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My talk for Church on Sunday!

July 24, 2010

Well, two weeks ago, Dan and I were asked to speak in one of our church meetings this Sunday. In typical fashion, we left writing our talks til the last minute. But I’m pretty happy with mine, and although I won’t be sharing his on here, I thought it would be nice to share mine with you, dear readers. Enjoy!

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Good morning, brothers and sisters. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Erin G., from Anchorage, Alaska. It’s kind of a long story how I ended up here, so for now I’ll stick to the topic I was assigned – which is conversion.

I thought it was kind of funny that I was asked to speak on conversion when I have been a member of this church my whole life. My parents were married, many years before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye, in the Hawaiian temple. I was baptized shortly after I turned eight, I went to young women’s camp every year from 12-18, and I attended seminary through high school. So how can a young mother who grew up in the church know anything firsthand about conversion?

Well, I had some rough times as a youth, and although I still attended church activities and Sunday meetings, I fell away. Well…more like I ran away. In my teenage rebellion state of mind, I viewed what my parents wanted for me as suffocation. All the while, I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and that the church was true. I still defended the church when others would mock it within earshot of me. I still claimed the church as mine, but I always followed up the statement of “I’m LDS, a Mormon” with “but I’m a bad example of one.”

As I got older, about my senior year of high school, I realized how much I cared about the church and how much I truly wanted to raise my future family in it. How much I wanted an eternal marriage and all the blessings of the gospel. This change in me was brought about a lot by the influence of my seminary teacher that year – an amazing, inspirational woman whom I love dearly and who loves me. Because I hadn’t attended much of my sophomore and junior years’ worth of seminary and I had a lot of physical ailments during my senior year, I had to work extra hard to be able to walk with my class at seminary graduation. And she helped me to make up what I had lost so that I could.

It was about this same time that a particular young man and I started getting romantically involved. We’d been friends for a few years, but I’d also been certain for almost as long as I’d known him that we would end up getting married. When we first met, he was active in the church and seemed to hold the same ideals in his heart that I did. But the years had turned him indifferent to the church; and try as I may, I could not soften his heart and open his mind to what we could have if we both attended church and were members in good standing. We got engaged, anyway, but it was a tempestuous relationship. I expected him to live by the church’s standards, and he expected to live his life how he wanted. Obviously, that relationship did not last.

In the spring of 2007, which was about the time that that relationship fell apart, I met Daniel in my EMT class at college. We were friends first, and he was a real source of comfort for me. We started dating, and immediately I knew that it was something special. He claimed to have no interest in the LDS church, as he’d had a few other young women in his life try to get him to come around. I still stood pretty firm on wanting to raise my family in my church, but I was almost willing to go along with his hare-brained scheme of attending two churches, his and mine.
Then, my ever-meddling grandmother sent missionaries to his apartment. I remember the first day they came very clearly, because we were hanging out, and it was crazy hot. Dan had to send them away that July day, because we both had to get ready for work, but he invited them to come back another time. It was at that moment that I knew he was going to join the church. We started taking the discussions with the missionaries, and I would answer as many of Dan’s questions as I could when they came up. By the end of August, he still wasn’t sure if he wanted to join the church, but our relationship was blossoming.

He proposed in September, and started getting more serious about the church. He decided he did want to be baptized, he just didn’t know when. We were blessed with some incredible missionaries. All this time, I had been silently suffering from the burden of my sins. Although I had prayed earnestly for forgiveness and spoken with my bishop, I still did not feel like I had been forgiven. One Sunday morning, during Sacrament meeting, one of the elders opened up his scriptures to Doctrine and Covenants 18, and pointed to verses ten and fifteen: “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God…And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” I should have remembered this from scripture mastery, but it had slipped my mind. That elder doesn’t know how truly and deeply he touched my heart that day by sharing with me that through my personal missionary efforts, I could be forgiven of my sins.

My husband was baptized one week before our wedding. He was baptized by the same elder who had shared that redeeming scripture with me. Even though we weren’t able to keep in touch with him, Elder Pulu will always hold a special place in my heart. And when we were able to go to the temple and be sealed for time and all eternity, my heart was filled with gratitude for my knowledge of and obedience to the gospel, for my wonderful husband, and for those missionaries who helped to make my dreams come true.

Brigham Young has been quoted as having said, “Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.” I know it’s true in my life; I know it’s true for everyone. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to look into the eye of the storm of hardship and recognize that it is a trial of faith, and when you trust in the Lord, you will make it through to the other side.
So while I am not a convert, I still feel a bit like I was converted at the same time as my husband – not in the traditional sense, but converted from being a sinner to, well…not.  I am so grateful for this church, this branch, and the sense of community that is always so strong within church buildings.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Kim Haller permalink
    July 24, 2010 1:12 am

    Nice job!

  2. Michelle Budney permalink
    July 24, 2010 1:55 am

    Erin,

    I think you did such a beautiful job!! It was a blessing to me to read this. I also got a laugh out of the “my ever-meddling grandmother sent missionaries to his apartment”. It doesn’t matter what state you are in, my mother will send missionaries and (The name of the ladies that come to your home just slipped my mind – this age thing sure is evident) to your house. She did that often to me while I was in Wisconsin. You gotta love her. It’s such an example of how deep her love is for our whole family.

    God Bless you Erin and your family!!
    Michelle

    Again, thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed your speech!!

  3. Tamara permalink
    July 24, 2010 3:04 am

    I love your speech Erin! Very awesome!
    You are a great writer girl!!

  4. Tammy permalink
    July 24, 2010 3:09 pm

    This is great Erin! 🙂 Everytime I say, “No I’m not a convert, I was born and raised in the church…”someone is always quick to tell me, ‘We are all converts.’ Its actually so very true! Good Luck tomorrow!

  5. July 28, 2010 12:06 pm

    Thanks for your comment on my blog, Erin! And yours is lovely. What a beautiful talk you gave. I love how you parallel yours and your husband’s experiences. I think you’re right–that they’re more similar than we may realize.

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