1951 was an important year to me. I wasn’t born yet, but the ramifications of what happened will live with me forever. Pull up a chair, and I will tell you all about it…
A teenage girl, living in Gresham, Oregon was looking to find a church she could attend. She and a friend went “church shopping” until they came across the L.D.S. Church. After attending, she met with the missionaries, and received the lessons. A bit later, just before her 18th birthday, she was baptized a member of the Church.
That’s the whole story. One of the most crucial and far-reaching events that impacted my life can be told in one simple paragraph.
That young lady was my Mom, and that is the extent of my knowledge regarding her conversion. Pathetic, no? I don’t know if it was just never the topic of conversation, or if I just have a cruddy memory, but that’s all I got. I talked to my sister and she told me essentially the same thing. I called a cousin who has, by attrition, become the “memory of the family.” She didn’t remember any details, either.
Easy answer? Ask Mom.
Problem? She died in 1999, and Dad followed a few years later.
Unless some eighty six-year-old returned missionary who served a mission in Oregon back in the ’50’s stumbles across this blog post, it looks like that is all the info we will have regarding my mom’s conversion. We won’t know what motivated her, how she gained a testimony, what the circumstances were surrounding her conversion, how the family reacted. Nada.
Now, who shall I blame? I can shoulder part of it for not being more curious when she was around. I should have asked questions, and remembered the answers. I can also fault her and my dad for never telling/reminding us about it. Ultimately, the fault is on all of us because…
Nobody ever wrote it down.
There’s no journal entry, no family history, no personal history, no notes from a talk, no audio recordings – nothing. It may not have mattered to me then, but it does now, and the resources are gone. The story is lost to me and my kids, and my grandkids. This is especially egregious because I love conversion stories. They build my faith, and strengthen my testimony.
Two weeks from today I will be hosting my annual event: International Hug a Convert Day. To any and all of you who are converts (by the Church’s definition) who have not written down your conversion story, please get on it. Don’t leave your posterity in the dark.
If you have an aging parent, or a young parent who is a convert who has not written their conversion story yet, help them out. Interview them, get some details. Don’t leave it hanging, like our family did. You will regret it.
Then, after you have your story written, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will gladly publish it on Sunday, September 3. Your story will be read by people all over the world. It will bless their lives. Writing it will bless YOUR life, and the lives of your posterity.
Get to it!
There is one more part to my mom’s story that I heard from her. Still, details are sketchy, as nobody wrote it down.
Apparently, before my mom (Marlene) was baptized, she sat her parents down and had a conversation that went something like this:
Marlene: “Mom, Dad, I have been searching for a church to attend, and I have decided to take the missionary lessons and join the Mormon Church.”
Gramma & Grampa: “That’s a coincidence – we’re Mormon, too!”
Grampa: “Sure. We’re Mormons, we just haven’t been active. We come from a long Mormon Heritage. In fact, my great grandfather was Parley P. Pratt. He was a famous one. That’s why I am named Parley Pratt Grigg.”
The very next year my grandparents – who had already been married for 30 years – went to the temple, received their endowment, and were sealed to each other, and their kids – mom included. I don’t know anything about how this came about – did my Mom’s baptism “stir them up again in remembrance?”
I won’t know until I can ask them person.
Start typing. Please.
*Yes, I am the adorable little tyke in the center of the photo.