Here is the next post in my series: How I Joined the Mormon Church
You can read the previous posts here:
Heading to College – Finding my New Ward
Once I figured out I had to wait until I turned 18 to join the church, I had it all planned out that I would get baptized on my 18th birthday. I really wanted to get baptized in my ward I had “grown up” in, but I wasn’t going to turn 18 until after I headed to college. Even though I had been going to church for almost 3 years by then, my parents still wouldn’t budge on the date. (Downside of a September birthday)
I wanted to go to BYU, but my parents said NO. So I headed down to Vanderbilt University. (Let me tell you, years later when I started my Masters program at BYU and my parents saw the bill they asked why I hadn’t gone to BYU as an undergrad, they would have saved a LOT of money.)
I had told my Bishop in Illinois where I was going and was expecting my new Bishop to call me. He never did, so I called the church a few days after getting to school to figure out what ward I was in. I got connected with someone to pick me up for church. For someone who hates calling people, this was a huge obstacle to overcome. But I was going to go to church and the only way to get there was to make phone calls.
Different families were kind enough throughout my freshman year to pick me up and take me to church each week. I was the only active member at Vanderbilt at the time. I guess I wasn’t even a member yet really.
I am sure the missionaries were shocked when I walked up to them and said, “I want to get baptized in a few weeks.”
I took the discussions again and prepared to finally get baptized. I was adjusting to being away at school, live in a dorm, make new friends, do well in college classes, choose the right and move towards baptism. It was a stressful, hard time. But through it all I knew I wanted to get baptized. I never wavered in that. I knew it was the right choice for me.
As a missionary myself years later, I was sure I would be blessed with finding someone who was “golden”, meaning ready to accept the Gospel. Someone who was really open to the Spirit and learned and accepted the beautiful truths of the Gospel. Indeed towards the end of my mission I was. That is a story for another day.
25 years ago Today!
The missionaries tried to tell me I couldn’t be baptized on my actual birthday, because it was a Monday. I told them that I WOULD be getting baptized on my actual birthday! After waiting 3 years I wasn’t waiting an extra day. So they turned it into a Family Home Evening night for the Single Adults in the area and I was able to get baptized on my birthday, exactly 25 years ago today!
I had 2 friends from college come, Alan and Rachel. I don’t remember the Elders names who taught me. Well, maybe Elder Frost and Elder —–? If you recognize any of the Elders, let me know! I would love to connect and say hi.
Great Job 18 Year Old Me
Looking back the 3 year wait seems like a drop in the bucket after being a member 25 years. But I still sometimes stand a bit in awe of the youth I was. It wasn’t easy to stand strong, I wasn’t perfect by a long shot, but my heart was so earnest and longed to follow Christ. I was able to stay active on my own, because of a testimony I worked hard to develop. That testimony buoyed me up through challenging times.
I will always think back on my baptism day and be grateful to myself for choosing to follow the example of Jesus Christ and get baptized! Great job 18 year old me. 🙂