testimony of this gospel.

On an interesting side note: my father’s mother who was from this staunch catholic back ground and very resentful of our initial departure from the catholic faith – in her later years (age 93) came to live with our family due to her declining health and advanced age. She sat through missionary discussions and was baptized into the church before she died. THAT is an amazing thing! I love the gospel. I know it to be true. It is joy, happiness, truth and HOME to my soul!

A Series of Small Events

Alissa's Story

I was born and raised in the church. I was baptized at age eight mostly because that's what all my friends were doing. I continued to go to church and to mutual and did everything I was supposed to do. I was always told that I needed to gain my own testimony and not rely on my parent's testimonies. A series of small events was what converted me. There were times when I prayed and I could feel Heavenly Father giving me a hug and telling me everything was going to be all right. When I read the Book of Mormon I felt really good inside. When I did things that were very bad and had to see the bishop, I couldn't feel the spirit with me and I didn't feel good at all. When I repented I was overwhelmed with the spirit and saw all the many things God was doing for me. My conversion just comes from all the little things where the spirit told me that something was true.

Saturday's Warrior and the Spirit

KG=Lucky Duck's Story

My husband (now, not then) was born a member. I was not raised in any religion. He was inactive when we first met. I wanted NOTHING to do with the church. I had lots of misconceptions (as do most people who don't know any better). We moved in together and had our first daughter. oops. But anyways, we got married when she was 5 months. Around that time my husband wanted to start being active again. I didn't care as long as he left me out of it. So one day, his mom sent us Saturday's Warrior. He went to work and I was curious, so I started to watch it. I was really moved and felt something. So I told my husband I was ready to take the discussions. I got baptized on New Years Eve, 2000. We then had a second child and went to the temple in 2001. I remember walking outside one day after I got baptized and feeling how great it was to be alive. I am thankful that my husband didn't push me and that I did it for myself.

A Gradual Change, A Wonderful Dream

Jessica "Untypically Jia" Woodruff's Story

There wasn't a moment in my life that I never believed there was something greater than what the world was trying to lead me to believe. And when I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was 15 years old, that belief was confirmed.

Life has never been easy, but I've known that if I look to the Lord with faith that He will see me through my trials, I will live on and be the better for it. A very good friend in my first Home Ward once told me, "The Church is true. There is no doubt in my mind. But if by some chance that it's not, it's still the best way to live your life." I believed that with all my heart. There is no doubt in my mind that Joseph Smith recieved a vision that day so long ago, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to this dispensation. God lives, and He loves each of us for we are His children and He knows us completely.

I was raised half in the Church and half in the world. My family had generations of Mormons, but my parents and Grandparents had been inactive for many, many years. With no regard for their own salvation, they were determined to at least send me to Church when I was a young girl. Unlike the other kids in my Ward, I was not baptised when I was eight years old. My Grandmother had a stroke and the family became more concerned about her health than taking me to Primary every Sunday. I didn't go back for years.

In fact, I grew to be far from Mormon. Raised on and off by three of my Aunts growing up, I was tossed between Christianity, Agnostic, and Wiccan. I followed the Wiccan path set before me by my Aunt Kathy. I remained a solitary practitioner until I was fifteen years old. That's when I met Matt. Matt was LDS, only inactive. He was the kind of bad boy I craved to date, and eventually I did date him. To suck up to his parents I said yes when asked to go to Church. I felt cornered and odd. I didn't fit in there at all. At fifteen years old, I did not dress modestly, I wore black makeup and had purple hair.

I was such a fool for Matt that I agreed to take missionary discussions in order to suck up to his parents. I had finished the discussions and come January 14th, 2000 I was ready to start my new life, in a new century, with a clean slate. I was taught by two wonderful missionaries, and then as they were sent away, three Sister Missionaries were ready to take me the rest of the way. I asked my Bishop at the time, Bishop Brown to baptise me. He was a good man, and had been very kind to the fifteen year old girl who came to Church with purple hair.

I was completely against joining the Church. I wanted to be a rebel, and so did my boyfriend. I was however polite and went to Church with his family every single Sunday. In November of the same year, my Grandmother was sent to the hospital. Her heart was bleeding and there was nothing that could be done. On her deathbed, she asked of me 3 things. I was to marry Matt (she loved and adored him), I was to take care of the family, and I was to join the Church. I prayed about the decision for weeks and weeks, and then I had a dream about my Mother one night.

My mother had died when I was 2 years old, so dreaming about her was a special thing for me. In the dream, she and I talked about the Church, about Grandma and about everything else in my life. She told me she needed me to join. She said that her temple work had not been completed, and I needed to do it for her.

