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Jeff Keeney was not just a good missionary…he was a GREAT missionary…and he wasn’t just a great missionary; he was MY missionary!
How did I go from being an anti-Mormon member of a protestant sect to being absolutely certain that there was only one church with the authority to administer all the ordinances of the Gospel and that mine wasn’t it?
It began with a work supervisor who, 20 years ago, motivated me to sit down for my first missionary discussion by his love, his example and his patience, leading to my conversion and baptism. His simple invitation, “I’d like you to come to a fireside at my home next Monday,” transformed my life and changed its destiny…forever.
Before I was baptized at the age of 30, my philosophy of life could best be described by the popular phrase, “It’s all about me.” Armed with and architecture degree and an MBA, everyone told me I was on the fast track. Every girl I dated, every party I attended, every friend I made was guided by one question: “How will this help my career?”
I was materialistic, shallow and selfish. Busy climbing the ladder of success, I couldn’t be bothered with the needs of those on the rungs below. I was stubborn at first. I thought I could pick and choose what doctrine to believe and what to reject like an a la carte menu. Gradually, I realized that I needed to humble myself and pray for God’s will in my life. Getting to that point alone was the biggest hurdle to my progress.
After my baptism, things changed. My coworkers, in learning of my baptism, first accused me of converting just to get in good with the boss. However, they saw that I no longer drank coffee at meetings or martinis at after-work happy hours. They noticed that I was becoming less of a jerk and more concerned in helping others succeed around the firm. I went to fewer and fewer parties after work and more frequently to church activities… not because I was expected to, but because it made me happier to be around people who wanted to become better.
How did my family take my conversion? Though they lived in Indiana, they expressed their concern that I was making a huge mistake. Would this peculiar new faith of mine make me seem out of place when we got together? Would it monopolize my time so much that there would be no room for them in my life?
Gradually, they came to see that, my joining the church made me a better person in every way—kinder, gentler, happier, and more patient, generous and loving toward them than I had ever been before. Furthermore, the Church’s focus on genealogy increased my interest in and attention to my extended family and my desire to learn about their life stories and family histories built bridges of friendship to relatives with whom I had never had much in common.
As I look back on all the decisions I’ve made along the way, I sometimes wonder what my life and the lives of others around me would have been like had I not knelt down that cold New Years Eve in 1984, to pray to know for myself whether or not the things that missionaries had taught me were true.
My life, as it is now, simply would not have existed. My family, my career, my friends—all would not have existed. Everything would be different because they have been inextricably connected to my decision to become a Latter-day Saint. The lives of many others would have been different as well.