The following account was written by Bobby Van Rooy. It details why Bobby decided to join the Mormon church after studying, pondering, and praying for nearly two years.
My conversion took about two years, but I’ll take it from the last 8 months. I was 27 years old and divorced already. Living in Hawaii and a professional musician/entertainer.
While performing in San Diego I decided to go to the LDS church in Mission Bay where I was staying. I was very depressed and feeling guilty about things in my life. I was a bit late and the church service was packed. I noticed the front pew was open, so I walked down to the front and sat down. I didn’t realize I came in on what they called their once a month “fast & testimony” meeting.
I had not slept much lately and was a bit exhausted, I was listening to an attractive young woman talking and, to tell you the truth, can’t remember one word she said. But as I listened, something funny happened; I started seeing an aura, a golden aura around her.
As she finished and young man came up and expressed his gratitude to his Heavenly Father and I remembered the tears welling up in my eyes as I saw an aura around him too. He looked down at his wife and two little girls and expressed his appreciation and love for them. It truly touched my heart.
As the sacrament ended, I tried to duck as many Mormons as I could to get to the exit door; I did remarkably well, until I got to the parking lot.
As I started to walk past the cars and towards my apartment in the space of one second that it takes for me to pass someone looking into the rear-view mirror, this gentleman by the name of Delbert Nichols saw me pass in that split second in his rear-view mirror. He immediately got out of his car and introduced himself to me and I to him.
He asked me if I was a visitor and I replied I was. He asked me what Ward I was from and I was not familiar with the terminology of “ward” and I told him that I wasn’t familiar with that term. He said, “You’re not a member of the Church are you?” and I replied “No, I’m not, was it OK to come to your church?” and he said, “of course, we love having visitors come”.
Then he said the magic four words that all starving musicians love to hear, “have you had dinner?” I replied “no, not yet”. He invited me to come to his house and I gladly accepted.
When I got to his house he asked me what religion I was and I replied that I was never baptized any religion, but that my father was Presbyterian and my mother Catholic and her mother 7th Day Adventist and her mother a high voodoo priestess that used to heal people. He got a kick out of that one.
He asked if I believed in my religion and I said “no” and he asked me “why not?” So I explained that I had been searching for almost two years. That the only religious knowledge I ever received was from my maternal grandmother.
I told him that I felt lost, and that I was searching but I felt that all religions where great money makers! I also felt that if there really is a God he must have His church here on this earth somewhere, but where? Then Del asked me, what made you come to our LDS Church. |
This is what I said exactly: “Because you have the balls to tell the world you have a Prophet and twelve Apostles and funny as it seems, you’re the only people I see that has a Church named after the very being Christians worship, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! Now either you guys are for real or you’re another phony Christian Church!” Del got a kick out of that one.
We sat and talked for over two hours as he proceeded to tell me about the plan of salvation. As I sat there, I could feel my brain absorbing about as much as I could in those two hours and had to stop Del from going any further and asked if I could come back the next day and learn more, but as far as for today, my brain could not handle anymore,
I had learned more in those two hours I felt than I did in the 15 years I spent in schooling or on the road as a performer!
I noticed he had a Book of Mormon and a book called “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder”, by Le Grand Richards, and Del gave me both books. I made a commitment to read both books.
Again let me lapse another 8 months and tell you that I read the Book of Mormon, D&C & The Pearl of Great Price 3 times! So by the time I went back to Hawaii I decided to go to a LDS church that I saw in Waikiki at the end of Kalakaua Street. Mind you, this was my 5th year in Hawaii, the band I was in had worked with Don Ho at Duke Kahanamoku’s when we first got to town, opened up the Hawaiian Hut and now we opened up the “Infinity Club” at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.
We had been the opening act for a lot of top names in the music industry and had also finished a tour with Burt Bacharach’s orchestra on a two week tour in Japan and back in Hawaii for a concert with him and us.
So back to that Sunday that I decided to go back to the LDS church in Waikiki that Sunday and walked in on a Sacrament meeting and even went to Sunday school. As I approached the church they have an outdoor baptismal font (where I was later baptized) and a bench with two missionaries sitting on it.
One missionary was an Elder Judd and the other an Elder Powers (used to think it funny that they were all called “Elder so & so”, can you imagine how hard I laughed when I saw an Elder Elder!! No joke, this is true! Anyway, I approached the Elders and asked if they were missionaries for the Church, of course I could see the look in their face that was saying “DUH!!” couldn’t have blamed them if they said it out loud.
Hey, I figured I was about seven years older than they were, so I asked them if they would come to my apartment and give me the lessons, you should have seen the look on their faces then! Here I was proselytizing them, what a moment if you can imagine. So we set up the times and lessons, so now I’m going to flip the page ahead a bit again.
