Do you remember when we almost became Mormons?
My sister asked me during a recent family trip. We both exchanged a knowing glance and busted out laughing. This isn’t some kind of inside family joke… I swear this is 100% true! For the better part of two years, we, as a family, attended the The Church of Latter Day Saints, every Sunday.
It all stared when two
handsome boys from Utah came knocking on our door one fine afternoon. My dad, who happened to be home that day, got his first introduction to LDS. My parents are devoutly religious… to them all Gods are equal. Even though my dad is a practicing Hindu, practically a priest, he’s been known to fast for Ramadan or attend service at a church. Growing up in India, we were the only Hindu family who celebrated Christmas, with a gigantic tree and star to boot! If invited to participate in anything God-related, bless his heart, my dad was is always game.
I attended a Christian convent school from kindergarten until 9th grade. Sitting through moral science classes every morning in school, singing hymns, hearing bible stories and then coming home to join your father for evening prayer at the altar can be really confusing to a fourth grader! Yet, when I approached my dad about this seemingly complicated subject, he had a simple answer that still resonates with me… Think of God as the ocean and all the rivers that lead into the ocean as religion. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, as long as you follow it through. Eventually they all end up in the ocean!
So, naturally when the Mormons came calling, he was his usual self- open and ready. When my sisters and I came home that evening, he informed us that we will have Family Time with 2 elders from the Church of Latter Day Saints every Thursday. I don’t know about you, but when I heard the word ELDER I pictured an old man with wise eyes. Behold my surprise, when 2 extremely attractive 20-something year old boys show up at our door wearing matching outfits!!! Needless to say, I never missed a single Family Time! They mostly read from the book of Mormon, which is quite different from the Holy Bible, watched videos about the church and discussed whether its teachings were right for us.
I mostly stared at them. My dad was honest from the start and explained that we will not be choosing one religion over another, but they were welcome in our home as long as they wanted to come.
Those sessions weren’t entirely lost on me… For all my raging teenage hormones, some things remain true. Family is the pillar of the LDS community and that is something we had in common with them. I suspect that was the hook that caught my dad! We were also impressed with the service aspects of the Mormon religion. My parents have always been big on this point, never missing an opportunity to serve. Love All, Serve All was out family motto. When I was cleaning out my parents library recently, I came across several dvds that the church had given us… which my mom had kept. One in particular, “Family First” is about a loving family that stays together through thick and thin, never losing faith in each other and in God. We watched it often during those days!
A couple of weeks ago, a book arrived at my work. I’ve worked with this woman for several years and she had just heard about my mom’s accident. So, the sweetheart that she is, she sent me a book about a women who survived a horrific accident similar to my mom’s. Maybe this book might give you some peace and understanding, the lovely handwritten note read. From the moment I picked up the book I couldn’t put it down. I was captivated by this incredible woman- Stephanie Nielson- a young mother of
four five, who was burned up to 70% of her body, including her face in a horrific plane crash. To make matters worse, her husband was piloting the plane and he too suffered major injuries! This book, Heaven is Here, is about her journey from hell and back, literally, and how with the unconditional love of her husband and support of her siblings, she not only survives against all odds, but triumphs! Sound familiar? She puts her life back together piece by piece, hour by hour and day by day and reading about it allowed me a glimpse into my own mother’s life. It’s not an easy read, there were times I had to put it down for fear of bursting into tears on the evening train, but I assure you that this book will stay with you for years to come!
Stephanie is a Mormon. She
had has unshakable faith in the Lord and believes without a shadow of a doubt that He has a purpose for her now and beyond. I know that deep down, my mom & dad believe the same, though some days it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. For all my spirituality, I don’t have faith like Stephanie’s, but her words have inspired me like nothing ever before. Maybe this is reminder from the Universe that there is a plan for each of us. All we need is an open heart and a loving family to support us through whatever life has in store… and we can get through anything. I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been like had my siblings not been there these last few months… We may not agree on everything, we may not even like each other at times, but their mere presence has given me strength to get through this ordeal. Our family is closer now than at any time before and we’re truly functioning as a unit! We’ve committed to our new roles, trusting each other in ways that we were incapable of doing prior to this tragedy… Family First! We’ve grown in every which way, and I’m sure mom will be proud! Happier times are just around the bend for all of us, I can just feel it in my bones!