“Don’t let the Mormons convert you,” a friend told me before I left the Philippines for Utah in 1987.
I shrugged off the advice. I was 15, born and raised Catholic. Our family was devout, usually sitting in the front row of the chapel every Sunday mass. As a teen, I liked to stop by an empty Catholic church after school just to commune quietly with God. Besides, I didn’t even know what or who the Mormons were. Maybe Mormons were like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who sometimes came to our door, giving me a magazine which I politely accepted but didn’t even look at.
That July in 1987, my mom was being sent by her employer to Utah State University (USU) in Logan, Utah, for a training. Being the only child home, I tagged along to America, staying at my uncle’s in L.A. for a few weeks before I joined Mom. Mom would work on her master’s degree while I earned my bachelor’s.
At the airport, a Caucasian lady with tightly-permed, short white curls accompanied Mom to pick me up. She had a soft voice that I had to lean close to understand, but once she enveloped me in her warm embrace, I liked her right away. Mom introduced her as “Mother” Rosa Croshaw, the mom of one of her fellow trainees. She had taken Mom in as though she were her own daughter. She was also Mormon. For the next four years, Mother Rosa and her family hosted us on holidays and helped with things like getting jobs and driving us around until we could get driver’s licenses.
A crash course on everything Mormon
Coming to USU was a crash course on everything Mormon. “Mormon,” I discovered, was a nickname for a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS Church. We went to what we thought was a “steak” dinner but turned out it was at an LDS “stake” building. Mormons didn’t drink nor smoke, something I personally appreciated, having come from a culture where both were prevalent.
Though it was fun getting to know more about the predominant religion, I resisted the idea of getting too close to them, with my friend’s words always lurking in the back of my mind.
Don’t let the Mormons convert you.
And yet, slowly, that was what happened. Oh, it wasn’t anything overt. No one cornered me and forced their doctrine down my throat. There was the return missionary who leaned over at computer lab and gave me a Book of Mormon with his testimony tucked in it. And the time when I worked as a chaperone to youth and sat transfixed listening to a Michael McLean LDS fireside. It was hard to not notice their positive lifestyle, living among Mormons like Mother Rosa for four years.
Families can be together…forever?
While traveling on Sardine Canyon one snowy winter night, Mother Rosa and her granddaughter were killed in an accident. The news hit Mom and me as though we had lost a blood relation. Broken-hearted, we attended their viewing and funeral. To my surprise, Mother Rosa’s grown children exuded peace and seemed to be doing more of the comforting.
As I wiped away my tears, I was bewildered. Hadn’t they just lost a loved one? Yes, they acknowledged, but they told me about the Plan of Salvation. Someday, they testified, their family would be together once again.
In the Catholic Church, the bride and groom vow to be together “till death do us part.” In that viewing for two very special women, I was intrigued with this Mormon principle of eternal families. Over the next several weeks, I met with a Catholic priest who tried his best to give me answers, but that only left me more confused.
In the midst of my spiritual confusion, I met Drew Allen, a Utah native who had just returned from a two-year LDS church mission in South Korea. Soon, our friendship turned into a deep affection. The only problem was, he was Mormon and I was Catholic. For a while, we took turns going to each other’s church. Though Mom liked him a lot, she was opposed to my investigating the LDS Church. Meetings with one missionary companionship after another eventually amounted to nothing.
Moving away and deciding for myself
In my last (fifth) year of college, I had an opportunity to work as an intern for Utah Senator Jake Garn in Washington, DC, that fall. I was excited. Not only was it a great learning experience in the U.S. capital, but I looked forward to taking a break from the tug-of-war between my Mormon boyfriend and my mom. I wanted to be able to attend church meetings without pressure from either of them.
On my long commute on the Metro from Virginia to DC, I would read the Book of Mormon, slowly gaining a stronger testimony of its truths. About halfway through my internship, I got a chance to visit the Washington DC LDS temple grounds. As I sat there on that beautiful autumn afternoon, a familiar feeling of peace swept over me. I recognized it as the same feeling I’d had as I sat in empty Catholic chapels those afternoons my teen years. It was as though I found something I didn’t even know I’d been searching for.
