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Monday, May 20, 2013

My Conversion Story

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to prepare to be a speaker at church.  I am NOT good at giving talks, or doing anything that involves an audience.  I AM a fainter and a shaker.  Needless say I do not volunteer for these things.  However the topic I was given about was something I enjoy talking about because the spirit always takes over and testifies.  Plus, there were 5 speakers, so I only had to speak for 7 minutes!  So, yesterday was the big day, and it turns out I did fine!  I believe that it was totally due to me being obedient and doing what I was asked, and the fact that I had complete faith that if I was supposed to speak God would help me do it.  And he did. 

For those interested here is a copy of my talk.  Do not feel obligated to read it.  But I know some of you will be interested in what I said.  It is about my conversion, and some of the teachings of the church that helped me gain my testimony.  Here it is:

In 1995 two missionaries knocked on the door of a home while serving in the small town of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada.  The mother reluctantly let them in, and over a period of time was taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, along with her two children.  I would like to share with you a few ways the Gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed my life when those two missionaries visited my home years ago.
I was 14 years old and I took the discussions with the missionaries very seriously. I didn’t want to get baptized just because my mom was.  I wanted to know for myself that it was the right thing to do.  It was a few months after my mom and brother were baptized that I received the answer to my sincere prayers, that the information I had learned from the missionaries was true.  I was baptized 3 days after my 15th birthday.
What is most inspiring to me about my conversion was that at the age of 14 I received such a strong witness that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was true.  It is not hard at all for me to believe that God answered the prayers of Joseph Smith when he was a young man, because I knew that he too had answered my prayers when I was young.  I would like to take a few minutes to share with you some of the wonderful truths I learned from the missionaries that helped me gain a testimony of the gospel.
First, they taught me that I am a child of a Heavenly Father.  I was 14 at the time, and felt in a vague way that there was a God, and that he knew of my existence.  The only stories about God that I knew were; the commandments, and the story of Abraham and Isaac.  So, for the first time I was taught, and taught by the spirit.  I felt the spirit testify that there is a God, he is my Father in Heaven, and that he loves me.  I now know that we are all His spirit children, literally the sons and daughters of God.  He has created us in His image.  He is the Father of our spirits, and we call Him our Heavenly Father.
I had never heard the term Heavenly Father before.  I immediately felt it was an appropriate name for him.  I felt the depth of his love for me, and for all of mankind.  Because I have the gospel, I now believe as the scriptures say, "that nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord."  Romans 8:38-39
I was taught that there was a pre-earth life, where we existed as spirits in Heaven before we came to earth.  Before we were born everyone who has lived or will live on earth, lived with God in heaven as spirits. In the “pre-earth life,” each of us were individuals with a divine nature and destiny.  It was in the pre-earth life that Jesus was chosen to be our Savior.
I also learned that Heavenly Father created a plan to overcome sin and death to return to his presence.  It’s called the plan of salvation or the plan of happiness.  Those who follow this plan are promised “immortality and eternal life” or unending happiness with God and our families in heaven. This is what God wants for all of us.  Following the plan of happiness is easier when we do the simple things, like reading the scriptures, going to church, praying, and serving others. Jesus Christ was the perfect example of following God's plan.
I learned that because we are human, we are not perfect and are prone to sin.  Sin results in the withdrawal of the Holy Ghost. It makes the one who sins unable to dwell in the presence of Heavenly Father, for “no unclean thing can dwell with God” (1 Nephi 10:21).  Being separated from God by sin is called spiritual death.  We can overcome sin through sincere repentance, and faith in the Savior's atonement.  His Atonement, or sacrifice, can wash us clean of our sins and make us worthy to return to God’s presence. Christ’s sacrifice and Resurrection also allows us to overcome physical death.  Because of His Atonement, all people will be resurrected, and those who obey His gospel will receive the gift of eternal life with God.
Lastly, I learned what the purpose of this life is.  In Abraham 3:25 it says, "And we will prove them herewith to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them".  We are here to be tried and tested, to see if we will keep Gods commandments.  We are here to gain a physical body and learn to choose between good and evil. We are here to do the work that God has for us to do, like sharing the gospel.   And we are here to prepare ourselves to live with God again with our eternal families.  You can imagine how valuable it was for me, as a teenager, to know these things.
The gospel of Jesus Christ has been such a blessing to me.  Because the gospel was shared with me I now know who I am, where I came from, and what my purpose is.  I know that life does not end with death.  I know that I can live again with my family, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ.  Because I have the gospel in my life I have the tools I need to raise my children in the turbulent times of today.  I have the added confidence of knowing that good will prevail.  I do not have to fear or worry about what is going on around me. 

Of everything I have been given in my life, I am the most grateful for the gift of the gospel.  I love my Heavenly Father, and Savior Jesus Christ.  I testify that your life can also be blessed by following the teachings of Christ which are found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

8 comments:

Mary

Thank you for sharing this!

Wright Family

You are an amazing woman! Thank you for sharing this.

Maria

Mary and Crystal thank you for reading this and commenting. I appreciate it. I find joy in sharing my testimony and conversion story.

Launna

This is a beautiful testimony Maria, thank you for sharing it with all of us :)


PS, I am glad the talk went well :)

Amy @ The Happy Scraps

Thank you for sharing this Maria! :) I don't think I ever knew you were a convert.

Maria

Thanks Launna and Amy. Amy, I don't think many people knew that I was a convert either. It's kind of hard to bring up, but I do enjoy talking about it.

Renee

I think you did a great job giving your talk! I enjoyed every minute of it! I'm so glad I found your blog!

Maria

Thanks Renee! Gary did a great job too! :-)

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