Monday, June 27, 2011

A Long Time Ago...

A little girl was invited to go to Primary after school.  She didn't know what Primary was exactly, but her best friend told her it was fun.  They had lots of fun already so this was exciting.  They had ballet after school one day.  Then they played behind the dugouts on the weekend while their dads played softball and would go for pizza and mo-joe's after the game with the other ball players.  They were all really nice and would help them refill their soda if they couldn't reach.  They'd cut the pizza for them too and move chairs up to the window for them so they could watch the pizza guys with the funny hats make the pizzas and take them out of the oven and cut them.  She would also go over to her friend's house with her little sister sometimes and her mom would bring out these baskets of hair and makeup stuff and even her older sister would join.  They'd all line up on the stairs and take turns doing each other's hair and make up.  Sometimes they'd go swimming.  But you couldn't get too wild because their dog, who was the sweetest dog in the whole world, would jump in to try to save you.  He didn't have a tail but you could just tell he was nice by his smile.  Some dogs really do smile.


Primary was the first church she had gone to.  On Wednesdays they would walk to her friend's house and up their very long, steep driveway.  Her mom would pick up them up at the bottom sometimes.  She'd drive them to Primary where they were taught about God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and something called the Holy Ghost.  There were drawings of all of them except the Holy Ghost.  But the Holy Ghost, she was taught, was a still small voice that taught you between right and wrong, it helped you know what was true, and also that Heavenly Father and Jesus were real.  And that Joseph Smith used the Holy Ghost to find out that none of the churches were true, except at a later time He would help him restore the true church.  This all touched the little girl and she didn't doubt it.  Her teacher told her so.  Her teacher was also kind and sweet, and sang with them, and told them that she believed it.  


One day though, the little girl got confused and lost in the building when she went to use the restroom.  It was dark in the hallway and she couldn't find her way back.  Panic struck.  She didn't think to use the Holy Ghost though until it was too late and she had already embarrassed herself and cried out, screamed out loud so everyone in the whole building heard.  Another teacher came looking for her and got her to the right place.  But by then, she was just too embarrassed and wanted to just go home.  The boys weren't mean, but boys will be boys and they aren't as nice as girl friends when it comes to World's Most Embarrassing Moments.  It was easier to just not go back than face her friends at Primary again so she made up a lie that she was busy the next week.  Then, the next week again.  And the lie continued for many years.  During that time though that Primary teacher called and sent notes and told her how much she loved her and missed her and hoped she'd come back soon.  She told her she missed her smiles and sweet spirit.  One time she was very sick and in the hospital and she even brought her a card signed by the class.


So, many years later, when the little girl was a little older, someone asked her which church she belonged to.  She could only remember ever going to one church and she thought one day she'd return.  So she said she went to the Mormon church.  Some friends were listening nearby and told her that she couldn't call herself a Mormon unless she was baptized.  She asked them what she would have to do be baptized.  They looked at her with big eyes and big smiles and suddenly she was invited to "Family Home Evening", to "Mutual", to "Discussions", to "Seminary", and even church on Sunday.  They all seemed to have the rides worked out quickly, before she could even answer.  So, she went.  She went to another friend's home for Family Home Evening and the missionaries were there in white shirts and ties, and they brought a Book of Mormon for her too.  It was dark blue and had never been used, they told her she could even write in it.  This was strange because why would she ever want to write in something so valuable.  But they showed her how to look up topics and mark the side of the page with notes.  Faith.  Love.  Jesus.  Holy Ghost.  Truth.  Baptism.  Repentance. 


She went to just a few lessons before she decided she wanted to be baptized.  Her parents told her, yes, but she would need to be "Mormon" for a year first because it was a big change.  It meant paying tithing.  It meant changing the movies she watched.  And also changing the things they did together on Sundays as a family.  But she was willing to do it.  She went to everything she could and always had rides waiting for her at the bottom of her driveway.  She didn't know how they knew, but they were there.


Mutual was the best night.  They learned about temples, hair, clothes, and the boys were never far off.  They made things like prayer rocks, bookmarks for their scriptures, fashion shows, and played games.  They also worked on Personal Progress goals.  Sunday was also wonderful.  Taking the bread and water was symbolic of what she hoped for.  Her friend told her that when she gets baptized and then takes the bread and water every week it is just like getting baptized all over again, each and every Sunday.  And in Sunday School she learned about all the different books of scripture.  The Old Testament, New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and Doctrine & Covenants.  That they all were important and true.  Young Women's was also fun, just the girls in this class, and they recited a theme every week that she remembers to this day. 


