From 'Book of Mormon' musical to Mormon convert

Published: Friday, May 3 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

It was in a lesson with the sisters on Dec. 1, 2011, when Morong decided to be baptized. As the three of them sat around the table, Morong said she felt the Spirit strongly and knew that what she had learned was true.

“I looked at the sisters. They told me the next step was baptism, and I realized I wanted to do that," she said. "Suddenly all three of us were crying hysterically at my dining room table."

Morong's baptismal date was set for late December in Mapleton, Utah. Her one request — for Elder Boardman to baptize her.

Elder Boardman has muscular dystrophy, which made it a challenge for him to physically baptize Morong.

But on Dec. 31, 2011, three people dressed in white stood in a baptismal font in waist-high water. Elder Boardman offered the prayer, and with some help from his companion, Elder Ahlstrom, the two missionaries baptized their online investigator.

While her family doesn’t understand why she has made the choice to join the LDS Church, their relationship is still strong. Morong said she knows this is because the gospel blesses families.

“My mom will sometimes say, ‘I can’t believe I brought you to that show. None of this would have happened.’ I tell her that it still would have, just in a different way,” Morong said.

And while she is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when she returns home to Maine where she grew up, she attends church with her mom as well as her LDS congregation.

“I am a member of Christ’s true church, but the church I grew up in is still part of me,” she said.

While the musical has been called irreverent and crude, some of the lyrics still have special, sentimental value to Morong. The words, “If you believe, the Lord will reveal it. And you'll know it's all true — you'll just feel it,” from the show’s song “I Believe,” still resonate with Morong because she feels that’s what happened for her.

“My life has changed. I am so much happier,” Morong said. “It’s a happiness that stays with me if I make the right choices. I was an optimist anyway, but (the gospel) has made me even more optimistic.”

This fall, Morong, who is currently a sophomore, will begin classes at the University of Utah. She will declare a double major in musical theater and communication.

She hopes her dream will lead her right back to where she began — the lights of Broadway.

Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her at ebuchanan@deseretnews.com

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