January 8th was my last Sunday in Washington State before I embarked on a journey that would take me completely across the United States. That Sunday I
spent with the Manchester Ward in the Bremerton, Washington Stake. It was the area where I was staying with a friend. Those friends were gracious enough to give me a place to stay for the holidays with easy access to visit the areas where my family and friends live.
On January 11th, I left Washington state, heading out to the coast to avoid a snowstorm that was engulfing Portland, Oregon. I followed hwy 101 down the Pacific Coast, through Washington, then Oregon, stopping briefly to see a dear friend in a town overlooking the southern Oregon coast before heading through northern California where snow in the Redwoods attempted to hamper our travels again.
It took a couple of days, but Sunday found us in Arizona. There was a momentary choice when I realized that I could make it to my Branch, Concho, to attend services. The contention between my soon-to-be ex-husband who I was to be at divorce court with that coming Thursday and his live-in girlfriend who would both be attending our Branch’s Sacrament, made me think better of it. Instead, I spent January 15 listening to General Conference talks and Gospel music with a friend while we made snowmen at the Grand Canyon.
We did make it to St. John’s Arizona before the Addiction Recovery meeting ended that evening. It was a welcome support for the issues surrounding the co-dependency I had discovered within myself. One of the reasons for the delay in the divorce, or even possibly the marriage in the first place.
Wednesday was a good day to visit the wonderful Snowflake Temple at the suggestion of one of my dear Concho Branch friends. Peggy and her husband Brian had provided showers and transportation to the temple every Friday during some of the worst times of my marriage and at her suggestion
we went for a session the day before the hearing. It was the peace I needed.
After the divorce hearing on Thursday, the weather reports were ominous: A storm that was predicted to drop three feet of snow was on it’s way to the area. I did NOT want to be stuck in an one horse town with my now-ex-husband and the woman he moved on with. Too much drama for my brain to handle. So, I got a blessing from my Branch President at the Church building, and headed out through New Mexico towards Texas.
The time we spent in Texas (my friend Jacob who was traveling with me has family in Pipe Creek) was without a church visit. However, Jacob’s fa
mily are all church members and we had quite the meeting in their home as many Gospel topics were discussed. It was like having a church meeting in their home. I imagined many meetings like it occurring in the early days of The Church.
From Texas, where I was also able to visit the beautiful Houston Temple, we headed for Florida, stopping only quickly in Alabama to visit a couple of friends. By January 29th, we were in Lake Mary, Florida. The church services were enjoyable for me on a rainy day while the dogs and Jacob rested next to the Spanish Moss laden trees.
That week, Jacob and I headed to Key West to check out the sites and gather some photographs for the magazine for which I was compiling a few stories. Although the magazine and I were to part ways before those were published, the opportunity to live sunrise to sunset while gathering some show-stopping photos was quite an enjoyable experience.
The Key West Branch building had a small picnic area in back of the building put together by a young Brother as a part of an Eagle Scout project. It was a fantastic little area to escape the hustle and bustle of a thriving tourist area of Key West in the middle of tourist season. The service on February 5th was absolutely what I needed. Peaceful and true, testimonies were shared from the pulpit that filled my heart with peace and hope.
The next Sunday, February 12th, found us at the Coconut Creek Ward in Florida. It was the last Sunday that Jacob was there to watch the dogs while I attended services. The Branch that met after the Ward was a Haitian-Creole Branch where for the first time I heard a language that sounded like people were singing to one another. It was beautiful.
The Fort Lauderdale Temple was gorgeous in the light of the sun
rise when I visited. Jacob had an opportunity to do a bit of service snapping photos of myself and other patrons and I met a few fellow member-missionaries before I finished with our photos.
After Jacob hopped a plane back to his home in Washington from Fort Lauderdale, I headed back north. My next stop was in Palm Bay. It was in this Floridian Ward where I met some of the most wonderful people on my journey. A sister named Nikki invited me for dinner and a her daughter gave up her bed for a night so that I might stretch out a bit. The night previous in the area had seen a vicious attack by mosquitoes that seemed to grow to enormous sizes, a night indoors was so welcomed. The prayers from Nikki’s entire family still are felt in my travels.
From Palm Bay, I headed to DeLand, Florida. I was still in my church clothes from attending DeLand’s Second Ward service on February 26, when I was putting up my tent about 50 miles away in the National Forest for a time out while recovering from a chest cold I had picked up in my travels.
I spent the week at the campground before heading up to Interlachen, Florida to share my Testimony in a meeting where I was a few minutes late in arriving. The other testimonies I listened to in this tiny Ward filled my heart with light and happiness at the last Floridian Ward I would be visiting.
From Florida, I headed out to the South Carolina coast. I was enjoying the sunrises in Hilton Head, and I failed to “scout” the location of the local ward. On a cloudy Sunday morning where I had a feeling I should go early, I found that the Meetinghouse on Hilton Head had sustained a great deal of damage during the hurricane in the previous October. I contacted the Bishop and he informed me that services were held at the Beaufort Ward building. I headed up there and arrived
in time to take in an extra Relief Society meeting as well as meeting with the Hilton Head Ward.
From Beaufort, South Carolina, I headed inland to a tiny place called Monck’s Corner. In Monck’s Corner, South Carolina I met a sister in Relief Society who had a connection to the northwest and added a task to my list for when I return to my home state. I will be attempting to find her daughter’s grave site.
I met another wonderful group of Sisters in the Relief Society of the Windsor Lake Ward in Columbia, South Carolina where my travels took me while I was searching for my 4th great grandmother who was born in South Carolina in 1808. The sisters in the Windsor Lake Ward were more than welcoming and I enjoyed watching Women’s session of General Conference with them. A dear sister named Leanna even offered us a place to stretch out for a few days with friends for the dogs included!
