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Monday, January 7, 2013

From This Day Forth: The Conversion Memoir of Beatrice Oz, Part One


Elder Stewart, Beatrice Oz, and Elder Webster
This is the first part of the conversion story of a dear friend I met and taught the Gospel to on my mission to Australia. I have changed her name to Beatrice Oz in respect of some pressing circumstances in her life that require some anonymity. This is taken directly from her account, written by her own hand to me in a blue notebook prepared for me as a gift. The account is beautifully written and deeply spiritual, so with her permission I am publishing it in its entirety in a series of several posts. The experiences described were of great meaning and significance to me and altered how I approached and saw life afterwards. So, please, enjoy Beatrice's account and keep an open mind towards the many supernatural miracles she describes. Thus, with all of that in mind, here is part one of Beatrice's Account: 

To Elder Stewart

from this day forth

Beatrice Ann Oz

6th December
2000


I would like to begin with a prayer.

Dear Heavenly Father

I give thanks for the day Elder Freemantle, Elder Cross and Elder Webster came to my door and I did not turn them away. Through them you brought Elder Stewart, Sister Ligon, Sister Makihele and Sister Steed into my life. Today I am thankful I am thankful for your blessings to Darcy through Elders Stewart and Webster. He is so much improved, I am humbled by your love.

Thank you for all the blessings in my life and loving me all the while.

I know you to be the one truth and I will try to keep your word though out the rest of my days.

I am your servant, gladly without question and without murmurings.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.


~
 6th December

When you asked me if I would write my story I was unsure how I felt about it. Being kind of shy and all. But then I thought about it some more and realized that if ever you had days of doubt or just a day that really bites then you could flick through this and know that I am a better person through your ministrations and I am honored to have met you and count you as a dear friend.

So I thought I would type it on that glorified typewriter. But to me it lacks personality and that personal feel. So, I am going to write it for you all(5 copies) [referring to the copies she wrote the other missionaries, as well --MS] by hand. I guess I should apologize now for the state of my handwriting as it is bound to get exceedingly untidy.

I would like to begin by giving you a quick cook's tour of my life so that you might understand some of my attitudes and somewhat questionable use of the English language.

Regards

Beatrice
~

I have always had a strong sense of self. Sometimes I felt I had an inner knowledge that I knew things that no one else knew. I could sometimes  know what would happen before it occurred. My parents told me that it was not true. That I imagined all these things. So I stopped telling them. I knew in my heart it was O.K. but over the years other people's reactions made me feel I was somehow wrong. 

I have always questioned. Always. Ignorance just didn't cut it as an excuse for me.

My father is not a religious man and he always (and still does) scoffed at religion and faith. He always said if we wanted to go to Church that was our choice. But he never made me feel like it was O.K. that I wanted to go. He always refers to people of faith as being "Sunday Christians" meaning that for one day a week they were good, the rest of the time they were not tolerant at all.
So between mt Dad's attitude and my one experience at Sunday School where I was called all manner of things impolite for wanting to color in Jesus as he really was, I developed a jaded view of religion and God. I could not believe God and Jesus would turn against me for not knowing what color he was. In my heart I thought he would love me all the more for wanting to get it right. 
Jack has (had) always been with me. But I first really remember him when I was three. He made me laugh and calmed me enough for the Doctor to suture my head after Darren, my brother, cut it open with an axe.

From there on Jack would tell me things of the world and he would listen to me. I never doubted that he loved me and wanted to protect me. I know now he was preparing me for this faith I now have in Jesus Christ. He has always tried to guide me from truth to truth and always reminded me to treat others as I would have them treat me. Sometimes I did not listen. 

By the time I was 9 I had a strong sense of justness but mostly had to keep it to myself. As my Dad and occasionally my Mum had little patience for tears I spend most of my teenage years refusing to be weak and cry. Unfortunately with that came a lack of sympathy and no ability to cope with other people's sympathy. I always look at the problem and examine it from all sides. For instance Peter's Mum.

She is ill. No cure. So if she is suffering wouldn't she be better off-- As for her family. Watching some one suffer is not good for you, you can do nothing. Sure, I shall miss her and feel her family's loss, but it is meant to be. So why boo hoo?

I didn't believe in anything as a teenager. I tried. Once when I went to the Revival Church with my uncle. As I sat there trying to understand these people's faith I had a speaking in tongues experience. I could hear these words in my head, I could feel them forming in my mouth. But I was afraid, I didn't understand the words so I literally bit my tongue and literally clenched my jaw shut. I refused to be a vessel and I sat determined to outwait whatever was behind these words. The moment they left me another member of the congregation jerked to his feet and he said the words I had heard. 

