Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Personal Narrative

Week 2 assignment in English Comp. Enjoy!

November 10th, 1991 is a day I will never forget and not just because it is my sister's birthday. It is the day I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My life has never been the same since. While I can't recall all the details of my actual baptism, I can recall what led up to this decision. Whenever I remember these events, they play out in technicolor in my head.

You see, I had been raised in a baptist church. The local church bus came to pick us up real early on Sundays and we got back late in the afternoon. My mother found it the perfect daycare situation and we were on that bus every week, whether we wanted to go or not. Every week the preacher got up and talked about why all the others denominations of Christianity were wrong and every week I listened. At the know-it-all age of 16, I approached my pastor with some specific theology questions. None of them he had answers for and I decided I wouldn't be attending church there or anywhere else until I found answers.

Time went by without much thought to the conversation I had with him until about a year later when my sister called me and told me she was getting baptized. I remember my response vividly. I said to her "what do you mean baptized, you are Catholic and have been sprinkled already." It was then that she informed me she had decided to change her religion and was getting baptized into the LDS church. I dropped the phone and FLIPPED out for real. Granted I knew NOTHING of how LDS people believed, I just remember my minister telling me their belief system was wrong. Sadly, I refused to attend her baptism; it is one of very few things I wish I'd have done differently.

Shortly after her baptism, we were traveling to a friend of mine's house. To get there, it required we drive right past the Portland Temple. To my dismay, my sister asked "isn't the temple right around here?" Before I knew it, we had deviated from the original course and were now on our way to the temple. I was angry, scared, and convinced we were going to hell. My sister and the boyfriend she had at the time got out of the car and didn't even ask if I wanted to come with them to walk the grounds. I figured if we were all going to hell for being there anyway, we might as well go together and quickly joined them.

The first thing I noticed was how quiet the grounds were. The Portland Temple is situated just off a major section of interstate. I could throw a rock from temple grounds into the highway if I wanted and yet, on temple grounds, the traffic is barely audible. After walking around the entire building I was willing to admit only one thing: it was absolutely beautiful. We got to the door of the temple and a woman dressed in white opened the door. Because I was the only one appropriately dressed, she only extended the invitation to come inside the building to me. There was NO WAY I was going in there. Are you KIDDING me. Heaven only knows what these people would do to me once they got me in there. I started backpedaling and my sister looked at me with her beautiful sad brown eyes as if to say "please sister, I'd do it for you" and I though I did demand they send search and rescue in for me if I wasn't out in 10 minutes, I relented.

When I stepped onto the foyer's carpet the first thing I noticed was how velvety soft and padded it was. I imagine walking on this carpet must be what it feels like to walk on clouds. Everything was so simple and elegant. It was just beautiful, too beautiful to even begin to describe. Off the foyer is a garden room. The walls are marble and the ceiling is glass. Large flower beds provide sanctuary to an array of vegetation. I remember the orchids and bamboo because it was so uncommon to see things thing in Portland in October. I found a bench to sit on and just sat there thinking and reflecting and embracing the spirit of the temple. I looked through the glass ceiling of the temple at the spires and statue atop the temple in awe. And the peace, oh how I remember the peace. My life was in a little bit of turmoil at the time and here, in this building I never wanted to be in in the first place, I was finding perfect peace. After what my sister reports to be about 45 minutes or more, I finally returned to her and her boyfriend. The first thing she said was "wow her entire countenance is different."

We never made it to my friend's house that night. Instead, we went back to our apartment and I had a long involved conversation with my sister's missionaries. We talked all night and I came to an agreement. If they had detailed answers to my questions, I would let them teach me about their faith. As promised, the missionaries had the answers I had been seeking and 10 days later I was baptized. Now, some 18 years later, I have no idea where I would be today had it not been for this experience. Without this experience, I'm not sure I'd have ever joined the LDS church and without the LDS church, I don't know where I'd be.

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