I was baptized on August 17th and that day was a very good one. I felt I had been on a long journey and that day was the start of a new life and a new me. My conversion did not take very long since what I came to know about the prophet Joseph Smith and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ rang true to me. My way of engaging with the world had already begun to change during the time I spent investigating and August 17th marked the completion of that transformation. Upon being baptized, a new sensibility overcame me, and of my 5 senses, the one I had perhaps neglected the most, my sense of hearing, became more active. I found myself more tuned in to the “still small voice”.
My grandmother, a dedicated Christian and wise woman, started to teach me about the Bible when I was about 4 years old up until age 6. Thankfully, I had a very good memory. My family consists entirely of Christians but we all attended different churches. I was baptized in an Episcopal Church shortly after my birth and remained (de facto) Episcopalian until my recent conversion. At 6 years old, I left my extended family and moved to the U.S. to live with my mother and sister. My mother, a single parent, had sent me to live with relatives for a few years while she got situated. Upon returning to my mother, I picked up with school where I left off but did not continue to regularly attend church on Sundays. Since my mother regularly held 2 jobs, church was not a regular part of our lives but I continued to belief in God and Jesus Christ (what I had learned from my Grandmother) and surveyed the Bible privately throughout the years.
I moved to Minnesota from New York City in late October after realizing that my life did not include the elements I valued most; personal peace, time with my family and a tangible sense of purpose. I also realized that the picture of what I believed my life should be had turned into bits and pieces of an un-compelling picture that I no longer recognized. Prior to this realization, a year earlier, I was enrolled in an MBA program at NYU where I believed that through my pentathlon of work, classes, group assignments, networking, stress and sleep deprivation for 2 years, I would come out the other side graduated and ready to dive into a new purpose-driven professional life. Though God’s presence had gradually been fading from my life since the days of learning spent with my Grandmother, this time was the absolute lowest point of all. By the end, I had forgotten everything except how to pray. So I started to pray again but did not receive any immediate answers.
My mother, sister, and nieces had moved to Minnesota a few years earlier and I knew they really liked it. After praying for over a year and receiving no clear answers, I decided to leave New York and join my mother, sister, and nieces thus fulfilling the need for us to be closer while also sorting out my next steps. I eventually found a job in Minnesota which called for a lot of travel between the East Coast and Minnesota and settled in a bit.
One day on a flight into Minneapolis Airport, I met a man who is exactly my age. We were both seated in the exit row. Upon arriving at my seat, I was surprised to find him there as I had become accustomed to being seated in the exit row on those flights, where there was usually no one else in the entire row. We greeted each other with an enthusiastic “hello” and looking back I think it might have been because we were both excited about our exit row duties. We talk about a wide range of things, work, travel, books, and the two things I had explicitly been advised not to talk about with strangers; religion & politics. I learned that my exit row neighbor is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints and I was curious to learn what it meant given the positive impression he already made and considering that I had never met a Mormon. I expressed interest in reading the Book of Mormon so he offered to have it delivered to my home by missionaries in my area, advising me to be sure to ask them very tough questions about its contents. I accepted the offer (and advice) and was contacted by the missionaries a few weeks later. Eventually they visited with the Book of Mormon in tow and I began lessons every week from that point forward.
Learning about the Mormon religion involved meeting the missionaries for lessons, privately reading the scriptures, praying regularly, attending church on Sundays, participating in “family home evening”, attending General Conference, meeting church members, and hearing from recent converts. Through these experiences and upon attending church and meeting members of my local Medicine Lake Ward, I came to believe more strongly in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. My conversion took place relatively quickly as I felt I already knew some of the teachings and just needed reinforcement. I received more than I could have imagined on my baptism day and the day following when I was prompted to receive the Holy Ghost in the presence of the Ward. The uneasiness I once felt disappeared immediately, I began to see my way to the right path, my relationship with my family improved (my mother eventually decided to convert also), my life has improved, and I am more prepared to take on the great challenges and surprises ahead.
I have been grateful for the promptings I have received as I continue to study the scriptures and pray to know the truth in my own heart. I am especially grateful for ward fellowship. As I pray daily for guidance, strength, understanding and to know the truth about God’s Plan as it applies to my life, decisions have become easier and my purpose, clearer.