Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Mission

I was "called to serve" as a missionary for the LDS Church in the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission. Prior to going to Argentina, I was to report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

My parents, not too thrilled with my dropping out of my last year of University, were none the less trying the best they could to be as supportive as they could under the circumstances. God bless them for what they went thru. They decided to make it a family trip of sorts, and drove me down to Utah from Seattle. We stopped and saw some sights in Salt Lake City, including Temple Square. They dropped me off at the MTC ( mission training center) on June 6th, 1990. There is a very large room where all the parents leave their children who are serving missions. A short speech of sorts is given and then the parents are told to exit thru one door and the missionaries thru another. It is an emotional moment to say the least. Especially for my non - LDS parents.

My experiences at the MTC were positive for the most part, although extremely busy. There are a strict set of rules that LDS missionaries live by. There is a "set time" to wake up at ( 6:30 am) to go to bed, ( 10 pm) and everything in between was dictated as well. The only "free" day is Mondays. I was assigned a "companion" , another female missionary that I would have within eye site the entire time I was assigned to be her companion ( with the exception of visits to the toilet). My companion was Hermana Caballeros ( Hermana is "sister" in spanish). I don't know what her first name was, because we were strictly forbidden from calling our companions by their first names. She was a sweet humble tiny little thing from Guatemala. Oh, could she eat! She was tiny but she could put down food like no one else, and at the MTC it was cafeteria "buffet" style eating, so you can imagine how much she could eat. I remember her fondly.

I also made friends with some other precious young women, some whom I have stayed in contact with for over 19 yrs. Amazing, eh?

Because I spoke Spanish fluently, I did not require language training. I was assigned to take classes that would help me to learn 6 lessons called "charlas" that I would be teaching to those investigating the Mormon Church. I learned them fairly quickly, as the language was pretty easy and the lesson material very simple. The first "charla" was about Joseph Smith, and how he had a vision and saw God and Jesus and how they told him that no church was correct and that he was going to "restore" the true church of Jesus on the earth again. I also learned to teach about how in LDS temples couples could be married "for time and eternity" . That is mormons believe that an LDS couple's marriage would not terminate at death but continue forever. There was also lessons on the "word of wisdom" , aka: the LDS health code. Basically NO alcohol, or tea or coffee. We were taught how to "build relationships of trust", that is get to know a potential convert before teaching them LDS doctrines. Find out about their interests, kids, job, etc and then teach them the doctrines.

My time in the MTC passed quickly and I was then sent to a "mini-mission" in the Provo Mission while I awaited my visa to arrive to go to Argentina. I was exposed to Utah - Mormon culture, while I served in the small town of " Castledale". I think I ate jello at every dinner appointment we had there. :)

In August of 1990, my Visa arrived from Argentina and I flew out to Argentina with a group of 20 or so missionaries destined for the same mission. We arrived in Argentina exhausted but excited to share the Mormon message.

I was committed to being "obedient" just as I had been taught in the MTC. I was told by my teachers and leaders in the training center that if I was obedient I would have great success on my mission. Success meant "converts" to the LDS church, and that is exactly what I hoped for.

I was assigned to be "trained" by an LDS missionary from Ohio. Sister "G" was a wonderful person. She was loving, patient and kind. We became friends quickly and have stayed close ever since our mission. Sister "G" taught me how to "door knock" , and share the mormon gospel. She was enthusiastic and had been on the mission for over 1 yr. ( female missionaries serve 18 mos and male missionaries serve 2 yrs)

We had many good times together. We grew to love the people we met, and they warmly invited us into their homes and lives. We taught many people the LDS gospel.

After being with Sister " G" for about 5 mos, I was asked by my Mission President ( that is the man who is in charge of the missionaries in a given area, in this case Buenos Aires) to "train" a new sister missionary from the states. I was a bit nervous about this, but excited at the same time. Sister " W" was from Washington State like me, and she was the oldest daughter of a faithful LDS family of 12 children. Sister " W" had some serious health problems and it created some challenges for us to be able to keep up the rigorous schedule. LDS missionaries have many rules to live by. They are told to get up at 6:30 am, and shower, and dress then study individually and then as a companionship and then plan their day and set "goals". Goals are very very important for the LDS missionary. Missionaries are told to set goals each day and for the week and month. That is "how many" Book of Mormons they will place each day and how many discussions they expect to teach and how many baptisms they expect to have. The LDS church keeps very acurate records and statistics to chart growth and development of their church.

Sister " W" had some serious health problems that prohibited her from working, so I had to find other young LDS women in the ward we were assigned to work in to help me out. I felt badly for Sister " W". She was not well and so weak at times. We did go to the Mission doctor, an American LDS Man who was volunteering in Argentina to oversee the health of the Missionaries in that country. Sister " W" was diagnosed with endrimitriosis. She wanted to go home. She was miserable and felt terribly. My heart just felt so badly for her. I , like my prior companion, had grown very close to this new companion and really we were like "sisters". We did everything together and were not allowed to leave each other's site, other than for bathroom purposes. So you can imagine how tight these friendships became.

Sister " W" became convinced she needed to go back home. We went to the Mission Home - where the Mission President lived with his family and requested an "interview". The Mission President didn't know what to do. It is frown down upon to have a missionary leave to go back home. It's just not OK unless there is serious illness. The Mission President called in the help of other authorities of the Church there in Argentina. ( Area presidents). We were hopeful that they would approve for Sister " W" to go back home. That was not the case. I'll never forget one interview with one of these authorities, who ranted and yelled and screamed at Sister " W" and told her she was failing God and her family and there was NO way she could go back home. It was an awful experience. I mean these men were supposed to be "men of God" and we were clearly seeing their "flesh" come out in a big way. It was discouraging.

At this point, Sister " W" was discouraged, and I didn't blame her. I was asked by my Mission President to translate interviews between her and him. ( he did not speak english and Sister W's spanish was poor) The Mission President encouraged me to do what was necessary to "keep" her on the Mission. To say I felt pressured is an understatement! Sister "W"'s parents were called, and while they were kind and sympathetic to her on the phone, when they asked to speak to me, her dad who was at that time serving as a bishop of her ward back home, told me in no uncertain terms that I "was to do what it took to keep her on the mission" that "she would never live it down if she came home dishonorably". Dishonarbly? She was sick for pity sake! I was feeling very pressured.

Sister " W" was given many "priesthood blessings" by the Mormon Elders in our area, promising her good health if she would be "obedient". Poor Sister "W". I recall one time in particular, we had just arrived to our apartment after a very difficult interview with one of the leaders there. They had spent a good deal of time yelling at her and telling her she would never live it down if she came back home and "quit" her mission. Oh my, we both felt discouraged. I remember sitting on our beds and looking at each other and joking and telling one another that we were going to "run away" and leave the mission! Of course we knew we couldn't. There was too much pressure to stay and conform and be obedient.

I would spend hours praying with Sister " W". Praying that she would be healed of her illness and praying that she would be understood. The Holy Ghost was supposed to "speak" to her and tell her what she needed to do, and all she could figure is that she needed to go home! Poor Sister "W".

I was told to work harder, and that Sister "W" just needed to catch the "spirit" of missionary work and once she did she would want to stay. Sister " W" did end up staying and finishing her mission. I think it was a struggle for her , poor thing but she did go home "honorably". That was the concern of her Bishop/Father. It amazed me that he was more concerned about her coming home at the right time than her health. It made no sense to me. I sure loved Sister "W". We have kept up via Christmas cards once a year. She lives in Idaho now happily married with 4 kids.

Meanwhile, after spending 3 months with Sister "W" I was received a call from the Mission President. I was to report to the mission offices in the city immediately. My Zone Leaders had no idea what this was all about. I arrived with Sister "W" to the Mission offices the next day. We were about 1 hour from this location, so we took the train into the City.
I was then interviewed by my Mission President, and told that I was being called to be a "travelling sister". I had no idea what that meant. He explained to me that it was similar to an assistant to the Mission President. Assistants or AP's as they wer called were in charge of picking up new missionaries from the airport and for training meetings that were held thru out different zones in the mission. Since our Mission had over 70 Sister Missionaries, the President felt we needed to call a Sister to help out and travel thru out the mission encouraging, training and seeing how the Sister missionaries were doing. I was not assigned a companion, and that was different. For the first time since I left my home , I was with another LDS young woman 24/7!! Now I was not. It took some getting used to. I found out later that that was not exactly appropriate for my Mission President to do. ( He was later chastised by other leaders above him for doing so). I was told that I would travel thru out the entire mission and visit with different sets of lady Missionaries. I was to work with them, see how they were doing and report to him of any problems or issues that needed to be resolved. I was also responsible for a training session at each Zone Conference there was sister missionaries present.

