Miss Nevada Teen 2010, now serving Mormon mission, shares LDS conversion story

By Mark Albright

For Meridian Magazine

Published: Sunday, Sept. 29 2013 11:41 a.m. MDT

Audrey Denison, center, was baptized after being reunited with the missionaries who originally taught her. One of those missionaries was Elder Chance Johnson, left.

Meridian Magazine

Editor's note: This post by Mark Albright originally appeared on Meridian Magazine.

It has been reprinted here with permission.

Mark Albright served as the Washington D.C. South Mission president during the time Audrey Denison was investigating the church, and this mission covered the area in Virginia where Denison was living. Albright shared this background information along with permission to repost this letter: "I was the mission president in Virginia and was not even aware of the miracle transfer we made that answered her prayers and resulted in her baptism."

Denison sent the following letter to Albright from the Provo MTC, where she is preparing to serve a mission in the Washington Vancouver Mission.

Dear President Albright,

I remember the first time I ever went to a Mormon church. I was 18 years old and a senior in high school. Trust me when I say I had no desire to be a Mormon. My parents divorced when I was a baby, and growing up my mom was a wonderful example of virtue, goodness and working hard to reach your potential. She brought us kids to a local Baptist church, where I learned to love the Lord as a little girl. I am thankful for my upbringing and my mother's powerful influence because I don't know who I would be or where I would be without her. I had just been crowned Miss Teen Nevada, and my dream was to become Miss USA.

During my senior year of high school, a dear friend gave me a Book of Mormon, which I read occasionally in my spare time. We went our separate ways for college; he went to BYU, and I moved to the DC area to attend school at George Mason University. When I left for college, I had a sincere desire to learn more about religion and its role in my life. I was determined to surround myself with good people who could uplift me and challenge me to be a better person. My first day in Virginia, I joined a student Christian organization called Campus Crusades for Christ. I also visited at least 10 different Christian churches that first month, trying to find a new church and religion.

I finally narrowed it down to just two churches: one of them had well over a thousand people attending, much like my church growing up. I felt comfortable there since no one knew my name, which meant I had no obligations. I could be as casual or committed as I pleased. I also started taking Bible study classes several times a week with the leader of another local church. This leader told me that Campus Crusades was teaching me wrong doctrines, that the way I had been baptized was incorrect, and that my sins were far deeper than I could comprehend. She promised me that if I was baptized into her church, then I could watch all my sins and mistakes disappear. I sat in the pews of her church many times, but I've never felt lonelier or more removed from the Spirit.

As winter break approached, I signed up to meet with the Mormon missionaries on Mormon.org. I did not tell anyone about my decision. Weeks went by without any contact from the missionaries, so I decided it just wasn't meant to be. The next day the elders called, and we agreed to meet for some lessons. Fortunately there was an LDS chapel right next to the university campus. On Sundays I would go to the Church of Christ, or another church, and then attend a local LDS family ward in the afternoon. The missionaries were always kind, the members friendly, but I was still confused. The missionaries challenged me to do certain things, like keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and promised me blessings in return.

One night the missionaries came and spent over an hour answering my many questions. As I listened to their sincere answers, I felt the Spirit witness to me that they spoke the truth. A few months passed by and I was loving life. I attended every fireside I could, every baptism and did whatever the missionaries asked. I was happy. I was dedicating my Sundays to church attendance, and I was meeting amazing people. During those months while I was investigating the church, I didn't tell my parents or nonmember friends. I didn't want other people's opinions, good or bad, to drown out what I wanted to feel in my life. When I finally told my family that I wanted to be baptized, it came as a big surprise to them. My family and I eventually agreed that I should wait a couple of years before being baptized so that I could make sure it was the right choice.

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