Sister Stephanie Sellers:
I was raised in a very volatile family home and was a witness to a lot of things that I didn’t completely understand. As I grew older, I began to question why things were the way that they were. Why did I have to suffer so much, while others appeared to not have to experience the pain that I felt? Why would God do this to me?
I was raised in the Presbyterian church, so a belief in God was not that farfetched to me, but understanding a God that, in my mind, left me to handle some very frightening situations on my own was a bit more difficult for me to wrap my mind around.
It wasn’t until my father passed away when I was 16 years old that I truly became lost. I held onto a deep-rooted anger and resentment for many years. I became angry and withdrawn, and I had no idea how to get close to people.
Anytime someone wanted to get behind this wall that I built around myself, I immediately ran because I had no idea what it was like to be loved properly. To me, love meant pain, violence, abandonment. Love was resentful, jealous, loud. Love was something to be afraid of because love got you hurt.
I met the missionaries when I was 23 years old, and, even then, I was just as angry and confused. However, these missionaries were brought to me so that they could save my life. Even when I first met them, I knew that there was something so special and rare about them and I wanted to know what that was.
Elder Jacob Saunders:
My companion, Elder Nathan Baird, and I were waiting for a bus in Waterloo, Ontario, to take us to an appointment at the University. We checked what time it would come and found that we had about 30 minutes until it would be there.
We decided to walk around and contact people on the street until the bus arrived. This was the start to one of the greatest miracles of conversion I have ever seen.
While walking around we met Stephanie Sellers waiting at a nearby bus stop. Elder Baird was in training at that time, and I was trying to give him as much opportunity to gain experience as he could get, so I let him lead this contact as we walked up to her.
The line that got her interested in what we shared was when Elder Baird said, “We love making new friends, so we are going around talking to people today”. Turns out that was exactly what shed needed – some good friends.
I told myself that I wasn’t going to join any church, but I felt drawn towards these two individuals. I began meeting with them, but I told them that I wouldn’t pray and I wouldn’t attend church, but when they gave me a copy of The Book of Mormon to read, that I could do. I told myself it was just out of curiosity, that no harm could come from a book, but I had no idea how much this book would impact my life.
I finished up the conversation telling her a little about our purpose as missionaries and invited her to meet again to learn more. She accepted and we exchanged phone numbers. I had no clue what the Lord had in store for her and for us.
The next few weeks were filled with many discussions led by the Spirit.
It took a little bit of work to get her to pray, but eventually she could see the joy of communicating with our Heavenly Father.
After a few lessons, I decided to pray for the first time. I chose to do it alone, without the support of the missionaries, and I poured my heart out to Him, asking him all the questions that I had held onto for so many years.
I asked him about the Book of Mormon and the church.
About half way through my prayer I was sobbing so hard that it was hard to get the words out. At first, this reaction confused me. I didn’t think that I felt the spirit; I just felt sad. But now, looking back, I can more accurately describe that reaction as a relief. For the first time in my entire life, I knew that I didn’t need to carry all this sadness on my own.
I felt as if Heavenly Father wrap his arms around me; he wept with me, he smiled with me. I knew that I was no longer alone, and it was the most amazing and confusing feeling of my life.
After that night, I began meeting with the missionaries more fervently, trying to make sense of what this Church was.
Stephanie started coming to church and she was really enjoying it, but she would be faced with one of the hardest decisions she would have to make in her life.
She was in training for her first career job. She had been looking hard since graduating from University and had finally got a job that required her to work on weekends and would mean that she would no longer be able to come to church.
She prayed, fasted, and studied the Book of Mormon, and could realize that she would regret not going to Church more than not accepting her new job. It was a miracle to me that she could see the blessings of making the right choice.
I set a date for baptism, continued reading the book of Mormon each day, and two weeks after meeting the missionaries, I attended church for the first time.
It was daunting and scary, and I wasn’t sure if I was doing anything right. I felt incredibly self-conscious and I had no idea what I was stepping into.
After that first day attending church, I felt like I had been going there for years. I met wonderful friends. I learned so much within a short amount of time and I knew that there was no turning back.
I was baptized on September 6, 2015, and I had been incredibly nervous the entire day. I didn’t have doubts of if I was doing the right thing, but I knew that after this everything would change.
One of the missionaries that I had met preformed my baptism and the moment that I was in the water, everything else fell away. There was no fear, no people watching, just me and him. Before I knew it, it was over and I didn’t feel any different, but I had this new hope that I hadn’t had before. A hope in a brighter, happier, more fulfilling future than I had imagined for myself previously.
The Lord could open many other doors for her and she is very happy with the choice that she made to come to church and be baptized. It all started with an invitation to be our friend that resulted in one more person seeing the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am so grateful that I joined this church. I am so grateful for the missionaries that I had met, the friends who have helped me along the way, and for the countless opportunities that I have been given to grow and become better.
I can say that now I know what love is because I feel it each day through the spirit as I am guided and uplifted in my thoughts and prayers.
I know that this church is true, I know that it can save people. I know that faith makes everything possible. I know that the atonement is real and that Christ sacrificed himself for me and for everyone.
I know that the Book of Mormon is truethat it is the word of God and.
I know that God lives.