It really didn’t take long. The Spirit had already been working on me, and even though I wasn’t looking to change my faith, I felt the need to change some things in my life. I met once with the missionaries and they invited me to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.
I followed the invitation, and I believe I received an answer to my prayer. If that were the only time I felt I’d received a confirmation of the truth of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, I might doubt myself, but it was the first of scores of spiritual assurances that I have received and still receive that this is the path my Father in Heaven wants me on.
It was a difficult summer for my family, as tragedy struck when we suddenly lost a young relative. I learned the power of fasting and prayer at that time, feeling comfort amid the sorrow. I know this is a principle many faiths practice that brings hope and communion with God in times of trial.
Later that summer, I declared my intent to be baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m going to tell this part of the story a bit differently than I’ve told it in the past …
I could have acted a lot better, more civil, more Christlike in the way I went about my conversion. I will never regret joining the LDS Church and always believe it was what God wanted me to do, but I do regret the way I acted toward members of my family who were opposed to the idea. I got fired up with the “I’m being persecuted” idea, while not taking the time to at least understand where they were coming from with their concerns.
My family, most of whom were opposed to the idea of me becoming a Mormon, was coming from a place of love for me. They believed (and still do) that their faith was the correct one and was the best thing for me. They gave me that foundation of faith, and I am grateful every day for it. I can’t in good conscience call their objections anything to the effect of Satan-inspired persecution. I hope people who read this and experience similar things can balance love for their family and a desire to be understanding and compassionate with the resolve to stay true to their spiritual conviction of the gospel’s truth.
I eventually was baptized and confirmed a Latter-day Saint. With the help of generous ward members, I served a mission in New Zealand. I was married a little more than a year after I came back to a wonderful woman whose sister’s family introduced us while I was attending a small branch in Pennsylvania, USA. We continue to learn and serve God’s children in the church together and teach our young boys the gospel.
I feel like I have been blessed immensely by the Lord, and if my children learn nothing else from me, I hope they learn how to make a connection with their Father in Heaven through his son, Jesus Christ, and feel their love through the Holy Ghost. I pray they will learn gratitude and humility, dependence on their Creator, and love for their brothers and sisters.