It was in Columbia, South Carolina where I celebrated the 4th anniversary of my Baptism by visiting the Columbia Temple. I remained in the Columbia area for General Conference, before heading to North Carolina.
North Carolina, in a little town named Kernersville, I met a Bishop who called himself “Charlie” and a Ward full of Saints. I was overwhelmed with their welcoming and all around southern hospitality. I got to church, as I usually do no matter where I am, a bit early. I was rewarded for my effort not only with some quiet time in the chapel and an opportunity to meet a few of the patrons, but the wonderful sister who baked the Sacrament bread had baked three extra loaves. I was offered one, and I was so thankful to accept it. I took the opportunity to share with them one of the only things that I can, my Testimony of Christ.
After a week of car repairs, beginning in Columbia, South Carolina and finishing in Kernersville, North Carolina, I was impressed to head north to my destination. By Easter I had arrived in New Hampshire, the site of my daughter’s (and my)
graduation in May. I made it. And Easter services at another Manchester Ward.
It was the first time that I had ever seen a Mission Office located in a meetinghouse! They seem to do things a bit differently in New England. But just like the other meetinghouses I have visited, it was full of welcoming Sisters and Brothers. More extended family.
From Manchester to Manchester, I have met friends who are family across the nation. I am so blessed to know each and every one of them. They are my Brothers and Sisters. I am blessed to be a Latter-Day Saint, a member of a family that is Eternal.
On March 23, 2013 I was baptized. March 23 of this year came around and I was visiting Columbia, South Carolina. It seemed a fitting day for a temple trip. After all, I was in the area hunting up ghosts of my ancestors.
During a middle of the night genealogy session spurred by The Spirit, I was reminded that one of my “brick walls” was my 4th great-grandmother, “Becca Wassin,” on my mother’s mother’s side. She had stated in her marriage record to her husband Solomon Richardson that she was born in South Carolina, but after several searches and reading more probate record archives than I would have liked from the mid 1800s (a rough awakening for this “northerner”); I could not find her family in South Carolina. Her marriage bond was found in Rowan County, North Carolina at the Rowan County main library, but I could not tie her to any family in South Carolina to any degree of certainty.
I decided to make an appointment for a baptism session for myself after my regular session. It proved to be a very spiritual evening to celebrate my milestone of 4 years in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A few hours before my sessions, I recorded this video of reflection and testimony at the Columbia, South Carolina Temple. Enjoy
On March 6, 2013, I said a prayer. A short prayer, a simple prayer, THEN I acted on the impression I received. Since that moment, my life has changed significantly.
Let me back up for a few moments. The year 2012 was a very full year for me. While I was travelling the country, I was aggressively pursued by a blogger who had made a name for himself in the world of my medicine, and he made no qualms about the fact that he wanted to add me to his “stable” of a wife and a mistress. After arguing it out more times than I can remember, it was his wife who finally begged me to “make him happy” by consenting to be his mistress after he had dumped the first one. After 6 weeks of living in hell with him while he abused me physically and sexually, I left in tears and tatters. I knew what I had done was wrong. But what I didn’t understand was what to do with my life after it had taken such a wrong turn. That wasn’t who I wanted to be. Not in the least. But HOW would I become who I could and wanted to become? Who was I? All I knew was that I was completely lost.
I had come to live in the attic of my mother’s house that she had abandoned about a year previous when my brother’s mess was more than she could handle. There was much work to be done to fix up the mess created during his drug binges and his “friends” who had done their share of robbing my mother blind. In the attic I found my peace. It was a place I could meditate and study. It was a private place I could pray. So, pray I did. I got down on my knees on the hardwood floor and asked my Heavenly Father how to come closer to Jesus Christ.
It seemed like a simple prayer at the time. However, the answers I was seeking weren’t at all simple to me. I had read some of The Book of Mormon, and I had read more of my Bible, but I didn’t know even where the local meetinghouse for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was in my area. I had never seen missionaries near my mother’s house. I had a few questions for them.
A few weeks before, my friend’s sister had taken me to a potluck at her Ward’s building in a neighboring community. They seemed nice. I liked the Spirit that was at the meal. But I wanted to know how to get to the church nearest me. So, I set about calling the number listed in Google for the meetinghouse (whose address was a mystery to me, not knowing the area very well and having no transportation at the time). I called many times during the 2 weeks previous to my prayer, but no one ever answered. (Apparently no one does answer the phones in the meetinghouses…personally I think they should all be forwarded to the Missionary’s cell phones!). If I had understood THEN what I know NOW, I would have got online and messaged an Elder at Mormon.org...but alas, I thought it would mean weeks or months of waiting (it ISN’T!) so I didn’t.
I DID pray. Four years ago, I had the faith to get down on my knees and ask HIM what I needed to do to become closer to Christ. Immediately, with a light in my heart brighter than the sunbeams coming through the attic window, I was impressed that I needed to take missionary lessons and become a member of a church I had NEVER ATTENDED!!! I had even taken upon inactive member’s offenses AGAINST the church because they were my friends! I had taken a lot of time saying negative things about this church that I was now being impressed that I HAD to join for my own salvation and that of my granddaughters!!
That being a lot of information to take in after a prayer, I immediately set out to call the only person that I knew who was an active member of The Church. My granddaughter’s other grandma. Mary answered the phone, and after she heard my account of my prayer and the answer I received, her immediate reaction was, “WHAT A TESTIMONY!!!!”
My reply reflected my ignorance, “What’s a Testimony? How do I get Missionaries to come and teach me more?”
My fears started to grow: I had been abused by men most of my life, since I was an infant; HOW could I allow men to teach me about Christ? Those fears and so much more were answered when I answered the doorbell, less than 30 minutes after my call to Mary. In front of me stood two of the most beautiful young women I had ever seen in my life. They glowed with the light of the Gospel of Christ. They GLOWED with the Holy Spirit.
