The story of our conversion and our journey is not a short one. In fact, it goes all the way back to when we were dating. We had talked about church when we were dating. It was always something that we enjoyed and didn't have any negative feelings about. But, we just never felt like we really fit in. When we got engaged we talked about a temple wedding. It was one of those, "It's a good thing and one day we'll get there, just not right now." So, we got married in a civil ceremony and on we went.
Once we moved to Ephraim and got settled, we figured out what ward we were to be in. I started taking Institute and we met with our bishop. He didn't believe that drinking coffee should keep us from going to the temple (Travis loved his coffee). We started to work on a few things (slowly and inconsistently, but we were working on it). Soon the school year ended and we moved into Grandpa & Grandma Bown's house. When the new school year was closer we moved into a new apartment. This also meant we had a new bishop. This bishop was adamant that if Travis was drinking coffee we would NOT be going to the temple any time soon. This only served to anger Travis. Travis felt like overall he was a good guy not doing anything horribly wrong. He couldn't understand how drinking coffee was a legitimate excuse to keep him out of the temple. His anger on the matter only grew as time went on. I felt like he had given up and that this goal was no longer within my reach. I continued taking Institute and even took the temple prep class. Eventually, we graduated from Snow and moved back to Logan.
By the time we got back to Logan in 2001, the temple and church weren't on our minds very much. We were both attending USU and were busy trying to stay afloat financially. We gradually became minimally active and in 2002 I was called to be the YW camp director for our ward. That was the same time I found out I was pregnant with Sam. It was a rough camp for me, but I enjoyed it and I enjoyed working with the girls. Once camp was over, I was out of a calling and my membership became minimal again.
We had all four kids blessed and named by a grandfather when they were born. We knew that was important and why. I think it always made Travis feel bad that he couldn't do it, but he still held some anger and resentment from that second bishop.
It wasn't until Nash was 8 and was getting ready to be baptized that Travis started to show some interest in church again. Nash had already decided that he was going to have Uncle Robbie baptize and confirm him when Travis decided that he was going to be the one to baptize Nash. I think it disappointed Nash some, 1-because he now had to put things on hold for 6 months and 2-because he had a choice made for him that he had already made. Anyway, Travis met with the bishop and started working on what it was he needed to work on so that he could baptize Nash. Eventually, Travis received the priesthood he needed so he could baptize Nash. He went ahead and baptized Nash and we had someone else confirm him. I think that even though Travis was happy he finally was able to baptize his kids, he was disappointed that he couldn't also confirm them.
About this same time (Spring 2015) Travis and I were having a rough patch. I wasn't happy and he wasn't happy and something needed to give. I was ready for him to quick working in the oilfield and he wasn't fully committed to anything one way or another. That fall Travis went hunting. I didn't know it at the time, but he had his own conversion moment in the woods while on the hunt. He refers to it as his "Joseph Smith moment". I didn't know anything was amiss until he came home from the hunt. Things were still strained between us and he was headed back to work soon. It wasn't until after he left to go back to work that I walked past my bill board in my back entry that I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a check. Travis hadn't mentioned anything about leaving a check so I stopped to do a double take. Much to my amazement, he had written out a tithing check. This might not seem like a big deal to anyone. But, NEVER ONCE in our entire marriage had he so much as written out a FAST OFFERINGS check. If the boys showed up at our place and I didn't get up to fill out the paper and give them money, he sent them on their way. I distinctly remember taking a photo of the check and texting it to my girlfriend with the caption of "What the heck is this? He's NEVER written so much as a fast offerings check!" I was floored to say the least. When I finally picked my jaw up off the floor I was able to text him and ask him what the heck it was all about. He replied, very nonchalantly, that it was for tithing. It was then that he told me about the moment he had in the woods while on the hunt. He told me he was ready to commit to that goal we had talked about so very long ago. In all honesty, I didn't believe him. I had gotten my hopes up before and had been sorely disappointed. My three oldest kids already knew that they were to get my name to the temple to have my work done the day I died if I didn't get there myself before I died. I had considered going without Travis before, but I felt that it was create a huge gap in our marriage that I wasn't sure I could overcome. I told Travis I would believe it when I saw it. I don't think that's quite the answer he had anticipated getting from me. I told him I just couldn't get my hopes up on to be disappointed once again. By this time I had taken the temple prep class twice and had done two years of Institute classes. I had also started taking the kids to church on the weekends whether he was home or not. We both knew that the church was a good place for the kids and that they needed to be there so they didn't miss out on the things we had participated in and enjoyed as kids.
