Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Testimony Tuesday- Aly's a new member!
My name is Alyssa, I am 20 years old, and I feel like I am about to explode!
I know that’s sort of a strange way to start a letter, or written testimony, but my goodness that’s really the only thing I can say to express the way I’m feeling right now. Well, physically at least.
As I write this, it 9:05pm, on February 27th, 2011.
My baptism was at 7:00pm, on February 27th, 2011.
If you’re not good at math, that was a little over two hours ago. I am so filled with the Spirit right now, that I can barely even think! My face hurts from smiling, and my heart is aching with joy!
A good friend of mine told me tonight, that when I got home, I should write down what I’m feeling, so that I can remember the way I felt on this day, for the rest of my life. Only, I’m having trouble articulating my thoughts because all that’s going through my head is, “This is it. Here it is. You did it. After everything you’ve been through, you have found your way home.”
I am home.
So I guess the best way to give my testimony is to go back to the beginning.
I was raised Baptist. From the time I was born, until I was in 6th grade, we attended church almost every Sunday. I was in bell choir, and I went to Vacation Bible School every summer. But I never really felt “good” at church. I always felt like I was getting in trouble, or being scolded. More like I was being warned of hell, than celebrating heaven. When I was 11, there was a family tragedy, which ultimately led me to leave the church, angry with God. I spent the next 5 years, doing nothing good with my life. I got into trouble, I made wrong decisions, and hung out with all the wrong people. But during this time I left school and home schooled myself, and graduated on my 16th birthday. Then I told myself I better get a job. So I stopped hanging out with the wrong people, stopped doing all the bad things and making wrong decisions, and I got a full time job. I changed my life, and became a work-a-holic, but still I was angry with God. I never denied the existence of God, and I knew in my heart that Jesus was his son and our savior, yet I always felt something was missing.
I was being pressured all the time to go to college. Do this, do that. But I never knew what I wanted to go to school for. I began to feel like I was worth nothing, that God had no plan for me. That I was sitting around waiting for a sign that would never come. I got very depressed. I was constantly wishing that I didn’t exist, wishing that the pressure would go away, and that people would stop bothering me. I started praying.
There is a band called Relient K, that I’m sure many of you have heard, and they have this song called “I Need You.” I love most of their music, but at this dark time in my life, the lyrics to this song really touched me. “I have not been abandoned. No I have not been deserted, and I have not been forgotten.”
I listened to this song on repeat for about 2 weeks. Crying, and constantly praying, saying to God, “I need you. More than ever, I need you right now. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to go. Please, just give me a hint.”
So after 2 weeks of feeling lost, and never receiving an answer to my prayer (I guess I was expecting a white light and a holy vision) I gave up. I decided I would get a general degree, maybe in business. So that I could just get people off my back and go about my business. So I put in an application for financial aid and started trying to get the ball rolling.
One day, I was working, as usual. When a girl came into the small grocery store I was working at. I lived in a relatively small town, and almost everyone knew each other, but nobody recognized this girl. After seeing her walk around the store for almost 2 hours, and no one ever talking to her and her not making any purchases, we all just decided she must be drunk. It wasn’t until I was ready to go home, and I had pulled my register for the day, and was counting my money, that she finally approached me. Her first question was, “What are you going to school for?”
My response, “Business.” After that she said something, that I know I will never forget.
“God sent me to talk to you.”
How is someone supposed to respond to such a statement? I can tell you how I responded.
“Um…ok?” Yes, I was suspicious, and was thinking, oh yes, definitely drunk. But then she said another thing.
“God wanted me to tell you, don’t settle. God has a bigger plan for you. Just keep going.” This girl looked like she was about to cry, and at that moment, I’m sure I did too. To this day, when I feel the Spirit in me, I just want to cry. It’s almost as if, there is just so much warmth and joy inside of me, that it wants to spill over and come out and show everyone in the world. So it spills out through my eyes.
So anyways, this is when I noticed her Relient K shirt, and doing my best to hold my ground, and not fall apart, or fly off into the atmosphere being filled with such lightness, I asked her, “You like Relient K? I’ve been listening to them a lot lately.” She told me she had grown up in the same town as them, and went to all their concerts before they made it big. She told me her name was Alyson, but her friends called her Aly.
In my head all I could think was, “Thank you God. Not only are you giving me some kind of hint, you are straight up slapping me in the face.”
I knew then, that this girl was sent from God. My prayers had been answered, even though I never did anything to deserve it. In fact I had pushed God away for years and years because of something man had done, and not even God himself.
Fast forward 4 more years. I had decided not to go to school, because well, God told me not to settle for that. I continued to be pressured into school, anything, just anything because you HAVE to go to school, otherwise your life is over, right? But I refused. A couple times I thought, maybe I could go for… never mind. School just isn’t for me. So long story short, I decided to move to Washington. I came up here to live with people I met on the internet, and everyone thought I was crazy. I got a job, met new friends, cried over different STUFF. That’s when I learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or, as it I knew it at the time, “That cult with all the wives.”
I immediately started reading about the church on the internet, and I liked that the church was so family oriented, and the idea of eternal marriage just sound awesome to me! So I downloaded the Book of Mormon on my Kindle, and that’s all it took. I read the testimony of Joseph Smith, and I was immediately reminded of the day God sent me a messenger. I had received a testimony, and felt the Spirit, and I knew, the first time I read it, that the Book of Mormon was true, and that Joseph Smith had been sent as a messenger by God. Just like me. That’s all it took. I had no idea what the rest of the book said, what it was about, or anything. I just knew it was for me, and I was ready to join the church.
I started out light. I was a little weirded out, or I guess just nervous about having missionaries over to my house, so I went on mormon.org and clicked on the Chat With Us icon, and began my investigation in the church. That is where I met Elder LeeMaster. I was completely comfortable talking with him, and we seemed to have a lot in common. So I thought, yeah, missionaries are cool, I can do this whole missionary thing. So I submitted my form to request a visit with the missionaries, and about 5 minutes later I got a call from Elder Smith. We set a date to meet (we met the next afternoon) and I started reading scriptures. I could go on telling you every detail, about every meeting I had with the Elders, but really all I need to say, is that this has been THE best experience in my entire life.
Elder Smith and Elder Bauman, are two of the most amazing people I have ever met. I feel like God picked out missionaries just for me, and delivered them to my door step. But then, not only did God deliver me two new friends, he delivered me two new brothers. I feel so blessed to have the missionaries, and the internet missionary Elder LeeMaster, and I someday hope to go on my own mission to share the gospel with the rest of my family, and all of the world.
I give my testimony, that the Book of Mormon is true, that the LDS is Christ’s church restored, and that this is the way, to eternal happiness, and I give this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.