Monday, January 18, 2010
When I moved back to the states after living in Australia for seven years, we were in a very big ward. One could get lost in a large ward and I welcomed the break. Anyone who has had a break with church duties knows it gets pretty old after awhile and you start feeling like you're running low on fuel for feeling spiritual. I decided to put my energy and talents into our local PTA.
PTA was a wonderful experience. I worked with the best group of women in the state, I'm sure. Our PTA ran very successfully and I actually thought all PTAs ran that way. They asked me to be the president, but I felt with a new baby (Mimi) I wouldn't be able to juggle it. So I declined. They asked again the next year so I committed myself and spent a year as President Elect.
I wrote skits for our "Back-to-School" night to explain what the PTA does and our membership drives were very successful. The children were the stars in the skits and the school faculty were so supportive. We had very successful fund-raisers, the best the school had seen. Our PTA board got along famously and there was no ill feelings amongst any of us. I adored our Principal and the teachers.
Spiritually I was doing fine, I'd even say I had a strong testimony in the gospel and sometimes felt my testimony was rock hard. I had been recently released as the Primary President and was happy with being a visiting teacher. I'm not an overly judgemental person and I try really hard not to be because I find every time I have even the slightest judgement, I will be faced with the same situation.
One day a neighbor, friend and a lady who was my Visiting Teacher for five years asked me my opinion about something. It was something that I personally didn't have much of an opinion about and I should have left it at that. She thought where I was the PTA President maybe I would have an insight about something. Being neighbors, friends and she had come into my home for parties, get-togethers and on a monthly basis with a spiritual message I thought it was okay to share this insight.
She (I'll call her "Tina") asked me what I thought about a certain teacher. I didn't personally know this teacher, but I did know that another very well-liked, popular teacher quit her job at the school because of her. I didn't know the details but I knew a lot of people were upset because of that.
Okay, here's where the story starts to give me a sick feeling in my stomach. I could never understand people who went inactive from the church because another person offended them. I believed it displayed a weakness in character, for how can a person let someone else stand in the way of their relationship with the Savior? It's not worth it, right? Isn't the church and gospel all about forgiving people?
A couple of weeks later, Tina went to the school and told this teacher what she had heard. The teacher was rightfully upset and asked who she had heard this from. Tina, putting aside the neighbor, friend and sister whom she Visit Taught for five years answered, "Well.....it was the PTA President." I hope you just gasped and I hope you understand the little stab I felt in my back.
The Principal (I'll call Mrs. P), who is a woman that I have a professional and personal relationship with and whom I still put on a pedestal, called me. This wasn't a phone call anyone would like to have. Mrs. P said this teacher had told her that someone had told her that the PTA President was spreading a rumor throughout my neighborhood about her. That I had said I wouldn't even put my own child in her classroom. My heart sank. Not only for my own humiliation but for the teacher who had been hurt, too. I did what I could and spoke to the teacher and the Principal. I also searched my mind of who would say this.
If I was the gossip this person accused me of being, it would have been harder to track down who said it. I could only think of one person who I had discussed this teacher with. I called Tina and asked her why she went to the school and betrayed me. I already knew why. There's really only one motive of why a person would want to do that. What good comes from telling someone something hurtful about them? There is no good. It was to get the PTA President in trouble and do it anonymously.
The confrontation was horrible - my friends know I am not a fighter but this was my reputation that I worked years to build. I remember saying to Tina, "Mrs. P said you said I was spreading a rumor around in my neighborhood. You're the only person I told so unless you told someone else you're the only one who knows." She admitted she told someone else. A rumor starts with just one and I was the one. Even if she was a neighbor, friend and Visiting Teacher for five years I should not have said what I said. She denied saying I wouldn't put my own child in her class and thinks the teacher may have just added that in her emotion. But that's what rumors do, they grow.
I felt personally attacked, like Tina just wanted to see me, the PTA President, fall. I went to church and when I would see her I would almost feel physically sick. In Relief Society we would be in the same room and I would think about how she betrayed me as a sister in the gospel. I would come home from church crying because I could no longer feel the Spirit but only anger when I went.
This started my inactivity. How could a person let another person stand between them and their relationship with the Savior? I can understand now. It took me a couple of years to get over this. It's not that I like holding grudges, I'm usually too dense to remember when someone has offended me. This had affected me to my very soul. I'm not saying that it was right. You may have heard or experienced that a person skips a few Sundays at church, it turns into more Sundays and it turns into months and pretty soon you forget why you even went.
I found the best way for me to heal from this was to move away from the neighborhood after two years. Time has healed me, I have forgiven her and I don't have any animosity toward her. I actually love her now. We won't be doing lunch but I feel I am over it. I am very leery about what I tell anyone, however. Even a neighbor, friend or Visiting Teacher for five years. My husband said not too long ago that he doesn't think I ever recovered from this even though I feel at peace. My testimony wasn't rock hard and maybe no one's is. Chalk one up for experience.
Moral of the story: Beware of tongue - slippery when wet.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Even as I was looking for a picture of a roller coaster to put on my blog, there were many interpretations of what a roller coaster should look like. I'm used to the rickety old one I can see off the freeway that gives you a bad case of whiplash when you ride on it......which is exactly why I avoid the roller coaster.
