Before my family first began investigating the Church, I had barely turned 12 and was thoroughly enjoying life as a sixth grader. I didn’t have any major problems or concerns. My family was in transition. My father was struggling to keep his small private school operating, and my two younger sisters were busy being kids. My mother was just adjusting to her new job as the manager of a dental office.
I’d grown up in the Congregational church, attending every Sunday. I’d never even stopped to think that there were other doctrines, other beliefs. One day in early spring my mother came home from work and we all sat down to dinner. Over dinner the conversation turned to the fact that the two dentists Mom worked for were Mormons. Nothing negative was said, but Mom and Dad explained that Mormonism was just another religion, like Congregationalism but with other beliefs. The subject of the Church wasn’t mentioned again for several weeks.
Over a period of several weeks, my parents became close friends with one of the two dentists that Mother worked with. Because of their close association with the Petersen family, my parents found that their family had something that we didn’t, something that we wanted. After careful thought, we concluded that that something was the Church.
The next Sunday, and for two months of Sundays after, we took on a tough schedule. We continued to attend our meetings at the Congregational church, which ended at 12:15 P.M. Immediately following, we raced across town to the LDS chapel, where we attended meetings from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.
I remember the first LDS sacrament meeting I ever attended. It was a fast Sunday, and testimonies were borne. I remember sitting and listening to people say that they knew that the Church was true. Even at the age of 12, I could feel the Spirit manifest that we needed to find out more about the Church.
Two weeks later the stake missionaries, Sister Hoer and Sister Gibson, came to our home. They taught us about the plan of salvation and the First Vision. They came four times, and after the fourth discussion offered us the challenge of baptism. We told them that we would pray about it and call them with an answer.
That night I prayed my first real prayer. Upon my knees, I pleaded with Heavenly Father to help me know if the Church was really true. The missionaries had explained to us how Heavenly Father answers prayers, so when the answer came I recognized it. Heavenly Father wanted me to be baptized.
My mother and sisters had similar experiences. My father, however, needed an extra boost, and that boost came, but not for several weeks.
Following a tradition at his school, my father took his students on a trip that year. Funds were low so my father drew a circle around the state of Colorado. He asked his students where they wanted to go within that circle. Salt Lake City was selected.
While on that trip, my father and a few of his students toured Temple Square. It was in the north visitors’ center that the much needed answer came.
The tour group had come through the visitors’ center to the last area, a film depicting Joseph Smith and the First Vision. The guide, an elderly man, turned off the lights and pushed the button. The curtains opened but nothing happened. He tried again and achieved the same results. Discouraged he turned the lights back on and said, “If you don’t mind, I would like to bear my testimony.” He did, and it was just what my father needed to make up his mind. My father asked if anything technical had ever gone wrong before. Nothing had, and it continued to run flawlessly after. I believe it was a miracle.
From his hotel room, my father called to tell us of his decision. We immediately called the missionaries and set the date for our baptism.
We gathered in the chapel, all clothed in white. One by one we went into the font and were baptized by Brother Petersen. I remember coming out of the water feeling pure, clean, renewed.
We gathered again in the chapel and our family sang “The Love of God,” and Sister Runnels sang “Where Love Is.” Never before has music so touched my heart.
We were confirmed by Brother Brown, and this began our life in the Church.
Now, five years later, I look back upon that special time in our lives. I can’t help but wonder what life would be like without the Church. I am sure it couldn’t compare to the joy we’ve found.