And so, in the fall of 2015 I began asking the bishop about a temple prep class. He asked me if we could wait just a little bit. He knew change was in the air and didn't want us to start a temple prep class only to have to shift and start over shortly after starting it. I'm thankful he asked us to wait. It gave Travis the time he needed to start working on a few things and to gain a little bit of confidence in his abilities. In December our ward split and we got an entire new bishopric. I actively sought out the bishop on that first Sunday and told him we were ready to take the temple prep class, so as soon as he had one lined up, to let us know. We had already been waiting for 2 months by this time. Each week we went to church I would ask the bishop or one of the guys in the bishopric if they had found someone to teach the temple prep class. Each week I got a "No, but we're close." It wasn't until April 2016 that they finally found someone to teach the much anticipated temple prep class. In all honesty, I'm shocked that Travis waited 6 months and didn't lose his motivation!
The gentleman that taught our temple prep class has been a temple worker and he use to work for the church in the temple department helping to get temples built. He was a great teacher and even agreed to teach the classes on just the weeks Travis was home. We set our temple date back in April and to me it felt like it was forever away. I was positive that something would happen in the interim to sabotage it.
The bishop told Travis that the three weeks prior to our temple date were going to be some of the hardest days of our life. He wasn't wrong. The weeks leading up to our temple day were the weeks we also came to agree to be foster parents to our niece and nephew. The were the days that I had to call DCFS. They were the days that I was sure my life was crumbling down around me. They were the most difficult days of my life - hands down.
It turned out that our photographer ended up not being able to attend our event and my 3 best friends all found out they couldn't attend the event either within about two days of each other. That was the week of the sealing. I won't say I wasn't disappointed, because I was. I was happy though that my mom agreed to drive all the way to Manti to keep the kids while we took out endowments so they didn't have to spend the entire day in the Youth Center at the temple. Not only did my mom come, but my dad came as well. Even though they weren't in the temple with us, they were closer than I had imagined they would be that day.
The day itself was a busy day. There were so many weddings happening (in all fairness, it was 2 weeks before college started again). I was happy that my Aunt Nikki was able to be my escort that day. She was always like the big sister I never had so I was excited she could still be like a big sister for me on that day. Travis's Uncle Brad was his escort that day and I know it did good for Travis's heart to have him there. We chose the Manti Temple because Travis said that Grandma Bown always told him it was "their temple" and that one day she would show him around inside. So, there was no other choice to be made. Unfortunately, through a misunderstanding, Grandma was unable to get her temple recommend renewed and join us in the temple on our day. She felt so bad, but we know she wanted to be there and tried her very hardest to join us that day. We had the Relief Society President - and my dear friend (Missy Murdock) come. Travis's cousin Mindy & her husband Brant came. Brad's wife Lori was there. Jamie & Robbie were there and Grandpa & Grandma Reeder were there for the sealing. As a surprise my sister and her family were all waiting outside for us when we walked out. I asked her if she had woken up and decided like it was a good day to drive to San Pete and she told me, "Yea, pretty much!"
It wasn't until they brought the kids into the sealing room that we realized maybe he hadn't prepped the kids like we should have! In discussion afterwards Travis said he thought that the people at the Youth Center would talk to them about what was going to happen. When I talked to the bishop afterwards he felt so bad because he felt like he should have done a better job talking to the kids. I told him not to worry that it worked out fine!
I know that this is a day we will not soon forget. It is a day I never thought I would live to see. I hope that it's a day my children remember and that one day they can understand the struggle we had to get there. I hope that my kids understand how amazing what happened was and that they strive for it in their own lives one day as well.