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Together Forever: A Story of Learning, Loss, Leaving, and Love

This is from a dear friend of Melodee's who wishes to remain anonymous, but wanted to share her conversion story, her wrestle with God, and how she made her way back.

Technically, I was raised as a Lutheran, but my parents taught me opposing doctrines of their own ideas about “God.” One parent believed that “God” was a word meaning “pure love energy” with zero control in the universe; The other taught about a spiteful, angry being in the sky who demanded we worship him and call him “father.” This teaching was confusing, and I grew up never thinking of God as one I would want to turn to for answers or comfort, let alone one who would bestow blessings.

One Choice

I was living the perfect life. I was a 12 year-old kid in 6th grade with a lot of friends and a good life at home. I was also very active in sports. It was coming to the end of the school year in May and I was on a baseball team with some of my classmates at school. Let's say that the baseball team was called the “Tigers”. I loved playing on that team. I was pretty good at baseball and my team was good, although I wouldn’t play on Sundays because it is against what I believe and my religion so I chose not to attend my baseball games and practices on Sundays. My coach was not very fond of me missing out on those events, but I still continued to miss them throughout the baseball season. I was fine missing out and it didn’t impact me very much the rest of the season. The season ended in August and come November my plan was to tryout for the Tigers again until I received an email from my coach.

5 Things That Should Be On Every School Supply List

Since starting kindergarten in ’99 I have always been a very eager and dedicated student. When I was in grade school I loved to go school supply shopping and organize everything neatly in my back pack before Meet the Teacher Night. I always laid out my First Day outfit and packed my lunch the night before the big event. Though my enthusiasm never changed, my preparation process had to as I grew older. College required a bit more than just buying some supplies and making sack lunches, but I certainly rose to the occasion. Classes had to be scheduled around work, tuition had to be paid and degree plans had to be followed. After registration I would print all of my syllabi, read through and highlight the important parts and color-code my planner with significant due dates and deadlines. Then I would conduct a campus walk through to make sure I had enough time to traverse the courtyards between classes. I have been called a nerd, but I really loved it every minute of it.

Find the Joy

It was 5am and my two year old started crying. She had a fever and was miserable and we went on to have quite a long day. By 3pm I was ready to crash. But my little people needed me, and my two year old would pull open my eyelids anytime I tried to shut them for a little catnap. I was exhausted. And then I remembered something from a couple weeks before.

Gene R. Cook of the seventy gave a BYU Devotional called “Seek Eternal Happiness.” In it he quotes a first presidency letter that was sent out in which was written: “there is great joy and rejoicing in your posterity, giving one of the great purposes of life.”

I was pondering this in the temple and I realized I needed to find the joy—always.

We will find what we’re looking for in life.

My Missionary Miracle

Every year, thousands of young Latter-day Saint missionaries open the envelope containing their mission call and feel a mixture of surprise and excitement. It is a feeling only those of us who have opened one of those envelopes can understand; it is an experience we never forget.

My mission call was especially surprising.

Dear Elder Ocampo:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

I grew up as part of a Hispanic family in Texas, so I guess I had imagined myself being called to serve somewhere in Central or South America. I had not expected an assignment to serve in Europe. But the real surprise came later in the letter.

You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language.