It took me a few weeks, but I was Baptised on March 23, 2013. Today marks 4 years since that day of prayer. I feel more strongly than ever the best thing I ever did was to pray…and ACT on the impressions I received. I have a home, now, everywhere I go: watch my Testimony here!
Today I bore my testimony. My Testimony of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I bore my testimony that They LIVE and give me guidance every single time I ask. But I didn’t say those things.
Those words stayed locked inside of me as I thanked the Manchester Ward of the Bremerton, Washington Stake for their love and prayers during this season. This crazy but yet Testimony-strengthening season.
It started quite some time ago. My first divorce, started six years ago, was full of drama and pain for not only myself and my husband of 22 years, but also for our three children. I was not at all charitable in my actions towards him in my pain.
Three years after that, while I was searching for answers of a deep and eternal type, I was Baptized and Confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
About four months after my Baptism, I was impressed to message my ex-husband, Bruce, and tell him “I forgive you, please forgive me.” A very short, but meaningful sentence to me, to us both. He messaged back, “yes, I forgive you.”
This December, while Bruce lay in the hospice ward of a hospital on Christmas, we were able to spend time together that would not have been possible if I had not followed that impression four years ago. Bruce had not been in the country for a few years, so we had no communication at all during my last short marriage. When he returned, he had sustained further strokes and had difficulty communicating. This was the week before Christmas.
It was a blessing to be able to visit with my first ex-husband on Christmas day. We spoke about our children and looked at photos of his parents and grandmothers who had preceded him across the veil.
It was a Christmas when I felt my Testimony of Christ. I felt God’s hand in His timing of Bruce’s passing. He held on for two more days after Christmas. I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for bringing me back to spend the time with Bruce and with my daughter during her grief.
I know that my Heavenly Father loves and cares for me in ways I have no way of comprehending at this time. I know it was He, through the Holy Spirit, who guided me in my travels back to Washington to be with my family. I know it is He who will be with me every day of my life yet to come.
I leave this Testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ.
(This story is published as it was submitted for a grade in an advanced writing class…I also wanted to share it with all of you)
I had planned to leave a week in advance; I had planned to rent a car. I had also planned to come back home after the twins were baptized. I didn’t plan leaving my husband at his behest. I didn’t plan to divorce him. But nothing went as planned.
The First 24 Hours
My identical twin granddaughters were finally turning eight. I had waited for this moment since I was baptized 3 years earlier. The prayer I said, the impressions received, all the events leading up to my joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had included feelings that I was somehow important to their spiritual progression. This was the year, in keeping with our Church’s beliefs that the age of 8 is the age when a person is able to understand right from wrong, they would have the opportunity to be Baptized if they desired. I had promised them in the baptismal font after my own that I would be on the other side when they entered the waters of Baptism.
The girls, Alice and Rayden, were to turn 8 on the 18th of July. But on the 22nd of June, my husband and I had quite the argument. Like many before, it ended with him walking away. This time he didn’t come back until I was packing my things for the trip to see my granddaughters. He had been given a fixer-upper 1983 Volvo, and wanted to give it to me for my journey. The intent was that I would not be returning home right away, but would take a couple of months to visit friends and family in Western Washington, while he and I worked out our differences through distance. Although I kept getting feelings of car failures (a very big anxiety trigger for me), I accepted the opportunity to be away from Arizona for the monsoon season and I really missed my friends and family in Washington. I was definitely D.O.N.E. being anywhere near my husband, even to accept the generous offer of a vehicle.
The fight had been like none other. Having a disorder that many know as Multiple Personality Disorder, but is listed in diagnostic manuals as Dissociative Identity Disorder, I have lost many memories through the years into separate places of my brain. Some I have “co-consciousness” with, others I do not. The personality holding this memory is not one I have access to. I believe my husband, when he contends I said some awful things. However, I do understand what set me off: It took four “NO”s for him to understand it didn’t mean “yes” and finally got off of me. He knew I am a multiple rape survivor, it is part of the cause of my diagnosis, I can only imagine WHAT my “alter” (personality) said to him about it. Some of them (“alters” or “alternative personalities) can be very protective.
I cancelled my rental car and awaited the days until we could pick up the car from the mechanic who was replacing the distributor and timing belt. Originally scheduled to pick up the rental car and leave for Washington on Tuesday, I was packed and ready to leave. On Wednesday and Thursday I lived out of my packed suitcases and the few cans of food that I could open and eat without making too much mess. I didn’t want to be in Arizona, I wanted to be on my way to the granddaughters. When I looked at the photo of our wedding on the wall, I just cried. I put the framed photo into the cupboard, he could take it back out when he came back. If he wanted to.
Each day that passed while we awaited the distributer being shipped from the east coast to our remote area in northern Arizona, him in the little RV that we had fallen in love in, me five miles away at the newer 5th wheel where he abandoned me and our dogs and cat. The few messages between us were curt and short, but he agreed to help me pick up the Volvo: I would drive my friend’s truck to the mechanic, then he would drive the Volvo to her house to drop off the truck. Now, if we could only be in the same place without arguing, it would be a miracle.
Today was Friday, the twins would be eight on Monday, I had to get to Washington, but would it happen?
On the way to the shop early in the morning, the absence of a radio in the truck was painfully noticeable. It was a sunny day in the White Mountains of Arizona, but the mood between my husband and me was as dreary as Seattle in November. Conversation was forced and difficult. My pulse raced with anger and words I dare not say, after all, he was giving me a car.
