The Missing Story

1951 was an important year to me. I wasn’t born yet, but the ramifications of what happened will live with me forever. Pull up a chair, and I will tell you all about it…

A teenage girl, living in Gresham, Oregon was looking to find a church she could attend. She and a friend went “church shopping” until they came across the L.D.S. Church. After attending, she met with the missionaries, and received the lessons. A bit later, just before her 18th birthday, she was baptized a member of the Church.

That’s it.

That’s the whole story. One of the most crucial and far-reaching events that impacted my life can be told in one simple paragraph.

That young lady was my Mom, and that is the extent of my knowledge regarding her conversion. Pathetic, no? I don’t know if it was just never the topic of conversation, or if I just have a cruddy memory, but that’s all I got. I talked to my sister and she told me essentially the same thing. I called a cousin who has, by attrition, become the “memory of the family.”  She didn’t remember any details, either.

Easy answer? Ask Mom.

Problem? She died in 1999, and Dad followed a few years later.

Unless some eighty six-year-old returned missionary who served a mission in Oregon back in the ’50’s stumbles across this blog post, it looks like that is all the info we will have regarding my mom’s conversion. We won’t know what motivated her, how she gained a testimony, what the circumstances were surrounding her conversion, how the family reacted. Nada.

Now, who shall I blame? I can shoulder part of it for not being more curious when she was around. I should have asked questions, and remembered the answers. I can also fault her and my dad for never telling/reminding us about it. Ultimately, the fault is on all of us because…

Nobody ever wrote it down.

There’s no journal entry, no family history, no personal history, no notes from a talk, no audio recordings – nothing. It may not have mattered to me then, but it does now, and the resources are gone. The story is lost to me and my kids, and my grandkids. This is especially egregious because I love conversion stories. They build my faith, and strengthen my testimony.


Two weeks from today I will be hosting my annual event: International Hug a Convert Day. To any and all of you who are converts (by the Church’s definition) who have not written down your conversion story, please get on it. Don’t leave your posterity in the dark.

If you have an aging parent, or a young parent who is a convert who has not written their conversion story yet, help them out. Interview them, get some details. Don’t leave it hanging, like our family did. You will regret it.

Then, after you have your story written, send it to me at mmm@middleagedmormonman.com. I will gladly publish it on Sunday, September 3. Your story will be read by people all over the world. It will bless their lives. Writing it will bless YOUR life, and the lives of your posterity.

Get to it!

There is one more part to my mom’s story that I heard from her. Still, details are sketchy, as nobody wrote it down.

Apparently, before my mom (Marlene) was baptized, she sat her parents down and had a conversation that went something like this:

Marlene: “Mom, Dad, I have been searching for a church to attend, and I have decided to take the missionary lessons and join the Mormon Church.”

Gramma & Grampa: “That’s a coincidence – we’re Mormon, too!”

Marlene: “Wha…?”

Grampa: “Sure. We’re Mormons, we just haven’t been active. We come from a long Mormon Heritage. In fact, my great grandfather was Parley P. Pratt. He was a famous one. That’s why I am named Parley Pratt Grigg.”

The very next year my grandparents – who had already been married for 30 years – went to the temple, received their endowment, and were sealed to each other, and their kids – mom included. I don’t know anything about how this came about – did my Mom’s baptism “stir them up again in remembrance?”

I won’t know until I can ask them person.


Start typing.  Please.

*Yes, I am the adorable little tyke in the center of the photo.

About the author


  1. I actually wrote my conversion story here a couple years ago and then copied it and gave a copy to each of my kids. they had heard the story a zillion times but they really appreciated me writing it and having a copy in my own words. Thanks for the nudge!!

  2. The resemblance of your daughter to your mom is incredible. One of my daughters is the same way, so much so it is like looking at my mother again back when I was young.

  3. Family Search has helped me to realize how I am connected to many well known pioneer members. I had dreams night after night in my youth about pioneers and felt I was traveling with them. Now here I am 60 years later finding out how many I was related to. I appreciate the stories and memories and have started to write more of my own. We shared our conversion story here previously not knowing the many relatives who were members long before us. Thanks for all the encouragement and a great place to come and share with others.

  4. Love conversion stories and always have! They inspire me. And this jumped out at me because I grew up in Gresham Oregon (but I am “middle aged” myself so this was before my time.). What a cool story! But yes, it makes you ache for more details! Looking forward to the upcoming stories ahead on your blog. I have followed for years, but don’t know if I have ever commented….the strong silent type, maybe? Ha!

    1. Glad you emerged from the shadows long enough to comment. Thanks! (Now back to your cave.)

  5. I am a convert! I want a hug! And ps… Parley P. Pratt is my church history HERO!!!! I will share my conversion story with you very soon!

  6. Because of a forward thinking High Priest Group Leader, I have a recording of my father giving his testimony. This Group Leader recorded all the High Priests in their ward. This recording is especially important because my father passed away 2 weeks ago, after 5 years with dementia. Now my brother has copied this recording so each of Dad’s children has a recording. What a treasure.

    1. That’s why I have my late father’s history, too! Although mine is just a written copy, but I do have a cassette recording of my dad telling bedtime stories for a college folklore class I took only months before he died. Such treasures!

  7. I wonder how many of these stories can be found written in old Ward histories. Check out the Family Search Wiki for those kinds of historical records.
    Edited to add:We don’t really do those histories anymore, so get to work writing your own, and then get to work redeeming your dead at FamilySearch.org

  8. We joined the church when I was a week or so from being 11 (1962, yes born in 1951! lol) We found out in 1972 that my father’s father (he died when my Dad was 11) was LDS all his life, and had many “Allred’s” in church history as well. We never even met another person with our last name until we joined the church.

  9. Ok, you got me! It has been 23 years since I swerved to the side fo the road and asked the missionaries if they needed a ride (which they eagerly accepted). I gave them my business card and told them I wanted to find out more about the church and to call me sometime. No call…they must have lost my number!! I have told this story umpteen times but I haven’t written it down. You’ll just have to wait for “the rest of the story” when I email it to you!! 😉 Another great blog…thanks MMM!!

    1. A simple suggestion? Don’t worry so much about Logging in your day-to-day activities, rather write the experiences that matter most as stories.

  10. My mom shared her conversion story with me as she drove me to the MTC. It was such a precious experience. Her story taught me so much about member missionary work. I need to check and see if she has it written down. Every once in a while she lets out another detail she hadn’t told me before!

  11. That conversation between your mom and grandparents gave me goosebumps. Very cool. Yes, details would be great, but you have that little nugget. Very cool.

  12. I’ve been a member all my life…well, technically after I was baptized at 8. Long history of members of the Church. But I love the stories I have to read of them. And, I realize that my kids, several of whom have chosen not to remain active or involved at all in the Church, should have stories of how my testimony grew over the years, even though I am not a “convert” in the sense that your blog will be celebrating.

    Thanks for the encouragement to each of us, and thanks for sharing the conversion story of so many in your Hug a Convert Day.

  13. That isn’t enough? I think that’s a great story!! Vague it may be, but you’re related to PPP! And I love how your mom was “encouraged” to take the lessons. There are no coincidences with God! I’m going to get writing my conversion story. It’s a long one; spans eighteen years from baptism to true conversion. Thank you MMM.

  14. So much history lost. For now. It’s not like you won’t have a chance to ask her on the other side of the veil, but it’s sad you don’t have it now.

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