Monday, August 20, 2012

Elder Slade

I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When I was 18 years old, while staying with a high school friend and her family, I went to church for the first time. I was struggling in my life, and it was a confusing time for me. I didn't like myself very much or the direction I was heading. I was, to put it mildly, swinging wildly out of control. I had a plane ticket to return to Australia (where I was born and lived until I was 11) and I had a couple of weeks to kill before leaving. I had long admired my friend's family and wondered whether it was their faith that made them happy and loving. They certainly had taken me in with open arms and so I found myself at Church with my friend that first Sunday in her congregation of young, single adults.

I remember sitting in Sunday School, looking at a picture of the Saviour that was leaning up against the blackboard. It hit me that for the first time in a very long time, I felt peace. I felt safe. I knew that I wanted to feel like that all the time. And so I told my friend that I wanted to learn more. There were two sets of missionaries in the room - one set of young women (called Sister Missionaries), and one set of young men (Elders). Naturally my friend made a beeline for the Elders and asked them to come and teach me at her house.

Elder Slade and Elder Cooley taught me the first discussion that evening. Everything I heard resonated with me, sounded familiar somehow. They told me about Joseph Smith, how when he was a young man of fourteen and struggling with questions about his faith, went to a grove of trees near his home and prayed to know what to do. They taught me about Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. They gave me a Book of Mormon and asked me to read it. When they were finished, they asked me if I had any questions. I told them that I didn't, that I had liked everything that I heard, and that I wanted to be baptized. But I was leaving for Australia in a week and wanted to be baptized before I left.

Now I know how unusual it was to commit to baptism so quickly, but at the time it felt like the natural next step. I didn't see any point in delaying what I knew was the right thing to do. So every day that week, Elders Slade and Cooley came to Rebecca's and taught me. We watched church movies, we had many discussions, and they answered my questions. I prayed for the first time. I felt God's love for me and that feeling of peace and comfort I had first felt in Sunday School continued to envelop me. I no longer felt alone.

Saturday morning, July 17, 1993, Elder Chad Slade baptized me. Elder Cooley confirmed me a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost. Every good thing I have in my life I can trace back to the decision I made to be baptized. I have never not gone to church since. It has been a constant, stabilizing, uplifting influence in my life. I met my husband at church, we were married in the Temple and we have four amazing, awesome children. My life is full and rich in ways that I could have only imagined.

Chad and his family are visiting BC and yesterday came to our house for dinner. It's been nineteen years since my baptism and fourteen years since we last saw each other. I've been caught up in memories this morning, thinking about that week in 1993 when everything changed. And how life has only continued to get better. And for that I am so grateful.

1 comment:

  1. I met Elder Slade in Victoria in 1993 with his companion Elder Church. Tell him that Tom says hi!