I enjoyed my time travelling thru the mission. I met and worked with many wonderful women. I also had some issues to deal with that were less than pleasant. ( like dealing with discipline problems when some missionaries were not being obedient to mission rules) Overall it was a pretty positive experience. I was released from my travelling duties about 5 months later. The Area Authorities "found out" that our mission had a single sister travelling by herself thruout the mission and that was not approved of.

I had one experience on my mission that really "rocked my boat" sort of speak that was deeply troubling to me. Looking back, I should have discussed it with another adult or called my parents. Towards the end of my time as a travelling Missionary ( that was what I was called) I was called in for an "interview" with my Mission President. He began the interview with the normal questions of "how" things were going, was there any problems he should be aware of, etc. Really interviews were a way for the President to gauge how the missionaries were doing emotionally, spiritually and with their work assignments. He is viewed in a way as the "dad" of the mission, but given more respect and always called " President". ( no first name or titles were allowed between missionaries or with leaders). He then proceeded to confess to me that he had been struggling with inappropriate feelings for me, and had 'fallen in love' with me. OH MY. I thought I would pass out! Let me just say this was / came as a complete shock. My Mission President could have been my father, ( he was in his 40's I was 21) and he was married with a lovely wife and 6 beautiful children! Not only that, my goodness he was my ecclesiastical leader for goodness sakes!!!! I had never ever seen him act inappropriately towards me in any way, so this came as a huge huge surprise. He then told me that he was dealing with his feelings and how did I feel about it. Excuse me? How did I feel about it?!!!!! I told him that I viewed him like a father and had NO feelings for me, and how I had trusted him and how totally and completely wrong this was for him to feel this way about me. He said " of course, of course". The interview abruptly ended. I was warned or "told"to not tell anyone about this , because it was "damage" the work of the Lord on the mission and the missionaries would lose faith in him.

I went back to my apartment or "home base" that is where my stuff was while I traveled. The apartment was large and there were 2 other sets of missionaries that lived there. I came back and felt this HUGE burden upon me. I recalled and replayed the previous months, trying to recall if there was anything I had done to "lead him on" or vice verse. Nothing came to mind, honestly. I just couldn't figure out "where" these feelings stemmed from. I respected my Mission President and always listened to his counsel and thoughts and was exactly obedient to his wishes. Could this had been construed differently? I am not sure.

All I knew is I wanted to go home. I wanted to call my mom and dad and tell them to come and get me the heck away from this mess. Worse, I couldn't share this burden with anyone. I knew if I did, problems would certainly only follow.

I didn't know what to do. I felt so huge a weight. Shortly after this interview, I was told by the Assistant's to the President that I was released by the Mission President as a travelling sister and that I would be assigned an area to work in. I was relieved. I hoped that by working hard, I wouldn't have time to think about the recent chain of events.

I was assigend to work in a new area or "open" the area as it was termed back then. I was assigned a companion from Bountiful, Utah. Sister "B" was wonderful. She was full of energy, and enthusiasm and willing to work hard, and work hard we did. We really got along well. But i spite of this all, I still felt weighed down by the last experience with my mission president. On top of that, the Mission President was not holding " Zone Conferences" in our Zone. Months had gone by and no conferences were being held. He was holding them in other areas, but not the Zone or area I was in. The missionaries in my Zone wondered "why" the President wasn't coming out for the monthly meetings. I had an idea. He was avoiding seeing me, meeting with me, etc. OK, I didn't know for "sure" but that's what I expected. I couldn't deal with the stress anymore and my companion noticed I was deeply troubled about something. She confronted me one day . I couldn't hold it in any more and told her all about it. She was stunned, but she was not shaken. She told me in NO way was it my fault, and that it was wrong of the Mission President to have shared these feelings with me. She challenged me to confront him and tell him it was wrong what he did and that he needed to talk about this to his wife and stop avoiding the Zone Conferences. Wow. That was a lot, and it would take some courage, but I was so miserable inside I couldn't hold it in anymore. Sister " B" told me that the Church was still 'true' regardless of the behavior of the Mission President and to not let it bother me. Bother me? Ugh.

I am thankful Sister " B" was there to talk to, and I did end up talking to my mission president again. I made an appt to speak with him and I did confront him on "why" he wasn't holding Zone Conferences in my area , etc. He did apologize and say it was wrong for him to have placed that burden on me, and that he had indeed not been to visit my Zone because he didn't want to see me.

Looking back I should have come home. Period. How innapporiate for a married man to have unloaded his adulterous feelings upon a young single woman, who was far from home. I often have wondered if he did share his feelings to see what my reaction would be. I guess I'll never know for sure, but I am so glad that he didn't speak to me again about his feelings for me.

The rest of my mission was spent training new missionaries and continuing to build up the LDS church in this new area I had been assigned to. I left the Mission exhausted tired, and worn out. I had worked hard, been obedient and had taught many families the Mormon gospel.

On a funny note, I also came home with a bad case of head lice!!! :) That was quickly taken of.

My last experience with my mission president before flying home was an interview where I was told to go home and "get married in the temple and marry a worthy LDS priesthood holder." I was given a letter from the First Presidency of the Church encouraging me to prepare for temple marriage. Once again I was feeling the "push" to get married.

I arrived home to a family very relieved to see me! It had been a long 18 months for them, although it passed very quickly for me.

It was good to come home and rest and sleep well. I had lost a bit of weight, hair mass and was generally worn out. Even my shoes had worn out soles. :)

I had competely my LDS mission with "honor".

I thought perhaps I would get a 'breather' of sorts now that I was home.

But that would not be the case....... life just got busier.........

Now that I understand that the LDS gospel is not the same gospel that Jesus taught, I have some regrets for having taught all those wonderul people a message that is not true... I have wished many times that I could go back and tell them how sorry I am and that it really is JESUS who is the "way" and not a Church membership . How many people did I lead astray? More than I can count...... and it hurts me to think of that........ all I can do is pray that somehow, someway, someday God will make it right. I did what I thought was right at that time. I was teaching a message I believed was from God. I had no idea that there were inconsistencies in the LDS teachings. I didn't know. I know God has forgiven me for that. I only hope one day He can make it right with those souls.

More later,


My First Temple Experience

Seattle Washington LDS Temple

I wanted to briefly share some thoughts about my first experience in an LDS temple. As I mentioned in an earlier post on my blog, I went to the temple prior to leaving to serve on my LDS mission to Argentina. I took a series of classes on preparing to go to the temple from an older couple in my ward at that time. I was "interviewed" by my Bishop. Being 'interviewed' is another LDS 'term' that basically means you have a visit, or chat with your Bishop. For the temple interview, you are asked a series of questions. You are asked if you smoke or drink coffee or tea. If a person answers "yes" to these questions that person would not receive a recommend to enter the temple, because they would be considered "unworthy". Unworthy means you are not living your life according to the laws and commandments of the LDS faith/Church. You are also asked if you support your local leaders and the presiding leaders of the entire LDS Church. To "support" your leaders means you do not speak ill about them, you obey their counsel and pray for them. You are asked if you wear the temple garments ( sacred undergarments worn by faithful LDS) night and day. There are a number of other questions that are asked during this interview.

If a person answers "yes" to these questions, they are deemed 'worthy' to enter into the LDS temple. This recommend, is a slip of paper that is signed by the local leaders, and grants you permission to enter into the temple. You must show this slip of paper ( recommend) when you enter the Temple.

I was told by my Bishop to chose an 'escort' to go with me thru the temple for my first visit. My escort, Kathy was a seasoned Mormon who had grown up LDS and had been to the Temple many times.

She picked me up on a beautiful Spring morning in May of 1990. As I mentioned before, she proceeded to tell me some things about what would happen when I went thru the temple. She told me she felt she needed to prepare me so I wouldn't freak out. " Why" would I freak out? I had been told that this would be a special experience. Beautiful. Freak out? Why would I freak out?

