Mormon. LDS. Latter Day Saint.
That's who I want to be. I have been striving to be a righteous daughter of God for about two years now. I want to have my own little family in the Church. My sons will go on missions, and my daughters will have my support if they too wish to go on missions.
My whole life changed on a simple day in my freshman gym class.
Ben is my missionary's name. We met in 7th grade in gym class and we didn't talk. 8th grade he would message me in our computer class about how boring the lesson was. By 9th grade, Heavenly Father was screaming at us to talk and become best friends, when we got stuck in the same gym class together again and we were put in alphabetical order.
It was the 3rd day of school when we started talking. We talked the whole gym class, laughing and joking around. It was a wonderful start to a wonderful friendship. We became closer over the next few weeks, he would scare me in the hallways, I would poke him and yell "ninja!" because we argued about who was more ninja than the other. But we became the closest on a cold October day.
There was a pep rally. And we sat close enough that we could see eachother but not close enough that we could talk without yelling across the room. We made a few faces at eachother then listened to the pep rally. After, we walked to the buses, and I couldn't find him, so I continued to walk. When I got outside, I felt someone jab my back and heard a loud "NINJA!" followed by laughter. I playfully glared at him, and ran to poke him before disappearing into my bus. I got home at 4:30 and sat down to do homework and text my new friend. 5:30 was when I heard the news my Great Uncle had passed away. He has cancer and I wore my yellow LiveSTRONG bracelet for him every day. (This is also a tribute to my Pepaw who also died of cancer, but you'll learn more about him later). Ben wondered why I got to sad all of the sudden, so I told him. He was sympathetic for the first little bit, then he cheered me up. The next time we had gym class Justin, our other friend, was joking about cancer. I turned and walked away. Ben scolded him then caught up with me to cheer me up. Which he successfully did. That day we became best friends, and I will never ever regret being so close to him.
A few months later, "Child" (as I jokingly called him, I was his "person") invited me to go to a nativity at church. I was thrilled to go and immediately said yes. That Friday night, I got in the car with my family and we were off to the Church.
When I first walked in, I was amazed at its beauty. There were Christmas lights everywhere, and a giant Christmas tree. We signed in and Ben met us at the door, introducing himself to my family, then walking around with me to tell me all the stories of each nativity and of Jesus's birth. I am a curious person so I was constantly asking questions.
Then my parents wanted to leave to see the Christmas tree lighting, and we left.
We got to the Christmas tree and I was texting Ben, explaining how sad I was that I had to leave so early. That's when fireworks (one of my favorite things) exploded in the sky. I squeaked with excitement then looked at my phone. "You can come to church with me if you want" he offered. I jumped at the offer, and I came during the Christmas program on December 19, 2010 (Wow, its been more than two years since I first went to Church!!)
Church was terrifying. Ben sang with the choir and he had to pass out programs so I sat alone on the bench, with his dad and sister on the bench in front of me. His dad tried to make conversation, but I was super nervous because I didn't know anybody there. And everyone was so happy. I didn't understand that, but now I do. I remember many people coming to shake my hand. But I can't remember who, now that I know everyone's names. 2nd hour was fun, the teacher (I don't remember who it was, I met so many people) gave us treats at the end of the lesson. Ben turned to a girl with really long blond hair, Madison, and asked her if she could take me to class. I panicked. How could he let me go with a total stranger? Where was I going? Where was he going? Why couldn't I go with him? What if I got lost? But that changed when she smiled real big and agreed. She talked to me and I walked with 2 other girls, too. I'm sure we talked more than I really remember, but I do know that the other two girls were Mallory and Savannah. Madison introduced me to the class as "Ben's friend Casey" everyone was so happy to see me there and welcomed me. Sister Braithwaite told a story about a selfless couple. The woman loved her long hair, but she loved her husband more so she cut off all her hair and sold it to buy him something for his watch, which was his most prized possession, the man sold his watch and bought her a fancy comb for her hair. I don't know why I remember this story but its been in my head ever since.
After class, I walked out into the foyer and found Ben waiting for me. I think I remember Sister Braithwaite for what happened next. She ran out of the classroom, hugged me very tightly and thanked me for being in the class, and expressed how she enjoyed me being there. That meant a lot to me, even to this day. When I hug her I think back to my very first day of church.
Ben never asked me if I wanted to go to church again because I was so terrified. But that didn't stop me. I felt something that day, something I hadn't felt before. This was the Spirit. I had also felt it at the nativity, too. So a couple weeks later I asked Ben if I could come to church again. (Of course he was thrilled I wanted to come, since he thought he blew his chance of me ever coming back because I was nervous and he couldn't fix that) I started to come to church more and more often. It was an amazing experience.
I'll finish this off with my testimony of the Church. I feel that I need to get all these feelings out.
I KNOW that this Church is true. I am so very thankful for Ben's courage to invite me. And I know that there are people out there who are just like me, just waiting to be invited. I KNOW the Book of Mormon is true and I know Joseph Smith was a man called of God. I love all of the people who have been here for me my whole journey and I am very grateful they have stayed by me through all the speed bumps of life.
I say (write? type?) this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.