I hate the shaking as it climbs the hill, jerking your head back and forth and then the final jerk as it pulls you over the hill free falling to the next hill with enough momentum to glide over the hill without any further power from the car. My fear would be that the car would get stuck on the track and somehow the park would have to help you get down.
So is Life. Sometimes we struggle to get up the hill (sometimes kicking and screaming) with trials and somehow the strength you get from overcoming them gets you over the next hill and the next hill.
I remember coming home from my mission on a spiritual high and then it dropped dramatically in the next couple of days. When you share the gospel all day everyday you tend to have the spirit as a constant companion and then you get caught up in everyday life. It would be nice to think that we can be on a spiritual high all the time. No gut wrenching drops to make you feel as if your stomach is in the back of your throat.
But it happens. That's why you just hope in life that you have enough momentum to get you over the next hill and the next. It's funny how the things I don't like about the ride are the exact things that people love about the ride. They enjoy the bone rattling jerks (there's a whole new blog topic), the stomach-in-your-throat feeling, the excitement of unexpected turns.
I'm going to open up a forum for you now and ask you what spiritual things help you up the hill? The reason I ask is because the best part about a roller coaster ride is going on it with friends.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Hmmmm. Could it be a major church assignment? Are they in financial need? What kind of personal problems could Sister Celeste Steel have? So when I show up I ask loudly, "Is this the line for repentance?" This usually gets a laugh. Then I add, "It's a good thing I'm at the end because I'm going to be awhile." Then I sometimes try to find a victim, "But not as long as Brother Blank." So that usually breaks up the tension. Then they forget to wonder why I'm there and I push things out of my imagination like, "Is Brother Blank going to be our new Bishop? Especially when I just suggested he has so much repenting to do." Whew!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
We decided to change my lessons to familiar songs because I was feeling very insecure about learning new words (which is next to impossible for me). To end my lesson, we thought we would sing a hymn of my choice. I picked a familiar hymn, but one that makes me stretch up to higher notes. I am embarrassed to say, I couldn't make it through the first verse without bursting into tears. The Spirit touched me so strongly and I stopped singing and whispered, "I can't sing this right now."
I have a critic who thinks I could never feel the Holy Spirit and wants to convince me that I will never be worthy enough to enter Heaven. I will name this person by name at the end of this post. It seems when you are trying to make right choices and have dedicated yourself to do so, there is always a blockade to try to keep you from progressing. That is proof that you are on the right track.
My half-sister, who I consider a whole sister, but just explaining we didn't share childhood together, came to visit from out of state. She played our piano and wanted to check out some Mormon hymns. Well, needless to say, she is a professional hymn player and used to play in churches. So she would see the title of the song, not recognize it, and start a few bars and say, "Oh! I know this one!" Then she would play the tune perfectly and beyond perfectly by throwing in a few little Baptist chords to jazz it up a bit. Then we would sing together switching melody and harmony. I said, "I've never heard LDS hymns played like that before."
Liz and I were discussing hymns and how no one sings very loudly in Relief Society which makes everyone even more insecure about singing. That and the fact the chorister picks songs that no one knows and unless you've been in music lessons all your life won't figure out. That's why there are usually about three people singing confidently. So that was my complaint followed by, "That's it, I'm going back to the Baptist church. They had better music."
Liz and I sang a hymn and then these words jump out at me:
"I know that my Redeemer lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead. He lives, my everliving Head.
He lives to bless me with his love. He lives to plead for me above..........
And that's where it stopped. How blessed we are to have an advocate, to plead our case. My bishop told me Sunday, the Lord knows our suffering. He knows what's in our hearts. So why should anyone's opinion matter? Now I can tell you who has criticized me, tortured me with my sins and thinks I don't deserve to be forgiven. This person has resembled a fellow church member sometimes and has told me they were far more righteous than me. This person has sinned much worse than I have, but yet I am unforgivable. This person's name is Lucifer. Do you recognize him?
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
As I said in my introduction, I am a sinner. There have been times in my life the Spirit has been stronger than others. There have been times that I felt I have been hanging by a thread spiritually. My testimony of the gospel has never wavered. My love for my Heavenly Father has never wavered. My passion, my obedience and my will has wavered at times. I'm very thankful for the atonement, because the Lord knew we would falter. I'm still not perfect (in case you were wondering) and a long way from it. I still struggle with sinful thoughts and temptation. One thing that I have learned recently is that faith isn't a package deal. I can still have faith and spirituality even when I haven't felt things were perfect in my marriage. But this is true: I love my Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ. I know that President Monson is a living prophet who receives revelation for us today. I know the decision I made almost 25 years ago to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the right thing. But please remember that I am still a sinner and trying to be better.
Tonight I opened a box marked "Scrapbook Stuff." I don't actually scrapbook, so really I should just title it "Papers I Don't Have a Clue What to do With." My heart was pounding as I turned each paper, letter, card or keepsake. I don't know why the palpitations except for the last time I traveled down "Memory Lane" I fell. It was a painful fall and hard to get back up and go back the way I came. I guess I question myself and the direction to take. I found some fun things to share in this blog and I hope you gain something from my journey.