Kathy, really had my best interest at heart. She was worried about me. I mean, I hadn't been raised LDS. She knew I was clueless about what went in inside of the Temple. I think she was trying to help me out.

As she drove, she told me about the "washings and annointings" that would take place. I had no idea what she was talking about. This was definitely *not* covered in my temple prep class! She briefly explained to me that I would be asked to remove my clothing, and that some sisters ( ladies from church) would pour / dab oil on my head and certain body parts to "anoint" me. OK, what did that mean? I didn't say this out loud. I just listened to what Kathy was telling me. She told me to not be worried about taking my clothes off.

She then told me that I would be putting on some clothes that LDS don't normally wear , outside of the temple. These would be different than I what I had ever seen. Again I just listened and really didn't get what she was saying.

We arrived at the temple and entered in thru the front doors. It was very quiet. There was some elderly men at a large desk. They asked for my recommend. I handed it to them. I was very nervous. Especially after what Kathy had just told me. The men behind the desk smiled warmly and welcomed me. Some elderly ladies escorted me to a room where I spoke with the Temple matron. The Temple matron is the wife of the Temple President, the elderly man who is in charge of running the Temple and it's activities. The Temple Matron was dressed in a lovely white dress and spoke in hushed tones. She explained to me that I was to take out my "endowments" and that this was indeed a very special day. Everyone there was very warm and friendly, all very happy to welcome me to the Temple for my first visit.

The Temple Matron explained to me that I would be "washed and anointed". There was those words again that Kathy had just told me on the car ride to the Temple. I was taken to a large woman's locker room, and I was assigned a locker where I could undress from my street clothes and put on a white draping shield/dress of sorts. Kathy remained with me thru it all. She was dressed in a white Temple dress as well. As we waited for me to be "washed and anointed" I noticed that women were going in and out of the locker room. Everyone was very quiet, hardly speaking.

When the time came for my washings and anointing I entered a small room, that was partitioned off by a curtain from another small room ( really a cubicle of sorts). There was an elderly woman there waiting for me, and she poured some oil and water on my fore head and pronounced a blessing / prayer of sorts. I then moved into the next cubicle or small room and then I was dabbed with oil again, this time on my chest ( I was not touched inappropriately in any way) and on my legs and arms and womb. Again a blessing was pronounced. This entire process took very little time. Everyone spoke in hushed tones.

It all happened so quickly, I really had little time to digest it all. Since my friend , Kathy had warned me about this part of the Temple experience, I was fortunately not caught off guard! When I completed the process of being anointed, I dressed in the temple garments. These are white undergarments that all faithful Temple endowed mormons wear under their street clothing.
The Temple Matron had told me to wear these night and day, other than for showering purposes and that they would be a shield and protection against evil. These garments can only be purchased at an LDS clothing center. They are cotton or made of polyester. The bottoms come to the knee and the tops cover the shoulder cap. Years ago, LDS wore them from their necks to their ankles! They had evolved with time, and I suspect with the change of fashions.

After I received my washings and anointing, I was told that I was ready to receive my "endowment". I then put on a white gown. I was given a "bundle" that contained ceremonial clothing I would be required to put on later. I was glad to be dressed, and headed to a small room where I was given a "new name". This name was given to me and for me to never reveal at anytime, other than a certain place in the temple ceremony. I was told that only my husband, whom at some future date would be sealed to me would know. This was the new name that my husband would call me forth on the morning of the first resurrection. The LDS believe this name is sacred and is to never be revealed. My husband loved my "new name" , and we even named a daughter after this name of Rebekah. Of course, I am aware now that I am under no such oath or such to keep things "secret". My Lord Jesus will be resurrecting me, not my husband on the morning of the first resurrection. I am sharing this with you so you can understand, that this new name is a very special name that each faithful Mormon receives upon coming to the temple for the first time.

Once I had received the "new name" I was escorted to a large room where the walls were painted with a lovely mural depicting creation. I was told to sit and wait until the ceremony began. Kathy, my escort sat by my side the entire time. I was so thankful for that, because I was getting very nervous. I was not told much about what would actually transpire in the Temple, so I was anxious.

Soon enough, a gentleman dressed in a white suit and tie ( everyone dresses completely in white in the temple, even their shoes are to be white, with white soles) came forward and welcomed everyone. A small altar covered in white lace was in the front of the room, and a large elaborate curtained area was behind the temple altar. After a brief welcome, the lights dimmed and a movie screen came down and a movie depicting the creation and fall of Adam and Eve was shown. There was so much to take in! Soon enough the movie stopped and we were told to put on certain clothing that was found in our bundles. First a green apron, then a white robe, and a bonnet with a veil. The Movie proceeded and was stopped as initiates and other temple patrons were asked to make "covenants" and oaths. I was an "initiate". It was my first time at the Temple. But in that same room , were many other LDS who had come to do the temple work for their dead ancestors ( proxy). The LDS teach that a person must receive their endowments, washings and anointing and be sealed in the LDS temple to inherit eternal life with God.

I was expected to return again to the temple, but the next time I would coming "proxy" for a person who had died already.

During the endowment ceremony, a LDS initiate is told to make the following oaths/covenants:
1. law of sacrifice
2. law of obedience
3. law of chastity
4. law of consecration
5. law of the gospel

They are told to raise their arms and swear before "god" and "holy angels" that they will keep these promises, oaths and covenants.

With each promise I made I was given a 'token' or certain handshake that I would be required to "give back" at another place in the temple. Boy, by that time I was completely overwhelmed! There was too much to remember!

It was all so new! I had been raised Catholic, so the pomp and ceremony and ritual was not completely a foreign idea to me. I was not shocked by it all, but overwhelmed. I was told I needed to recite back the name of each oath and the special handshake or "token". Oh my! I knew I would forget it all!!!

After the movie was over, and all the oaths and covenants made, I was told to go before the "veil" of the Temple. This veil was a large and ornate veil that was draped. I was told to put my hand thru a hole in the veil and I would be asked questions that I would need to answer - basically "testing" me on my knowledge of the oaths I had just made. I was very nervous about doing this. I knew I wouldn't remember a single word!! I wasn't scared, just overwhelmed!

As I approached the opening in the veil, an elderly woman ( temple worker) came up to me and helped me out. She told me everything I needed to know to recite back to the Male Temple worker who was standing behind the temple asking me a series of questions. I was relieved that she was there to help me.

After reciting back all the tokens and giving the special handshakes, I was allowed to walk thru the viel and enter into the "celestial room". This room represented what "heaven" will be like. For the LDS , the Celestial Kingdom is the highest level of heaven, where faithful LDS who have received their temple endowments and have endured faithful to the LDS gospel will reside.

The Celestial room is a large room. Bright with many windows , mostly stained glass or leaded glass. The furnishings are of the finest appointment. No money is spared whatsoever in the LDS temples. Only the finest of furnishings and workmanship. The room is quiet. Very quiet. Those that have been thru the LDS endowment ceremony can spend time in this room and quietly pray or speak in hushed tones. The colors are usually soft pastels and whites or creamy ivories.

I don't recall how long I spent in the Celestial Room on my first visit. I think I was just overwhelmed!

I did return many many times to that same temple thru the years that proceeded. It was the Seattle Temple where I was sealed to my husband , and where I went to many times to do the work in proxy for others who have died.

After receiving my endowments, I was ready to go on my mission.

It was just one short month later that I left my home and reported to the Mission Training Center in Utah.

Many LDS experience a wide range of emotions upon going to the Temple for the first time. The most common response I hear from LDS is that they were overwhelmed. I know I was. I was told that I would should go back many times and that God would reveal to me what the symbolism meant and that this was truly the House of the Lord. I was told to not speak about the Temple and what went on inside to anyone. Even LDS will only speak in "general" tones about the Temple to other fellow LDS. They call the temple and what happens in there "sacred". To outsiders, and NON LDS, it appears secretive. To the LDS this is so far from the truth. They truly believe that the Temple is God's dwelling place and that it is here, that they will learn truths and understand God.

Most LDS do go back to the Temple, mostly monthly and some more often than that, depending on where one lives. Since my husband & I lived close to the Temple (within 2o min) we visited monthly. The Temple for the LDS is not like a regular meeting house or chapel. The Temple represents the most holy of places. Thus, they feel the need to not talk about it outside the walls of the temple itself.

