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April 8, 2015

Heavenly Father’s “Plan” for our eternal happiness

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ryan Best @ 6:10 pm
I was so pleased to get the call from Jenny last night that you are looking for some testimony about the Atonement, and its meaning in my life.  I will never forget how honored I felt when you came to visit me at my home, after Jenny’s mission was completed.  It was indeed like the Osmonds rolling up in two vans, and all these people pouring out!  That is STILL the most people I have every fit in my house at one time!  A very memorable day!

Just coincidentally (NOT!) this has now become my FAVORITE season of the year.

On 09/25/12 (my best friend Lamb Johnson’s birthday), I was stricken down in the parking lot of the Giant supermarket, here in Leesburg, VA.  They picked me up and rushed me to the hospital via ambulance, where it was discovered that I had a thoracic (ascending) aortic aneurysm on  the back side of my heart, and I had COPD  (Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disorder).  In other words, my heart and my lungs were shot.  Of course, I was also up to 350 pounds, drinking every day, and smoking 3 packs of cigarettes per day.

Well, I spent some time in the hospital, then they sent me home with an oxygen compressor and 42 miles of green plastic air tubing – where I remained on oxygen 24/7 for 14 months.  During this time I also quit smoking (of COURSE!), quit drinking (not as much fun without smoking), and lost 200 pounds!

Now enter (stage left) the missionary sisters from the LDS Church!  I met Sister Raquelle Kraemer and Sister Cassidee Steadman on Sat 03/01/14 at my aforementioned friend Lambie’s house.  I had been going to visit Lamb on Saturday mornings at 10:00 A.M. for years and years, ever since she became house-bound.  And then the Sisters started showing up in MY time slot.  At first, I would leave, in order to give them some privacy.  Then I started hanging around for the message they delivered.  And by Wed 03/12/14 (2 weeks later), the Sisters were coming to my house regularly every Wed at 2:00.  And then on Wed 03/26/14 (2 weeks after THAT), Sister Jenny Lee Olson (now Harmon) entered the picture – and changed my life FOREVER!  And they read me the story of Joseph Smith in the grove of trees and showed me the painting of this in the Restoration booklet – and I CRIED.  And they read me Mosiah 18, and asked me if I believed in this Restoration (which I did enthusiastically) – and I CRIED.  “What have you against being Baptized?”  “And they clapped their hands for joy, and said ‘this be the desire of our hearts!”  This is my favorite scripture of all time.

Then the Cummings Family in our Leesburg Ward invited me to the annual Easter pageant at the Visitors’ Center of the Washington DC Temple.  And it was a “done deal” – I wanted to be baptized.  The musical was so moving, the message of the Atonement was so powerful, and all the love in that theater was so strong that I was READY.  This was the most moving and meaningful Easter season I had had in 59 years!  On the way out, Sister Olson said to me, “Sue what day do you want to be baptized?”  And I was “waffling” due to fear of telling my father -a life-long and very active Presbyterian (in which church I grew up).  Sister Olson told me to pray to Heavenly Father about what to do.  The next morning, my Dad called ME from Florida, and I told him I wanted to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  My Dad’s response stunned me:  He said “Oh Sue, I am so happy you have finally found your church.  I have been so worried about you.  Now you go out and be the BEST MORMON you can possibly be!”  So that’s what I’m doing.  AND I HAD BEEN AFRAID TO TELL HIM.  Our Heavenly Father truly does answer prayers!!!  (FYI:  My Dad also said he “never met a Mormon he didn’t like!”  Apparently he was buddies with Steven Covey at Harvard.)

And I started waking up every morning with hymns ringing in my head, such as #120 “Jesus Christ is Risen Today, Ahhhh-le-lu-yah!” I do not know how this song got in my head!  An Atonement song if there ever was one!  And I will never ever forget that the Sisters and I were singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah” in the changing room after I came out of the water at my Baptism on Sat 03/15/14.  Me and the Sisters – singing at the top of our lungs!  A day that shall go down in infamy.

Flash forward to current day, Tue 03/24/15:
I just went back Sun 03/22/15 to my second Easter Pageant with the Cummings family (I think they have 13 children – 2 in the performance. They’re like the Von Trapp Family Singers from “Sound of Music”).  And the Atonement message was even stronger, the second time around.  EVERYONE in the audience was crying.

I have eternal gratitude to Heavenly Father’s “Plan” for our eternal happiness.  I know that he has been working on me for a long, long time.  And then all the pieces came together – the health crises, my recovery and return to healthy living as the Word of Wisdom prescribes, and meeting the Sisters at Lambie’s house.  Coincidence?  I think not.

And in the past year I have gone to Youth Trek and helped cook and serve food to the kids participating, served at Bishop’s Warehouse – which was ALSO a workout but very fulfilling. I have joined the church choir, I have completed my Temple Preparation classes, I have been called as a Family History Consultant, I have also been called as the Relief Society pianist, and most recently I have been called as a Sunday School Teacher for the 16-year-olds, as well.  I have become active in Relief Society service, Visiting Teaching, and Home Teaching.  And the more I do, the more I WANT to do.  This is the happiest I have ever been in my entire life – and I owe it ALL to Jesus Christ and his Atonement for all our sins.  I have finally forgiven myself for all my wrongs, and work hard every day to be a better person, and more Christ-like.

And the icing on the cake?  I have met a fine LDS man (working at “Zion’s Market, no less!), and fallen in love,  This is the man I have been waiting for my entire life – for 60 years!!!  There ARE no better men than LDS men.  And as my Dad said – Mormons are the BEST people in the world.

I believe in the Book of Mormon.  I believe in the restored Gospel made possible through Joseph Smith.  I believe Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, and our Lord and Savior, and so grateful for the Atonement.  And I believe in His living prophets who walk the earth today.  (Which totally blew my mind when Olson first told me!)  I believe all of this with every fiber of my being.  This is the way Heavenly Father wants us to live.

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