Back at the little RV which was closer to main roads for staging purposes, Keith helped me pack not only the things I would need on my visit north, but also those important things I couldn’t leave behind in uncertainty. Contained in three sealed boxes were six years of journals, my most prized possessions: books to be written. The boxes were heavy in the back center of the large Volvo trunk. The suspension needed to be replaced, but there wasn’t the money for that. The rest of my belongings, as well as 40 pounds of dog food for my 5 year old service dog, Athena, stuffed the trunk. Provisions for the road purchased on sale to avoid the temptations of truck stops filled a small cooler on the floorboard of the passenger seat, as well as the seat itself. Vitamin and “Smart” Waters, “natural” and healthy varieties of vegi chips, jerky, dried fruits to replace my craving for Gummy Bears and a few treats would be my sole diet during the trip. Bedding and two suitcases competed with Athena and her necessities in the back seat. The Volvo was stuffed to the point of dragging on the non maintained road I had to navigate to drop my husband off before leaving Arizona. By this time it was dark
“Keith, there’s a weird vibration somewhere near the tire in front of you, can you check it out?” My husband hated getting under cars, after having one collapse on him while working in the heat in Phoenix; I hated to ask him to do it, but I didn’t know what I was looking at. At least he was trained as a mechanic.
He agreed to look, but said he could find nothing that would explain the issue. I was frustrated, but he and I were not communicating so I let it be and left him with a hug and many tears.
The ride in the rural area of Eastern Arizona up to Interstate 40 was a peaceful one as it approached midnight. Cranking the music on the FM radio, I easily found a country song that I could sing and cry to. The country music singers that had romanced one another and married while Keith and I were doing the same, were now getting divorced. The tears fueled the accelerator. But the weird vibration continued in the area of the left front tire.
I filled up my gas tank in Holbrook before getting on Interstate 40, a quick call back to my husband brought back anger, frustration and tears making me wish I hadn’t called. Athena did her business and wasn’t interested in drinking water. She and I had made several trips between Washington and Arizona these last couple of years; If the car was this packed, and Papa wasn’t with, it was likely to be a very long night of driving. No matter how many times I would prompt her when we travelled, she hated eating. It was a sore spot between us as a service partnership. But tonight I let it be. We had spent enough time in the past 5 years together for me to understand that I wasn’t going to change her mind, and I was only going to frustrate myself trying. I got back into the car and proceeded to the interstate.
As I drove on interstate 40, it was apparent to me that my vehicle had been manufactured in the 1980s, the highlighted speed on the speedometer was 55, but the analog clock on the dash still worked! As I attempted to get the car up to the speed limit of 80mph, I decided that might be a bit optimistic, and settled for a easy 70ish. It felt better.
The roads were dark, and the absence of passenger vehicles giving way to the night traffic of semis made the drive seem easy. I passed Winslow and approached Joseph City, the lights of the power plant lit up the night but were all too quickly gone leaving not a street light or peripheral glow to be had from the dark reservation lands.
“BANG!!!!” I felt the car lurch to the right. A blow out? But these tires were new!!!! I got the Volvo to the right side of the road, but was completely unfamiliar with where the hazard lights were. In the darkness, I reached for the glow of my cellphone plugged into the cigarette lighter, no longer charging with the ignition switch off. It was just after 1 a.m.. What could I do? How could I get to the jack with the trunk packed so full? Athena felt my anxiety rise and tried to get through the blankets packed around her to do her job, comforting me. The low glow of the cell phone didn’t do much to sooth a childhood full of fears of the dark, I curled up, hand on Athena, to nap until there was at least a glow of the sunrise to come. I knew the light would wake me. The car shook with every passing semi and I stifled my anxiety hugging Athena closer and closed my eyes.
On the Road
As I expected, I awoke when a glow of predawn light was just beginning to approach the horizon. I took my cellphone as a flashlight and went outside to assess the damage. Sure enough, the right side front tire was as flat as a pancake. And it still had the little rubber nibs on it from it’s newness!!! Flabbergasted, I went about unpacking the corner of the trunk where the tire and jack was located. I uneasily rolled the sun worn and cracked spare to the side of the car. There was not enough clearance under the car for the bottle jack that I had. I went back to the trunk, there was another jack, a simple one that hooked onto the underside of the car… only it couldn’t hook either: There just wasn’t enough room.
Crying in frustration, not even 60 miles from a place I didn’t know whether to call “home” anymore and 1,600 miles from my destination, I returned to the driver’s seat, the only free spot in the car to sit, folded my arms and prayed.
Within a few moments, I was surprised and pleased when I saw a Arizona Highway Patrol Woman’s lights on as she pulled in behind me. She got out of her car, then I got out of the Volvo, went over to the side where the tire was flat and started explaining the situation.
Without missing a beat, she pulled out a large floor jack from the back of her vehicle and together we changed out the bad tire for the spare. I was horrified when I saw the inside of the tire: It was completely shredded. I had picked up something jagged and it tore up the tire once we hit freeway speeds.
The Patrol Woman offered to give me an escort back to the Winslow Walmart which was the closest tire shop, since we both agreed the spare was not in shape to tolerate highway speeds. I was happy to have her lights behind me, doing about 50 mph, as I limped the Volvo back to Winslow.
Athena and I walked in the morning sunshine as a tech at Walmart replaced the tire, but the July Arizona sun quickly warmed up to the point of being uncomfortable and we sought cooler temperatures in the tire shop waiting room inside the store. The television caught my attention: having lived off-grid for the past nine months, the bright colors and shapes and loud noises from an animated children’s show were almost shocking. I, or at least some of my younger alters, were enjoying it though and were quite in shock when I glanced down to Athena and saw a spot of blood on the floor.
Really? You go into heat the DAY we try to leave Arizona?! My failure to have my service dog fixed tended to be a topic of discussion far too often for my preferences when it was all based in my own PTSD about the medical profession. She was also a second-generation service animal and I toyed with the idea of breeding her once before that surgery. I just hadn’t had the opportunity or the stability to follow through with that yet. Blood, yuck. I wiped it off with my shoe, hoping the few people coming in and out of the waiting room didn’t see.