My first experience with the LDS temple was not so much frightening as it was overwhelming. I really did sincerely want to know God and I was told it was at the temple that I would find Him.

Meanwhile, my mission was drawing closer, and I had one hundred and one things to do to prepare to leave. "Understanding" the Temple would have to wait until some future date..........

To my non LDS readers, I can imagine that this all appears so "odd" and "strange" and mysterious. Believe me to most LDS it is rather odd and mysterious the first time too! The LDS believe deeply that the Temple ceremony existed in the time of Moses and also the time of Jesus. They believe that Joseph Smith restored those temple rituals. They believe it is necessary for eternal life with God.

I will be sharing here on my blog, why this is simply not the case. Using the Bible as guide, I will be sharing how the Jewish Temple ritual was radically different than the LDS temple experience. Using the book of Exodus and other Old Testament writings, I will be sharing how the Jewish Temple bears no similarity to the LDS temple.

To my LDS readers, I understand that for you my friends the Temple is sacred and holy to you. It is my hope, my prayer & desire that you may come to understand how the Temple was used prior to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, and how very radically different it was than modern LDS temples. I also am praying that you will see that Jesus -- the Lamb of God has opened up the holy of Holies to all who believe in Him, so that we may come boldly before the throne of grace.

Simply stated, there is no reason or need for a Temple for believers.

I hope to share "why" that is the case in my next blog post.

Until then, God bless ~


Monday, March 30, 2009

John 1

The children and I just finished our study of the Book of Revelation.... and all I can say is : " Maranatha.... Come Lord Jesus, Come"! I think we are more excited about His return then ever!!! We all enjoyed our study of the Book of Revelation. This was our first time reading it in our entirety after coming out of the LDS church , and all I can say is "wow", did we miss a lot when we were LDS! For my LDS readers out there, I encourage you to read the Book of Revelation and really pray for God to open your eyes to understand the events that are to come, especially the eminent return of our Lord! It's very exciting!!

Since we finished up Revelation, I was in prayer about what we should be reading next. I also just finished up a personal study on the tabernacle and the Book of Exodus and have been in prayer about what I should be studying for my personal bible study. As I prayed 2 books came to my mind. The Book of John, and Isaiah. Hmmm.......both very fitting , especially at this time of year when we remember the death and resurrection of our Lord.

The kids and I have begun to read the book of John. This is the first book we read when we came out of the LDS church. It was life changing. In the words of my teenage son: " this is the salvation book".... the book that clearly tells us what we need to do to receive life eternal. It's been over a year since we have studied the book of John, so we began again.

Today we read the first chapter of John. By the time we finished the chapter I realized and so did a couple of the older kids, that there are some *key* verses in this chapter, that clearly refute LDS doctrines.

As I prayed about "what" I should share here on this blog today, I was directed to share the following passages from John chapter 1 and compare it with Mormon teachings and Joseph Smith's translation of the same passages.

1. John 1:1 & 2 : " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. "

The WORD in Greek means "logos". It appears 1,200 times in the Bible. Jesus was in the beginning, before the world was created. He was with God, as a distinct member of the Godhead, but also is God, and thus points to the unity of Jesus with God the Father.

Jesus did not become "God" as the LDS church teaches. He has always been God. He did not progress to "becoming" a "god". This is critical because the LDS teach emphatically that Jesus, the Son of God had to come down to earth, and become born, and have a human body, so He could himself become a "god" like God the Father. ( whom they believe has also a body of passions and parts)

John 1:1 & 2 completely refutes that teaching. Jesus has always been God and will always be God. He is perfect in unity with God the Father, but distinct in personage. For further reading on this, please refer to Isaiah 44, where Isaiah clearly teaches that there is NO other God, not before Him or after Him. He has always been God. He did not "evolve" or "progress" to God status.

The LDS also teach erroneous beliefs about the 'trinity'. They teach that Christians believe God, The Son and God the Father and the Holy Spirit are *one* in person . This is not true. John 1:1 emphatically declares that Jesus and God are essentially one in purpose and distinct in personage. The Word was with God, and The Word is God. That is, Jesus -- was with God the Father and Is also God. For my LDS readers, please take note that Christians do not believe that God the Son and God the Father and God the Holy Spirit share one body, and magically appear as the Spirit at some point and then the Son at other times. They are 3 distinct persons in One.

I was taught as a member of the LDS church that the doctrine of the trinity meant just that, 3 beings "mysteriously" appearing as Son or Father or Spirit , depending on the event. This is not the case.

John 1:2 " All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made. "

All things were "created" by Jesus. Nothing was in existence prior to Him creating it. The LDS doctrine teaches that intelligence and "spirits" have always existed, and that Jesus did not create them. This is not what John 1:2 states. This passage clearly states that ALL things were created by the WORD, and the Word is Jesus and Jesus is God.

When an LDS goes to the LDS temple, they watch a movie that depicts the creation of our earth. The movie goes into detail and teaches that Jesus and Michael, ( the archangel for Christians and " Adam" for Mormons) "organized" matter. That is that "matter" already existed. The Bible my friends, clearly refutes that teaching.

Genesis 1:2: And the earth was without form and void.

God the Son, created the earth from nothing. All things, including human intelligence was created by Him. The Bible does not teach that Adam, or "Michael" had any hand in creating our earth. " The world was made by Him". verse 10

John 1:12 " But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."

This verse clearly teaches that we "become" sons of God . We are not naturally sons of God. To them that *believe* and *receive* Him become the Sons of God. We must believe Jesus and receive Him to become Sons of God. Paul further explains that we are "adopted" into God's family when we accept our Lord Jesus, and are born again. ( Romans 8:15, 8:23,Galatians 4:5 Ephesians 1:5)

The LDS doctrines teach that "all" humankind are the "spirit sons and daughters of god". That is every person who has ever walked on the face of this earth is the spirit sons or daughter of god and one of his wives. Together they birth "spirit children" who come and inhabit a body here on earth.

The Bible clearly teaches otherwise. We are not naturally God's children. We "become" God's children thru adoption, when we receive & believe on HIS name. John 1:12

John 1:18: " No man hath seen God at anytime, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father , he hath declared him."

No man has seen God in all his essence, because God is Spirit ( John 4:24, 1 Tim 6:16). Although no man has seen God, the Bible does witness that many men have seen God in Jesus Christ. Moses, prayed to see God's presence. God's response was: " And he said, thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see and live." Exodus 33:2o

Many people in the Bible have seen Jesus. As the prencarnate Christ, and as "flesh" dwelt among us. Jesus taught that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father, for the Father and Son are one.

The LDS teach that God the Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in 1820. They teach that God was once a man, who progressed to becoming a "god" ( I say "a god" because of the LDS belief that there are many "gods", but only "one" god for this earth). This teaching clearly contradicts the Bible.

John 1:29: " Behold the Lamb of God , which taketh away the sins of the world".

My dear readers, It is Jesus -- the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Not baptism, as the LDS teach. Baptism, does not wash away our sins. Keeping commandments does not wash away our sins. Oh, my dear LDS readers, it is solely the LAMB of GOD that washes away our sins! We are justified ( forgiven) by His blood. ( Romans 5:9)

These key passages in the first chapter of the book of John clearly tell us many things. Jesus is God and always has been. We are adopted into the family of God, and become His sons & daughters when we receive Christ, no man has seen God the Father at any time, and Jesus is the Lamb of God and thru Him our sins are washed away.


Please take note that Joseph Smith, re translated ( or changed) the first chapter of the book of John. You can find the changes he made in the back of the LDS bible under the section labeled " Joseph Smith translation".

Let's take a look at the passages I shared here and compare it to what Joseph Smith wrote:

John 1:1

" In the beginning was the gospel preached thru the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son and the Son was with God, and Son was God. " Joseph Smith states clearly that the Word is not Jesus - but the LDS gospel.

John 1:18

" For the law was after a carnal commandment, to the administration of death, but the gospel was after the power of endless life through Jesus Christ the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father."

This is John 1:18?????? Let's read again what the Bible states as John 1:18:

" No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten of the Son, which is in the bosom of the Father , he hath declared him".

