Mallory asked me to write my conversion story for a project she is doing to finish out her Personal Progress in Young Women's, so I thought I would post it here:
I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in December of 1972, when I was 14 and in the 9th grade, in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. I had been attending church for about 2 years, prior to being baptized, with my mother and older sister, Hope Ann. Mom was baptized on April 6, 1970 and Hope Ann the following month. Mom had several family members, her sister and brother-in-law and their family and even her mother, who had joined the Church a few years earlier. Dad and I were the hold-outs. He just wasn’t interested; I was too proud.
I went to Church with Mom and Hope Ann every Sunday, and faithfully attended every other meeting that involved my age group—I even took Home Study Seminary! On most Monday nights, we went over to Aunt Clarice and Uncle Harley’s and had Family Home Evening with them and their two kids, Heidi and Bart. Missionaries came to our house frequently even after Mom and Hope were baptized, probably because we were a part-member family. Every once in a while, when the frustration of having a "dry-Mormon" running around got the best of them, someone would ask, "When are you going to make it official MariLou? You know you want to be baptized." Which worked very well in reminding me to dig in my heels a little deeper—if there’s anything a teenager hates, it’s having someone tell them how they feel! I had it all planned out in my head that someday I would go to BYU and while out there I would be baptized—then there wouldn’t be anyone around who knew me saying, "I KNEW you’d join!"
But then something happened. One Monday morning, we got a phone call telling us that the Harmon’s house had caught fire after they had all gone to bed the night before, and their 5-year old daughter (the only girl out of 6 children), had died in the tragedy. I had just seen and laughed at Stephanie and her brother Tim a few hours earlier at Sacrament Meeting (back then Sacrament Meeting was held on Sunday night). I was stricken. How could this have happened? Everything was fine and normal and comfortable and all of a sudden, without any warning, it was the pit of despair. How could life go from good to bad so quickly? And then, in teenage fashion, came the thoughts, "Could this kind of thing happen in my life? What if I suddenly had an accident? What if I was gone before I was baptized?!!!" When that thought hit, I was horrified—and humbled.
Anyway, I finally sat down and took the discussions. I was still a contrary and prideful teenager—I decided to dislike one of the missionaries who taught me primarily because everyone else thought he was so great—but I did it. I tried to hold off still a little longer because my sister had predicted a few months before all of this that I would be a member by the end of the year and I hated the thought that she was going to be right. However, I wanted my cousin to sing at my baptism and she was going back to college, so on December 29, 1972, my Uncle Harley baptized me into the true Church.