I just love hearing other people’s conversion stories. Here is a sweet one that was written shortly before President Hinckley’s death. It was shared with me by Linda Champion:
My conversion story starts about 4 years ago. My daughter, Sister Crystal Champion, was investigating this church as well as one other, while singing at the Catholic church in town. One day she told me that she had decided to get baptized and asked me to attend the baptism. I was very supportive of her decision to join although I had not heard of any of the beliefs. Crystal took a strong interest in the Sister missionaries serving in the ward. We had them over for lunch and dinners and she drove them to appointments. We live in Upstate New York.
One day Crystal told me that she had decided to move to Logan, Utah with one of the returned missionaries who encouraged her to move there. To say the least, I was very sad but also knew that it was best for her to continue in her faith. After all she was the first to join the church in our family. Before she left for Utah she did have the sisters and elders here talk to me about the plan of salvation. Although I have a very strong faith in God, I was not ready to really accept the truth. Deep down I was scared what my family and friends would say if they knew I converted to be a Mormon.
Crystal moved to Utah in July 2004. As we said good bye, I could see the excitement in her eyes and the faith she had that everything was going to be okay. I guess that is something youth can do better than adults. Here she was with limited funds, no job and moving half way across the country! She found employment rather quickly and never once asked for money, although I did send her some once in a while. She absolutely loved Utah and had several opportunities to visit Temple Square. With each visit she would ask them to call me, which they did, and Elders were at my door to teach me. I just wasn’t ready to accept the truth. I could see the changes that were taking place in my daughter’s life but still was reluctant to accept the reasons.
Each time Crystal came home to visit she would spend time with the sister missionaries. She would ask me to go to church with her, which I did, but still I was not ready to be baptized. The elders continued to teach me and spend lots of time in my home. In 2006 Crystal felt that Heavenly Father wanted her to go on a mission so she began the process of completing the paperwork. She was home for a visit for Thanksgiving last year and was hopeful that she would get her call while home. (She planned it that way and asked that her call be sent to our address.) Needless to say, it did not arrive before she left. She so much wanted us to be with her when she opened the letter.
Shortly after she arrived home, she received her letter. She was at work and her roommate brought it up to her! She immediately called me because she wanted me “to be there” when she opened it. I happened to be driving home so I told her to call me back, which she did, just as I was pulling into my drive way! She read the letter and told me she was going to the Alabama Birmingham mission and she would report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on March 14, 2007. Her excitement was unbelievable! And of course I cried – she was coming to the East Coast (although I knew I couldn’t visit her while she was on her mission).
I made plans to visit her in Utah for 10 days prior to her going to the MTC. We stayed with a friend and were treated especially nice. I had the opportunity/privilege of “spoiling” her before she went on her mission. I attended the church service where she gave her going away talk. There were several members that came up to me and said how nice it was that I came to be with Crystal before she went on her mission. Somehow they knew I was not a member.
The night we went to the stake to have her setting apart is a night I will never forget. The Spirit was so real to me. I knew that this is what Heavenly Father wanted for my daughter. I was being selfish thinking how could I survive without her for 18 months! After my conversion I was soon reminded that she was just on loan from Heavenly Father. Her father’s friend also gave her a blessing and I cried like a baby. I started to think what a special person she was to be able to serve the Lord and how proud I was to be her mom.
We went to the MTC that Wednesday morning and it was the strangest feeling. I was crying but couldn’t help but see the excitement on her face! I left there with such a warm feeling. Although I was sad I knew that Heavenly Father would take care of her. She is truly an amazing child who has faith that would move a mountain! Life was not always easy for her but she moved past that and had something very special in her life.
I returned home the following day both happy and sad. While in Utah at Temple Square I had purchased a quad (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants bound together in the same book) and said to myself “Linda, you are going to read the Book of Mormon and understand and find the truth.” The elders once again started to teach me. I was on fire and couldn’t read the Book of Mormon fast enough.
I had to work on some Word of Wisdom issues and the elders called me every night to check on my progress. I was finally ready to get baptized! And yes, I was baptized on Crystal’s 23rd birthday – June 23, 2007!
Since that time our family has received many blessings. People have asked if I did it for Crystal and my answer is no, I did it because of Crystal. Her faith in Heavenly Father and the spirit I felt while in Utah made me feel that there really is something to this. I am continuing to learn so much and am truly a happier person because of my choice. I have been able to understand why Crystal is on a mission. Not only is she learning to be obedient to Heavenly Father, so am I. Her emails mean so much more to me now when I can see her testimony of the truth of this church grow stronger. I can’t wait to give her a great big hug and kiss and to see her face when she sees me finally as a member of the Church.
I know that this Church is the restored gospel and that Heavenly Father lives and as does my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet and I am so thankful that I have joined the church. The Book of Mormon is true.
Sister Linda Champion