UA-44334008-1

conversion stories

7

Last Sunday was the 6th Annual International Hug a Convert Day. Cindy sent me her story on Tuesday, so I figured I would hold it until next year.

Nah. Live is too short.  Here is her story. Thanks Cindy!

I grew up a Catholic in Utah.  Very strong Catholic family.  Very Anti-Mormon family.

After a lengthy divorce and custody battle, it was determined that my abusive ex-husband would get custody of my son.  I was distraught and a mess of emotions.  I was on my knees pleading with the Lord – PLEASE! Begging Him that I would do ANYTHING, ANYTHING, PLEASE ANYTHING to have this decision reversed.

And there was a knock on my door:

The missionaries.

I slammed the door so fast! And yelled at the sky – ANYTHING BUT THAT!!!

But  . .  realizing that I had just made a bargain with the Lord, I reopened the door and let the Elders in.

From there my lessons proceeded as usual, until we got to the Joseph Smith story, I had a road block there that a 14 year old boy founded a church.  I was asked to pray about it, and was blessed with a knowledge that the church was true and Joseph Smith was a prophet.

The problem was telling my parents.  Even though I was 24 I knew that they were still very anti.  I kept my baptism secret from them for months, until my dad’s truck broke down on 2700 west and I saw him walking along the road and pulled over to give him a ride.  I forgot to take my CTR ring off and he was rather angry that I had joined the church.  He said I was disowned and not his daughter anymore.  I took him home and when I went to follow him into the house, he slammed the door in my face.  My mom called me later to ask me if it was true that I had joined the church, my dad hung up the phone for her.  We started talking in secret. She told me she was okay with my joining the church, but “I should NEVER marry one of those Mormons”!

The ward I was in was full of single mothers just like me, many of the priesthood were from different wards, I felt needed, accepted and loved.  Since giving up coffee, recreational drugs and alcohol, I needed new friends, and this ward provided that for me, thank goodness. They helped transition me from party girl to relief society sister.  Taught me how to be a good wife and mother (when the time came again) and how to build a gospel centered home.

I soon met someone who was willing to date a divorced person (believe me, it was bad).  We were sealed in the Salt Lake temple, and blessed with 3 beautiful daughters. We celebrated 25 years this year and our daughters are all grown, with the youngest one on a mission.

What has changed me the most about being LDS was actually moving out of Utah in 2002.  We moved to a tiny little branch in Story City Iowa, pretty much everyone has 3 callings.  Within our first week of moving to Iowa, a long time branch member passed away, and I was jumping into service with both feet.  The Relief Society President called me and asked if I could watch kids, make something for the funeral lunch and help clean up after the luncheon.  I was needed, accepted and loved!  This branch has taught me about service.

I have been a member for over 25 years now.  I didn’t get custody of my son.  But I have received peace with that.

Thanks!

Cindy Manning

Story City Branch, Iowa

6

(The conversion story of Emmajean Clarine, told via letter to her son Joel, Clarine, shard with us by her ganddaughter Brenna Clarine.  Keeping up?)

Dear Joel,

As I have been thinking of ways to put into words our story of joining the church, I only hope it will be meaningful to you.

Looking back for many years before we joined the church I think of three things that happened concerning the church. 1) When I was about 12 years old my mother, dad, and I traveled through Salt Lake City. We did not tour the temple area. I don’t even know if they were doing tours at the time. However, I remember looking at the temple through the large gates and telling my mother that someday I would go in there. She then told me that would not be possible as not even all Mormons could go in there, but I did insist that someday I would go into that temple. We did on a spring day in 1968. This was a great day for our family and a step that has had a great impact on all of us, and for the good of all. 2) When David was about three or so and Steve younger, they and I were visiting two of my friends in Cohasset, just a few miles from where we lived in Grand Rapids. The subject of the Mormon faith came up and various parts of their beliefs and of course the subject of plural marriage came up, and for some reason, I found myself defending every part of the religion that was brought up and feeling good about it.

These stories are not shared openly because many times people do not believe them or at times it is just best to have your own memories. The third story I will share later on in this writing.

As I grew up, I was raised a Lutheran, and at the times, when I was in school in Grand Rapids, I did express a desire to go to the Catholic church, as the majority of my friends went there. My parents were very nice about it and said when I got older I could make that choice but as you know, I never did do that. Just before my junior year of high school, we moved from Grand Rapids to Pillager. My mother always says the only good thing for our family that happened in Pillager was my meeting your dad. While we lived there, I was active in the Lutheran church and had friends that went to the Assembly of God church, so I knew some of their teachings also. When I moved to Minneapolis to go to school, I guess I just got out of the habit, which is not a very good idea. When we would go back for weekends I would go to church. Because of my dad’s work, they left Pillager, and when I was out of school I went to work for him in Maine. Your dad came out there and we were married in the Methodist church.