Once the tire was on, we headed out again. Passing our night’s pitstop, I almost felt okay, but there was an odd apprehension still present in my stomach.
Busy traffic has bothered me more and more the farther away from it I have lived. I LOVE backroads. I detest busy freeways. The intersection of Interstate 10 and Interstate 40 in Flagstaff has to be one of my least favorite places to drive. A complete and sudden stop of the car as it lost electricity and power at exactly that location was the last thing I thought I could handle. As my hands shook and tears ran down my face, I called 911. “My car stopped. It just lost power and stopped! I’m at the intersection of Interstate 40 and Interstate 10.” My voice broke as I relayed the information to the operator. They would have an officer to my location asap.
The officer came, then Athena and I waited over an hour in the hot sun by the side of the busy freeway with the officer in his air-conditioned vehicle, we stood as far from the cars speeding by, for a tow truck.
When we arrived at the repair shop where the tow truck was based from, Athena growled. Not sure what she was attempting to communicate with me (she tends to growl when I need to put myself into a chair before my legs become unusable), and under an enormous amount of anxiety, I first responded to the person behind the unkempt counter who was explaining they didn’t work on foreign vehicles, only american-made. He was not impressed at my “service dog” growling and told me in a very gruff manner that the two of us could wait outside.
I cried and got caught up in my struggles with my own brain. Round and round. But I KNEW I had to be in Washington!! Suddenly, after saying yet another prayer, I heard the Holy Spirit, “don’t you think He knows you made that promise?” “Don’t you trust Him to get you where He wants you to be?”
Humbled, I called my Bishop again, seeking reassurance. He offered to speak to the men who operated the shop. They finally agreed to look at the car, being very emphatic that it was “$65 just to look at it and [they weren’t] promising anything.”
A half hour later, the men that had yelled and cussed at Athena and me all day long, informed me that my problem had been a fuse. They had also found a gas leak that was fixed with just a tightened part. I felt absolutely relieved. That awful feeling was finally gone.
As we headed out from the shop, I had the impression not to get back on interstate 40 but to take another route through Utah and Idaho: That route proved to be a little faster.
On Monday afternoon right about 3 pm I drove the Volvo into my granddaughter’s driveway. My mother was just pulling out, having come to celebrate her great-granddaughter’s birthday. She was shocked to see me. My mother and I haven’t had the easiest relationship for my first 50 years of life. The last time I had messaged her was in frustration from the Flagstaff mechanics. I hadn’t thought to let her know the situation had been resolved.
The girls came running, not recognizing the vehicle, they had to see who it was that came to visit them on their birthday. Their other grandma, Mary, a woman who stepped up to be their mother-substitute when both of our children failed in the parenting department, was in tears. She had no idea I would actually make it.
While I passed off my smart phones to the children to photograph their lives and the event of their birthday, Mary and I had a chance to speak. She hadn’t had an opportunity to purchase gifts for their birthday. Overwhelmed with the expenses of raising the three daughters that her daughter and my son had left to her raise, gifts were not in the budget.
I made plans with Mary to visit later in the week and I handed her some cash I had left from gas money I was given. She cried. I cried more. When I started the trip, I had no idea if I would have enough money for gas and expenses; I didn’t know if I would make it to Washington. However, I had received some unexpected funds from an anonymous source in the Snowflake Temple where I volunteered in the office. Those funds went to the girls for their birthday. It was a blessing unexpected by any of us.
He is Always in Control
The summer was marked by challenges with the Volvo. Although it had run without issue to get me to the twin’s Baptism; I struggled with a variety of electrical issues with the car throughout August. While attempting to regularly visit the granddaughters between visits with friends, I was forced to replace the alternator. The Volvo and I had been separated for a week while that repair was performed, and I was happy to have it back on a Friday. That Sunday I anxiously prepared for church. The drive from the friends home where I was staying, to the granddaughter’s church was almost 2 hours. I allowed two and a half to be safe. But when I went out to start the car, it wouldn’t even TRY to crank.
My hair wet from the shower and twisted on top of my head held with bobby pins, my skirt and blouse fresh from the dryer; I tried not to cry. I didn’t feel as anxious as I expected to. Once again sitting in the driver’s seat I folded my arms to pray. Immediately I felt impressed to wait for my friend to wake and ask her to take me to the local Ward building for services instead of travelling to my granddaughter’s Ward.
I went back inside the house and messaged Mary with the disappointing news: I wouldn’t be able to see her or the girls that day, we would have to wait until I knew what was up with the car this time. She understood but was disappointed. She liked having support keeping all three girls somewhat in control during the Sacrament service.
I sat and waited for my friend to awake. When she did about an hour before the Sacrament service was to begin, I asked her for a ride. Her multiple sclerosis was acting up and she didn’t feel comfortable driving, but experienced a feeling she needed to allow me to borrow her father’s truck. Her dead father’s truck that NO ONE else EVER drove. I was shocked, so was she. But I took the keys and headed over to the address indicated on the app from my church for the local Ward building.
I got to the building, but there were absolutely no cars in the lot. Not a one. Mormons all know that if there are ZERO cars in the local meetinghouse parking lot on a Sunday morning, that means there is a meeting called a “Stake Conference” at a larger building in what is called a “Stake” where several “Wards” meet together. Usually during Stake Conferences officials from the head of the church visit and give special messages to those areas. I decided to drive over to the Stake Center to see who might be visiting.
When I got close to the Stake Center, a building known as the Mullinex Building, off of Mullinex Road, I witnessed cars parked up and down the main road. Wow, I wondered who might be here. A small still voice inside of me impressed me to go to the back parking lot, there was a parking spot for me. Ignoring a packed front parking lot and cars parked up and down the main and side roads, I drove to the back lot. There was an open space right in front. I parked and got out with my notebook and pen ready.
