When I was in the 5th grade, our neighbor, who was from Canada, decided to take her daughter to church and invited my mother and I to attend with her. We had never been a church-going family, but I really wanted to go, so we did. We went to the local Episcopal Church. I was baptized and later confirmed. I remember during the lessons before confirmation asking Father Radcliffe why he was Episcopal. He said it was because his parents were. Even at the age of about 10, that didn’t sit well with me. That is the only thing I remember about the lessons. But I was very active and I continued to attend even when my mother did not.
When I was 15, I got a job at Baskin-Robbins. The store was owned by LDS members. Since I was not LDS, but the store had to be open on Sundays, I usually worked Sunday evenings with the owner. We had a lot of talks about her church and my church. She and I became pretty close. Many of the kids were LDS, but no one ever invited me to church.
My mother was a surgical nurse and she worked nights. She often worked with a member who was an OB-GYN and he did invite us both to church quite often, but it was never the right time.
My best friend and I went to the World’s Fair in Spokane, Washington in 1974. The Church had a Book of Mormon Pavillion. Because of all the members I had known, I was intellectually curious, so we went in to see what it was all about. It was really very cool. There were several rooms and the stage was a 3-D scene from Arnold Friberg’s paintings, but the faces were blank until a video started and it looked like the person was alive and speaking to the audience. Way ahead of it’s time. But . . . when we left and were sent through a bank of missionaries, all I wanted to know was, “where are the plates now?” When they said an angel took them back, I had to say I wasn’t impressed with the answer. They also gave us cards to fill out. I clearly recall saying they could send me some literature, but 5 days later, without computers or cell phones, the Elders were at my door in Tacoma, Washington. That included the day I was at the fair and they day the Elders arrived at my door.
That was June 5th. I remember because that was the day I was graduating from Stadium High School. I was trying to get my clothes ready when the Elders knocked at the door. Actually, that was quite a triumph as well because my mother and I lived above a tavern and there was no door that could be seen from the outside of the building. They actually finally had to go inside and ask the bartender where we were. So I put them off for a couple of weeks, and then finally we had an appointment. I was 18.
When they taught me, I knew what they were saying was true as it came out of their mouths. I was really stunned. The second time they came, at the end of the lesson, they asked if they could come back next week. I asked them if there were other Elders that could come over sooner. To find out there was a prophet on the earth and there was more scripture!?! It was a whole new world to me. We escalated our lessons and they invited me to be baptized on either July 20th or 27th, 1974. I told them I was not going to wait until the 27th!
Most of my high school friends stopped talking to me (not the other way around). It’s a sad thing, but it was their choice, certainly not mine.
I have been an active and grateful member of the church since baptism and I cannot believe that I was lucky enough to be chosen to learn about the restored gospel while still in this life.
My mother was baptized 8 ½ years later and I was able to be her escort when she received her endowment in the Seattle Temple.