Wow what a whirlwind of a weekend! I can now officially say I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I guess I'll start on Saturday, my baptism. The missionaries came over the night before so I could try on my jumpsuit and they left me with a message. I looked like Elvis when I tried it on which was pretty great!
They told me about their favorite scriptures + asked James what his was. He, of course, had it memorized which is pretty amazing to hear. That night I was filled with nerves. My mind was racing and I had so many emotions. They were all positive but I was most nervous because the missionaries asked James and I to bear our testimonies at the baptism. I had never done this before and I was so nervous; I am just starting out and I felt like I don't have a very strong testimony yet. Saturday morning came around and my nerves only built up even more! My baptism was not until 5 that evening, so I had to feel those nerves all day.
When the time drew nearer I was just at the point where I said to myself "Okay, I'm ready lets do this!". We got to the Tabernacle (where the font that our ward uses is located) and just waited for everyone to come in. Let me tell you, I was just expecting family and a few of our friends. I sent out an invite to everyone in our ward, but I did not expect so many people to show up! I was overwhelming, in the most grateful way. I could not believe the support system I had behind me and I am so grateful for everyone who came out to be there on this big day for me. The missionaries took us and our family outside before and we took pictures (Elvis suit and all!). Then, it was time to begin. We started with the hymn 'Glory to God on High' and then James' dad John gave the opening prayer. Next, our bishop gave a talk on Baptism. He had told us beforehand that this was going to be the first baptism as our bishop in the married student ward. Honestly, I think he was just as excited as I was! I knew I had to have him be a part of my baptism, because he was such a huge influence, and friend when I needed him. He did an amazing job and made me tear up. James' sister gave the next talk and I am so glad I chose her to do so. She spoke about the Holy Ghost and I don't think I could have asked a better person to give this talk.
Fast forward to my baptism. James and I walked up to the font and the entire thing was so quick. When I came back up I instantly felt such a surreal feeling. It was kind of like a feeling of peace and just happiness. I was honestly speechless! When we went to the back to change into dry clothes I just had the biggest smile on my face. Then I realized, once I go back out there I have to bear my testimony. At this time, I felt ready. I knew what was true and I knew exactly how I was going to say it. When we stepped out and it was time for me to speak, I went up and started by saying "I know this church is true"... and then I lost it. I was so overwhelmed with everything, my happiness, speaking in front of people I love, and just the fact I was one step closer to being a part of this amazing church. James told me before he knew I was going to cry when I go up there, and boy was he right! Looking at him only made it worse, because I am just so thankful he is in my life. I mean, without him I do not know where I would be, but I definitely would never have this opportunity and life changing experience. We closed with the hymn "How Great Thou Art" which is one of my favorites, we even sang this song at my home church and I knew I had to have it a part of this memory. James' mom Summer gave the closing prayer and then it was all over! Hugging and shaking friend's and families hands made me feel so loved and happy they all came to this. That night the Stratton family all went to eat at Chuck a Rama, which was delicious and I wish I could handle more than two plates!
Confirmation Day. Our church meeting times were moved to 1:30 starting this Sunday which was definitely weird! I hope we get used to that, but I did enjoy waking up in the morning and just getting to stay in bed and talk. During confirmation, you are brought in by the laying of hands by the Priesthood. They called me up to the front of the church and sat me down in the chair. I was surrounded by family (James, his dad, and brother Chris) and by our friends who had such an impact on my time there, some I met the first month we moved there and some who became our friends in the matter of months. They all laid their hands upon my head and James was the voice for the group. His blessing and prayer were so powerful and made me feel so happy. I asked him after when we got home if he had that written down or something because it was seriously that amazing! This particular Sunday also happened to be our bishop's last day, which was very sad. He bared his testimony and he is going to be so missed! Today was the day I took my first sacrament as well, which was so exciting! After sacrament meeting, we headed home since his parents and brother and family came all the way up here for us. After they left, we had a pretty lazy Sunday and just spent time together.
Final thoughts. I am still in shock that I am actually a member. We met with the missionaries what seemed like nonstop lessons and I cannot believe we are all done! I love how much more involved we have been in the church as well. I’ve noticed a huge change in James and he has been so active in the church and church activities, which truly makes me happy. I am most excited, because this is just the first step in the entire plan. Now that I am a member, I feel like a new person! This is a not only a new chapter in my story, but I feel like it is an entire new book! I look forward to the days of performing baptisms for the dead and I really, really look forward to the day James + I are sealed in the SLC Temple. Being married to him for almost 7 months solidifies the feeling that I know I have to be with him for an eternity. I am so very eager to go on this journey together and in the future teach our kid’s the same lessons I was taught and James was taught at a young age. I am so excited to grow our family and have our home centered on families and Christ. I probably need to end this long post now, so I just want to close by thanking everyone who has been a part of this with me. When the missionaries came over and asked me for my favorite scripture, my mind completely blanked. Of course I remembered it afterwards, so I figured I would close and say it here. It is in 2 Nephi 31:20. “Wherefore ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith The Father: Ye shall have eternal life”.