As I walked in the door of the Stake Center I asked a mom walking a fussy toddler, tilting my head to the side, questioning, “general authority?”
She answered with a smile that lit up her face, “President Nelson!!”
President Nelson was set apart as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints last year, and is the “next in command” in respect to the leadership of The Church. I was VERY anxious to hear what he had to say! The fact that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hear him at all if the Volvo had started, was not lost on me. I sat down in back, notebook in
hand, and anxiously awaited his talk.
President Nelson left his notes and scriptures at his seat and stated that he was speaking from the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. His words were full of suggestions about teaching our children the scriptures. I was anxious to share them with Mary and the girls. But was reminded that there was something wrong with the car again.
I returned my friends’ truck to her and excitedly messaged Mary with the information about President Nelson’s visit. We exchanged frustration about the car, but I shared with her that I, oddly, didn’t feel panicked about it.
Two days later, I prayed again to know what to do about the Volvo. Immediately I was impressed to rotate the fuses: I did so, the car started right up.
Returning to Not-So-Home
I waited to leave the northwest until after I had the opportunity to celebrate my grandson’s birthday in early October. After all, what kind of grandma travels to the granddaughter’s birthdays, but leaves before the grandson’s?
Communication throughout the summer between Keith and I had been strained at best, punctuated at times by unfriending on social media and refriending but limited conversations. I kept hearing rumors that my husband was calling another woman “wife.” The thought nauseated me, but most of my possessions and the dog and cat I had left with him were there… and the plan we had made with our ecclesiastical leader to work on our marriage kept going through my head. I had to go back. I promised all of my friends in Arizona I would be there for my 50th birthday.
Despite the “thunk” that reminded me of the “Harley thunk” that you hear and feel when putting a bike into gear, I heard from under the Volvo when I put it into gear, I prayed for the car to stay together to make it to Arizona and packed it with all of my belongings (minus a forgotten suitcase) and Athena with her six – 2 week-old puppies in the back seat.
I asked a friend’s friend in Grand Junction, Colorado, to look under the car when I arrived. In Oregon the muffler had fallen and was dragging when I got off the freeway for a gas stop. Although I had a shop wire it back up, I was troubled by the noises and vibrations under the car since. It was less than 8 hours to drive to my destination, but I kept feeling like something could be horridly wrong.
The certified mechanic was troubled by what he saw under the car and encouraged me to stay in Colorado to have it fixed or at least to fully evaluate the situation. I felt strongly about my timing. I wanted to go to church back in Concho. I wanted to be with my friends. I needed to see my husband.
The mechanic tightened what he could see in the darkness, and handed me his number to call if I had any problems. I had decided to head out at night to keep the seven canines asleep in the back seat. The puppies were too young to need to be taken care of except by their mom and in the darkness Athena slept peacefully. We headed into the darkness.
Stopping only briefly for gas and for me to pee and rest a few hours, we arrived in Arizona as the sun was breaking. The vibrations were fairly stable underneath the car until about 50 miles north of St. John’s, Arizona. THUD!!!! Something hit the bottom of the car close to where the seatbelts connected in the center front seat. The entire car vibrated hard with every acceleration. There seemed to be some sort of exhaust leak. Every time I accelerated, a THUD THUD THUD shook the entire car… my heart pounded as loud as the THUD.
In a panic, I called my friend Amy and asked her to pick up my husband (to check the car out) and meet me in St. John’s, about 15 miles from my destination. She agreed.
Relieved, I finally pulled into a gas station in St. John’s and waited for Amy and Keith. When they arrived the uncomfortable mood between he and I seemed even worse than when I left Arizona. He got out of Amy’s truck and held his arms out expecting a hug, I looked at him with confusion: he hadn’t even called me in a week.
The uncomfortable situation continued as he looked under the car. When he got out, he announced that the exhaust was busted probably because of a broken transmission mount. I asked him to ride with me in case of any mechanical problem. Each mile I regretted that decision.
We parked the car at a friends’ who had a garage and who did most of the mechanical service work for the church, and I decided to spend the night camping out at Amy’s land.
When I arrived at church the next day, I was overwhelmed with friends who had to ask how the visit went. They all described praying for the car to work. I thanked them all for their prayers. But even then I had no idea how much their prayers had been needed.
The next few weeks saw my husband’s lies unfolding: I was confronted by retail shopkeepers who were confused I was still wearing my wedding band while my husband was introducing another woman as his wife on not one but two separate occasions. I filed for divorce. He filed a restraining order keeping me from my property, animals, clothing and personal belongings. My heart was as broken as my car.
When I had an expert look at the Volvo, both the mechanic and I were absolutely shocked by what was found: The Volvo needed 3 new U-joints and a new carrier bearing cushion and carrier bearing. He stated that he had never seen a driveline in that bad of shape that hadn’t been severed. None that hadn’t been in an accident.
After the car was repaired with donated labor (over 10 hours) and parts that I scraped up the money to purchase, it was time to return to Washington. The pain of watching my husband, still my husband, cavort around the tiny community and our church with another woman while we went through the legalities of a divorce was too much. I had to return to Washington. I prayed the car would make it again, my friends prayed with me.
The fact I have driven over 5,000 miles, so far, in a car that ran on prayer is something I thank God for each and every day. He guided me and through the Holy Spirit impressed upon me where He wanted me to go and He made certain I got there safely. He has also impressed upon me that perhaps I need to find a more reliable vehicle very soon. I’m working on that part currently.
I LOVE to see the Temple.
The Twin Falls Temple in Idaho was the site of my “wrong turn” at the very start of the softening of my heart. Where I stopped and “felt” the building radiate out into the street.