I knew then that there was something out there beyond my understanding, so I began to search. I thought I should become a Nun. I loved Sound of Music and thought I could easily devote myself to God if I could sing all these cool songs. But then I discovered boys and that I could not be a nun and have a boyfriend too.

At that stage all my friends were into sex. I refused because I wanted to wait until I was married. That and the fact that inside I still hoped I would become a male upon puberty.

It didn't happen. 

I knew I believe in something but I didn't know what. My family weren't any help. Dad always insisted people who needed religion only did so because they were weak and needed a prop. I agreed. As I was fairly strong of faith in myself I believed him. But I still knew in my heart that there was a God. Hence confusion.

As you know at 20 while I was an apprentice chef my life took a radical change. I do not regret it. Nor do I hold any grudge to either Mark or Jackie. The night I stood in the backyard with Jack barefoot I knew I had to choose. The path I was on I knew would lead me to travelling the world as a Chef--probably bed hopping, undoubtedly lonely and nothing to show for it. Or I could stop. Take time to be a better person. Find what was really important to me and to live it. Until then I was arrogant. I knew I was a great Chef and could go far. I knew I could do whatever I wanted. But something was missing. I had a hollow space inside. Alcohol and partying could not fill it. It only made it stand out more. 

The other path was totally unknown to me. I did not know what I might do or be or what might happen to me. I asked Jack. He asked me what I believed in right then and there. He asked if I believed in Evolution or creation. Flippantly I said it didn't matter either way the chicken still came before the egg. But then I thought about it.

This Earth, this body. They were so amazing. A miracle in itself. I had treated my body really badly (and continued to until now). I had treated the earth with total disregard. But they were both surviving, adapting. I knew then that the Earth was sacred. Not merely formed by chance. 

So I began to search. My experience with "Christianity" to date made me skeptical. Also when I went to a Catholic Church in my search and the priest I talked to treated me with no respect or patience. I couldn't distinguish his actions from that of the God he claimed to serve.

Where was this God of mercy I knew of in my heart?

Still I searched. One day my Mum told me she was going to have her Tarot cards read. She asked if I wanted to come. I told her I don't think it is wise to know your future. Who is to say if what you get told makes you change your habits so as to prevent whatever you have been told happens. And that in fact causes it to happen.

So I said no. I went on saying no for several years.

Then I met Peter. From the moment we met I knew I would marry him. Jack told me that Peter could only love me so much, he could not be faithful to me and I should not marry him. He told me to live with Peter instead. But it wasn't right. All or nothing was kind of my motto. Still is, as you know.

So we married. Then I was pregnant with Wentworth and still feeling guilty about the loss of his twin. I was wandering through a shopping mall where a lady was setting up a psychic stall. As I walked past one of the tables collapsed and all her stones fell on the floor. I helped her pick them up. While I was gathering these stones I thought to myself, "Now is a good day to have my cards read."

I was skeptical but I sat down anyway. The lady who read them told me that my purpose in this life was to serve but not in servitude. She also told me I would make a great witch and was meant to read cards. It sounded like the answer. So I began to read and research Witchcraft. Until then I believed Witchcraft meant anti-Christ. In certain circles, this is true. But I found Wicca. It seemed so gentle, so passive and yet held great power. It felt right. Jack didn't stop me, he only told me to be careful.

Wicca taught me to do all things with clear eyes and an open heart. So I thought I would be O.K. Because my heart and intent were good. 

I met lots of people. They were all good, good people. Some Wiccans, some just people of faith. For a while I was happy. But then I heard about the Church of Wicca in Western Australia. The thought that I would have some one to go into battle for me over my right not to wear shoes was very appealing. To learn more of Wicca and truly become a witch called to me. It tugged at my ego, enticed me. I listened but in my heart I began to question. Was this right? What was God's thoughts of all this?

In the end I left it to the universe. I decided not to join a coven as I could not be certain of other people's intent.

Peter never seemed concerned about Wicca. He didn't care if I raised Wentworth as a Wiccan or not. I should have known it was not a natural reaction of a parent. However. 

Finally when Peter left I felt abandoned and very badly used. I blamed me. Though Peter said it was him not me. It hurt. I have always loved Peter, regardless of his choices. I felt it was my duty to love and not question. I did it gladly.

When the Elders came to my door, Wentworth and I were sitting on the front porch. Years of habit made me want to tell them to leave but the wicked voice in my head told me to tell them I was a Witch. Thought that they may not stay. But another part of me wanted to hear what they had to say as I always wanted to know what other people perceived as the truth.

To me we all had a truth that we had to live by. I thought I knew what my truth was.

P.S. I have left out much. But mostly you know of it anyway. Also I figure it would come up in re-telling my change anyway. 