We are not in the families that we are in by accident. I have learned much from my parents and step-parents. I had to work and search for the true gospel, but I had a very good base to start from. I love my parents (and steps) and appreciate them for putting up with me!
......to be continued.......
I think I mentioned that I would go to church on the church bus at times. I think they were old school buses or rented out by the churches. I remember going to a church when I was in 5th grade and our Sunday School class was held on the parked bus. There was lots of singing and preaching. I remember the teachers saying, "If you want Jesus to come into your heart and save you, raise your hand." I wanted Jesus in my heart more than anything. I raised my hand. A lady came over to my seat and had me say a prayer to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart and save me. That was my ticket to Heaven. No matter what I did from that point on, I was going to Heaven. I was considered "born again." It was a great feeling knowing I was going to live with Jesus again because He was now officially in my heart.
That makes me think of recent trials where I've felt like I've been walking around with a big hole in my chest. I've just realized I need Jesus back in my heart. I think sometimes we get so caught up with our busy lives we forget what it's like to be childlike. ".....submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love and willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him....." I don't know if any of those words describe me at this time. I can definitely see room for improvement.
......to be continued........
I had some friends that were Jehovah's Witnesses and they gave me a book on youth and morals. That was my only guidance at that point and when I read it, I obeyed. I have to say before this book I was a "bad girl wanna-be". I guess since my parents were never around I had new found freedom and was really mixed up. We got involved with drinking, smoking (I hated it), swearing, just doing stupid things that teens feel like they have to do to be cool. I really flunked at being a bad girl because I still had too much of a conscience to do anything horribly bad. I straightened up in 9th grade and went back to my goodie-goodie self. It didn't take long to get the bad girl phase over with. It wasn't me.
We moved to Utah the summer after 9th grade. My dad retired and he and his wife decided to settle in Utah. At this point, my only brother Gene wanted to move in with his dad. We followed because my mom didn't want to be away from my brother. So that's how I ended up in Utah.
One day after getting home from school I met a man who was knocking on doors inviting people to church. It was a Baptist church, which is the religion I affiliated myself with. I told him I was looking for a church to go to. That was the beginning of strengthening my knowledge and testimony of Jesus.
A popular topic preached from the pulpit was our neighbors the Mormons. Mormons are lost souls who are brain-washed. They worship Satan. Satan is the head of their church. They believe in a different Jesus, who is just a brother and not the real Jesus who is part of the trinity. The Jesus who is God in flesh. The trinity compared to an egg - you have the shell, albumen and yolk, but it's all an egg. The same is with God, who is Jesus and the Holy Ghost. They're the same entity.
As a Baptist, I believed in the trinity. I believed God was invisible. I could never quite understand that because whenever you see the sun peeking through the clouds with bright rays of light, or a beautiful sunset - that's what God is. Beauty from the sky. I wondered if he might be a giant brain in the universe. How can He be invisible?
I had many friends at school and most of them were very good Mormons. We would sometimes discuss religion and they were very respectful towards me and my beliefs. Because I was a "good girl" a lot of people assumed I was Mormon anyway. My next door neighbor, Wendy and I went to the Baptist church together. When her younger brother was mad at us he would say in his meanest tone, "You Mormons!" That would really upset us and sometimes Wendy would beat him up.
Wendy was my best friend at the time and we had the common bond of being a different religion that most of our friends and associates. We went to church faithfully every Sunday and sometimes Sunday night. There was a sermon on baptism and how if you are not baptized, you won't be able to sit at the table with Jesus for a feast after the Rapture. The Rapture is the second coming and all the born again Christians will disappear from the earth and go to Heaven. The others will stay behind and go to Hell to be tormented forever. Wendy and I decided we didn't want to miss out on the feast in Heaven so we decided to get baptized.
We wore our blue jeans and got baptized on January 9th, 1983. For the weeks leading up to my baptism, my friend Merilie met with me to discuss "life and death matters". More about that next time.
.....to be continued......
This is the inside cover of The Book of Mormon that she gave me. Even though I thought she was led astray, I knew she gave it to me with sincerity.
I've had to face my demons in the last six months. The problem is demons are always disguised as angels. The topic of mercy came up in Relief Society for a brief time. I couldn't think about anything else past this thought as it struck a chord with me. One of the beatitudes say, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
I have struggled with some information that I learned of another person (who is not related or currently in my life). I wanted to hate them. On a daily basis I reminded myself of the things they had done. I couldn't hate them no matter how hard I tried. Their sins were not mine to forgive, though I thought that is how I would get through it. Then "mercy" comes up in class. That is what I needed to move past this.
I shouldn't feel anger, disgust or even forgiveness. I should have mercy and think it is really sad they made the choices they did at the time they did. I feel sorrow and view them as a child of God who was weak. Though my sins are not the same, I have been weak, too. And I would like the Lord to have mercy on me. I know that person wrestles deeply with their soul and won't forgive his/herself. I visit that place myself and I know that this is a place that Satan wants to keep you. Not so easy to come out of even with that fact. Is it possible to have mercy for yourself?
