I was sitting in Church during Sacrament last week, and the speaker was talking about Joseph Smith as a young boy and how he felt so strongly about the Church. He talked about a young person at that age changing his lifestyle and standing by his beliefs even at the peril of people who made fun of him.
I realized that at the age of 12, I too, had looked at the Church and felt strongly that this is what I had been looking for. When I told my mom, dad and grandma that this religion is what I wanted to join, they weren’t as excited as I had been.
Once they realized that I really wanted to learn more about this Church, they relented and let me take the lessons and go to Church. I was lucky enough not to have quite the opposition that Joseph did. I started taking missionary lessons at Dr. Snedaker’s house (my dentist), but was not allowed to join until I was at least 14. (I think they thought I would grow tired of this religion and not want to join).
For two years, I faithfully attended Church and the Mutual program. I fasted once a month and became very active in all activities including Roadshows, Dance Festivals and Music Festivals as a non-member. The ward welcomed me as one of them.
By the time I was 14, my family allowed me to be baptized. It was hard being there without any family around for support, but I had the support of my girlfriend, Elise, and her family, Sister Marcheschi, and Sister Diane Hansen. They were my Mutual teachers.
After being in the ward for a few years, my next “fence” was when I met and married your grandfather in the Los Angeles Temple. Because my family couldn’t witness my wedding, I think that that was the hardest decision I have ever made and it broke my heart. I was the oldest child and the only girl.
I wanted so badly to have my parents and grandmother there, but at the same time I knew it couldn’t happen. When I came out of the temple, there was my dad dressed in his suit waiting for me. He didn’t know when I would be coming out, but he waited for me and I’ll never forget that. My mother chose not to come to my reception. As the years went by, my mom told me that joining the Church was the best thing I had ever done. She saw how happy I was and realized it wasn’t a crazy venture afterall.
I am a first generation Mormon…a pioneer in my own right because I did what I believed in. I want you to know I have a strong testimony of this Church. I don’t know what I would have done without it. I can’t imagine not having the Church in my life. I am so proud of my children and grandchildren and the decisions they have made to stay in the Church. This is the right decision. The Church is true. The gospel is true. Stay true to the Church, follow its teachings, follow your heart and you’ll be happy. Our family is eternal. I’ve done temple work for my parents and grandmothers. There is still so much to do. Be diligent in your studies.
I love you so much and am so proud of you. Love, Grandma Debbie Boyack