Tracy M. over at BCC has a wonderful post about her entering the Conference Center, I would urge you to read it if you have not already.
So with that in mind let me share my first real conversion experience.
It was 1989, winter was fierce in Edmonton and Calgary Alberta (where I was during the major events). I was 19, I was on my own for the first time in my life. Stubbornness and stupidity led me down some of those paths that most older people recognize and avoid.
I did not however, and when I finally paid the price for these mistakes I remember sitting their saying ok God you get me out of this I will listen to you. Then in the coming month I was challenged to consider going back to Church. It had been about six years since I had been in a building of any kind.
So I considered this, and I decided to find a book of Mormon. Funny enough I never thought of finding missionaries or anyone who would have given it to me. So I entered the local library and spent the day reading most of first Nephi. It was all very familiar and comforting.
Realistically though I did not have enough time to really do much more than that. So I went to Calgary, finding a cheaper and slightly improved place to live. And I then hit a used book store. While I was there I found some Books of Mormon on sale. I purchased one for I think a buck.
I had decided to read it because at the time I was so poor I had only a clock radio and honestly how fascinating is that? So I sat down, opened up in Second Nephi and started reading. I think it was probably about 2pm. At 8am the next morning I finished Moroni.
I was stunned, honestly it was like reading a good book you could not put down. So much so that most of the doctrinary discussions slipped past me. Yet the overall story of the book imprinted heavily in my heart. I found myself at the end, not in tears, but rather in shock.
How, I asked myself, could I do anything but believe this book? I was honestly moved beyond words. For about a day afterward I was still spouting thees and thous all the time. I knew in my heart that I had found the religion I could believe.
Yet, like so many of us testimonies are fragile things, I really took another year before I could say I “Got It” and understood my conversion and the consequences. It in fact came as I was sitting in the Bishop’s office on another matter when he asked me, purely out of the blue, if I would go on a mission.
In the years since I have read the Book of Mormon several times. I get more from it now than I did then but now all it does is confirm what I already know. Yet in that first experience I was like a dry reed sucking in water after a drought. I could not get enough. I would spend years trying to “catch up” to others in the gospel but in that first experience I could honestly say I was truly and completely caught up in the words of the Book.
In many times since then, whenever I have trials that test my limits, push me to the edge of quiting and saying good riddens to the Church. I remember that experience, I remember what it meant to me and I know I cannot deny it. As Joseph said after the first vision. I could not deny what my heart has known since then. The Book of Mormon is exactly what it claims to be.