Have a seat, this will be a long one, but I hope it's worth the read :-). This story starts out in Maryland at my first job, when I was 15. My parents decided I would be a lifeguard, I went through the training, and there I was on the first day with the Assistant Manager, Katrina. Our first assignment was to clean the pool, deck, and bath house before opening day. She removed a lid from a trashcan and a swarm of bees flew out, and "F#$%" flew out of her mouth. I listened to her for the next several hours tell me how she was now a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and she was "going to hell for cursing." She had made a covenant to stop. Seriously, THIS GIRL WAS CRAZY!
Picture this, a grungy 15 year old who spent every waking moment trying to find, bribing people for, and consuming beer, pot, and cigarettes having to spend 40+ hours a week with a Mormon! AHH! I was grumpy about this to say the least. I left that day dreading the next few months. As it came, my fears were justified. Our personalities clashed big time. She preached, and I smoked in her face. At some point I think we agree'd to disagree. The summer finally came to an end. We parted ways on the last day and I thought that was that.
In October she called me. "Let's go see a movie", she said. To this day neither of us has any idea what we were thinking, but we went. We decided that day to work together again the next summer. I know, it boggles my mind too. Truth is, behind it all, deep down, we had a weird connection. A comfort level I really can't explain. I realized I could be myself in front of her, when I couldn't anywhere else.
Skip ahead to next summer. We worked together 10 hours a day 5-6 days a week. We laughed. A LOT! We started to finish each others sentences. Often we didn't even have to say our thoughts out loud, we knew what we were thinking. We spent most of our time together despite our differences. She started tricking me into dinners with the missionaries, and even called me at night to read me the Book of Mormon over the phone. I still thought she was crazy, and continued my teenage shenanigans. She convinced me to take discussions (at least I think so, it's possible she had the missionaries slide them into regular conversation). They'd ask me to "pray about it." Geez, Katrina had been asking me to do that since last summer! I guess I should mention, prayer and religion were not a part of my home life. At all. It was as foreign as a different language would be. I refused. Mostly because I wasn't sure how. I was certain He wouldn't listen to this messed up teen.
Again, the summer came to an end. Katrina and I remained good friends. We talked frequently. A couple months later, she convinced me to pray about it. Well, we know what happens next. In October of my senior year in High School, I was baptized. Between my mom turning my alarm off for seminary, sneaking coffee into my hot chocolate mug, and pot head friends, my activity didn't last long. I graduated, and life separated my great friend and I. My parents moved me to Florida, and she was going to go on a mission. I missed her, but I knew we'd always remain intact.
Well, she was called to the Key West, Florida Mission. Yep, I was in her mission boundaries!! My activity was still so-so, but I was able to receive my Patriarchal Blessing, and she was actually able to attend!! The Patriarch said "You have met a dear friend here on Earth. You covenanted with each other in the pre-existance to find each other and bring one another to the gospel." WOW! No wonder we have such a connection!
As time went on, our lives drew us geographically apart. I moved back to Maryland to live with a member family. It was much easier to be fully active then! She moved to Utah to teach at the MTC, then Nevada. We'd go several months without speaking at times, but always picked right up where we left off. Katrina and I had similar up-bringings, not the most supportive. She became frustrated and discouraged and eventually left the church. Several years went by. She found a man that loves her, and she was finally happy. Except she knew she wasn't following the Lord's plan. I knew she still had a testimony, and I knew it was killing her that she was breaking her temple covenants. She was finally married, and I was so happy she found a companion. We had many conversations over the years about how neither of us were sealed to anyone in the Temple, and how that was the goal. She was married, I was married, but all the pieces of the puzzle weren't quite there. I had a Temple marriage, she didn't.
I thought quite a bit about how she gave me this great gift. She gave me the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She changed the course of my life. She introduced me to the member family I lived with that saved me from so many things and helped me grow in the church. I called her one day and read the testimony she wrote in my scriptures. She just wasn't ready. She was scared to talk to her bishop, and scared to tell her husband about this part of her life because he would then know the rules she broke. She was scared he would lose respect.
I was sitting in Relief Society one Sunday and the lesson was on missionary work. I knew I had to do something more for Katrina. I called her shortly after and told her how I was feeling. She happened to be driving by a chapel. We had a good chat, although it was a chat we had had many times before so I wasn't convinced anything would be different this time. She called me a few days later and told me when she came home that day, her husband was watching a church movie on BYU TV. It enabled her to talk to him about it. He was receptive, and she was going to talk to her bishop. Again, I wasn't super convinced. She had made and broken appointments with her bishop before. I called her frequently until the day of her appointment. She went! Her mind was eased, and he gave her a blessing. She taught her husband, and brought him to church. Well, we know what happens next, he was baptized! He re-proposed to her to marry him for time and all eternity in the Temple. A year later (19 years after this story started), and a couple weeks after baptizing his mother, they were sealed.
The sealing was this past weekend. What an AMAZING day! Not only because it made an amazing end to this story, but because I was able to attend and FEEL the gravity of what was happening. I felt how happy He was that we did what we came here to do. We found each other, and brought each other to Him. In the Temple, she kept saying "What if you hadn't made that phone call? We wouldn't be here today." All I could respond with was "You started it! All those years ago!"