I was speaking with Kyle the other day about being a convert. It is a subject that I reflect upon a lot. I feel incredibly lucky when I look back on my journey after joining the church. Having been a member for 5 years now, I have seen others come into the fold only to fall away. My heart aches when I think about those who for whatever reason are no longer enjoying the full blessings that come from being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Back to how incredibly lucky I was. I want to take the time to really point out what got me to the point I am at today: married in the temple to a worthy priesthood holder, a wonderful baby, family scripture study and prayer, gospel discussions, etc.
- I had wonderful missionaries. I really lucked out to have two solid missionaries who really listened to the spirit and taught with such sincerity and faith. Not only did they teach me the first principles of the gospel, but they encouraged me to take family names to the temple which made it a very special experience making the temple a very special place for me.
- Sister missionaries. Shortly after I was baptized the two elders who taught me were replaced with two sister missionaries. I was sad to see the elders I had grown attached to leave but not for long. It took a little while for me to be fully fellowshipped by my ward and I am so grateful that there were sister missionaries that I could go to lessons with and bear my testimony. It truly was a faith-building chapter of my life to go out everday with them. Plus one became a great friend and challenged me to bear my testimony at church for the first time ever.
- Being called as a ward missionary as my first calling. This kinda goes with the sister missionaries, but being a ward missionary gave ample opportunity to continue to learn the basic lessons of the gospel and be very comfortable with them.
- Being fellowshipped sincerely. I cannot stress enough how incredibly vital it is for converts to have a true friend. Not someone who begrudgingly feels like they should be their friend because no one else is...(trust me, people know when friendship is forced and it can be a real turn off). I am forever grateful for Mark Johnson who invited me to go get ice cream with some other people. It was an activity outside of church where some lifelong friends could really get to know me. Converts need friends and I was so lucky to score some great ones....even if I haven't always been the best friend to them.
- Institute. I love this program in the church. I can attribute about 98% of my gospel knowledge to institute classes and I am not exaggerating. Institute offered a wealth of knowledge to a young girl who was eager to learn everything she possibly could and try to catch up with others her age to had 18+ years on her. I am forever grateful for Bro. White, Bro. Knowles and the senior missionaries who filtered through during my time at the Seattle Institute of Religion. It is a holy place for me there. It became my second home and I still feel a rush of peace whenever I walk through those doors. It is hallowed ground to me. A place where I learned so much and my testimony flourished.
- Bro. White aka my mormon dad. I could go on and on about this man. He kept calling me Jaime the first time he met me but by the time I told him I was pregnant he nearly cried and told me he felt like it was his own grandchild. I came to him with all sorts of girl problems, gospel questions and basically anything a college girl could possibly think of. He taught me in the best possible way. He taught me that Heavenly Father always has an answer, it might not come when we want it or it might not be the answer we want but he has an answer. He taught me of the preciousness of the temple. He taught me what a real father/daughter relationship looks like. He listened, teased, and gave the best advice I will ever receive in my life. So much of what I know is because of long talks in his office.
- Bro. Knowles. If there is ever a gospel related question that I can't figure out I always think, "Bro Knowles probably knows." This man and his family are such an example to Kyle and I. I am grateful that Bro Knowles always saw my potential and didn't treat me with the extreme gentleness sometimes bestowed upon converts. I didn't get special treatment and as much as I love special treatment I am grateful he was so forthright with me sometime. Teaching me that if you tell everyone you are fasting, that becomes your blessing. Also as comfortable as I felt at the institute it was not my home and I shouldn't stand on the couches barefoot.
- A wonderful gospel principles teachers. Aimee Elber, I remember so many of your lessons. I remember how relaxing your class was and when it was time for me to "graduate" to gospel doctrine I found it so stiff and boring that I went back to her class (I actually think it was still just a little too far above my head still).
I could go on and on, but seriously I feel so blessed for the people, places, and experiences that I was given. I know now that Heavenly Father was looking out for me and I feel so blessed that there were those who were listening to the spirit and being guided in such a way as to impact my life in so many small ways that have added up to where I am now.
I just wanted to write about this because I feel so blessed. So blessed to be where I am today.