Wow! Big difference!!!

I believe Joseph Smith had to change some key passages from this chapter in order to support the claims he was making.

God's word endures forever my friends, it will not return void.

I implore my LDS readers to please search God's word.

Joseph Smith did change not only these passages , but other passages in the Bible. I will be sharing these changes later here on my blog.

Why you may ask?

The LDS church teaches that the Bible is not trustworthy. It has been mistranslated. They believe Joseph Smith was inspired to change God's word.

They are sincere in their beliefs, but greatly mistaken.

Please pray for the LDS.

Pray that their eyes may be opened and that God may do a great work, using HIS word, which endureth forever ( 1 Peter 1:25) and will stand forever. ( Isaiah 40:8) .

To my LDS friends. You can find these references in your own LDS bibles. The J.Smith translation can be found at the back of your bible behind the Dictionary. Please pray and ask God to help you to understand His word as it was intended to be, not the way Jospeh Smith changed it to be.

The Bible can be trusted.

I will praying that my LDS friends who read this will come to believe that too.

God bless,


Friday, March 27, 2009

Question from my Christian Friend

I wanted to take a moment and answer a question that a lovely friend of mine left here on my blog.

" I have many questions for you, as we live in an area where there are many Mormons. In fact, they just built a huge temple here. I feel like I need to better understand my neighbors whom practice Mormonism."

First of all, Sally I am blessed to know that your heart is in the *right* place. The Lord has called us to be a "light" unto the world, and to not hide it under a "bushel". Most of us don't have "bushels" laying around, but basically that means, Jesus wants us to share the message of salvation with the world! If you all knew Sally, you would know what a "bright" light she is to those around her.) Sally is a mom to 8 precious children. I "met" Sally , via an online support group for Guatemalan adoptive parents. Sally at that time, was in the process of bringing home her daughter, Marissa from Guatemala. I was at that time, still very much LDS. Sally was a "light" that the Lord used in my life, and I know she continues to be one to others!! The fact is, my friends the Lord does use us , His people to share the good news to the world. If we are willing, He can use us in marvellous ways, as He did Sally. I was blessed by many other "lights" in my life, thru the process of adopting my 5 children from Guatemala. Many of you are reading this blog, and you *know* who you are. :) Bless you my friends for being that "light" to me when I was lost.

Sally, you mentioned the need you feel to better understand your LDS neighbors there in California. I agree. It's important to understand the culture and beliefs of those we hope to reach for Christ. That is one of the reasons why I started this blog! It is my prayer that the Lord will help me to share about the doctrines and traditions of the LDS , so that you may more effectively shine your lights to the LDS in your own communities.

Stick around, as it is my prayer that the Lord will use this blog to help equip believers to reach out effectively to your LDS neighbors and friends. I will tell you that the most important thing you can be doing *right* now for your LDS friends and neighbors is to pray for them. Taking time each and every day to go before the throne of grace in behalf of the LDS in your community. Ask the Lord for specific opportunities to witness to them, and you will be surprised at who He will bring your way! Also, ask for the very words to be given to you to speak. The Holy Spirit will give you the necessary words at the very moment. There is no need to "practice" a speech or such. The Lord will speak thru you at the very moment that it's needed.

" .. do not worry about what to say or "how" to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. " ~ Matthew 10:19 & 20 NIV

Sally also asked the following:

" How do intelligent rational people in the Mormon Church put their trust and faith in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and disregard Biblical truths?"

First of all, Latter-day Saints ( this is the name they preferred to be called) do not believe the Bible is God's inerrant Word. That is, the official teaching of the LDS is that the Bible is only correct as "far as it is translated correctly". The LDS Church teaches it's members that the Bible is mistranslated and as such can not be trusted as God's word in completeness. That is they take some parts of the Bible and accept it as truth, but then they take other parts and say it is "mistranslated". The LDS Church believes that thru the years, God's word was changed and that "plain and precious parts" have been removed from it. They only recognize the King James Version. They use no other translations. The LDS Church publish their own KJV version. It is word for word the same as any KJV translation, with the exception that at the beginning of each chapter there is brief commentary by LDS leaders on what the chapter contains. There are also cross references including cross references to other LDS canonized scriptures. At the end of the LDS KJV is a section called the " Joseph Smith Translation". This section contains all the verses that Joseph Smith changed in the Bible. These are the parts the LDS teaches that are "mistranslated".

The LDS do not view the Bible in the same light that Christians do. They do use it, and read it, but it is not given the same credence as the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, is considered to the LDS, the *most* correct of all books ever written.

Joseph Smith, plays a major role in the LDS Church. He is the founder of their Church. The LDS believe that it is Joseph Smith, who 'restored'... that is brought back the 'original' teachings of Jesus. They believe that the original teachings of Jesus were "lost" and that the early Christian church became "apostate" and that after the death of the early apostles, the 'truth' was lost. They believe Joseph "restored" that truth. Thus, they do place their trust in what Joseph taught and preached while he was alive. His teachings can be found in the Doctrine & Covenants, another book of canonized scriptures in the LDS Church. I will be writing more about Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism in the future.

So you see, Sally... the LDS do not place their trust in the Bible, God's word. They do read it, but do not regard it in the same stature as you and I do.

I hope this helps you understand a little.

Check back again as I hope to share more about "why" the LDS have such high regard for Joseph Smith & the Book of Mormon.

God bless you my friend as you prayerfully reach out to your LDS neighbors,


The Early Years of my Mormon expeirence


I am so blessed to know that the Lord is leading some precious LDS friends here to my blog to read, and also I am blessed to know that my dear brothers & sisters in Christ are concerned about their LDS friends and neighbors and want so much to understand them & their faith and witness to them of our Lord. Bless you my friends! I hope that in the coming weeks and months, I will be able to impart ... share some things that may help equip you as you reach out in love and compassion to your friends in the LDS church and also for those of you who are LDS, I hope that what the Lord leads me to share here with you, would just cause your heart to ache for a personal & saving relationship with our Lord & Savior. Bless you, bless you!

After joining the LDS Church in January of 1989, I quickly became immersed in " LDS culture", and yes my friends there is a distinct culture within the LDS church. It was all very new to me, as a young adult of 20 yrs of age. I recall my first ever LDS potluck or "ward" dinner, as they call them. I was quickly introduced to "jello salads" complete with diced celery and shredded carrots. Oh, how the LDS love their jello! ( At least the LDS in the United States do.:) In general "food" plays a big role in LDS gatherings. Whenever there is a meeting of some sort, there is bound to be "refreshments" of some sort afterwards. Usually consisting of sugary baked items. The LDS are truly a social people, and love to gather together for just about anything. There is a joke in LDS circles that you know you are a Mormon if you have to have a meeting just to plan a meeting. Oh how they love their meetings!

I learned all about "tithing" and "fasting" too. The LDS church asks that their members tithe 10% of their income to the LDS church. They do not pass a basket around, or such. There are envelopes and slips that Mormons fill out and give to their bishop. The bishop then sends the funds off to the Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City, where they distribute it. A "full" tithe is 10% of one's income. It is *required* to be able to enter the Mormon temple. Mormons who do not pay a full tithe ( 10%) will not be allowed to enter the temple. Fasting is encouraged in the LDS church. There is a "general" fast Sunday for the entire Church. This is the first Sunday of the month. All LDS ( with the exception of pregnant or ill LDS) are asked to fast for at least 2 meals -- food and water. They are then told to take the funds they would have spent on those meals and donate it to the LDS church. They in turn, use the funds to keep their storehouses running ( the LDS have an amazing welfare system, that can be used by LDS members) and to help the needy in their own individual wards. These funds are not used to help the poor outside of the LDS membership. They are used primarily for LDS members. Each first Sunday Mormons all over the world fast. They are asked to chose something to "fast about".. that is a specific request they have or concern, etc. Each first Sunday is fast and testimony meeting. This is a meeting where LDS members are allowed to share their "testimonies" or feelings about being a Mormon and about Mormon doctrines. I learned right away that is it is a very emotional meeting, where women and men alike get up and share their deep feelings and often times opely weep and cry. The LDS love their testimony meetings.

