By Valerie J. Steimle
My conversion story starts when I was seven years old. I was born to two Jewish parents from Brooklyn, New York. My mother always felt that there was something missing in her life and even read the New Testament which Jews are discouraged to read. In the Jewish Orthodox sect, it is forbidden. But as we grew up (my sister and brother included) we were taken to the local synagogue for Sabbath services. We celebrated Hanukkah and Passover every year. At seven, I really wanted to go to the children’s Sunday school class which they held at a different time on Sunday morning. My mother asked the Rabbi if I could attend and he said no. He said I was too old to start the Sunday school class at seven and that all I could attend would be the regular Sabbath service. It is amazing to me now how strongly I felt at the time when I was not allowed to go. I did not want to go back to the synagogue at all and wanted nothing to do with the Jewish religion. Two years later my parents met members of the Church and started taking the missionary lessons.
I was very happy to learn about another religion even though I didn’t know anyone who was a member of the Church nor did my friends know anything about that religion. It was virtually unheard of at that time in New Jersey, (1969) but we listened to their teachings and six months later we were baptized into the Church as a family. Now, I had grandparents who lived close by to us and we visited them often so my parents decided that it was too overwhelming to tell them and the rest of the family that we had joined the Church. So we were told to keep this whole church thing a secret. We didn’t discuss any kind of religion with any of my cousins or aunts and uncles and they were a large group. Beside the bar mitzvahs and weddings that occurred each year, we had a yearly family gathering.
My parents knew the The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints was the restored gospel on the earth; they just didn’t want our family to disown us. So it was like living a double life. We went to church each week and were active in the ward but when a family event took place we attended and spoke nothing of the Church. This seemed like a normal thing to me until I was an adult looking back on what had happened and realized how odd it really was.
When I was 18 and living at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, my parents went to a family bar mitzvah and with all the questions asked about why my brother was not bar miztvahed it came out that we did join the Church. My parents were finally ready to tell the family of what we did and there were fireworks and very angry words that we joined the Church. They eventually accepted the fact that we became Christians and we were able to teach them about what we believed.
Now the main reason I converted to the Church was not because I didn’t want to be Jewish anymore, the main reason I converted was because I learned then and know now that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and he set up His church to be a guiding beacon in our lives. He was able to restore His true gospel through Joseph Smith so we can have peace in our lives. That brings me great comfort. And so I graduated Ricks College in 1979 attended BYU and met and married my eternal companion in the Salt Lake Temple on Valentines day of 1981. We have nine children together and now they are finding their eternal companions and bringing us grandchildren of which we have ten.
Valerie J. Steimle
Below picture is of both sets of grandparents living in Brooklyn, New York with my parents and sister. I’m being held by my grandfather in the back.
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