Beatrice

~

7th December 2000

Good morning, Elder Stewart. I shall begin backwards. Second thoughts I'll start at the first chat with Elder Freemantle (an Aussie, I was amazed), Elder Cross (my sense of humour--I am surprised--because I thought all "Christians to have had their sense of humour surgically removed), and Elder Webster (very quiet).

--Sorry--wool gathering. I have to get ready to meet with all of you at Sister Miller's. First I have to go get Wentworth, he has had a bit of a relapse. I expected as much but he wanted to go to Child Care anyway. See you soon. And I'll continue this later.
Beatrice
~
At the time of our first meeting I was interested to see and hear what it was to be a Latter-day Saint.

Personally I believe in the Lord and the Lady. 

I did not believe in Satan. As far as I was concerned "he" was a Christian invention designed to strike fear and enhance the appeal of God. 

I believed in myself and my watermark. 

I did not believe in Jesus Christ. 

I must also admit that I was very skeptical as to Joseph Smith being a prophet.

But Elders Freemantle, Cross, and Webster seemed so openly full of love I was intrigued. That they did not immediately try to point out the error of my ways or try to convert me on the spot, that was refreshing. It also served to make me at ease and listen.

As I am always willing to learn what other people see as the truth I agree to read the Book of Mormon. I expected to find it exactly the same as the Bible and have no impact on me at all.

By the second visit when I met you I was still skeptical and had no intention of becoming a Latter-day Saint. But the more I listened to you and saw the goodness in your eyes, the more I began to wonder. When you asked me if I would be baptized if I believed the Book of Mormon to be true, I was very surprised to hear myself answer yes.

But I realized that despite my beliefs and whatever sort of person I was, I was a person of faith and I try to be as good as my word, so in my heart I knew if it was true and I could see no doubt then I would give up everything and become a "Mormon."
I will be quite honest with you, it frightened me to the very heart of me. If it were true then I was a lie. The good I felt in my heart was a lie. I was not prepared for that nor did I want to acknowledge that. I talked to Jack, I asked which one was right. Did my path now lie alongside Jesus Christ?

I re-read sections of the Book of Mormon, searching for an answer. A way out. I was happy as a Wiccan. But was it enough? No, it was not. For a while my mind was blank. I could not believe my heart was ready to change--without a struggle. Well, my heart might not struggle but my mind certainly could.

I dredged up everything I could remember of Jesus Christ and God. I remembered that lady in Sunday School when I was seven or eight who made me feel that I would never be worthy of the love of Jesus Christ or God. 

It hurt all over again. But I realized that all my life, everything I had done or wanted to do was either because I didn't feel worthy, so what was the point of trying, or because I needed to test my faith and see if I could begin to feel worthy. This is why I wanted to walk on fire. I need to prove my faith to myself. 

I was not happy with this new knowledge, it meant I was opening up to the prospect that I had been wrong. That the Christian God was not some jealous, tantrum throwing, vengeful God. But a true God of love.

I wanted to resist. Wicca afforded me shock value, the ability to do exactly as I pleased. Then I knew, I was being led astray. Could Satan possibly be true? The reality of this hit hard. I began to believe. But I felt compelled to resist.

I kept thinking about my water-mark, I am a good person. I'm sure I'm a good person! Aren't I? And yet... And yet somehow I had been deceived. By who? Myself? Jack? The Lord and Lady? Satan?

I asked Jack but he said that I had to choose. He could not make that choice for me. He said in my heart of hearts I knew the truth and I would act on it. When you asked me not to listen to Jack, he was insulted after a fashion because you assumed he was from Satan. As you spoke he told me that if he meant me harm he could have done it a thousand times over by now. But he said he would leave to give me a true chance to choose.

After you left I asked him not to go, because I was afraid, if all these things were true. I was afraid. If the Book of Mormon were true then Jesus Christ was true and I... I was in peril. I did not want Jack to leave me. But I knew he must. Even if to shake me out of my comfort zone. I was afraid. Without Jack, without Jesus Christ. Who would watch over me? Protect me? Time to be honest with myself.

--Bed Time.--

I shall continue after my baptism tomorrow. Still a thousand feelings run through me. I feel shame for taking so long to get here and the life I have led. But it has made me who I am.

I look forward to being a better person.

Good night, Elder Stewart.

This is where I will end part one of Beatrice's narrative, but I will put up Part Two soon. Reading this always gives me such warmth in my heart. I hope those of you who are also reading it are having a similar experience. Beatrice's story is truly one of the reality of supernatural power, of the Spirit of God, of the beauty of Grace, and the effectual might of faith. -- Mahonri Stewart

2 comments:

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    1. As far as I have been able to deduce, Jack was Beverley's spirit guide, or guardian angel. More will be revealed about him later in Beatrice's story.

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