As my Sophomore year of high school began, I became reacquainted with my friend Clark. He was a little older and we ran together in Cross Country and Track. We found that we had common interests in games, computers, history, and more. We spent a lot of after school time together. Because of my circumstances at home I found ways to stay away till I was sure others would be around. Clark and I began to talk about the meaning of life. He seemed to have all the answers. He knew why we were here, where we came from and where we were supposed to be going. This was the first time I had talked with someone about religion and they didn’t just focus on the rapture or the end of the world. There seemed to be a happy message and hope. He didn’t tell me what religion he was in nor do I think I asked him at the time. We played a lot of games together and I even spent the night at his house a few times. He had very nice parents and an older sister who seemed very wise.
In January 1988, I was invited by my friend Clark to his birthday party which would include going to a church dance afterwards. I was excited. I had attended a few dances growing up, but had always felt awkward as the boys and girls in school dances seemed to always hang out on opposite ends of the walls unless you were “dating” someone. Plus I was a pretty shy teenager and it took a lot for me to ask someone and I was always afraid of rejection. I was told that I needed to have a tie to attend the dance and not wear jeans but a nice pair of pants and a dressy shirt. I had a grey cotton tie from my eighth grade graduation that my parents had bought me. Clark had to help tie it for me as I didn’t know how to do that. I also found out when I got to the party that I would need to be interviewed by someone called a bishop. I met with the bishop, who also happened to be married to my sixth grade teacher. None of the questions were too difficult to answer and he seemed to be a very kind man. I passed my interview and went excitedly to the dance with my friend. When we arrived, it seemed like just about anyone who wanted to dance was dancing. It was a lot of fun. Not only did I ask some girls to dance, but they were asking me as well. It was a great time.
When I got home, I had been pondering about what a great time I had had as well as the great people I got to hang out with at the dance. For some reason I turned on the TV to a Christian TV channel and the thought crossed my mind that I should ask my friend Clark if I could go to church with him the next day. It was already almost 1:00am. I debated with myself as to whether I should call then or not. I then found myself calling him. I think his mom answered and she put Clark on the phone. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind me going to church with him the next morning. He said sure, we’ll pick you up. I went to be nervous yet excited.
That day I went to church with Clark it was great. I don’t remember who said what or any of the lessons really. I remember that Sacrament was at the end of the three hour block. As we got close to the end of the meeting, I had a feeling come over me that I should ask the bishop how I could become a member of this church. This would again require me to go outside of my comfort zone. Even though I was nervous, I immediately went up to the bishop right after the benediction and asked him my question. He had an amazing response, he said, “I think we could find a way to make that happen. We have a couple of young men that could teach you to help you do just that.” It was after that that I met the missionaries. Over the next month and a half I received the lessons along with two of my sisters. My parents stayed out of it. I remember reading Moroni’s admonition to read, ponder and pray to prove herewith that what I had been taught and what I had read was true. When I prayed about it, I knew it to be true! I had felt it and couldn’t deny it. On February 28, 1988, I was baptized along with one of my younger sisters. Not only was I baptized but my friend, Clark had done the baptism. He had just become a Priest in January and he was already doing his first baptism. We became best friends.
I am eternally grateful to my friend Clark and his family for showing forth love and compassion to a troubled youth and took the time to share his friendship and testimony with me. Because of his example and his actions I gained a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, the restoration of His gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith, a testimony that the Book of Mormon and the Bible contain the word of God and that the priesthood has been restored and that we having a living prophet to provide us modern revelation from a loving Heavenly Father. I now knew I could someday see my grandpa again. I went on to serve a mission, and upon returning found an eternal companion and was sealed to her in the Seattle Temple. I’m eternally grateful for a thoughtful friend.