I also learned all about what is meant to live a 'worthy' life as a Mormon. That is to obstain from alcohol and coffee , caffeinated drinks like Coke, and tea....... and also to obstain from R rated movies and anything that could be viewed as immoral. I was told to keep my thoughts pure and chaste. I was assigned to visit a few ladies from my congregration once a month. This is called "visiting teaching". The men have the same program, but it's called "home teaching". Basically each LDS is assigned a few fellow LDS to visit, and to share a message with each month. The message is found in the LDS monthly publication: The Ensign. A message is given at the visit and usually it's a time to chat and fellowship. I was asked to "report" on my visits to the head of the LDS woman's orginization: The Relief Society. They in turn keep a detailed chart and statistics on "who" is getting visited each month and who is not. I was also assigned to have 2 older women to come visit me each month. They would come faithfully and share a message and ask if there was anything they could for me. They were sincere and I beleive they truly felt they were doing their duty. The whole concept of "duty" is very very important to the LDS. They are told it is their duty to do their visiting teaching, it is their duty to go to the temple at least once a month, it is their duty to pay tithing, to serve in their church, to tithe, to fast, etc. etc etc....... Duty is big in the LDS faith.

I also learned the " LDS lingo" or language. Special terms or words used only by LDS. Words like: the "bretheren" ( Mormon leaders) or "worthy" ( keeping oneself from sin and immorality) were learned quickly.

I was also asked to "serve" in a "ward calling". A "calling" is a job given to a member of an LDS congregation or "ward". It's supposed to be "volunteer" but honestly speaking, it's more of an "assignment" given by the the " Bishop" ( similar to a pastor) of the ward. Soon after I was baptized I was "called" in by my bishop, and assigned to teach the little 3 yr old children in the "Primary". Primary is the children's Sunday School organization. I learned that it was not "OK" to say no or turn down a calling. The LDS believe very strongly that the Bishop of their ward is inspired and speaks the will of the Lord for His congregation. "Ideally" the Bishop is to "pray over" a job or "Calling" before assigning it to a particular member of his congregation or ward. I learned later, that more often than not these "callings" are not based on inspiration but desperation. ( whomever is available and willing to do the job, more like).

The 3 yr olds I was assigned to teach each Sunday were energetic and very busy. The class was full of boys with one single little girl. She was so cute. I enjoyed teaching these little ones for the most part. I was given a manual , with lessons outlined to teach. It was simple enough. During this period I began to be approached by Ward members ( other LDS in my congregation) that I should go to the single's ward. A single's Ward is a cogregration that is specifically for unmarried LDS. One of the goals of the single's ward is to "match up" LDS for marriage purposes, and of course to for social purposes. My bishop called me into his office and also strongly encouraged me to attend the local "single's ward". I had more than one "hint" dropped that I was at the "age" of marriage and needed to find myself an "eternal companion" ( a male LDS who could marry me in the LDS temple) . I felt pressured, to say the least. I was 20 yrs old , enrolled in college full time and really not interested or ready for that matter to settle down and start a family. Plus, what was the rush? I found out quickly that most LDS young women are married rather young. It struck me as "odd" at the time. What was the hurry?

I also had some friends in my ward encourage me to consider serving as an LDS missionary. Now, that sparked my interest. :) I inquired at the Institute of Religion, where I had been taking religious classes about the possibility of serving a mission for the LDS church. Brother "H" was delighted at this possibility and encouraged me to sign up for a "missionary preparation" class. I did just that. I was the only woman enrolled in the class. The rest were young 18 or 19 yr old Mormon young men preparing to go on a mission. The LDS church strongly encourages, almost "expects" every young man to serve a mission for the LDS Church. It is strongly expected and really almost a "requirement" of sorts. Not anything like serving as an evangelist or missionary as a Christian -- where one feels "called by God" to go, not a Church.

After taking the class, I was very desirous to go on a mission. I had to wait 1 full year to be able to "put in my papers" because I was a new member, and needed to go thru a 1 yr probationary period of time before being allowed to go. During this time, I took on another part time job to save up the necessary funds to pay for my mission. LDS missionaries are required to pay for their own expenses. The LDS church does not provide funds for their missionaries. It is the sole responsibility of the missionary and his/her family. Sometimes a "ward" will sponsor a missionary , or an individual will sponsor them, but the LDS church does not financial support their missionaries.

During my year of "waiting" , I was busy going to school full time, and working 2 jobs. My parents were not excited about my serving a mission. They wanted me to finish up my education, as I was so close to finishing up. It was pointless for them to argue the point, as my mind was made up, I was completely sold out on the idea of becoming a missionary.

The year anniversary approached of my baptism into the LDS, and I was eligible to send in my missionary papers. This entailed meeting with my bishop and filling out a bunch of forms, and then sending them off to the LDS church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. I also was eligible to receive my "patriarchal blessing". A "blessing" in the LDS church consists of an LDS man, who holds the "Mormon Priesthood" laying his hands upon your head and pronouncing blessings or counsel . A patriarchal blessing is a "special" once in a lifetime blessing that all Mormons are encouraged to receive. It is given by a "patriarch".... typically an elderly LDS man, who holds the Mormon priesthood. This blessing is only given once in the life of a Mormon. It has a few functions: It tells the LDS member of what "lineage" they come from. Lineage is a very important thing to the LDS. They believe that Mormons are of the House of Israel and of one of the 12 tribes of Jacob...... adopted into the House by baptism into the Mormon Church. Each Mormon receives their patriarchal blessing to determine "what tribe" they come from. I was told I was of the tribe of "Manasseh" the son of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. I know this may sound so very strange to non LDS, but your LDS Friends truly believe that they are "part of the lost tribes" of Jacob or Israel. The patriarch told me I was of the tribe of Manasseh, and then he "prophesied" many things. He told me I would be very active as a Mormon and become a great leader, and teach many Latin American people and preach to the Spanish speaking nations and that my entire family would become LDS. ( they never did) and a bunch of other things that never came true. The Patriarch lays hands on my head while he is speaking these things. His wife is in the room and her job is to write down every single word, so she can then transcribe it and type it up and send me a copy and one to be held by the LDS Church. LDS are encouraged to read their patriarchal blessings often and to meditate upon the "blessings and promises" . I read my blessing so many times thru the 19 yrs I was a Mormon that it literally fell apart and had to be taped together again! I was always so disappointed that the promised blessings had not come to pass and I often felt I need to do better to "earn" those blessings.........

Spring came, and in April of 1990 I received the long awaited envelope which held my "mission call". This is a *big*deal for a Mormon. This envelope comes from the office of the "Prophet" ( god's mouthpiece to the Mormon people). I opened my envelope with nervousness and excitement. I was told that I would serve a mission to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was thrilled! I knew the language already and really had wanted to go Spanish speaking. My parents wept. They were so sad I was being sent so far away. For them it meant 18 mos of not seeing me, or speaking to me. Mormon missionaries are only allowed to write letters home. Phone calls and visits are prohibited. I was so happy and my parents were so very sad. That was hard.

I was told to 'report' to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on June 6, 1990. I will never forget that date, because it's the date which 2 yrs later I would be married to my husband. :) The next few months were very busy months, getting the needed supplies, clothing I needed together to go to Argentina. My family, my parents, siblings were devastated.......they were concerned and worried..... as they saw my life being completely swept away into the LDS church. I never had a chance to finish the last 6 mos of schooling, as I decided on a mission instead. This broke my parent's heart. In an effort to squash my guilt about that I pulled away from my parents and family members. This only worried them more. My ward became my "family" ... fellow Mormons were so excited for me and happy for me, that I preferred to spend time with them vs. my family who were always crying about my choice to leave. My relationships with my siblings became strained and I pulled away. Years later I realized this is not all together uncommon.

Before I could go on my Mormon Mission, I was required by the LDS church to go to the temple and "take out" my "endowments". Now this was all new to me. I new very little about the LDS temple. It was hardly spoken of at all at church. I mean I knew that the LDS had a temple. It was just 5 minutes from my parent's home. I drove by it often enough. I had no idea what actually happened in that huge white ominous building. All I knew is that it was "sacred" and "holy" and not to be spoken about outside of the temple itself.