We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. 
We will "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things,
and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live
the Young Women values, which are:
Faith
Divine Nature
Individual Worth
Knowledge
Choice and Accountability
Good Works

and Integrity.


It was hard to memorize but it reminded her about all that she was preparing for and her goal to also go to the temple someday.  Seminary started every morning before school and another friend would pick her up on her dad's way to work.  During Seminary they learned about the Doctrine & Covenants in more detail.  She had homework to  do for Seminary and high school.  Sometimes the teacher got frustrated with the boys in this class because they were not morning people and it was hard for them to behave.  But, she still learned a lot and it became her favorite book of scripture because she felt she knew it well and could easily share it with her friends that didn't go to church.  She went to Youth Conference where all of the youth in 3 stakes gathered for 3 days of service, lessons, dances, games, food, and fun, and a very special testimony meeting where she even bore her testimony.  There were lots of tears.  She also went to Dance Festival at the Pasadena Rose Bowl where thousands of youth gathered to perform cultural dances in elaborate costumes.  They said they needed her to fill a spot for someone who had backed out, so she did.  They spent months learning the dance and then watched as the field flooded with thousands of youth to perform a final dance.  The atmosphere was incredible and she was shocked at just how many youth shared the same beliefs.  She also went on a temple trip with her leaders and the girls from her ward.  Even though she couldn't go in to the temple to perform proxy baptisms, her leader took her into the visitor's center.  They watched  a movie about Joseph Smith and her teacher shared her testimony.  She wanted to be inside the temple in the worst way.  When the rest of the girls came back out of the temple they took pictures on the temple grounds and then drove to one of the leader's sister's home.  They got ready to go to another dance taking turns in the bathroom with their make up and hair.  They drove home and at one point in the trip somebody started singing camp songs.



Camp was another great trip for her too.  They had an opening because one of the girls couldn't go.  She had no idea what to expect and while camping is not her thing, she couldn't deny how special it was.  There was swimming, canoeing, archery, knot tying, hiking, and mock accidents where they learned first aid.  They gave presents to other campers every day too, they were called Secret Squirrels.  The last night was another very special testimony meeting and she again bore her testimony and shared how much she wanted to be baptized.  


She also performed in a Ward play with one of her friends.  It was a musical and she got to dance again.  She played the daughter of a very funny man who was sweet as ever and always made her feel good about herself even though she made a lot of mistakes and was shy.  His hands were rough like her grandpa's because he worked with tools, he was even missing a few fingers because of an accident with tools.  But he had a daughter her age too and they became friends too.  


There was another Youth Conference and this time it was at their church.  They needed her again to fill another spot and help them plan it.  So, she helped plan the service project.  She was part of a big committee of youth and adults that planned everything down to the last detail, housing, service projects, food, classes, dances, rides, swimming, etc...  One boy in her committee for the service project didn't show up ever for their meetings because he was busy with football training.  She finally met him at a dance later and he asked her to dance.  Her friend reminds her that she came off the dance floor telling her that some day she was going to marry him.  


And she did.  And they have an eternal family.  This is where she'd say, "The End", but  we all know it's not.  


The Young Women's theme has been changed.  Each Sunday she gets to stand alongside her youngest daughter and hear her and her friends repeat.


We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.
We will "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things,
and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live
the Young Women values, which are:
Faith
Divine Nature
Individual Worth
Knowledge
Choice and Accountability
Good Works
Integrity and
Virtue.
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values,
we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants,
receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.




4 comments:

Audra,Tony,Erinn, and Jayne said...

whats a great story. is this your story?

Jen said...

Yes. I have shared my conversion story before, but felt I left out my village. You know the saying, "it takes a village"? Everybody in my "village" took part in one way or another. I hope everyone invites someone, you never where/when that little seed is planted.

Audra,Tony,Erinn, and Jayne said...

i very much enjoyed it. thank you for sharing.

Cozy in Texas said...

I stopped by your blog today.
Ann