Now as you can see, there was a lot of exposure to many different faiths already, but on dad’s side there were also other religions. Joe was a member of the Assembly of God, Chet and Dad Clarine never went to church but Millie was a Baptist, and Jack and Lorraine were married in the Baptist church. Geri turned to the Jewish faith, Mary was Catholic, Elaine married a Catholic but did not believe their teachings, and Lorrayne was a Presbyterian. Of all of these, I guess your dad preferred the Presbyterian faith but was not active in it.

We both knew there was a god, don’t get me wrong on that score, and knew a lot about the teachings of the Bible. In fact, I can also remember arguing with my parents when I first read the Bible and it said let Us make man in Our image – logic – we look like God and He had to be talking to someone. That was put to rest, but never ever answered to my satisfaction.

When David was born, it really bothered me that he was not baptized (something else we discussed at the home in Cohasset and at the time I said no just God would banish a baby from heaven simply because of their parents neglect to do what is right), but being raised a Lutheran I still felt it should be done. We lived in Brainerd, moved to Ashland, WI., then to Grand Rapids, and then to Mountain Iron, MN. We had never been active in a church and your dad sure wouldn’t go to the Lutheran church, so in Mt. Iron I started going to the Presbyterian church and was in Ladies Aid and such, didn’t really require any sacrifice, there was always coffee at our meetings during the week and plenty of ash trays. After Dan was born, all the boys were baptized and I must say, at the time, it did make me feel better.

We moved to Brainerd in 1963 during Easter break. It was a lot of fun starting a business and having two new babies that winter. I really don’t remember when the missionaries first started coming. I only wish some how I could ask their forgiveness as we would tell them they could come over at a set time and we would not be there, usually we would be nice enough to leave a note anyway.

We moved to Baxter and they did not come back, guess they just either gave up (which is probably what I would have done) or did not have a way to come out there. My parents were living in Salt Lake City and Mother had not been well and on occasion she had a cleaning lady. Well, it seems this cleaning lady had a son on a mission and would you believe it, of all the places in the world he could be serving, he was in Brainerd. His mother sent him our name and my mother wrote to tell us he would be coming out to see us. So what could we do, mother was having this young man come out, we had to be nice to him and it was so easy to be nice, they were such great young men. And as you know, this year is the first Christmas we have not talked to each other since that time and that is because we are now on our mission. We were able to visit with D. Mudraw and his mother before leaving Utah. We also got to see his wife and it was great. They had Paul over several times while he was on his mission also.

Backing up just a little it was kind of strange when we did live in Brainerd as Jack & Lorraine had the missionaries over so many times and Lorraine used to do some of their laundry for them. But when they moved out where they are now they got involved in the church in Nisswa.

Those two young men would come out often and had many great lessons to teach us. To be honest with you, I don’t remember a great deal of the actual lessons but they used a flannel board to show stories on, and some where in the back of my mind I kept hearing this voice say, “ You have seen these stories before”, and that really bothered me because I knew we had never had the missionaries show us anything like that before, but still I had this feeling that this was not new to me. 3) It was a long time before I was to remember the stories and it was my mother who helped me. When I was young, during World War II, my dad had gone to work on defense work (meaning work at Army bases and such in the construction of any type buildings they wanted done). Anyway, at one time, and I remember the places we lived and such as I was not that young, we lived next door to one of the men who worked for my dad. They were very nice people, an older couple (at least old to me at the time) and as the thoughts began to surface, I can remember her showing me those same stories with cut outs and placing them on the flannel board as she would tell stories to me. After we joined the church, I wrote her and still have the letter she sent us back. She and mother had kept in touch through Christmas cards so I knew where she was. In fact, when we made our trip to Arizona and up to Utah, you remember the one I am sure, when Gina lived with us. Anyway, on our way to Utah we stayed overnight in St. George and Dad, grandma and I went to visit with her. She was in her 90’s then and still going to the temple at least three times a week. She has since passed away.

I kept getting off on these little side trips of mine so please be patient, one of the signs of getting old.

The missionaries worked with us for a long time, well over a year before we ever went to church. They were out to our home at least once a week and sometimes more. What they were telling us answered a lot of questions but surly did not agree in any way with anything I had ever been taught. In many ways, I feel that at the time it was just hard to admit that what and how I had worshipped all my life was really not the way God had intended it to be. I was raised a Lutheran and baptized and confirmed in that faith and even though I did not agree with a lot of the teachings, giving into such a complete change did not seem that easy. Satan was there also with his little prompting and there were many people who gave both of us advice not to join the church. Some said it would be very bad for our business, some used examples of plural marriage, still others said we would lose many of our friends, we were told the life style was too strict, we were also told that Mormons did not believe in the Bible at all. I was to find out later that it was said we sold all our Bibles for five cents each as soon as we joined the church.