So that has nothing to do with my conversion story, but explains why I haven't felt so in tune to write. The next part of my story is I continued to go to my Baptist church 1-3 times a week. My testimony of Jesus was getting stronger. I learned a lot about other churches, especially one who's initials are LDS.
I wouldn't say I had mercy for Mormons at this point. I would say I felt desperation to help my Hell bound friends. I was blessed with very good friends through my high school years. They were the very best examples, the highest calibur of people and they truly cared about me as much as I cared about them. I feared for their salvation.
I went to a youth camp the summer of 1983. I came back fired up and ready to go and fight in the name of the Lord. Especially since LDS = Satan's church. I had to help my friends. They cannot go to a Hell of fire and brimstone and burn forever and ever because I never said anything to help them get saved.
The same summer I went to a leadership conference. We had great experiences and when I was alone in our room with a few other girls when they asked me about my beliefs. I shared my thoughts and I can say these friends were a great example. Tami said, "We respect you for your beliefs and we hope you respect us, too." I did, kinda. I just thought they were going to Hell because of their beliefs.
Then my senior year of high school began. This was one of the best times of my life and I had the greatest experiences. I can't think of this time without thinking about how it changed me for the rest of my life.
......to be continued......
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Homecoming was fun, Kelly was a very fun date. Teri and I went to several of our team's track meets. I noticed another cute guy on the team who I didn't know very well and mentioned this to Teri. I'll call him "John" because he will be mentioned a lot from this point on. Teri had a class with John and taunted him with information about a girl who thinks he's good-looking. She would give him clues as to who I was and he finally told her he thought she was just making it all up.
She suggested that I write him a "secret admirer" note so he would believe her....and to make it interesting. I love to do fun things like that, though this was the one and only secret admirer note I've ever written. I put a few clues in to describe me, but coming from a class of nearly 500 students, it definitely could be several people. He read the note and made a guess as to who I was. He wrote my name down on a piece of paper and passed it to his friend, Matt.
She wrote a note that said, "Do you like her? I seen who you guessed, you don't need to be embarrassed."
He wrote, "Is it her?"
"Answer my question first."
"I couldn't learn to like her if it's her or someone better than her and she's hard to beat. If it's her I'd like to get to know her."
She and I went to another track meet and afterward talked to Kelly. Teri decided she kinda liked Kelly. John, Ricky and Glen decided to come over and join the conversation. There was a lot of teenage flirting going on which eventually lead to John and I going out. But not without the drama of him and his girlfriend breaking up first. What? He had a girlfriend? I had no idea.
He talked to me often about his feelings for Teresa. He felt obligated to her and guilty to break up. Teresa and I actually ran in the same social circles but didn't know each other. There were many deep conversations about his dilema of liking two girls and I offered to back off. She was in the picture first, afterall. John said he didn't want me to back off because he really liked me.
John was handsome and very smart - in fact he was a candidate for Valedictorian. We had many fun times together. I was spontaneous and fun which entertained him. I wasn't a candidate for Valedictorian but I was an honor student. I was proud to wear his Letterman's jacket to the football games. He was proud I was his girl. He started holding my hand in school and walking me to class. We were both good kids with high standards. It was official: We were a couple.
He came over a lot and we were becoming very close. We spent many late nights watching TV (we had cable - the new rage), exchanging kisses and having deep conversations. But there was one topic of discussion that we avoided.
.......to be continued......
Monday, December 29, 2008
He asked me about my beliefs in which I informed him about the Trinity, how to get saved and how different our religions were. I was already very familiar with his religion, or at least the Baptist interpretation of it.
We debated for a short time, comparing scriptures and sharing testimonies. Do we want to quit seeing each other for religious differences? Not at that point. We really liked each other and were very good friends. We had a great respect for each other despite our religions. As we debated about Heaven and Hell and everything in between I remember thinking, "He is so smart. Why can't he see the truth?" Later, I found out he thought the same thing about me. During the moment our conversation became quite intense or should I say tense and quiet. I reached over and hugged my friend. He hugged me back. I said, "Sorry. I couldn't help it,"apologizing for my assertiveness in which he said, "That's okay. It was appropriate."
We went to a football game after our long discussion in his car. We arrived at the game holding hands showing our peers that we were "together." We went to a dance after the game where he held my hand and we danced all night. He came over afterwards and we watched TV and he still held my hand. Of course that means a lot when you're a teenager. This was the night of our very first kiss.
The topic of religion came up often after that point. I always wanted to avoid it. It isn't that I was ashamed of the Lord. I just knew that arguing about religion would not prove anything. One day we were sitting in front of our school gym and John wanted to talk to me about his church. I promised I would listen to him if he would listen to me in return.
I was strong in my beliefs but had some questions in my mind. I prayed about our relationship and asked often for the Lord to separate us if it was His will. I knew if would be harder later on. We started to avoid the topic once again. But you can only hide what's important to you for so long.
.....to be continued.....
