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

By Mark Albright

For Meridian Magazine

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25 2013 7:00 a.m. MDT

That summer after calling off my first baptismal date, I returned home to Nevada. I wasn't meeting with missionaries, I wasn't going to any church activities, and I felt a huge hole in my heart. In the fall, I returned to school. My first missionaries had been transferred out of my ward. I was then meeting with other missionaries, but I wasn't able to connect with them. I was frustrated and was on the brink of giving up. I felt that I had done everything in my power to know if this church was true. I felt defeated and tired. I stayed up every night listening to the teachings of the apostles and prophets on the Internet. I loved the counsel of Elder Richard G. Scott, Elder Holland and President Thomas S. Monson. I was almost finished reading the Book of Mormon.

That night I got on my knees and told Heavenly Father I was done meeting with the missionaries. I poured out my heart and said the only way I would continue investigating is if one or both of my original missionaries came back to teach me because I felt like they truly cared about me. At about that same time, my brother and I decided to move in together. We had a town house selected in a perfect location, only a short distance between where we worked and the campus. It would have allowed me to stay zoned for the family ward where I was investigating the church. But at the very last minute it ended up falling through.

We scrambled around looking for a new place to live and found something a little further away in a town called Centerville. The nearest LDS church to me then was a singles ward, located just five minutes away from our new apartment. That night I received a call from one of my original missionaries, Elder Ta'ufu'ou, saying that he had just been transferred into this same singles ward in Centerville and that I should come to check it out. We joked on the phone that it would be an even greater miracle if Elder Chance Johnson, also one of my original missionaries, was also transferred into the same singles ward, but we agreed that this would never happen because they had been companions for so long before. We agreed the mission president would never put them back together again.

I was hesitant to attend a singles ward, but was relieved at the thought of being taught by one of my original missionaries, so I agreed to attend. I went and enjoyed the fellowship. Two weeks later, much to my amazement, Elder Chance Johnson, my other original missionary, was also transferred into the Union Mill singles ward. We were all in disbelief. If that wasn't God telling me to act now, I don't know what was. It was a direct answer to my many prayers.

Their spiritual lessons as new zone leaders serving together were powerful, and I soon accepted their invitation to join the church.

On Jan. 21, 2012, I was baptized into this the restored church. On the same day, I also decided that I was going to serve a full-time mission. Going on a mission seemed unattainable for me. I started to hesitate. One night about a year after my baptism, my friend Ashley called and told me about a great new institute class called "Launching Leaders." It was held every Tuesday night, but I always worked that night. After attending only one lecture, I realized that I would do everything in my power not to work on Tuesday nights. Two wonderful senior missionaries taught this class, Elder and Sister James Ritchie. They are kind and loving mentors to the young adults in their class.

I asked them to meet with me alone one day after class. We sat down together and I explained that I wanted to go on a mission, but I needed a game plan. They asked where in Las Vegas I lived. They checked and excitedly told me that their son-in-law, Charles Clawson, was the bishop in my home ward in Las Vegas! What a miracle! I had never even been to my home ward. I soon found myself living there, with a loving bishop who helped me to prepare me for my mission. I then discovered that the Virginia mission president also lived in my home stake, in Las Vegas, and was now teaching our mission prep class.

The reason I share these details is to show you, and remind myself, that nothing is a coincidence in the work of the Lord. When we show the Lord we are willing to live for him, he then places people in our path to guide and help us. Many events will happen to help us reach our goals. Some may call them a coincidence. I know better.

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