“You converted to a Mormon!?! What is this?” As you’re probably thinking in your head right now. Yep, I have decided to convert to be a Mormon, and one of the counselors and missionaries had invited me to write down my feelings on the day of my baptism (July 3rd, 2021).
I know my site here is a blog created to share guides of travels and hikes, so this may be very off-topic (and I promise my niche won’t change!), but as the creator of this blog, I do want to share an important aspect of my life and faith is a big part of my life now. It is how I find light out of the dark tunnel and it is how I will find peace through my life when I can’t turn to those times of getting outside. I want to share this with those who feel like they can relate and if you can, then great!
As my baptism took place today (written on July 3rd, 2021), I feel like I am renewed and before that very moment my body was sunk into that font water, I felt nervous because I knew my spirit was going to go through an initial change. I saw this coming though months even before leading to this but there’s something about making this first step. The joy of today reminded me why God does love me and that all my trials that I’ve overcome before this new rebirth had started to make a bit sense.
I want to find myself committed to God by spreading the good there is from my voice to my eagerness. I want to continue to find my truth with the gospel as it has already as I am continuing to study/read the Book of Mormon day by day along with the Bible while attending these religious classes. Being baptized means making that mark to a start.
With all the noise there is that comes in life and all the frustrating turns that life can take, I see being faithful to a church as a good way to escape that noise a bit, but it’s also a way to feel like you’re back home with God.
It took me 2 years to get to this decision of deciding to convert and since the first interaction I had with missionaries. It’s hard. It’s hard when no one in your family is a Latter-Day Saint (also known as Mormon, which “Mormon” is more of a nickname) except for yourself. However, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you. If you know Heavenly Father loves you, you will grow in ways you didn’t think so. And you will continue to do so on that path.
I know there are other churches out there, but I explored what it was like to be a Catholic through most of my life and I no longer resonated with it for a few reasons. I explored the non-denominational Christian church when I had friends back home invite me to their church, but I didn’t feel the “spirit” there. The LDS church made sense to me the most and it made me actually feel it.
I was given a stack of cards where each person in my baptism wrote one. They were all prompted to write a nice blessing to me and I truly loved reading each one. I love how there’s a community that believes what you believe. One of these cards was written by my friend’s mom and she wrote “I always told Jaymie you have the most Christ-like countenance just like any member I ever knew. Your joyful and friendly spirit shines.”
I have decided to share my speech below on why I decided to convert and what it means to be baptized as a newly converted Latter-Day Saint mainly due to the fact some of my friends and family could not make it on the day of my baptism, as well as some pictures from that day.
My testimony talk
Being finally baptized is a blessing that anyone could receive. I see being baptized as a way to receive eternal salvation but I also see baptism as a sign of being renewed or a rebirth into spiritual life. And most of all, I see it as making a covenant with Christ.
As most of you may not know, I’m in my mid-20s. I grew up in the east coast state of New Jersey, and if you know New Jersey, yes it is a scandalous state known for that one show and their wild lifestyles. I was raised Catholic so I was taught about Jesus Christ at a young age, but I started to lose touch with religion the older I got, and around these times, it was like I wanted to seek temptations more.
You can guess what those temptations were and because it’s the only things you were conditioned to know.
I also thought those were my means to escape my dark thoughts. I had my fair share of addictions and that ruled most of my youth and early adult years.
It led me to making choices that set me back a few years like being in a long-term toxic relationship and having friends who just dropped out of my life when they didn’t align with my values.
Aside from those, I did have some wonderful years and some really amazing memories living that life. Don’t get me wrong I still love a good dance party but I don’t miss being drawn to some of those temptations.
For some reason, it always made me question my self-worth and if I was even good enough. Later on, I found out that you will always be good enough because we are all children of God and we are so loved by Him.
I see baptism as a way to be washed away from my sins and being forgiven for them. I see it now as a means to get as close to the Lord as possible. And by serving my commitment with him by being a member, it reminds me that I do always want him in my life.
This church was introduced to me 2 years ago by my girl Sydney who is currently in Utah. When I first moved here to Arizona, I didn’t really know anyone. She was one of my first friends. And she introduced me to her friends. And so I met friends of friends and so forth.