Sunday, December 28, 2008
We spent more and more time together. We were getting even closer as time went on. We had a major fight and went to our Christmas Dance with other people. Our fight only lasted a few days. We were back together and he came over on December 23rd to exchange Christmas gifts. I gave him a purple argyle sweater - argyle was in style back then. I don't know if he particularly liked it but he wore it because it was from me. Of course, I thought he looked great in it. He gave me three light purple roses in a vase and a box of chocolates. Looks like purple was our color because I just realized we wore those colors for Senior Cotillion.
John called me every day of the Christmas break. It was during this time I did a lot of deep thinking. I loved him and knew there were only a few possibilities for us:
1. He had to change his religion.
2. I had to change my religion.
3. We both had to change religions.
4. We would have to break up.
I thought for sure it would be option 1 or 4. I loved John, but I loved God more. I had to help him. I didn't want him to go to Hell. Can he help being brainwashed? Does he know he belongs to a cult? I mean, the only way you can really believe in things like the pre-earth life, God and Jesus being separate entities and a living prophet is if you were born and raised to believe that way.
And that's exactly what brought me to a thought hovering in the back of my mind. "Maybe I believe the way I do because that's how I was raised to believe." I continued going to my own church and occasionally visited John's. I remember them passing the sacrament one time and I didn't partake of it and handed the tray to John. His little sister who was five at the time said in a loud whisper, "Mom. Why didn't Krista take the sacrament?" Her mom tried to hush her but she persisted a little louder, "Why didn't Krista take the sacrament?" Her mom finally answered in a loud whisper, "Because she's not a member of the church."
We spent New Year's Eve together with many of our friends at his house and brought in the year 1984. A new year always gives us an opportunity to reflect on our lives and make some changes. There was a big change I needed to make. I loved John more and more as time went on but had the same sincere prayer, "Lord, if it is your will please separate us."
January 1, 1984 - In my journal I refer to this day as having a "spiritual day." It was the beginning of what I titled "The Search." I believed with all my heart my church was the true church. John believed with all his heart his church was the true church. What if his church was true? How can I help him to know my church was true? It wasn't just his soul at stake, it was many of my friends' souls at stake, too. I decided I wasn't going to let anyone influence my mind.
My church said Mormons were unbiblical and don't believe in the atonement of Jesus. That isn't exactly what my Mormon friends said. They believe in Jesus and the atonement. They use the King James version of the Bible, which is the closest to the original translation. I stopped going to any church. My mind was filled with many conflicts regarding the gospel and what was true. I need to find out the truth for myself. "The Search" began.
.....to be continued.....
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I would ask "how can God send his children to Hell", but Born Again Christians don't believe you are a child of God unless you are "born again." Their definition of being born again is if you have prayed and asked the Lord to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins. A verbal prayer you have to say aloud and then and only then you have your ticket to Heaven. You will go there whether you want to or not - because you have been born again.
I had to figure out why Mormons believe what they believe so I can help them. The best way was to take Seminary - the beginning of the brainwashing process. John gladly helped me register. People were surprised and asked him how he got me to take Seminary and he answered, "I had nothing to do with it."
They were studying the Old Testament which worked out well because I think my mind would have been closed if it were any other book of scripture outside of the Holy Bible. My seminary teacher was Mr. Rasmussen. The other students called him Brother Rasmussen - but not me. I wanted to make a point that he was no brother of mine. After calling him Mr. Rasmussen a few times as he greeted me before class he shook my hand and said in a soft, somewhat pleading voice, "Brother........please." Oooops! My rudeness was recognized.
I learned a lot in the first week of Seminary. I had learned a lot about the Old Testament and not so much why Mormons believe what they believe. I continued with my anti-Mormon literature, too. I wasn't going to take any one's word for the truth, I had to know for myself. I opened my mind and questioned everything. I looked up every scripture my anti-stuff quoted. There was a lot of scripture quoted with "dot, dot, dot". I looked up the verses in the Bible and read the "dots". I read the verses before and after the one verse that was quoted. Do you know what I found? There were a lot of scriptures taken out of context and didn't support the point they were trying to prove. This would make their points......lies? Why would they tell lies about the Mormons?
I questioned why there was only one Bible with so many interpretations of it and so many churches, each proclaiming to be the true church. How can one Bible say so many conflicting things? Which church was teaching the truth? I had to know and carried these questions heavily for the next couple of months, sincerely seeking, studying, praying and asking for guidance and asking for the truth to be revealed to me.
.....to be continued......
Friday, December 26, 2008
The next day my friend Wendy, who was my next door neighbor and who I went to the Baptist church with stayed the night. John called and he had a conviction of keeping the topic of the Lord in, also. We talked about breaking up because of our differences in our beliefs. When we hung up I cried. Wendy hugged me as I bawled and said, "Don't date a Mormon guy it's not worth it, you'll just get hurt. It's Hell." Wendy and I were actually baptized together on the same day on January 9th, 1983. We were baptized in our blue jeans. The purpose of being baptized wasn't for our salvation, because that was already made. This was to ensure that we can join the feast at the second coming of those who got baptized. This is a literal feast of food at the table with the Lord.