I was encouraged by my Bishop to take a "temple preparation" class taught by a really nice couple in my ward. They invited me into their home along with a few other people, and taught me about what the LDS temple was. They showed me a movie, and it showed photos of the rooms in the temple. The altar, the "celestial room" where LDS would go and sit and pray.. and the 'sealing room' where faithful LDS couples would go to be married for "time and eternity". Everything was new to me. Again I was overwhelmed by it all, but I was told by my bishop that the understanding would come in "time". That I would have a "lifetime" to understand the temple. I accepted his explanation at face value. I didn't question. He was my Bishop. He spoke for god. I was told he knew what was best for me. I completed the classes for temple preparation and yet I still was not aware of "what" I was actually going to be doing once I went there.

Meanwhile I was working a a local department store. I remember vividly hearing on the radio in the back storeroom the announcement that the LDS Church had officially "changed" the temple ceremony. I didn't understand what that meant..........but the radio announcer stated that women in the LDS church were no longer required to make a promise/covenant to "obey" their husbands... and they no longer were going to have to make "blood oaths". Blood oaths? What was that? I didn't get it. I asked my bishop what this all meant. He assured me that any changes made in the temple were "inspired" and that I need not worry. I would understand in "time". That was the answer I received many times thru the years when I expressed concerns or doubts to my leaders....... "put in on the shelf , gloria....... you'll understand in time..."

It was a lovely Spring morning in May that I finally did make my way to the LDS Seattle Temple. I had asked the secretary from the LDS Institute , who had become a good friend of mine, to be my "escort" for my first visit to the temple. An "escort" is someone who is assigned to sit with you thru out your time in the temple and help you in any way you need. The escort had to be a faithful LDS who had a temple recommend. A temple recommend is a slip of paper that is signed by the Bishop , that basically allows you to enter the temple. NO one without a recommend can enter past the front desk of the temple. Only faithful LDS who pay tithing, keep themselves from alcohol and coffee and who obey the LDS commandments are able to get a recommend from their Bishop. There are a series of questions that have to be answered to receive a recommend.

My "escort" picked me up early one Saturday in May. She appeared, right off the bat very nervous. She told me that she had to tell me some things before we went to the temple. I told her OK, that was fine. She said she needed to give me the "heads up " about what actually goes on in the temple. All this time I had been told how beautiful the temple was and how I needed to go there to take out my endowments, but I had yet to be told "exactly" what happens there. My escort then proceeded to tell me briefly a few things about what would actually happen once I got in. She was talking as she drove the short drive to the temple. I was overwhelmed again, but what was I to do. Here I was 5 minutes from entering the Mormon Temple and being bombarded with all this new information. I didn't know what to do.

I believe what happened next deeply affected me.......

That is what I will be sharing on my next post.....my temple experience .

Please check back, as I hope to get it posted soon!

Until then, God bless!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

My answer to a comment left by an LDS friend

I wanted to take a moment and answer a question that an LDS friend of mine left here on my blog today. Thank you, Ingrid for taking time to read my blog and for leaving a courteous comment. I don't want to brush off your question you asked me, so I hope it's OK with you that I post your question here and leave you my answer publicly. I feel it's important enough to be addressed.

Ingrid from Ireland asked:
" Just wondering what is the motivation for the blog. Is it to warn people against Mormons or to share your conversion to becoming a born again Christian? "

Most definitely my desire & motivation for this blog is to share the good news of the risen Lord and Messiah, Jesus Christ! That is the motivation and desire of my heart, Ingrid. I hope all who come to my blog and spend a few minutes reading here will know, without a doubt that my heart is completely sold out for Jesus! He is the motivation for just about everything in my life, and this blog is no exception.

Each time , before I began to write here I stop and pray and ask the Lord to guide my words. I want more than anything to see my Lord high and lifted up, exalted and glorified. The Lord has placed in my heart a burden to share the good news that what Jesus did on Calvary is what truly saves us. Nothing else but the blood of the Lamb , can grant us eternal life. My heart aches for my wonderful LDS friends and family. I long for them to know that Jesus, the Messiah, the I AM of the Old Testament and the promised Messiah and Christ of the New Testament is the only true and living God and that there is no other name under Heaven whereby man can inherit eternal life.

Simply put I long to see the LDS accept that Jesus is it. He is the WAY, not a religion or religious system, but Jesus. That is my heart's desire, Ingrid.

Thanks for taking time to stop by my blog and I hope you return again soon.

May God bless you,


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Joining the Mormons

Just wanted to send a shout out -- to thank you for the lovely comments you have left here. Your encouragement is so appreciated as I begin this endeavor.

As I will share in the future here on this blog, leaving the LDS church has been a process..... not just "physically" leaving but spiritually and emotionally leaving. I really can relate to the Israelites as they were led out of Egypt into the wilderness. Their wilderness experience was necessary, as the Lord was taking " Egypt" out of them.... show them one step at a time, that He was their God, the I AM and that He would truly take care of them, protect them, provide for them, lead them and be their all in all...... the Lord has truly been doing the same thing with me.... taking "religion" out of me, and showing me that it's all about a personal relationship with Him. Thank You, Lord for your patience with me!

I left off last week sharing my first experiences with the LDS faith. Primarily thru my friend, " J ". As I mentioned, " J " went off to serve as a Mormon missionary in Ecuador. He left me a Book of Mormon to read. While he was gone, he wrote and encouraged me to visit with a Brother " H " at the Seattle Institute of Religion. The " Institute" was a building right off campus, where LDS students enrolled at the University could go and take Mormon religious classes. It was also a "social gathering place" of sorts.... where LDS students could go and "hang out" . I had lots of questions about the Book of Mormon that my friend " J " had given me, so I headed over to the Institute in the fall of 1988. I was just 20 yrs old at that time, and completely biblically illiterate. Basically I was very impressionable and naive. Something that did not help me or profit me as you will soon find out.

I recall entering the old 1960's brick building that was built by the LDS to teach that the "glory" of God was intelligence. *official LDS teaching* The LDS do not believe that God created intelligence. ( Doctrine & Covenants 93:29) They believe that it has always existed. I know it sounds "odd" but I am just letting you know what they "officially" believe. At that time, of course I had no clue about these teachings. I was just a naive 20 yr old young woman who was interested in learning more about the Mormon faith. When I entered the Institute, there was a middle aged woman who sat at the front desk. I told her who I was, " J " 's friend who had been told by "J " to come speak to a Brother " H" who would be able to answer my questions about the Book of Mormon... was he in? Now, you have to understand a little about Mormon culture, to fully grasp what happened next........ the woman jumped out of her seat and ran to the front of the desk shook my hand heartily ( remember that "hand shaking" is something that LDS do a lot of!) . She had "heard" about me from " J " himself, and was so pleased to meet me and "yes" of course Brother " H" was in, and he would be thrilled to talk to me. I have no doubt she saw me as a "potential" convert to the LDS and more than thrilled to have me asking about the Book of Mormon! It wasn't a few minutes later that Brother " H " appeared. He was a middle aged man, with silver white hair that was very happy to meet me. He too shook my hand . ( by that point I really wondered about the hand shaking!)

He invited me to come into his office. I learned quickly that Brother "H" was the "head guy" there at the Institute. That is , he was the "Institute director" and had an important position of prominence in the local LDS church. He was warm and friendly and very very eager to share the "LDS gospel" with me. We began to meet together a few times each week. I would come with a list of questions and he would answer them as best he could. After a few weeks of our meetings, he told me it was "time" to make a choice........ I didn't understand I told him. He then explained to me that I had been given " the further light and knowledge" of the true gospel of Jesus Christ and was now needing to be baptized a member of Christ's Church. I told him I had already been baptized, so why again? He then went on to tell me that my baptism as an infant in the Catholic Church was null and void. That God did not recognize it, because I was not baptized by a Mormon " elder" ( a man who has the Mormon priesthood) . I was a bit confused, as Brother " H " tried the best he could to explain to me what that meant. I told him I wasn't ready to make a commitment to the Mormon church, that I needed to learn more and study more. He dismissed my concerns and said that I had "enough" knowledge to be baptized. He then picked up the phone and made a call to the Missionaries who were assigned to work in the area I lived in. ( Missionaries are assigned to work in a certain geographical area) . He set up an appt for me to meet with them. I recall feeling overwhelmed with feelings of pressure. I didn't know how to tell him to "slow down"... that it was going too fast. I set a date to have the Missionaries come to my home. I had no idea who they were or what they would say to me.