Soon afterwards, I literally ran into Alice, a Mormon girlfriend of mine from USU, in the underground tunnel between the Senate and House buildings. Over lunch, I told her I had been meeting with LDS missionaries back in Utah and I was interested in meeting with them once again. That evening, Alice hosted LDS missionaries in her home. I told them about the influence Mother Rosa and her family had had on my life at USU as well as experiences that had made a positive impression on me about Mormons. Ultimately, I blurted out, “I think…I want to join the Mormon church.” My friend and the missionaries were understandably thrilled. Suddenly panicked at this unexpected turn of events, I said, “But I need to pray about it.”
Getting on my knees for an answer
That night, I got on my knees. I had never prayed harder in my life. Into the early morning hours, I alternately prayed, read scriptures, and played some LDS children’s songs on a cassette tape. As sunrise filtered through the curtains in my apartment, I was exhausted but calm as I received the confirmation: joining the LDS church was the right thing for me to do.
It was a Tuesday. I called the missionaries and agreed to be baptized the following Saturday. Drew was among the first of my friends I called. He was overjoyed. Though a little disappointed he couldn’t be at my baptism, he urged me to go ahead with it.
A few minutes later, he called back. “How would you like me to baptize you?” he said.
“You can do it over the phone?” I asked.
It turned out his parents thought this was such an important time in my life, they offered to buy him a plane ticket so he could be at my baptism. Mom, on the other hand, called me every night in tears, begging me to change my mind.
That Saturday night in November, I entered the waters of baptism, with Drew performing the ordinance. Afterwards, I called Mom, expressing my joy and assuring her that the family would remain important to me. She was subdued but resigned.
In July 1992, Drew and I married in a civil wedding as I had to be a member for a year before I could go through the LDS temple. The following November, Drew and I were married and sealed for time and eternity at the Salt Lake Temple.
Gaining eternal blessings
Over the years since, Mom and my dad, who would later join us in America, eventually accepted and supported me in my conversion. They often complimented Drew and me on our three children’s upbringing and were always supportive of their Mormon milestones, including serving missions. Our oldest daughter served a mission in my native Philippines. Until August 2018, our son is serving in South Korea, where my husband also went. Our youngest daughter plans to go on a mission as well.
Some people might wonder how I could let my children leave home for 18 months to two years to serve a mission, where we have phone/Skype contact only on Mother’s Day and Christmas, and weekly e-mails between. How could I not? Thanks to the missionaries who left their own families temporarily and friends who planted the seeds of the gospel in my heart when I was a college student, my family and I can enjoy blessings now and through the eternities. And for that, I am forever grateful.
To learn more about what Mormons believe, visit www.mormon.org.
Thanks for sharing, it strengthened my testimony to hear yours. I’m feeling blessed to have you in our family. You do have wonderful children
Thanks Alana. I am grateful to be part of your family, too. You have been such great examples to me and my children!
Oh Jewel, what a beautiful story of conversion. My current husband was raised Baptist but is now non-denominational. He is an amazing husband and takes me to church every week. We’ve read the Book of Mormon twice and he is very supportive of my beliefs. We feed the missionaries and have had the lessons. The biggest problem we have is he was told from a very young age that Joseph Smith was a false prophet and he can’t unlearn that. I wish I could help him but don’t know how. I love your story and will share it with him. Maybe it’s what he needs. You have an amazing family. Thank you again for sharing.
Junie, that’s great that he goes with you and supports you. For me, Joseph Smith being a prophet was one of the hardest principles to learn early on. However…by the fruits of our labor shall men be known. When I think of the gospel fruits for me and my children especially, I cannot deny the truth of this church, nor that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I know for me, my testimony of Joseph Smith was strengthened as I studied the Book of Mormon and as I desired to know through prayer. Love you and I will have a little prayer in my heart for you and your sweet family.