There were several reasons of our own that were a hang up also: coffee, smoking, drinking. All three were part of our way of life; coffee and especially smoking were what I had a problem thinking of living without. Still, they (the missionaries) kept on coming back and teaching and visiting and setting the example of brotherly love. Questions, we did not know anyone who was a Mormon except George Evans, Sr. thru him owning the Hub café, we would have to live a different life style, and we would have to pay tithing, attend meetings, which we had not been doing. It seemed Sunday was a real good day to sleep in. The question of being able to afford to pay tithing was brought up to the Elders. They put it very plain, no smoking or drinking, that savings will more than pay your tithing! Simple answer!!

We liked to go out, our family was not neglected because of it, and the people we knew also liked to either go out or just get together on occasion. You know the funny thing about this part is that after we joined the church, and did not drink or smoke, it never bothered us to be around people who did but it bothered them somewhat that we had made the commitment and were sticking to it. Fritz has always been a good friend, and one who would always stand beside his friends. And of course all of the others found out we were not going to hell.

In all honesty, I must say the very best point the missionaries kept bringing up was the family and how important it is and how much the church taught and thought about families being close. I did not need to be taught how to love my children, they have always been the most important thing in my life, even as many errors as I made as a parent, I can honestly say I don’t know of anyone who loved their children more than I love all my sons.

Finally these young men talked us into going to church. I will never forget that day!! It was testimony day and I doubt if there ever was a day that there were more tears in that Crosby chapel. I remember setting in the back row, Dave, Steve and myself. People were friendly but we sure were not used to the noise. There was no carpet over there then or any platform up front and those metal chairs, so every time someone breathed it made a noise. There was a little girl pushing a chair up and down the isle also that day, cute little blond, it was Michelle French. Anyway, friendly people or not, when we got home all three of us said once was enough. I said they do more crying and carrying on than the “Holy Roller” ever thought of. It may sound strange but that day is really clear in my mind. Dad had stayed home with the three other boys and had lunch ready when we got home. For sure, once was enough!! Again those clean-cut young men came back, how sweet they were. Had I been them I most likely would have said, “well, we tried”. But they never gave up. George and Della Evans done some fellowshipping with us. The first Peter Sellers movie we ever saw (Pink Panther), they took us to, and then over to the café for steak dinner. It was closed for the day, so we had the whole place to ourselves. They were very nice and always nice when ever we came into the café. Dad ate there at least once a day for a very long time, I think until George died.

Well, getting on with the story, I think it was a couple of weeks later dad decided to go and the service was normal, noise abounding, but normal. Then the next Sunday I went and we took turns going and the other one staying home with part of the kids. We did this only for a short time then we all went to sacrament.

Your dad was in the hospital for 22 days somewhere along [this time] and done a lot of reading and the missionaries came to visit him a lot. He was too sick to get out of bed so they had a captive audience of one. He will always give that stay in the hospital a lot of credit for his conversion.

Now we had learned the names and faces of a lot of the people (full house was about 30 members) and knew a little more about the church, had been taking the whole family with us. It was time to move left or right, no more balancing on the middle!! It would involve changing friends, there were a lot in the world but just some friendly faces at church, changing a way of life to one that we were always reminded was an extreme and a very difficult way to live and a commitment to another faith. I will admit it was not as easy for me but I will not take all the credit for us taking so long. Yet, I guess I should. I really had to know that it was the right thing, not only for me, but for my children, also.

Make the decision, once and for all – move it or lose it!! We had the parade of young men coming to visit, they were always clean cut, kind and very respectful and the type of young men that any parent would want their children to look up to and an example to follow.

The decision was made, the date was set and on April 15, 1966 your dad, myself, Dave and Steve were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Next month that will be 23 years ago.

It has been a decision we have never been sorry for making. I truly feel it has made us all better people. I know that we did not always do the right things we should have done and many times we have needed a nudge from you boys to put us in the right direction.

The little chapel over in Crosby was too small as the branch grew but you know, there are so many happy memories that have come to my mind while writing these thoughts down, we all grew up there. There were a lot of jobs to be done and everyone was needed. I think I could write a book about all the trips we used to make over there every week; R.S. Tuesday, YM-YW Wednesday, Primary on Thursday after school, and as soon as we joined, we started driving two cars on Sunday as dad had a calling the following Sunday, also the dinners, the parties, the happy and sad things that happened there, but that is another story.

