Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tearful Reunion

Way back during my Ricks College days, I discovered a new me.

During my younger school years I had a lot of trouble making friends. I was terribly shy. I would duck into the nearest class room before I would meet someone I knew in the hallway to avoid saying "hello." I never knew what to say, so I would have rather hidden than embarrass myself. Most people thought I was stuck-up. Needless to say, I only attended two dances in my High School career. Yeah. No fun.

So when I graduated, I decided I'd had enough school and would never go further. I took off a year and worked at the University Bookstore. I worked for a wonderful woman, Marie, who was my mom's age, and she was so kind. She laughed at my jokes, she took me seriously as a person. My self confidence grew and I came out of that shell. As I served students, I discovered what looked like a pretty fun life. I decided to apply for college and give it a try.

Since I'd investigated the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a young girl with my family, I decided to attend their junior college. I went there as a non-member. It was more than I had ever expected. The campus was so nice. The people were as well. It was like a large High School with much school spirit.

The first week was "Hello Week" and they asked us to say "hello" to everyone we met in the hallways or on the sidewalks. Everyone spoke to one another. We got into the habit of saying hello and it became natural to greet one another for the rest of the year.

I met many friends. My professors called me by name. I had a date almost every week, and one Saturday, I had two dates, back to back. All these firsts gave me more confidence and I became who I am today, an outgoing, friendly, confident and happy person. Well I like to think I am those things.

I got a job on campus. I loved A Capella, German, Art, and English and looked forward to those classes. A Capella and German were every day. I grew close to the classmates in both those classes.

My mom, who never joined the LDS Church, made me promise that before I thought about joining the Church, I should read the Doctrine and Covenants (one of the four scriptures we read). She had read it, and felt I would benefit from reading it. I tried and didn't understand what was being said, so I asked a classmate, Mike, if he would help me understand. We made an appointment to meet every day at lunch time in the Student Center to discuss what I had read. He faithfully met me and helped me through. When the time came to choose to be baptized, I was required to get parental permission. The legal age in those days was 21. Today it is 18. But I went home for Christmas and approached my parents separately. Mom's reaction was "what did your father say?" Dad's reaction, when I asked him if I could talk to him, was to pull up an extra stool in the shop and sit down to listen.

It scared me to death, because usually when I visited him in the shop, he would continue to work, this time he sat down on the other stool to listen. I choked out the words, and his reaction astounded me. He said, "Of all the things you could choose in this world, I am glad you choose a Church." He went on to explain that some of the men who worked for him in the machine shop had children close to my age. Many of their children had made what seemed to Daddy like bad choices; drugs, pregnancy, running away from home, etc. He was glad I had chosen a Church. He then went on to make me promise to live its every principle. He told me I was joining the Lord's Only True Church. He said he couldn't do it himself, he didn't think he could ever quit smoking or serve as avidly as they expected him. I promised, and he gave me his blessings.

So when I went back to college after the Christmas break, I called the Bishop in my Ward and asked him how I could set up a baptism. I asked Mike to baptize me. On a cold winter night, January 16th, I was led down into the warm waters of the baptismal font and was baptized by Mike. My A Capella teacher sang "The Holy City", another music professor gave the talk, all my male teachers laid their hands on my head and confirmed me a member. I counted and there were 30 friends attending that special night for me. It was such a beautiful night, I will never forget.

I have always held Mike in high esteem for what he did. He was so kind and special to me. He was in my German class as well as in A Capella. He had a gorgeous tenor voice.

He left on his mission to England after the spring semester, and I wrote to him, but after he returned from his mission, I lost touch. Eventually we found each other and exchanged Christmas greetings, but not too much else. They were infrequent. Then one day after we had moved to Utah, he called me to say he was in my tiny town. He was there for business, he sold insurance. He wondered if he come visit me. He met the children, who all got bored and went to play. I assured him that my husband would be home any time, maybe they could meet. We visited for a while in our living room, but it got late and time for him to go, and my husband was late for some reason. I was so sad they couldn't meet.

Fast forward to last night. Our choir, The Choral Arts Society of Utah, got back into session last night after a brief summer break. The board member in charge of attendance introduced the four new members. As he introduced them a familiar name was announced. Mike M. I couldn't believe my ears but when they introduced his wife, I knew it must be the right ones as I recognized her name as well. I must have inhaled audibly because the attention was drawn to me and I was shedding tears, before I knew what had happened. He introduced himself and said they had recently been in a choir for a temple dedication. They had such a good experience they decided to join a choir, and he had remembered my letter inviting him to join from many years ago.

I then stood and explained that we had been friends so long ago, and he had baptized me. Needless to say, it was a tearful reunion. I knew which town he lived in, and as I passed by that town every week, on my way to choir, I thought of him and wondered if I would even recognize him were we to be filling in gas at the same station. I didn't know. Obviously I didn't recognize him until they introduced him. What a sweet reunion. After wards, I introduced him to my husband and he introduced his cute wife. I am so happy they joined. This is the fourth friend I have recruited for this choir. I want everyone who loves to sing to have the fabulous experience that I have here. I hope they do.

What a fun day it has been. A date with my sweet husband to the temple, then a happy reunion with a long lost friend. I am floating on air.

have a nice day


Heidi said...

What a sweet story. I am so glad that you have found your friend again. Maybe I can hear the two singing of your joy over here in Pennsylvania. Many happy times ahead for your two families :)

Mom Brown said...

What a wonderful conversion story! Thank you for sharing!

ZB said...

I was so the opposite. I memorized 2 other junior high year books and said hello to almost 200 strangers in the first few weeks of high school. I had a girl friend from each Jr. High, so when I smiled and said hello, and they looked totally baffled, my friends would say… well, certainly you remember Cheryl… and they would fumble and most would say, oh yes!!! Of Course!!! Finally after about two weeks, one guy smiled and said hi, then stopped and said… NO I DO NOT KNOW HER! WHO IS SHE!, and we laughed. It was so much fun!

Anonymous said...

Oh Annie, just read your post on your blog. What a wonderful story. So glad you were reunited with such dear friend. Thanks for posting it.
~susan b

Anonymous said...

That was so touching last night. Unfortunately for me, the missionary who baptized me is VERY inactive!
~diane s

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that it has been 40 years ago! I think I have found the missionary who baptized me. I am going to call (NY) and see if it is the same one. They are always special, aren't they? We went to his marriage in the SL Temple, but have not seem them since. What a sweet experience for you.
priscilla t.

Anonymous said...

It was a sweet moment that you shared with all of us at rehearsal last night. How cool!
marilyn b


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