LOVE this so much Jewel! Thank you for sharing your special experiences! We are so grateful to know you and your family! And I was particularly touched by your thoughts about why it’s important to let our sons/daughters serve. <3
I am so grateful to know you and your family, too, Karen! These valiant missionaries will bless families for generations. <3
Jewel, what a beautiful convertion story and thank you for sharing. We have similar convertion story, family disapproving but we have to make our own choice.
I can say it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
You have great children and good family.
Thanks Ate Tess! I remember you were someone I looked up to because you walked the walk.
How blessed you and your family are to be a forever family with great testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How blessed all the members of the Church are to be one with you in our shared testimonies. God bless you for touching my heart and thousands of others that read of your wonderful life and conversion.
Thank you for your kind words, Joe! We are blessed indeed!
Oh! So you’re Elder Allen’s mom. We appreciated his great personality while he served here in Jeonju. I seem to remember that he spoke highly of you.
Yes I am! I am so glad he got to serve in your area.
Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate it and am happy for your beautiful family.
I felt a warm spirit as I read your story. Thank you for sharing it. I also am LDS. I love the gospel. I’m greatful to a loving Heavenly Father to give us ways to live here and be happy. and not just be on our own. and then to have a way to return if we will follow him.
Thank you for reading and for your sweet comment. I love everything about the gospel too!
Jewel, thanks for sharing your amazing story. You are an inspiration and have an amazing family!
Thru prayer,faith and the holy ghost we can find the truth. James Ed, a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Changed my life for ever!
Thru faith, hope and prayer we can find the truth. As we obey the commandments and keep the promises we make to our Heavenly Father, the scriptures and revelation become clearer and clearer and the light of Christ becomes brighter and brighter. The plan of happiness will lead us back to our heavenly home. I was 32 when i was baptize into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It changed my life forever.
That is so true, James! So happy for you.
I’ve always loved your sweet, humble conversion story. I have also found that time softens the hearts of family. Thanks for sharing your story…with the world. You are a great example to our family and so many more.
Thank you Brigid. I appreciate your friendship and spiritual support all these years starting with our young married lives! 🙂
this was a wonderful story….I believe that you are where you are meant to be to meet up with your lifelong companion. God has blessed you dearly.
Yes! There is a divine reason for everything in our lives, isn’t there? The biggest blessing has been watching my children grow in the gospel.
I was a young convert also, I have always been so thankful for the missionaries who taught me, I recently reconnected with one after 38 years. I’m like you in that I am eternally grateful for them, and I only wish they could feel my gratitude.
Wow that is so neat Julie!! What a wonderful moment it must have been. I am so happy for you and your friend. I wish I could remember the names of all those companionships who taught me and I would thank them.
Thank you for sharing. I was born into the church but I always appreciate other’s conversion experiences. You have a beautiful family and I am grateful that our children chose to serve missions to help other families have the opportunity at being forever families.
Thank you Sia!
Isn’t it wonderful how the Holy Ghost leads us along to the Truth? I was not raised in any church but my Mom would let me go to any friend’s church if I wanted to. I joined the Catholic Church because my husband-to-be was Catholic . . . but never attended. Married, with children, I wanted to find the church where we would be taught what God wanted us to do . . rather than what man wanted to do for God. As I went from church to church I knew I hadn’t found the right one. Then at a small church during Sunday School someone asked if we should be sprinkled or immersed. The teacher said he didn’t think it mattered. I heard a loud voice say “That’s not true!” I jumped and looked around only to see that no one else had heard him. I sighed and thought, I have to keep looking. I told an acquaintance of my searching and asked what church she attended. She said the LDS Church. I arranged to meet with her the next Sunday. I was a bit late, and speeding down a street I prayed “God, if this is the right one, please get me there on time.” I sped past 2 police cars waiting to catch speeders. They didn’t see me!! As I drove into the LDS parking lot, into my head came “There, now don’t ever do that again!” In my ignorance He answered my prayer. It was like going Home!
That is great, Marleen. What a wonderful testimony-building experience!
I am Tom Holzhauer, I live with my wife
Paula of 3+ years as my 1st wife died from breast cancer in 2010 And Paula’s Husband
Also died of cancer 7 years ago?
