Who I am
My name is Heather Collins. I am a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm a returned missionary from the Brazil São Paulo Interlagos Mission. In ten years, I've belonged to 17 different wards and held 16 different callings. I'm currently my ward's Beehive Advisor. I'm a writer, a historian, and an avid genealogist. I'm a Mormon
My Conversion Story
I grew up in a small town in Maryland, and my parents never had much in the way of religious sentiment. The only exposure to religion I ever had was when my grandmother taught me to pray when I was about 3 years old. She got me my first Bible several years later, which I would read to myself occasionally.
Eventually my sister tore a page out of my Bible, and the only purpose it served after that was to prop up a VCR. Before long, God to me seemed like He existed in much the same way--always there in the background, but never able to do much with me.
I was a martial arts instructor all throughout my teenage years, and it was there that I met my first Mormons. I had trained with hundreds of students by then, and the Mormon kids always stood out to me. I grew to respect them, and we developed a friendship that brought up this question of religion once again. I grew really close to my Mormon friends, and eventually they invited me to Church.
The first time I went to Sacrament Meeting is a day I'll always remember. I felt closer to God in the three hours I was at Church that Sunday than I ever had in all the years of my life combined. It felt as if I had come home, and I didn't want to leave. I'd finally found what I had been searching for all of my life, and I didn't know what to do next. I prayed to God to ask Him what He wanted me to do. Sitting in Sunday School with a Book of Mormon in my lap, I flipped open to a random page and read this verse.
Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.
Alma 32: 16
I needed to get baptized. I had no idea what baptism was, but I knew to the very core of my soul that it was what I needed to do. When I went to my friend's dad and told him I wanted to be baptized, I'd bet you anything he almost laughed at me. They were in a branch with no missionaries. I'd never even seen a missionary before. He told me to keep coming to Church, and they would work something out.
Months go by... (all the returned missionaries cringe)
I was baptized later that year. I was 16 years old, the only member in my family. I was really nervous, hence the expression on my face that looks like I'm about to keel over and die. But I had a wonderful baptism that proceeded to turn my life completely upside down.
I began a journey that has taken me across the country and the globe. In the 6 short years that I've been a member, I've gone to Brigham Young University, waited for a missionary, gone on a mission, and married my sweetheart in the Washington DC temple. My baptism changed my life completely.
I know that God our Father lives. He is our Father. He loves us completely. He has a plan for our lives, to bring each of us to a knowledge of who we are and what He expects us to do.
I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He was born of a Virgin Mother, and grew to be a Man among men. He set the perfect example for us, including in how we are to be baptized. He was rejected of men, and betrayed by His own. Our Savior bore the punishment for all of our sins through his atoning sacrifice. He was measured against all the demands of justice, and endured the very worst of tortures that Satan could inflict. Jesus fulfilled the law, he stood triumphant over all evil, and gave up his life upon the cross. Three days later he conquered the last enemy, which was death.
Jesus has given me the greatest gift I have ever received, that of redemption. I will live again after I die because of the unknowable price he paid in Gethsemane's garden and on Calvary's cross.
Jesus established a Church while he was on the earth, with twelve apostles and a living prophet. That Church has been restored again in our day, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that Christ's Church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. We have a living prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson. I've been in his presence. I've heard him speak. He bears the same ancient authority that Jesus himself bore anciently.
The Book of Mormon is the evidence given to the world that the Church is true. I testify that the Book of Mormon truly is the world of God. Together with the Bible, they bring us to a full knowledge of the truth.
I leave you my witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.