Joel, I hope this will be of worth to you, when you get home and we can talk about it. I am sure there will be new things to add, things that have slipped my mind as I write this.

May God always bless you and may you always find comfort and strength in the church and the scriptures. Thank you for being my son.

Love, Mom (Emmajean)

6

(Don Watters story as told by his daughter, Lisa Stassforth)

My father grew up in Tennessee living around lots of extended family who were  members of the church. Although he was often in their home and even noticed the Book of Mormon, it didn’t challenge him enough to pique his interest in it. He was satisfied going to church with his devoted mother who was a member of the Church of Christ.

Then his father died and his mom moved him and his younger brother to Santa Maria Ca. He entered Santa Maria high school and was quickly known as the new fellow. He met my mom at a scavenger hunt Halloween party where they were paired up by the picking of a number out of a hat. Theirs were the same number.

The following is the story in my mother’s words:

“I can’t remember when we started dating because I didn’t date through high school. There weren’t many Mormon boys to date. I think what it was, was him starting to walk me home from school. I lived farther from school than him. He wanted to see me on Sundays so I told him he had to go to church with me. He said “Okay.” I also told him that if he wanted to see me on Tuesdays he had to go to mutual because that’s where I went on Tuesdays. He said okay.

I think we just hung out at school the most cause we were juniors. I hung out with my girlfriends. It was when we were seniors that we started to become more steady and became a couple. We went to all the dances and games together. He spent a lot of time over my house.

We graduated in 1947. I could tell in 1948 he was getting serious. In the middle of that year I told him that I thought he was getting too serious. I told him I didn’t want him to get more serious because I couldn’t marry him. I had my heart set on getting married in the temple. “You can’t do that with me. You aren’t a member of the church.”

He was shocked. I boxed up all his stuff and gave it back to him. He left heart broken. I didn’t hear from him after that. I guess he got thinking about what I said to him about the temple. He got curious about it and arranged to meet with the missionaries. I meant so much to him that he wanted to know more about my church. He didn’t want to lose me. Going to church previously was to please me. Now after listening to the lessons he decided to get baptized.”

My father passed away 15 years ago August 7…….and had already completed his home teaching for the month.

8

My conversion story began, when I was fourteen. Before I was converted, I grew up in Buddhist family background. Most of my life, I was bullied as a kid from the fifth grade up to the eleventh grade. At the time, I was depressed. My parents always argue, my siblings always fought over each other. I was the youngest out of eight kids in my family. In this time of my life, I was never happy.

Before I was fourteen, I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia-Depression Disorder. Generally, I thought my life was terrible. At that point, in my life I had zero friends. But I kept on pursuing my education. As I knew it, i was listed as one of the honor roll students of my high school. One day, I decided that I wanted to attend a college tour at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. As I was on the college tour alone, I notice that there’s a chapel that i had missed to take a tour on. At that brief moment, I had the affluence of the Holy Ghost, telling me to become a christian.

I also had special promptings from the Lord, as I thought. I wanted to read the Holy Bible. I wanted to attend a church. So I had talk to my parent’s friend, who was also my neighbor. Who happened to attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints. As I attended my first meeting at church. I knew I wanted to get baptized, but I also knew my parents wouldn’t let me.

One day, I was visiting a friend, for all my years of being friends not knowing that she’s was a mormon. I had happened to ran into my friend’s mother, which she’s had a important lesson with sister missionaries. I had asked to come and join on the lesson as well, not knowing they were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints. In this lesson with the sisters missionaries, i had said my first prayer to Heavenly Father in heaven. I also had asked to have one of the sisters missionaries to have a copy of The Book of Mormon. As of that day I had frequent lessons with sister missionaries.

After time and after time, sister missionaries had taught me. But instead my parents said no that I couldn’t be baptized. So I had stop having lessons with the missionaries, who wanted me to be baptized. But at the time, I was only sixteen. Until, I decide to come back to church to reinvestigate again. This was December 25, 2015. As on that day, a sister missionaries had approached me and ask me if I was a member, I said I was not. After that conversation took placed, I decided to let missionaries teach me again, this time I was eighteen.

When a few lesson went by, the sisters missionaries had referred me to the elder missionaries.

In a few lessons, I found myself knowing if The Book of Mormon was true? One day I knee down to pray to Heavenly Father and I had ask if The Book of Mormon was true, and the answer I felt was, Yes !

I had came to conclusion, if I wanted to be baptized. But instead my parents said no again. But the elders, who had taught me never gave up on me. They said, Heavenly Father has a special plan for you and he had a plan for everyone. It’s up to us if we want to know that plan or not. I had a question in my very own heart, what do I want for myself? But deep down inside I knew I wanted to be baptized.

