Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Having Faith In the Fruits of Conversion

 I was recently asked to share the story of my conversion and my testimony at an “I Believe” fireside in our Fremont Stake. I told this story on Sunday, March 17th, 2013.
This winter I have spent many hours planting fruit trees in the backyard to create an orchard with about twenty different trees. Those twenty trees will produce almost 50 different varieties of fruit. How is it possible to get such variety out of a backyard orchard?
No need to search your copy of the Western Garden Book, believe it or not, the answer lies in the scriptures. If you look up fruit and fruitful in the scriptures, you are presented with a long list of scriptures pertaining to fruit and fruit trees. I’ll share some of my favorites:
  • (the) Saints shall plant and eat fruit: D&C 101:101;
  • if Saints bring forth fruit, they will dwell in the Lord’s kingdom: D&C 101:100;
  • (the) faithful will be blessed with much fruit: D&C 52:34;
  • ye shall know them by their fruits: 3 Ne. 14:16, 20; (Matt. 7:16, 20;)
  • be baptized unto repentance that ye may be partakers of (the) fruit of (the) tree of life: Alma 5:62;
AND my very favorite fruit scripture and focus for today, is:
  • wild branches grafted into tame roots bring forth tame fruit: Jacob 5:18
As a convert to the church I consider myself to be somewhat of a “wild branch,” in fact, all of us are wild---some more so than others. Whether we are born into an active LDS family or pursue conversion later in life, we must be “grafted” to the church to experience true conversion. Then, with patience, proper pruning and care we can reap a plentiful harvest like none other.
Now, I don’t know a lot about fruit trees, but I have learned a little bit about grafting. Many of the trees I planted in the backyard are “multi-graft” which means 1 tree may have up to 4 different varieties grafted on. For example, I have one low chill apple tree with:
  • Gordon
  • Anna
  • Dorsett Golden
  • and Fuji varieties.
The grafting process, in a nutshell, involves inserting and securing a small branch called a scion, from a productive fruit tree variety onto rootstock--or the roots and main trunk. The type and quality of rootstock is very important as you want to pick rootstock that will be successful in your climate, being compatible with your hardiness zone and chill hours.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is like ideal rootstalk--with perfect organization under our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the church ensures that wherever it is planted, it will THRIVE by drawing the necessary nourishment to grow and sustain the church, its leaders and members.

We, as members of the church, are the scions, or attached branches. Some of us come from productive fruiting trees, others of us come from more wild stock, but all of us, when securely attached to the church receive the gifts to make a fruitful life and “bring forth tame fruit.”

My conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints begins in Thousand Oaks where I was raised by goodly parents. My parents are not religious in the ways we would think--they do not attend church regularly, pay tithing or read the scriptures, but they are good people nonetheless who provided me with a basis that made the leap of faith to join the church possible. In high school, I was also exposed to stellar church members and even went to a couple of dances. After graduating, I attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where I spent my freshman and sophomore years attending services at many different types of churches, searching for one that felt like good “rootstock” for spiritual development. Then, I asked a boyfriend at that time about his church, the Mormon church. He attended with me one Sunday and I’ll never forget the feelings I had during Sacrament meeting. The Holy Ghost testified to me that day that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was where I should be. From there, the missionaries began teaching me regularly. When I decided to get baptized, my tiny seed of faith was tried. Negative comments came flying from all directions, creating thoughts of doubt in my mind. At my next appointment with the missionaries, I expressed my concerns and we knelt in prayer. During that prayer, I poured out my heart to Heavenly Father and received confirmation that being baptized was what I needed to do.

This month marks 15 years since I was baptized and I can hardly believe the fruits I have been blessed with as a faithful member of this church:
  • 14 year ago I was married in the Oakland Temple to an amazing man
  • I now have 3 wonderful children who delight in living gospel principles
  • My callings as a Visiting Teacher and in Primary, Relief Society, Cub Scouts and now Young Women’s have helped me to grow in the gospel through service to become more Christ-like.
I have a testimony that our true conversion begins when we commit to being bound through baptism, to really graft ourselves to the rootstock of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Then, over time, Heavenly Father nourishes us through prayer, the scriptures, and the words of our prophets. He prunes us through the voice of the holy ghost, Christ’s atonement and the repentance process. It is then that we can bring forth the fruits of our labors, the fruits by which we shall be known as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
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