Right when I got to Salt Lake, Lars and I went over to Temple Square and saw the Testaments movie. Afterwards, we called one of Lars’ friends, Drake, (remember this story?) to learn the plan for General Conference the upcoming Saturday. We found out that we definitely had tickets to the afternoon session and Lars had tickets for the Priesthood session.
The next day, we went to Park City and walked around before getting ready for my baptism. The day was kind of a blur. Lars had everything all planned though – he had chosen speakers and music and everything. When we got to the church, I was introduced to a number of strangers whose faces I will never forget. Elder Steoger’s mom and sister were able to come and were some of the first people to arrive. We exchanged some humorous stories about their missionary and swapped addresses. Then the person who did my talk on baptism, Kim, arrived with her mom. (She and I have become great friends since then.) After introductions were completed and plenty of pictures were taken, it was time for the ceremony to begin. As I sat there, I thought about how odd the chain of events was that had brought me to this place. I knew in my soul that I was where I was meant to be and that all of this was somehow part of God’s plan. Words cannot even begin to explain how I felt during the actual baptism but every aspect of it is etched in my memory. I remember I gave Lars a hug immediately following and he said, “I’m proud of you. Congratulations and welcome.” Since Lars only held the Aaronic Priesthood at the time, he had asked his friend Drake to administer the confirmation. After the ceremony, Lars and I went out to eat with Drake, his wife and two daughters. We had a very nice time getting to know each other a bit better.
The next day was General Conference. We had breakfast at one of Lars’ friend’s homes with a bunch of people and watched the morning session. Then we got ready to head over to Salt Lake. General Conference was a pretty amazing experience. Elder Eyring’s talk about friendship really stood out to me because I immediately thought of Lars and the friendship we shared.
During the Priesthood session, I met up with Kim and some of the people I met at my baptism. Later, Lars came up and we all climbed Ensign Peak and got a great look at the city. The next day, we watched the conference sessions on TV and later went back over to Salt Lake to have dinner at Drake’s mom’s house. I have never felt more like I was where I needed to be than I did that night. It was purely amazing. The spirit was there in abundance as we talked about their testimonies of eternal families.
The next day, we wandered around Temple Square. We watched the videos of the church commercials for at least 10 minutes, reminding each other of the ones we remembered from when we were kids. We sat and talked for a long time at the airport before I went through security. I think we both felt a connection in regards to what it would feel like to go home. I knew that I had no one back there that would be excited to hear about my trip and so Lars was one of the few people I was able to share that excitement.
That ability to relate to one another has continued on and on throughout the years. We’ve discussed how our family and friends who are not members don’t quite get it when we say, “I feel an impression that I should…” or “I read my patriarchal blessing and have decided I should…” Lars is the only member of the church that knew me before I was a member of the church. That has proven to be an important aspect of our friendship.