April 20, 2013: I went on my first proxy Baptism trip to the Seattle Temple just shy of a month after my own baptism. It was that day when I started my father’s work and my forgiveness of him.
October 19, 2013: I spent my first birthday after my baptism, performing proxy baptisms for my family in the Salt Lake City Temple. Afterwards, I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with the first and only Priesthood Holder who ever asked me out on a date. They served spaghetti at the Salt Lake Temple cafeteria. That’s something you don’t forget. Fortunately, since I was not yet endowed I was in my street clothes, not a white Temple dress. That was the last date Hyrum and I had, but we remain friends and he has since developed a friendship with my husband.
May 13, 2014: I received my Endowments at the Seattle Temple, with 3 friends from 2 different Wards. Later that year, I went through Mt. Timpanogos Temple with one of my Sister Missionaries for the proxy Endowments of both my grandmothers.
Since May of 2014, I have befriended many Temple workers in many Wards and Branches. I have even roomed with one while I was needing a place to stay in close proximity to my grandchildren for a holiday season. She helped bolster my Testimony on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Marian helped me understand Personal Revelation. A Returned Missionary, she helped me trust God. That is a gift I don’t know how to ever repay.
When I visit a Ward, I find myself looking around. The Temple Workers seem to “glow” with light. I went up to an older, beautiful lady one day in the Lacey, Washington Stake Center that I was visiting. I felt I HAD to know; “Did she work at the Temple?” Yes, in fact, she confirmed that she did. The “Glow” had been apparent across the room.
My Patriarchal Blessing explicitly states that I will bless my family on both sides of the veil with the work I perform in the Temple. In the past two years, I have been blessed to catch rides with Temple Workers on many occasions, giving me the opportunity to perform an entire shift’s worth of Proxy Ordinances while I was there.
I look at the Temple Ordinance workers with gratitude and amazement. Even though sometimes rather elderly, they seem almost spry. Their minds are clear and their memories amazingly retentive.
This spring, just short of my Temple Recommend needing renewed; I felt an overwhelming compulsion. My best friend (and Visiting Teacher), Anne, had been urging me to not only go to the Temple to perform Proxy Ordinances while she and my other friends worked; she wanted me to volunteer to work there too!
Anne works in the Laundry of the Snowflake Temple, she suggested that I volunteer to work there also. I hesitated, because doing my own laundry is difficult enough for me with a broken back and other chronic pain. But that didn’t deter her. She was convinced I should be working in the Temple with her and several of our friends in our Branch.
In early March, as I was speaking to our Branch President about another matter, the compulsion felt overwhelming. I was attempting to open his office door to leave. The Holy Spirit whispered, “Turn around and ask him…” I knew what the Spirit was speaking to me about. The compulsion was incredibly strong; it was if I could not turn the doorknob I was attempting to reach. “Turn around and ask him,” the Spirit continued to whisper, but I hesitated. I didn’t want to appear too eager, feeling there must be some requirement I didn’t meet. There is no way I felt qualified to work at the Temple. But the Spirit would not cease, so I turned around.
After asking my Branch President if there was some way I could help in the Temple, some place I could volunteer, and if my services would be adequate, I felt relieved of the compulsion for a few days. That Friday when I visited the Snowflake Temple during Anne’s shift, it returned in the Celestial Room.
“Go talk to the Matron,” the whispering Holy Spirit urged. “Why would I want to do that?!” In shock I answered in my thoughts.
“Tell her you want to work here, tell her your experience.” The Spirit would not let up.
I entered the dressing room to ready (and steady) myself. It was crowded, more crowded than I had ever seen. I sought refuge in the lavatory, but even that room seemed overwhelmingly crowded. I prayed for courage in the stall.
Sitting in the Matron’s office, I felt silly to have been so nervous. The Assistant Matron was on duty that night and was a genteel lady with a radiant countenance. She glowed. As I explained the Spirit’s (and Anne’s) urgings, and my experience as a retired computer programmer; she shared with me that there was a spot opening up in the Temple Office. A elderly couple that had been with the office since the opening of the Snowflake Temple in 2002 was retiring. Their shifts would not be easy to fill and they would be missed.
I felt a reassurance from my Heavenly Father. There was a service I felt confident I could perform. To be able to share my skills on computers and office work with the Snowflake Temple and help perform the work that needs to be done, felt like an incredible blessing. The Matron seemed happy to be placing my name on the lists to be approved by my Branch and Stake Presidents.
Over the next couple of weeks, during my Fridays at the Temple, I got to know the Temple Presidency through a couple of very informal interviews. By the time my volunteering in the office was approved by the Stake President, my Temple Recommend was up for renewal for the first time. I had to go in for my interviews again
Then it happened, I received a call asking me to come in for an interview at the beginning of my regular Friday visit. That is a day I will NEVER forget. As my friend Anne escorted me into the Temple President’s office, Elder Bradley Foster of the Seventy appeared to be looking for something on the President’s desk. He engaged me in a brief conversation before the Temple President entered. I wish I remembered that he was the one who gave the talk, “It’s Never Too Early and It’s Never Too Late,” in the October 2015 General Conference that spoke to my heart, but I was too overwhelmed by the situation. When the Temple President entered, I was surprised when I wasn’t to be interviewed, but quickly set apart as an Office Worker, and sent off to meet the rest of the office staff, Recorder and the Assistant Recorder.
I made quick friends with the other new worker and briefly met the retiring couple. My life in the weeks since has been blessed as, among other things, I’ve been able to learn my tasks at the Temple Office very quickly and life at home seems easier too. I look forward to my Friday Evenings in the Temple every week.
I leave this Testimony with you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Below is my submission to Middle-Aged Mormon Man’s International Hug-A-Convert Day Essay Contest. After I submitted this essay, I fell 10 feet backwards down an attic ladder, breaking my back.