In Seminary one day the topic was marriage. The Mormons believed in eternal marriage and eternal families. As they were discussing this topic, I raised my hand and not afraid to offend my peers with the truth, questioned, "Yeah, but what about in Mark chapter 12 verse 25?" I said as I turned my Bible there, "For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven."
"I'd like to talk to you about that after class if that's possible," Mr. Rasmussen said as the class was closing. I went to my next class which was Psychology taught by another wonderful Mormon man named Mr. Jay Stuart. He gave me permission to miss class and meet with Mr. Rasmussen.
I went into his office which was a small, narrow room with an office desk against the wall and a bookshelf loaded with books. He invited me to sit in the chair against the wall next to his desk. I had my Bible in hand. He returned to my question and we read the whole story that goes to that scripture. It is Mark 12:20-25 where there were seven brothers and the first brother took a wife and died before she had children. The second married her and died also with no children. The third and all the seven took her and left her without child. Then the woman died and the question was who would she be married to? I actually thought that surely by the third brother dying the others would figure out she was jinxed and run the other way. But Mr. Rasmussen explained that that was a Levirate marriage which was an unrighteous tradition and not a marriage that has been sealed in the temple the way God wants.
Okay, speaking of God, "What about the scriptures in John Chapter One that proves that the Godhead is a Trinity?" He read through those scriptures and showed me another interpretation that I hadn't heard of......but out of the same Bible. "What about the scripture in Isaiah 43:10 that says there was no God before him or after him? How can you believe that you can become gods?" This was explained to me that he was the God of our earth and there was no god before or after him. But there are other worlds. I spoke out passionately, "I don't mean to be proving you wrong - I want to know the truth." I was impatient at this point because I wanted the truth now. He said, "Krista, if you want to know the truth I know the Lord will help you find it." He then bore his own testimony. I left and felt......free in a way. I felt like crying and I felt my load had been lightened slightly. I recognize this now as feeling the spirit.
The next weekend was our Preference Dance. This was a girls' choice semi-formal around Valentine's Day. I asked John with Candy Conversation hearts. He said he didn't deserve to go since he took someone else to the Christmas Dance. I told him I would ask someone else if he didn't want to go with me and asked if he was hoping some one else would ask him - like Teresa. He said he would rather go with me than anyone and to prevent me from asking someone else he said yes.
He picked me up in his dad's small pick up truck. When we were in the truck he handed me a letter. I opened the official looking letter and read, "Congratulations. You are a Salutatorian." It was not such good news to him because he was a candidate for Valedictorian and had been working at this goal since 8th grade. There were three candidates and they chose one boy and one girl. He was the only one cut. I understood his disappointment and he talked for about 20 minutes about his shattered dreams. He put his hand on mine and said, "I'm sorry. I can't ruin tonight." Then he continued, "Today I lost everything I ever wanted except I still have you. I hope I don't lose that, too."
I was glad that he could vent with me. We were best of friends and I felt I could tell him anything and he could tell me anything. It would be very hard losing him, but I would do it for the Lord. We went to a great steak place called "The Prairie Schooner." The atmosphere is that of covered wagons with a starry sky with a desert scene in the middle. There were taxidermied prairie animals and coyotes, cactus and campfires.
After dinner we still had an hour before the dance so I suggested going to the Ogden Temple Visitor's Center. I think this upset John because I think he gave up on me joining the church. We watched "Man's Search For Happiness" and "The First Vision." As I watched "The First Vision" I thought Joseph Smith and I had a lot in common with the same questions. I learned a great scripture that I thought I would apply in my search. James 1:5 & 6: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." I didn't think the movies were true, but I grasped that last scripture.
We went to the dance and had fun in spite of John's bad news. We went for ice-cream with Wendy and her date, Tom. John left early, still visibly upset and probably needed time to himself.
Unfortunately, I didn't record what we did for Valentine's Day or my birthday, which is the day before. You would think that would be something pretty significant for a high school girl and it probably was. We went a lot of places together and I ate lunch with him and his friends at school. His friend, Dirk, was a very funny guy and loved to tease. I remember one day at lunch he said something smart alec-ish to get a reaction from me. I looked at him and said as if in slow motion, "W e l l , y o u s o n - o f - a . . . . ." (all eyes on the long table turned to me in shock) "bishop." They laughed. His dad really was a bishop.
John came to my locker a lot and would hug me and lift me off the ground. He would give me a quick kiss before class. We wrote notes and talked on the phone often and told each other "I love you." But there was that one issue......
.....to be continued.....
Thursday, December 25, 2008
His mother was the epitome of great mothers. She was always baking cookies and treats for the kids when they came home from school. His father was known for his great sense of humor and always made us laugh. His parents loaned me a book called "The Journal of Joseph." I added that to my reading of the Bible and maybe the Doctrine and Covenants. I attended church with John and enjoyed church when we went. His mom would always cook a beautiful feast with all the trimmings. I told John I wanted to talk to some missionaries so they could help me with some of my questions. The missionaries would soon be lined up.