At about the 3rd or fourth lesson they challenged me to baptism, so I turned the table on them and challenged them and this how I thought I would ensnare them and their God too. I told them I was not ready for baptism that I had made up my mind that either God or his Angel(s) would have to let me directly know that the LDS church was true (watch what you wish for).
Elder Judd & Elder Jones (guess Elder Powers had to be transferred, didn’t know at the time that that was a regular practice of the church) asked, “What do you propose needs to be done for you to receive such a blessing?”
I could perceive that they thought I was asking it out of arrogance, I truly wasn’t, I felt it was too important for me not to know, considering I had such lack of knowledge in these matters. I really truly needed to know the truth, because I knew in my heart that if I was to stay true to any church or organization, it had better be true! Not because I felt I deserved it.
So I challenged the Elders and asked them to give me a blessing that the truth would be manifested unto me as the Book of Mormon. promises in the beginning page which is Moroni 10:3-5. Elder Jones said, “If you really believe you’ll get an answer, we’ll give you the blessing.”
I said, “If you really say you are the TRUE PRIESTHOOD on this earth and the only Priesthood that is TRUE, then I will get an answer!” Elder Judd the more seasoned Elder said, “We’ll gladly give you the blessing brother Van Rooy”.
As they proceeded to bless me, they placed their hands upon me and I don’t remember the exact words, but I do remember them saying that I would be given my testimony to the truth of all things pertaining to the truthfulness of the Church.
A few days went by and each night my work schedule was from 10 PM to 3:45 AM entertaining in the night club with the band I was in. My studio apartment. was close to work and could walk there, which I did every night.
When I got home I’d either write or read until about 6 AM and retire to bed and get up at 12 noon. This particular morning (noon for you guys) I got up and started reading “No Longer Strangers”, you may remember this book had testimonies of converts in them and I was quite fascinated by the stories.
Something strange started to happen; it got real dark in my very small apartment. I didn’t think anything of it at first; thinking it was just a tropical storm coming and it would be over soon like it usually is.
But strangely enough it got pitch black dark and I got real weak and tired and couldn’t understand why or what was happening. All I could do was turn my head to the wall of the apartment and I saw this little circular bright light, ever so small and getting bigger and bigger each moment or second, I think time stood still for me.
As the light took up almost the whole space of its area. Suddenly a being walked through it, wearing what Joseph Smith described on what Moroni wore the night Joseph was visited three times. I was a bit frightened at first and dared not say a word until spoken too.
I stood up and could see we were about the same height and build (I was a lot skinnier in those days) He had a book in his hand and opened it up and faced it towards me, I couldn’t read the writing, the being asked me to come closer and still couldn’t read it, then he said, come more closer and I did so reluctantly and all I could see was the page number.
He smiled, closed the book, and walked off back through that circle as the circle diminished and disappeared and the blackness of night faded as well.
Just a couple of things here, this being was NOT of Spirit, it was flesh & bones just like you and I. Secondly, we communicated without moving our mouths, my thoughts and his were readable to each other (can you imagine judgment day! You cannot hide from the light!).
The angel did not come to judge me although I deserved being chastised, but rather to deliver me a message that I had requested. Keep in mind that this miracle didn’t come over night to me. There were times on my only day off I would kneel down and pray for HOURS! I would purposely pray all day long unceasingly at times.
As the vision closed to me I was flabbergasted, needless to say, and didn’t know what to think of what I had just experienced. I quickly grabbed the Book of Mormon thinking the page number was in there, until I realized the Book of Mormon didn’t have that many page numbers.
So I grabbed this pocket book Bible that was given to me by my ex-mother-in-law who was Mormon by the way. It turned out to be Isaiah 29: 11-15. I read the whole chapter and it seemed as I read certain versus such as 11-15 it felt as though that someone was behind me and touched or grabbed my shoulder.
I about jumped out of my skin and felt silly realizing there was nobody behind me. But I underlined those particular versus not really knowing the reason why.
Not sure how much time went by, but I called the Elders and said “you guys got to come over right away”. They were over within the hour I think and I related my experience to them and you could feel the Spirit in my little apartment was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
I told them I didn’t quite understand why Isaiah 29 was so important and the Elders scrambled for their scriptures and opened it up. I noticed they had some markings on their scriptures on that particular chapter. I requested to see their bibles and compared it to mine. Lo and behold, they had the same versus underlined as I did, I literally slipped off the edge of the bed where I was sitting right on my keester and started to cry.
I said, “I am now ready to be baptized”. I know the Gospel is true beyond the shadow of a doubt.
I have been in the Church since August of 1975 baptized in the Waikiki Ward. I have been married now almost 30 years and have three sons. I baptized (while still a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood) 8 sisters, the eighth one became my wife Karen.
Karen has been a Relief Society President and I have been the Gospel & Doctrine teacher for over 5 years now in the Los Altos Ward in Mesa, AZ.
Bobby Van Rooy