The Bishop from the Young Single Adult Ward, had came and visited to my home to talk to my parents about me getting baptized. But my father, did not join the conversation. We also had my very dear friend of mine, who was Cambodian. As I can not speak the language of Cambodian very fluently, my parents and I had a language barrier. During this conversation, I had told my mother this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints. My mom had one condition was to keep the Cambodian Culture Heritage within me. As of that day, my parents told me that they was baptized into a Christian church long before my time. My parents thought it might be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints, but we were not sure.

I am now at the age of nineteen. On August 20, 2016, I was finally baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints. I was confirmed on August 21, 2016 as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints.

As of Today, in the month of September 2017. I am now nine months almost ten months of marking of my baptismal date. I am happy to announce that in the month of August, I will be getting my Endowments. Also, my dream goals is by a year or two. I will be serving as a fulltime missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints.

THANKS, Diane!

 

8

(Bruce’s story as told by Boman Farrar.)

Nearly seven years ago while serving as a missionary, I met someone who would change my life forever. I would never have guessed that he would have such a strong influence on me when we met, but I guess that’s the power of retrospect. His name is Bruce Horne. We met him on a dirt road in the backwoods of rural North Carolina. The only way I can explain how/why we ended up there is guidance from a higher power. He was praying for answers and we were praying to find people searching for answers. I don’t believe it was a coincidence that our paths crossed.

Bruce was a Sargent Major in the Army Green Berets,  served  in Vietnam, rode in biker clubs most of his life, and has two tiny chihuahua’s he loves. He restored an early 1800’s cabin, which he lives in full time; all heat comes from wood he chops. I was lucky enough to find and teach him and his sweet wife, Becky Horne. They got married, joined the church and I was able to witness their temple sealing shortly before returning home from my mission.

The gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon have changed their lives more than I could ever imagine. He is now the Elders Quorum President in his ward. He often jokes about how he must be the oldest Elders Quorum President in the church, and the only one who rides a Harley to Sunday meetings. He wears his nicest pair of blue jeans, leather riding vest, leather boots (stash knife included), and a white shirt and tie to church each Sunday. He sends a weekly email to his Elders Quorum and has included me in that email list. They are all amazing and I learn so much from him. I thought I would share his most recent email. Hope you get as much out of it as I did.

“So why do and did I sin? Easy–I was doing my will instead of my Fathers. So why did I try to stop? Well, I started to read the Bible, and my mistake was I started from the beginning. I was sure if I didn’t try to change I would “ROT in HELL” for eternity, or be put in a burning lake of fire and brimstone, or maybe be sifted as wheat and my stubble burned. None of the results were very appealing. I tried several churches, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Free Will Pentecostal Baptist, Jehovah’s Witness, and finally Christ’s True Church. I read the Book of Mormon and felt a lot better. Finally, a book to give me hope and explanations of what was really going on. To this day, I still am not crazy about the Old Testament. You need to read it so you know what Noah’s Ark is and the Passover in Egypt meant. It also testifies of Christ—I believe in Christ and I can’t comprehend Isiah, (or spell it) so I will stick with the Book of Mormon. Everybody that matters to me ( all the recent Prophets, all the Church leaders) says it is THE BOOK that contains the fullness of the Gospel, and that it will get you closer to God than any other book. Rest my case. The only way it possibly could not be true, is if there was no God. But we don’t need to worry about that because SOMEONE is answering my prayers.

Most Churches Have to make money to stay in business. The preacher depends on the congregation for his house and car and fine suits. He doesn’t want to offend them or drive them off, so he preaches “God Is Good”. So how do I know that my Church is Christ True Church? Easy- who in their right mind would tell the members they couldn’t drink beer, coffee, or ice tea?? Look how many people this keeps away. We do this because we do Gods bidding and not mans. We do what God tells the Prophets to do, not what is popular. Because God is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow.

Lately, we have been getting some pretty good encouragement instead of woe is me. Elder Holland told us even when we fail it is OK, as long as we are really trying. God picks us back up and cheers us on. Even though we will never be good enough while on this Earth, we can still be ACCEPTABLE to God as long as we sincerely repent and try, says Elder Cornish. So, yes, we are going to make it to the Celestial Kingdom as long as we keep repenting and don’t rationalize or rebel. In other words, do Gods will and not our own will. Isn’t it great that Gods talks to us thru our Prophets? That is why we studied last Sunday that we have to totally COMMIT to Christ—no half stepping.

THANKS, Bruce!