A week or so later, the " Elders " came by to my home. Elder Jones and Elder Robison were young 20 yr old young men, clean shaven and wearing stark white shirts, dark suits and conservative ties . They greeted me with a hearty hand shake too! ( OK, another hand shake!) I had told my parents that the Mormon missionaries were coming by to share a "message" with me . They didn't see anything wrong with "missionaries" coming by and consented to the visit. ( they were as clueless as I was). We met 3 times a week, and the Elders would present a "message" at each meeting. The first message was on Joseph Smith. I had heard very little about him, other than he had something to do with the Book of Mormon and was the founder of the Mormon church. They went on and on about Joseph Smith and I became a bit uncomfortable about the focus on "man" instead of Jesus. At the end of each lesson, they would ask me to "pray" and ask God if the message they were presenting was "true". The other 5 lessons or so focused on how the Mormons believe that all religions were false and that the only true Church was "restored" by Joseph Smith, and that in order to go to heaven I had to be baptized a Mormon. They also talked about the need to tithe 10 % of one's income , and to not smoke or drink alcohol. I had a hard time with the coffee drinking prohibition. Oh how I loved my cup of java, and I couldn't grasp how a cup of coffee could keep me out of heaven! How could coffee be sinful? They also explained that Mormons believe that marriage was forever if faithful Mormons went to the Mormon temple and were married by a Mormon priesthood holder there. The Elders told me I could not go to heaven without a Mormon husband who was a faithful LDS who was a priesthood holder. Now, that teaching really created a stir in me..... I did not accept that very well. I had to be married? I couldn't go to heaven without a husband? What did another person have to do with my salvation? What if I didn't get married? What if I didn't want to? The Elders assured me that it was necessary for entrance into heaven. Now you need to understand that at that point in my life, I was very young. 20 yrs old to be exact. I was very committed to finishing my education and going to graduate school. I was not even considering marriage at that point. I really was too young to even consider the possibility of settling down with one person for the rest of my life , let alone eternity like the Elders were telling me! Every time I expressed a concern or doubt, the Elders encouraged me to pray and ask God if their message was true. I would do as they asked and I would pray. Of course, nothing would happen. No great strike of lightening or huge boom or even a word...... nothing. I kept praying , hoping for the heavens to open and part and for God to speak to me to help me to know if these missionaries were teaching truth. I would tell the Elders that I had been praying, but God had not spoken to me. That nothing had happened. They would pressure me to continue to pray and to look for the "feelings" of the Holy Ghost. Feelings? What did that have to do with truth I asked. They then explained to me that God revealed truth thru feelings. That when I had feelings of peace and warmth in my heart, that would be God telling me that "it's true". I had a hard time with that. Feelings denote truth? OK...... I felt warm fuzzy feelings all the time..... I would cry when I would sing the American Anthem...... I would feel all warm in my heart when my parents would tell me how much they loved me and were proud of me. Was that truth? I was confused. Very confused. I wish , oh how I wish someone, could have told me that confusion is NOT of God.

The 6 lessons the Elders had to teach were wrapped up, and they challenged me to "set a date" to be baptized into the Mormon Church. Baptism? Ooh.... I just didn't know about that. I expressed my doubts, my concerns, my needs to understand more..... to study more....... they quickly told me that I didn't need to know more or study more. All I needed to do was pray and ask God to "confirm" that what they were teaching was true... to confirm that Joseph Smith was truly God's mouthpiece and that the LDS church was the *only* true Church. I felt huge amounts of pressure. I liked the Elders. They were very kind to me, and very decent young men, but I didn't know about "joining" another Church. There was NO one at that time in my life I could share my concerns with..... no Christians to share with or help me thru this time.... to pray with me. None. I didn't know what to do or where to turn to.

During the time I was receiving the lessons from the Missionaries ( called "discussions" in Mormon lingo) I was invited to attend the local LDS Ward. A " ward" is a congregation in the LDS church. Each "ward" is made up of a few hundred or so Mormons that live in a restricted geographical region. Mormons are "assigned" to attend a particular "ward". They are not allowed to choose a ward based on preference for the time they meet or the preaching style etc. Mormons are assigned to attend a particular ward and meet at an assigned time. No questions asked. My first experience of attending an LDS ward was pleasant enough. Everyone was extremely friendly. I was welcomed with open arms and lots of handshakes! :) They enveloped me with smiles, and I had someone to sit by me the entire time. Wow. I had never experienced such friendliness. I mean why were these total strangers so nice? They didn't know me at all. I just sat back and soaked it in. It was like a family, everyone knew everyone.

The Elders continued to come over, but the pressure began to mount. They wanted me to 'set a date' for my baptism. One evening they brought over their "Mission President" to meet with me. The Mission President held a prominent role with the LDS in the region I lived in. It was a "big deal" to have the Mission President visit with you. I didn't realize that then, but he came to persuade me to be baptized and join the LDS. Whatever he said, worked. He set a date with me to be baptized into the LDS Church...... January 29, 1989. The Elders were elated. I was nervous.

I broke the news to my parents about my baptism. They didn't' realize that the missionaries were trying to covert me to their religion. They just thought they were there to pray with me and share a message. Being the liberal minded people they were, they didn't stop me from going thru with it. I didn't tell my siblings. In fact, other than my parents I didn't tell anyone I was being baptized. I also told the Elders that I didn't want anyone there when I was baptized. I wanted it to be private. Looking back I realize how uncomfortable I was with the whole situation. The Elders just smiled ear to ear, pleased with their new convert.

My baptism was held at a local LDS meeting house. I came dressed in a lovely purple silk dress, and was told to change my clothing into a white jumpsuit that the Elders provided for me. I thought it would be a quiet ceremony. The Elders made sure it wasn't. I hadn't known, but they invited the entire Ward to my baptism! Including Brother " H" from the Institute. All these people were there that I didn't even really know. It was awkward, to say the least. Everyone was so happy. Smiling, shaking hands, talking. Inside I felt sick. So overwhelmed, so nervous, feeling pressured. I stepped into the LDS baptismal font ( Mormons believe in baptism by immersion) with Brother " H " . He was to baptize me. He raised his hand and pronounced the following prayer over my head : " Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost." He then dipped me back and I was completely immersed in the warm water. ( fortunate for me it was warm water -- so many end up with freezing water!)

After I changed my clothes, I returned to a room full of smiling beaming faces... all anxious to shake my hand I am sure. :) I was then told to sit in a chair because I would receive the Holy Ghost. Elder Robison then laid his hands on my head and prayed over me..... " Sister Gloria Maria Vazquez, by the Power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, which I hold , I now confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and say to you: receive the Holy Ghost"....... he then said a bunch of other things that I can no longer remember. A few minutes later he was done , and I stood up from the chair. The Elders then shook my hand , as well as Brother " H " and his wife, and the multitude of other people that were there.

One of the things I do remember from that day was many of the LDS who came to my Mormon baptism told me that they were jealous because my sins had been washed away, and I was like a new baby... perfect and pure. I didn't understand what they meant by that. Later I learned that the LDS believe that water baptism washes away sins -- not the blood of the lamb of God.

After the Baptism service was over, I was asked by the Elders if I could "share my testimony" with a group of missionaries afterwards. I really didn't know what "sharing a testimony" meant, but yes I would be happy to help them if I could. I was then escorted into a meeting of over 500 men clad in suits, white shirts and ties......... oh my..... I about passed out! They had not told me it was a huge meeting for Mormon men. ( stake priesthood meeting) I was then asked to share my experience about joining the LDS church. I had no idea what I said..... but I do remember feeling so nervous....my legs were shaking and I thought I was going to pass out.

After the meeting , I was bombarded with hand shakes and well wishes and congratulations. Overwhelmed, doesn't even begin to describe how I felt.

Almost 20 yrs later I was baptized in Christ Jesus ....... it was such a different experience......... I was not pressured by anyone ...... I was not joining a church or having my sins washed away....... I was making a public confession that Jesus is my Lord of Lords and King of Kings. So very different then being baptized into the Mormon church.

But it took almost 20 yrs to come to that point...................

I jump ahead a bit......... first I need to share my years in the LDS church and what that entailed. Living in bondage in Egypt for almost 20 yrs, made me realize how starving I was for living waters and the bread of life.........

Until then , God bless ~