24 Nov 2009

I guess you could say that, thirty years ago today, I became Brigham.

On November 24th, 1979, I joined the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon); which is to say that I was baptised. According to our doctrine it was a full immersion in a font in the main Burbank Ward building constructed for the purpose.

My high school friend Mike McDaniel, who had introduced me to the church while we were students at Burbank High, performed the baptism and spoke at the occasion. So did my other LDS friend Bob Avery. I am in daily touch with both of them still. My wife Cari was the chorister; at the time, she was a romantic interest! Bob Edwards, another Burbank High graduate a couple of years ahead of me who was the ward mission president, conducted.

Photograph - program.

I am wearing a white jumpsuit in the photo because that's what we baptise people in; it symbolizes sins being washed clean. The two missionaries who were assigned to me for the introductory teaching sessions known as "the discussions" were Elder Cole and Nelson. (Mormon missionaries always come in groups of two.)

After the baptism we all went to a restaurant to celebrate. Afterwards we stood around idly chatting by the front door. I recall watching the sunset and wondered if I would ever leave the church, or go inactive. (Even then I knew myself well enough to know that my various enthusiams are often not long-lived.) It occured to me then, with some force, that my baptism wasn't a manifestation of some organization I had joined, as was the case with the Marine Corps. It was a manifestation and a realization of who I was - an entirely different matter. I knew then that I wouldn't leave the church, and I haven't.

My entry into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) remains one of the greatest and best decisions I have ever made, probably the best. It has given me a focus, an identity, a mission, a wonderful wife and family, many good friends, opportunities for service and much self-improvement over the past three decades. I can only imagine what a sorrier person I would be today without the church, how pallid my life would be or how much more difficult our marriage would be without the Gospel. It has also given me a testimony, and I would like to share that with you. This will be the most important thing I ever write in this daily blog.

Jesus Christ lives.

He worked out the atonement of mankind for our sins, so that, one day, we can once again share a kingdom of glory with our Heavenly Father in heaven. The path to eternal life is through Him. I accept him as my savior; He is indeed the savior of the world.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true and its mission is divine; the Book of Mormon stands with the Bible as a further witness to Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith, a 19th century American prophet, was visited by our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and reinstituted the Church according to the structure and doctines described in the New Testament.

I write these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Check out my church's website, especially the sections that describes who we are, and what we believe: Mormon.org.

Last night my wife and I watched an unexpectedly moving film, "Everything is Illuminated" (2005); this morning, upon reflection, I am convinced it is a perfect film. Without going into details, there is a minor scene where a protagonist tells another protagonist that he is wearing his shirt inside out. Since there's a language barrier, he explains that what is inside should be out and what is out should be inside. This is, of course, metaphorical. By the end of the film the fellow with the inside out shirt has discovered who he really is, and reveals this.

I liked this movie because it contains elements of a journey (my favorite novel is Huckleberry Finn for this reason) and also a discovery of heritage and genealogical awareness - two themes that resonate strongly with me. And, oddly enough, with the subject matter I've written about today.

As I sat down to write this blog, I had not realized that my baptism took place thirty years ago. I had also not planned to share my religion in this blog, or that themes in a random movie I picked up at the public library and watched last night would connect with an event in my own past thirty years ago.

Everything is illuminated.


  1. Wow! Quite a story today. I have been reading your blog daily for over a year and I check out other sections including Avocado Memories. It's nice to see some light shed on who you are as a person. Good Luck in all you do Wes.


  2. The first thing that came to mind on reading this today was the Bible verse, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord."
    I got goosebumps when I clicked your program.
    I can almost see your Mom and Dad nudging other saints, "that's our boy, Wes."
    Your constant reader,

  3. Wes-With two browser windows open this evening...your blog on one, our small town, very contentious run-off election results refreshing on the other...well, simply put, your blog put everything into a perspective that I really needed at this moment. Seems like the small town folk spoke and will be putting in another one of those "change" people with a personal agenda...and all by only ONE vote.

    Something told me to open your site for a bit of humor while waiting for the election results to be final...your words made everything clear to me and I thank you for sharing. As with so much of my life of the past two years, everything has happened for a reason. Through some deep valleys and the highest of peaks I've been grateful for the Journey the Lord has put me on. I am grateful for finding your site (Avocado Memories) nine years ago. Your blog has made my day more times than you can imagine. Tonight you calmed my spirit with your words. Our little town is in for some rough seas with the outcome of the election...but all will be 'illuminated', all will be good in the end. Of that I am certain.

    Please offer condolences to Cari at the passing of her mother. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family this holiday season.

    Reader and frequent commenter from Mt. Dora, Florida. M.Richison



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