We went on a double date with my friend Nicki and his friend Dirk to the Salt Lake Temple. We watched some short films about temple marriages, families being together for time and all eternity. I learned about Family Home Evening, the restoration of the church and the priesthood. As we looked at this beautiful temple I thought more deeply about marriages being for time and all eternity....not just until death. I thought about John. His heart was in the church and he believed this with his entire soul. I still thought he was brainwashed, but I understood more why he believed what he believed. Maybe it would be nice to be in love with someone forever. It was a nice thought.
Finally, the missionary discussions began. We sat in his basement and John's mom and a brother or sister would come and sit in and listen. John was the oldest of five kids. The lessons were definitely different. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I heard them. The first lesson was about the atonement of Christ. I could feel the spirit of love and peace, but I was still confused. I wasn't going to be suckered into joining a cult unless they proved they weren't a cult. The Mormon's are a peculiar people with a book that isn't recognized in any other churches. John's perfect mom would have treats for us after the discussions. I would ask questions. They would make challenges: "Can you live the Word of Wisdom?" Dang! I had to give up iced tea! Not a hard sacrifice. "Can you live the Law of Chastity?" Yep. We weren't doing "those" things, though I wondered if his parents thought we were because I wasn't LDS and we spent many late nights together.
John's family was very close. They fellowshipped together, they prayed together, the church was a very big part of their family. I envied John, a lot. The missionaries finally gave me the biggest challenge - to get baptized. I told them I wanted to read the entire Bible before I even look at the Book of Mormon. I know this was disappointing to all.
My Baptist church took notice that I wasn't attending and I got phone calls from the youth group thinking I was leaving the church because of John. I got letters from two air force guys who blamed John and saying he was the only reason I wasn't coming to church. I had some friends from the youth group stop by and they asked about John and asked why I hadn't been coming to church. I told them I was searching for the truth and didn't go to any church. I also told them I was taking Seminary and they looked at me funny and asked why. I said, "To learn why they believe what they believe." My pastor called and a lady friend called and it was the same accusations - it was John who was leading me astray.
I didn't mention on the day Nicki, Dirk, John and I went to the Salt Lake Temple, a guy named Tim came over. He was considered a deacon (helper) and was really mad because I haven't been going to church and he heard I was taking some Mormon class. He said to my mom, "What would you do if your little girl was playing in the street? Aren't you scared she'll get hit by a car?"
My mom surprisingly answered,"My daughter is a big girl and I think she can make her own decisions."
I had to speak, "This is how I feel about it. John 10:27-29 says, 'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me , is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.' I believe that if I make the wrong decision, the Lord will correct me."
Tim said, "That's all I wanted to see is you pick up your Bible." Baptists don't believe in the Book of Mormon. I wasn't sure if I did either.
I started reading "The Journal of Joseph." I read about how he was tarred and feathered. I read the details of what that really means. Very hot tar was poured onto him, burning his skin and then he was rolled into feathers. They made him walk the town as people ridiculed him. Before I read this I thought he was some sort of fraud who was professing to be a prophet for money or fame. Then I read how Joseph was tarred and feathered a second time. Knowing how painful that would be - I think a jokester would confess his crimes. But Joseph stayed strong.
I can understand how the people wanted to get rid of Joseph because in my own church they developed a lot of hatred toward Mormons. They would deny that statement, but we were taught they worshipped Satan, Satan was the head of the LDS church and their people are brainwashed. It's my opinion now that preaching those ideas is a form of brainwashing in itself. We felt like the leaders and their prophet were deliberately leading people astray - to Satan - and because of that they are going to burn in Hell, tortured forever and ever. I hated their current prophet (Spencer W. Kimball) and wondered why no one ever took his life to prevent him from leading people to Hell. This must have been the thinking of the persecutors of the early church. I don't know.
I read in "The Journal of Joseph" that Joseph Smith was eventually shot to death while he was in jail for teaching a new gospel. He believed what he taught. I gained a testimony of Joseph Smith through this book. A new book of scripture? Would a true prophet give us a false book? No. Even though I hadn't read the whole thing like I planned, I knew whatever was in that book had to be true. Even though all my questions hadn't been "proven" to me, I knew if Joseph Smith was a prophet then everything else had to be true.
John invited me to church with him again and to have Sunday dinner at his house with the missionaries. My mind had been very heavy with my search. I had prayed and cried and fasted for a revelation of the truth. At Sunday School I felt the Spirit very strongly. I needed my answer, I needed to relieve my mind and soul and I needed the Spirit. I prayed silently right there in class for my Father in Heaven to help me make the right decision. I felt good inside - I wanted to laugh (but restrained so I wouldn't get kicked out of class) and I wanted to cry. I prayed, "Lord, I believe it is your will for me to join the Mormon church. If it is not your will, please stop me and correct me." Again I wanted to laugh and cry and felt so peaceful. I had built up emotions that I wanted to free. I felt free.
We went back to John's house after church. I wanted to tell him of my experience, that I had an answer to my prayer and I felt the Spirit witness to me the truthfulness of the gospel. I had to wait until the timing was right.
.....to be continued.....
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
He looked at me and smiled, then laughed, then hugged me tight lifting me off the floor. He put me back down and looked at me again, smiling and hugged me again. Then he said, "Whenever you want."