It started out as what any nonmember would go through when all their friends are LDS… I started being invited to their events and those were indeed the most genuine happiest times I’ve felt in these years.
But it also reminded me that their way of living is really beautiful and that you can live a simple life based on just focusing on one another with good intentions and doing things such as exploring God’s creation together, which is our Earth.
You can have relationships with people based on putting Christ in the center of these relationships.
All the times I was alone in all of my solo hikes and travels, I felt the Lord’s presence with me. And I told myself that if I had a choice, I would love to experience His peace forever on this Earth. I just didn’t know how, other than pushing myself to get obsessed with nature.
So in 2 years, over 50+ hikes later and 2 years of investigating if this church would be true for me, I know I didn’t want to rush anything because I first needed to feel my testimony.
Last summer, I got really sick with an illness called Valley Fever that changed my life. I’m going to have this illness probably for life. I remember last year I was so sick that I could hardly walk and I was bedridden and my lungs were damaged.
It made me isolate myself from my friends and family …and my productivity was slowing down. I no longer had the energy I used to have and I was a very active person on the go no matter what I did. I was hit hard from my finances to having to lose my full-time job.
During this hard trial, I remember how desperate I was for wanting to heal and hoping that I’d get my old life back. It made me recognize that I wasn’t taking care of my body at all then when I was physically healthier and now that my body isn’t what it used to be, I want to do everything I can to take care of it now.
So I prayed every day the way my Mormon friends taught me. And it eventually came that I started seeing blessings pour through, little by little.
I was walking again with no more shortness of breath and I had given myself a chance to get out there again. Of course, there are times I still struggle till this day. I also had to change my diet and to take things slow and easy rather than have the mentality that I was taught to be “go, go, go”.
But I knew that God was real to me. I knew I felt the Holy Spirit when my prayers were being answered and I remember just a few months ago, Sister Gentry who was serving in the Rio Vista Ward had reached out to me.
When I got her message on Facebook, time felt like it stopped. My phone lit up and I initially thought of ignoring yet another missionary. But then I felt sooo drawn to her message and I opened it up but I still didn’t write back.
For some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about the message.
A few days later, I tried to listen to what my heart was feeling then and I think I had a change of heart. I told Sister Gentry that I would love to connect with her and learn more about the gospel again.
So she connected me with my current elders in the Surprise ward since I live here.
To me, that was a sign of God communicating to me. I just didn’t know it back then but that happens.
So you see why having a testimony can be so important before you choose to change religions and recognize that this is the path you want to go to.
Some of these things seemed like a coincidence but it wasn’t. I truly think God has a plan unwritten for all of us and whom we’re all supposed to meet can have a purpose towards our path.
I just know it in my heart and through faith that this will be the biggest blessing I’ve ever had in my life. And as my friend Lofah said, it will bring me that blessing in ten folds.
My Mormon ex boyfriend’s grandfather told me, “You’re going to convert one day. I just know it.” And I was like “ummm I don’t think I ever will, but okay.” And man, I can tell you he was right.
I want to share with you all, one of my favorite scriptures so far, and it is by Alma Chapter 36 verse 3. It says, “Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”
Thank you to those who have helped me out through this journey. You know who you are. To Andrew. To Elder Wilhelmsen, Elder Pope, Elder Lowry. Elder Watson. Elder McKeon. Elder Castillo. Elder Paxman. Sister Gentry. Sister Shauerhammer. Bishop Erickson.
Thank you everyone. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Details from my baptism
Elder Wilhelmsen baptized me in the font. Jordan gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was done the following day at church (on the 4th of July) and that was an unreal experience as he gave me a long beautiful prayer in presence with a few of those who hold priesthood authority. My friend Jaymie spoke on the topic of baptism and my other friend Drake spoke on the topic of the Holy Ghost and I also made them my witnesses. Andrew conducted the baptism.
Those who attended were new friends from the Surprise ward (as I am a part of that one), some friends outside of the Surprise ward, the counselors of the ward, President Bria (who is basically like a Bishop for the ward), the Relief Society President (who also gave a talk), and the Bishop of the Rio Vista (in Glendale) ward with his wife, as they were people I’ve known from 2 years ago when I first came across this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Later that day, it was nice because my friends and I attended a huge party that took place at a friend of a friend’s house and I was greeted by so many upon learning of being baptized early that day.
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