I remember being so nervous. I thought for sure that during my last interview before my baptism they would say they had changed their minds and I wasn't supposed to be there. I was worried that I would do something stupid to embarrass myself, or that everyone would know all the wrongs I had done in my life. I was afraid my former Wiccan friends would burst in and kidnap me. I was worried that if I turned a new leaf, Matt wouldn't want me anymore. Of course, little did I know that while he took the discussions with me, his heart turned as well.

I got dressed in white and had walked into the font looking down the stairs at my Bishop who stood there with a smile on his face. I was so nervous. The water looked freezing, and I was certain that the fabric I was wearing wasn't thick enough to be both white, and wet and modest. But I went in anyways. I remember the rush over water over my face and I remember thinking, "This is it. I'm clean." And I was pulled back up. Water dripped back off of me, and I barely had opened my eyes before my foot slipped and I went back down under a second time. I guess God thought I needed a second dose . . . just to be sure it took. It's a running joke in the family, and I was the first to laugh about it.

A short while later I found out that my Mother's temple work was completed more than ten years earlier. I like to think that it was her way of telling me that I should stop doubting that the Church was where I needed to be. She gave me that final push.

So here I am now. 8 years later. I went to Seminary for 3 years, Institute for one. I served as Seminary Secretary, Laurel President, Laurel Secretary, Ward Missionary, Sunday School Secretary and Sunbeams Teacher. I was able to watch Matt leave for his Mission, and I waited for him. We were married in the Salt Lake City Temple on February 28th, 2004.

All in 8 years. I can only imagine what eternity has in store for me.

Seeing the Gospel in Action

Rac's Story

I am sixth generation LDS but as you stated, we are all converted at some point in our lives. For me, I count my conversion to my freshman year at BYU. I had learned the book answers previous to that but it wasn't until I saw the gospel in action on the BYU campus that I finally felt the answers in my heart and in my mind. It was as though I had love for everyone and everything. I was just so filled with joy and happiness that no amount of stress or toil could spoil my peaceful feelings. I knew that my church leader's loved me and I knew that God loved me. I knew that everything I had been taught throughout my life was indeed true. The Church could not have come about simply by the machinations of devious men, but only by the inspiration and revelation from God. The scriptures were and are true and the men that brought them to light were and are prophets. I knew that then and know it now and what I knew and know, I cannot deny for the reality of it.

If any man will do my will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself. So spoke the Savior and we would all do well to follow that counsel.

A Feeling of Peace at Temple Square

rkd6's Story

My family was moving from Dallas, TX to the Bay Area in CA. On the way, we stopped in Salt Lake to visit family and go see Temple Square. I was 9 and it was my first time (that I remembered) being there or at any of our temples. As we were walking through temple square, an amazing peace came over me, "filled me" (that's what it felt like), and I knew that it was all true, that Jesus and Heavenly Father were real, that the temple was their house, and that I was a member of their Church. Up until that point my faith was in my parents. I trusted them and believed they were telling me the truth; but after that experience, I knew for myself that God and Jesus Christ were real and that the LDS Church really was Christ's Church. My testimony of those truths has grown since then and expanded to other principles, but that was the beginning...when I first felt truly converted.

A Prayer and a Knock at the Door

Gina's Story

I was 15 when I was converted. I was headed down the wrong path and I knew it. I hated the things I was doing and the person I was becoming. One night when I felt I had hit rock bottom I said the most sincere, heart felt prayer I had ever said. I asked for guidance - nothing more. I wanted to live my life right and needed to be pointed in the right direction. I didn't have good examples at home and I knew it.

The next morning, bright and early a knock came at the door. I opened it to 2 young men who told me they had a messege from our Lord and could they come in and share it with me. I had NO doubt that they were the answer to my prayer. I felt it in every fiber of my being. Everything they said made sence and I wanted to know more. We set an appointment for me to begin the lessons and a few months later I was baptised. The whole time I prayed with an open heart and mind and never did I have any doubt.

My life turned around completely. Because of the teachings and guidance of the church I headed down the right path and now 28 years later I love the person I have become and have never regretted joining the church.

One thing I have always found interesting is that the elders later told me that they had already tracked my nieghborhood a couple weeks before and were headed a few streets over. They both had a feeling they should try again and came to my house. I had only moved in with my dad 4 days before! I truely think it was Heavenly Father directing them to me.

People will say I was brainwashed etc - but that's not the case. I think it's so sad how other churches always feel the need to talk smack about the LDS church when our church teaches tolerance of other religions .... interesting. That alone tell me ALOT about the LDS faith.