"As soon as possible," I said. After my long, agonizing search I was ready for the next step.
"Who's going to baptize you?" he asked, looking into my eyes.
"I don't know," I said, looking back at him, teasingly. He knew I wanted him to.
"I'm not!" he said almost embarrassed.
"You have to," I answered. Afterall, he's the one that lead me to this point.
We tried to figure out a way to tell his parents, family and the missionaries. We sat at the dinner table trying to act like everything was normal. Then John's dad said, "Well, when are you getting baptized?"
"How'd you know?" I asked surprised.
"I didn't," he answered, even more surprised.
They were all excited for me. We tried to make a date to get baptized, but my best girlfriend was going out of town and a lot of friends had a Madre Chior competition. We finallly set the date for April 4th at 7:00 PM.
The next day in school I told a few friends first thing in the morning. Friends screamed and hugged me. I told a few of my favorite teachers by inviting them to my baptism. In the words from my journal:
"That seemed like the best day in my life. So much love and encouragement was shown to me and I believe it strengthened a lot of people. Most of them were born into a family which knew the true and only gospel and did not have to go through the mixed emotions and great search I had to go through. People I barely knew or didn't know congratulated me and showed me their faith in God. I believe there were a lot of prayers for me which in some way may have smoothed my rough path to find the truth. By the end of the day I think the whole school knew that I was getting baptized. It was probably the biggest shock this year. "Krista, the anti-Mormon, getting baptized."
My whole week was so "free." Free seems to be the only word to describe my feelings. I felt as if I were trapped for months and was finally free. The load was no longer on my shoulders.
[There were a few negative remarks, too, a few angry people. They were disappointed because I was the "good example" of a non-LDS student. I wasn't doing this for them. I am the only one who has to live with this decision.]
John was being very moody during the weeks before my baptism. They seemed to be the longest weeks in my life. I thought John just didn't want me around anymore. He was happy until I came around then his smile would fade and he would no longer talk to anyone. If he wasn't happy around me I didn't want to ruin anything for him. I was going to tell him maybe we shouldn't see each other anymore, but my friends told me to hang in there because he might just be scared and nervous for my baptism. Breaking up with him would be so hard for me. He had written me so many special notes and we had so many special times that when I think of the good times the bad times seem to not seem so bad."
Even though it seemed to be a couple of weeks of trials, I nevered doubted the decision I made. I could never deny the spiritual witness I received when I prayed to know if the church was true and if I should be baptized. I have not always been perfect since, but I have never questioned the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or it's doctrines. That one answer to that one prayer is all I needed.
.....to be continued.....
Monday, December 22, 2008
John's family sat in the front row in the chapel with me and John. A lot of my friends showed up and I never knew so many people cared for me. There were over a hundred people there from what my friends told me. I was too nervous to look. I almost felt like I was getting married.
I was wearing a white dress and John wore white pants and a white shirt. He looked as nervous as I did. He looked at me and I looked at him. He was my best friend. I knew I cared and loved him and I knew he loved me more than he had shown these last couple of weeks.
Merilee, the friend that gave me my first Book of Mormon played the piano. My friend Nicki opened with prayer. Julie gave a talk. My friend Lynette sang, "Where Is Heaven?"
I remember walking back to the baptismal font and seeing John on the other side. No one could see us yet. He was bouncing with excitement and had a huge smile on his face. We walked down the stairs into the water. I can't remember if the water was warm or cold or how long it took. I remember feeling amazing when I came up out of the water. It was done. My sins had been washed away.
I was alone in the dressing room as I dried off and got dressed into a Sunday dress. I believe John took a little longer. I can't remember who gave the other talk, because I can't imagine it being someone other than Merilee. John's five year old sister, Shaury, sang "I Am A Child of God" and sang it like a little angel. His three sisters were all very cute but would be a little shy whenever I came over.
John's father used his priesthood to bless me with the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I was now a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I made a covenant with the Lord that I will try to be like him. I was perfect for about five minutes.
John's reason for being so cold to me beforehand was he wanted to make sure I wasn't getting baptized for him. That really should have been an obvious answer, so one would think. Only six weeks of school left and we would graduate.
.....to be continued.....
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
John is obviously not the one I married. I have a high regard in the fact that he dared to share the gospel with me. I think back and am somewhat amazed at how mature he was for a teen-aged boy. He was very sweet and tender towards me. I like to think that maybe I brought the soft side out in him, which having a teenage son now, I can see happening.
John was engaged by the time I returned home from my mission. I must admit that was a little disappointing to me, but it was what it was. Of course, this girl isn't good enough for him. I could list 100 reasons why, but in reality, my opinion doesn't matter (I write tongue in cheek). I really wish - you don't know how much I wish - I could elaborate but in respect for him I'll keep quiet. My husband could name at least that many of why John would not be good enough for me. :)
I've thought about him a lot over the years and wonder how he's doing and if he's happy. I wonder if she loves his family as much as I did. The truth is his mission with me was over. He has made the single most difference in my life as any one person, except the person who made me a mother.
.....to be continued.....