We live in Snowflake, Arizona in the
Beautyful White Mountains. We both work
In the Lords Snowflake Temple and look
Forward each time we go. We also
take time to visit the Temple often to
Do special work for others.
Paula is a Retired Grammer school
Teacher and I am a disabled and
Retired Soldier of over 20 years active
Service and 10 Years Civil service.
Paula is 70 years old and I will be 77
In September. Since we are unable
To travel very much I often send copies
Of The Devine Book Of Mormon to
my extended family in Northern Virginia
And Oklahoma. I also talk to them
Often and take time to say things
Related to spiritual things that they may
Be interested in. It’s our only way for
us to do our missionary work by mail
And internet. Snowflake is designated
By many to be a MORMON town.
And that’s ok and we have active
Missionaries and many folks who
Are not LDS Members, we continue
To help when we can or asked.
You folks have a very good head start
In life. Love your parents and each other
And your family. It is the right thing to do
Stay active in the church and help others
When needed or asked. Life is not
Always a bowl of cherries, always strive
To understand each other’s needs
And be there when needed.
We loved your story it is not unlike many others. Always be there for each other
And stay close to the Lord EVERY DAY.
Elder and Mrs Thomas Holzhauer
Thank you for your lovely words of wisdom!
Thank you so much for your conversion story. I am from Switzerland and grew up in the church; my parents met the missionaries when I was 2 years old. They had belonged to the protestant church before. My father had had several occasions where he learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints before he was ready and willing to meet with the missionaries when the time came: he was visiting different churches with friends growing up. He toured Temple Square with his then fiancée, now wife and my mother, and he bought (!) a Book of Momon at that time. He read it and felt it was true. They had referred for having the missonaries come to his house, but since he was traveling in the USA he only had the address of his parents house in Switzerland; when the missionaries came his mother sent them away…
My parents went back to Switzerland, got married and I was born. When my dad talked to the preacher about my upcoming baptism as an infant, the preacher said something about that being a nice tradition; that really bothered my father because for him it was an important ordinance.
So they finally met the missionaries in the street in a small town in Switzerland : ).
My parents were sealed to each other and me in the Swiss temple, a year after their baptism. They had five more children. Four of us are married, my parents have now 13 grandchildren between 16 and 0 years old.
I served my mission on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and it was amazing and I loved it! I was able to track down one of the missionaries who baptised my parents. So at the end of my mission we visited him and his family.
The church and the gospel are true and wonderful!
What a beautiful story and how wonderful to have such a lovely legacy in the gospel, Regula!
Why is it that everyday something reminds us of our wonderful 2.5 years in the Philippines? We really miss our friends in Lucena and on Marinduque.
Thank you for sharing.
Oh, that is wonderful. 🙂
What an awesome story!
I like the peaceful conclusion to her journey into becomming mormon.
Thank you for reading, William.
Wonderful testimony, thanks for sharing your story. I too am a convert so I understand the depth of your feelings.
What a joy to see this familiar story in print. It was forwarded several times to get to me to be able to read it. I’m so grateful. I’m going to share this with my children, who remember this, and especially a missionary grandson who is serving in Arizona. It’s such a great missionary story. Your mom still sends flowers every Memorial Day for Mother and Cristin. It has been such a blessing to be connected with your family for these many years. So many memories came back to me as I read your inspiring account. How wonderful to see the gospel continue through your children’s missionary service. I’m so glad this story can now be a part of our written heritage as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it.
Marilyn, what a wonderful experience to open my inbox to your lovely message. Tears are running down my cheeks as I reply. I don’t think I have properly thanked you enough for all your mom and family have done for me and my mom but even more so for giving me the gift of the gospel. I thank the Lord every day for the gospel’s influence in my life, my hubby’s and my sweet children’s. Love you and please give my regards to everyone.
Thanks for sharing your conversion story. I have the pleasure of serving in South Korea with your son. What a wonderful example you are to him. He is a dedicated servant of the Lord.
Thank you so much for your kind comments. We love seeing your updates and photos. I am grateful for you and Elder Porter watching over our son. May God bless you all for your service.