I am healing rapidly and will be back to blogging very soon!
Last year when I commented on a post of Middle-Aged Mormon Man, he mentioned I should write out my story for his “International Hug-A-Convert Day,” I told him I wasn’t quite ready. This year has been crazy and amazing and I am late in submitting this; but here it goes.
The first time I remember knowing that there was a God, and Jesus Christ and a part I felt inside of me (only lately did I begin to understand the Holy Spirit); was when my divorced mother allowed me to attend a local Sunday school. We were singing “This Little Light of Mine.” I was about 5. I felt the Lighte of His Love. But my childhood remained full of darkness.
My parents divorced when I was four, my father was a loud atheist, my mom considered herself Christian, and wanted us to decide about religion for ourselves. To help facilitate that; she took us to several different churches. My younger brother and I learned not to share our church experiences with our dad during his weekend visitations.
When I was about 7, a friend of my mom’s was babysitting my brother and I and asked my mom if she could take us to church with
her. She attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The memories that I have of that day were that I had to wear my Easter dress because it was the only dress I had that was long enough, and I got a spanking for saying a bad word on the way home from the service.
That was my last experience with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints until my marriage of 22 years ended. During my marriage, while raising our 3 children, we attended a Nazarene church, then I began to explore Wicca & Paganism, then Buddhism and Gnostic Christianity; I was searching for answers. No matter where I looked, I didn’t find them.
While I was in the middle of my divorce, I met an unlikely missionary. After being introduced by several friends several different times, we attempted to date. True to my past, I attempted to seduce him. He attempted to teach me about chastity. Both of us failed in our attempts.
Rick was the man I dated, and fell in love with his stories of a God I never had imagined. Something called “Priesthood,” and he referred to Jesus Christ as a Brother and a Friend.
His pain had removed him from activity in the Church of the Lord that he loved. His own marriage, sealed in the temple 29 years previous, had ended in divorce. It was hard for me to understand his faith or associate it with a church he never attended. But he was quick to point out he considered himself a Latter-Day Saint.
As we agreed that we would loose our friendship if we attempted to continue to date, he promised to me that he would be my friend forever. I had no idea, then, what forever meant.
During the summer of 2010, I received a message on a social network that lead to me meeting the woman my oldest son had married and abandoned 3 years previous. I was also privileged to meet her mother, a Latter-Day Saint and our identical twin granddaughters, shortly before their second birthday.
Without me or my family knowing; my oldest son had married, impregnated & abandoned this young woman. Her mother was helping her raise the children my son had never met. The stories of my son and her daughter pulled Mary and I together. To me, this woman was indeed a Saint in so many ways and she welcomed me with love into her family.
I was disabled, on a meager income, divorced and with no place to call home. Friends across the country began to invite me to stay a week or a day, so I left everything and everyone I knew behind and began to travel.
It was a year and a half full of traveling the country running from a life that I no longer had, and searching for eternal answers. During my first trip across the country, I took a wrong turn and ended up in front of the Twin Falls, Idaho Temple. I parked my car and took photos. It was the most beautiful building I had ever felt.
Felt. I felt this building. It felt light. Brighter than any light I have ever felt. I felt close to God and Christ. I felt the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know much about Temples at the time, but I did remember Rick saying that they weren’t open to the public. I didn’t even try to go in, but said a quick prayer, took some photos, and went along my way thanking God for checking in on me.
These types of incidents happened so much in my travels, I began to feel like either The Church or Christ, was following me.
On March 6, 2013, I was at my bottom: homelessness, depression and bad relationship choices got the end of me. I got on my knees on the cold wooden floor of an abandoned attic and asked my Heavenly Father how I could become closer to Christ.
I was answered with the immediate impression that I was being commanded to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I called Mary, “How do I get Missionaries to come to where I am?”
During the chaotic time of my repentance, I realized just how many people on social networks followed my activities. I prayed to know if I should close my accounts and look for different writing venues.
The Holy Spirit witnessed to me that I needed to be even louder about my conversion and about my faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ than I had been in my sin. That would be a challenge.
The first few posts I wrote in my new blog about my testimony went over well. Those who ventured a cursory gander were even more than polite in their comments to me.
I was still concerned, and prayed to know if blogging or other social networks were the proper use of my testimony. I heard my answers loudly when I attended the “Hastening the Work” broadcast at my local Ward Meetinghouse in June 2013.
Over the past year I have learned some hard lessons about leaning not unto mine own understanding. I have also learned a lot about patience.
In my first 14 months as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have had the opportunity to attend services in 11 Wards and 2 Branches in 7 Stakes. I am a woman of many Wards.
I was baptized as a divorced grandma on her own, the first church member of my family.
I was humbled to have received my own Endowments in May 2014 at the Seattle, Washington Temple. I currently blog at http://SlightelyMormon.org. I am working on a book of poetry and prose from the first year of my conversion. My life is more blessed than I could ever imagine.
This last month has been very eventful.
Four days after submitting my testimony to MiddleAged Mormon Man’s International Hug A Convert Day, and exactly two weeks after I had been to the Seattle Temple to receive my Endowment; I fell 10 feet onto my back off of an attic ladder.
I broke my back. I received a Priesthood Blessing while the medics were putting me in the ambulance. Then I was hospitalized for 4 days.
I currently am home & recovering. I have a compression fracture of T-11, but I will recover completely.
I am aware that I have a new group of readers from MiddleAged Mormon Man, and I welcome any comments.
The site is undergoing some changes as soon as I have internet access & the ability to sit at a computer (laying & standing are my only comfortable positions currently). For now, the essays are intermingled with scripture memes.
I pray that everyone invites the love & Lighte of Jesus Christ into their lives today!