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June 16, 2014

My Family Conversion by Carolyn Cragun

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     Our family were very active in the Anglican church in Paris, Ontario.  Father was Rector’s warden, Mother was head of the Women’s Auxiliary. Carolyn was singing in the choir, and helping with a Brownie troop. But Richard was a cut up.  One Sunday he came home and announced he wasn’t going to church anymore, that there were just old ladies there.  So mother began reading about other religions and how they involved their youth.
    When my father had a heart attack, mother studied everything she could find on how to help him with changes to his diet.  She put wheat germ in his cereal and in the bread she made.  She renewed her studies of religion and became very interested in the vegetarian diet of the Seventh Day Adventists, who worked for her.
     In 1948 there was a knock on her door.  When mother opened the door, there were two Mormon missionaries in suits, white shirts and fedora hats. Standard clothing at the time.  She invited them in and told them she had just been reading about the health statistics of the Mormon people in
a book by Gaylord Hauser.  She would like to know about their “Word of Wisdom”.  She asked them what they hoped to accomplish by knocking on doors.  They said they had a message they would like to share.  She asked if they had a program for young men in their church.  They told her about the Priesthood quorums and the seminary classes.  Then she asked if she could read their Book of Mormon.  Yes, she was ready for their message.  
    She introduced her family to the missionaries.  She began to leave tracts around where Carolyn would find them, knowing her curiosity would lead her to read them.  Pairs of missionaries began teaching the family the tenets of the Mormon Church over the next two and a half years.  Mother read everything the missionaries could provide her.  She cross-referenced every item in the Book of Mormon with the Old and New Testaments.
     In a taped interview in 1970 she told of reading the Doctrine and Covenants. “Carolyn and Richard had gone to the beach and dad was out checking {construction}.  I started reading and I read all day. I didn’t make a bed,  I didn’t sweep.  I just read.  I didn’t get dressed until about 7  o’clock at night.  When I got to the 89th section and read the Word of Wisdom, this was the first time that I had a testimony of Joseph Smith.  I knew it was right, but {previously} I couldn’t get a testimony that Joseph was a prophet, because the concept of a prophet {in our day} was foreign to us.  But when I read the Word of Wisdom and knew that medical science did not have that knowledge at that time, it was just beautiful.  That day I just read the Doctrine and Covenants right through, like gulping when you were starving, and later I had to read it again.  I just couldn’t put it down.”
    The Elders invited her to a District Conference where Milton R. Hunter was to be the visiting speaker.  Again from the interview: “The elders had invited me to go to a district conference where a guest from Salt Lake City was to speak.  I remember thinking, ‘these pople are terribly religious.  I bet they don’t use any make-up.’  When we walked in the door Grace …….. was directing the music with nice bright lipstick on, and a nice form fitting sweater and I thought,’they are normal.’
    “When I went to get in the car, Dad was waiting for me.  I assured him I could drive myself, but he said ‘No, since you have been reading these things you have a different look.  Your reactions have changed.  You’re kinder and I want to go and hear what these men have to say.’  You don’t realize yourself that you are changing, but I think that reading the words of Widtsoe made me realize that it wasn’t enough to know it.  You had to put it into action.” 
    “Elder Hunter spoke on the Mormon understanding of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the mission president spoke on what was meant by the soul of man. Afterwards they came down to talk to Dad and he said, Where did you get that story that you told tonight. This is what I have always believed.  That a baby is innocent.’  And they said, ‘Well if you would read the books your wife has read, you would know where that story came from’.  ‘Yes, well I am a busy man and I don’t have time.’   Dad turned to Elder Hunter and said, ‘So that is your story and you are going to stick with it?’  ‘No, that is the Lord’s story and I am going to stick with it.’  Dad would come back day after day from his business trips and say, ‘I can’t get the words of those men out of my mind.  They keep going through and through my mind.”
    Mother and Father and Carolyn were baptized 3 December 1950 and confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of LatterDay Saints.   

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