It’s always been difficult for me to talk about my conversion story, because it has been an intensely personal experience for me. When others have asked me to share it, I usually allow someone else who is more than happy to share theirs. If pressed, I’ll give the short and sweet version, “I came, I saw, I was baptized”.
I grew up in an average American family. Two parents, three kids, summer vacation trips to Wisconsin. Oh, and I’m adopted. We didn’t go to church much, Christmas and Easter when I was younger, not at all as I grew older. Too many other things to do. Swimming, baseball, football, school activities, etc. Growing up, while both my brother and I were adopted, I never really felt like I was really part of the family. My Dad and Mom, my brother and sister always seemed the perfect family group. I always had the vague feeling that I didn’t fit in with the rest of them, that this wasn’t really my home, even though I was the oldest of the kids.
Then something changed. I spent the weekend with my best friend. She was searching. She had been searching. She was interested in learning more about the Mormon Church, because of the Osmond Brothers. She asked me to find out more with her, since she didn’t want to do it by herself. I said, sure (mostly because it was late at night and I wanted to go to sleep. I wasn’t at all interested. I figured she would forget about it and I’d be off the hook). She remembered. As it turned out, her mother knew someone at work who was a member, and the ball started rolling. Sort of.
We started taking the discussions at a member’s home and met the missionaries. It started off all right, the discussions were interesting, but we kept hitting scheduling problems. It was the end of the school year, there were other commitments, the missionaries were transferred, and we couldn’t meet every week. It eventually petered out for apparent lack of enthusiasm.
Fast forward one year…unknown to me, my friend had contacted someone, who had put her in touch with some amazing Sister Stake Missionaries, Sister Greene and Sister Williamson. I got a phone call from my friend, who told me that we had an appointment the next week! Be there! Well, okay! In the meantime, my mother and I had an argument, and she said that I couldn’t go meet with the missionaries. For some reason, I was upset about that. I really wanted to go this time. I wanted to hear more about the Church. I felt very strongly that if I didn’t go, I would miss my chance. So the next week, after school, I walked to my friend’s house, she lived across the street from my school, and waited for her to come home from school. Sister Greene and Sister Williamson came and taught us the first discussion. It was such a different experience than the discussions we’d had the year before. Starting all over, and this time I was interested in what they were saying. We set up consistent appointments every week so that we didn’t have a repeat of the year before. When we finished, my parents refused to pick me up, so I spent the night and walked to school the next day. My parents decided to let me go ahead and take the discussions.
As the weeks went by, I got more and more involved and interested. Finally came the baptism challenge. I accepted it immediately. My friend wasn’t sure that her mother would give her permission. I didn’t think it would be a problem. I was wrong. They didn’t like it at all. I was so surprised, why allow me to take the discussions, but not get baptized? It finally came out that they thought it was just some phase I was going through. The “religion phase”. The more they tried to keep me from doing it, the more I wanted to do it. They weren’t interested in any church things, why would I be? Well, I was different than they were! Finally, we came to a compromise. I had to wait until I was fifteen. Which was just a few weeks away. I had permission! My baptism was scheduled. I was so happy. I had made a lot of friends in the ward I attended, and they were all there. My best friend was there, even though she had decided not to be baptized. My parents were there. On June 21, 1975, I was baptized. I felt as if I had finally come home.