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The Choice I Made

Barbara K. Hedenberg

Decatur, Illinois

November, 2000

I want to take you back to 1970. I'm a 30-year-old wife and mother of four children. I'm standing in my living room feeling as if there is a void in my life. I cry out to God, "Is this all there is? Send my husband off to work and my kids off to school -- the same thing over and over?" I felt so blah. I needed something more!

It was very soon after this, that my sister Dawn, who at that time was a member of the church, invited me to a District Women's Retreat at Allerton Park in Monticello. I said, "It sounds like fun!" I asked my husband Jerry what he thought about it and he said it'd be good for me.

I belonged to another church, but it seemed like I would listen, yet not hear a word that was said. I would go home with nothing. I would read the Bible, but it was like the sheet was white, because nothing soaked into my head.

At the Retreat, Joyce Thumm had a beautiful message. She said our soul is like a mirror and you have to keep it clean and shining so it will reflect the love of God. I absorbed every word.

It seemed that the Spirit was in everyone. Each person there poured out her testimony, and was unafraid to pray. Gilbert Elam, Leo Vickery, and Sanford Vandel came Sunday for our last meeting. I felt the Holy Spirit in the room, that had been with us the evening before. I knew then, that I wanted to learn more about this church. Maybe they had more to offer than my church.

I started attending now and then, trying to learn more, and asking God for direction. In the interim, I had a case of muscle spasms. The shots the doctor gave me didn't help, as they had in the past.

I went to church on Sunday. Eugene Eaton talked of "Administration to the Sick" in his sermon.

My mother had come with me that day, and was having pains around her heart. We asked if they did administration for anyone besides members. The answer was "yes". I asked Gilbert if they would administer to me for my muscle spasms, for I knew that God could heal. They did administer to me, and my muscle spasms left. I felt healthy again. Mother was administered to also and I never heard her mention her pain again.

I still didn't attend church as earnestly as I should. The idea of being rebaptized to be a member became quite a decision for me, because I had been baptized by immersion in the Church of God when I was 11. I decided if this decision was to be made, God would have to help me make it.

We're now in 1972. My muscle spasms return. I'm in agony for 6 weeks. I'm so weak, my arm just aches when I stir a cake. I go to my room to cry for no reason. The doctor gives me Penicillin shots, nerve pills and other pills. June 15 he finally asks me to go see a psychiatrist. I don't feel I need one, but I call the one he suggests. The psychiatrist says it has to be my idea and it wasn't, so that was out. I did go see a psychologist that my brother recommended. The psychologist said that before he could help me, I would have to have a complete physical. He suggested a Gynecologist.

I can't get a physical until July 11, even though I explain how miserable I am and what I've been through. I don't know how I can stand it for four more weeks. Then, it finally comes to me how God had helped me before. I immediately call my sister Deanna, who was also a member of the church, at that time, and tell her how desperate I am and could Gilbert and her husband Jim come out to my house to administer to me? She made the arrangements and called me back. She said they would be out at 7:00.

After they administer to me, I start getting better and better each day. I never have to take another pill. Things begin to happen in my spine that relieves all my pains. It was as if the Great Physician was at work.

When July 11 comes, I feel so well that I don't think it's necessary to take a physical, but I go anyway and come up with a clean bill of health.

Talk of Reunion has been going on at church, but I hadn't given any thought that I would go. Two days before departure, I mention to Jerry that it would be fun to be involved in something like that. He said, "Why don't you go?"

Later that day, somehow, my neck went out of place. I told Deanna when I talked to her about going to Reunion to pray for my neck, because I couldn't go like this, nor could I go if our check didn't come by Saturday.

Saturday morning my neck is well, the check is in! All I have to do is to get ready! It takes six hours to do the laundry, buy supplies and pack for my four daughters and myself, because I had decided I wouldn't prepare a thing unless it worked out that I could go.

Jerry takes us to Brush Creek (the church campgrounds at Xenia, Illinois where the Central Illinois District holds their Reunion each year). We arrive in time for the Evening Service. I see some of the women I had met at the retreat. It brought such beautiful memories to me.

Jerry spends the first night with us. Sunday we walk around the campgrounds, and sit on a bench under the trees. We talk of how beautiful it is, what a good feeling we have just being there, and how wonderful it would be if we could just stay.

Sunday and Monday are good days of sharing. Each congregation in the district has a day to work in the kitchen. It is great fun to work with these wonderful people and share in fellowship with them.

Tuesday seemed the best day of all to me. The beautiful prayers and testimonies that had come from the young and old alike; the love I felt among these people for one another; and how they made me feel like I was one of them, overwhelmed me! I received such a burning in my legs and arms and in my body, that I knew this had to be the church of Jesus Christ. I had to stand and testify to that fact and that I wanted to be baptized and become a member of this church.

As I sat down, I realized that God had helped me to make my baptismal decision, at a time I had least expected it. I received such a trembling as I had never experienced before, nor since, as the burning left my body. It left me with a warm glow that I felt many days after. It gave me such an inner peace, yet such a hunger for the word of God and such a want to witness for Him. After that, I read every page of the Doctrine of Covenants, the Book of Mormon, and other church books, comprehending what I read.

My insurance agent sat at my kitchen table one morning. He asked me what I was reading. I told him "Light from the Dust", a book about Joseph Smith and how he translated the plates of the Book of Mormon. He said, "That has to do with Mormons at Utah. I said "No, Brigham Young started that. He had different ideas and our church branched away from there." Then I said, "I'm not quite learned on everything yet." (I had things a little twisted back then.)

He asked how long I had been going to the church. I told him, "Since November 1970, but baptized August 6 this year." He asked me if I would actually pray about my husband getting a job? I assured him I would. We talked about baptism by immersion. He said he was sprinkled when he was 12. He said he was 55, still living, and doing all right. I told him I was baptized by immersion when I was 11. He asked why did I do it again. I told him that the Spirit led me to do it. He asked, "Why would you be baptized in another church, if you already had been baptized. What's so different? Why is it better than the one you've been going to?"

These were the questions I had always asked -- This is what I had been searching for -- Now someone was asking me!

The words came out of my mouth just as if I knew what I was talking about. I said, "What they have is good, but they don't have the full gospel." I felt sure that this was the Holy Spirit giving me the answer at the same time I was giving this man an answer. He said, "You're sold!"

Later that same day, Deanna came and said that Ruth Elam wanted us to be up front with her at 9:30 Worship on Sunday. My first thought was "Panic!" Then I thought, "That's silly! Surely, I can do this for God after all that He has done for me!"

I told Deanna that when I pray, I ask for comprehension, knowledge, and wisdom of the truth of things that I was reading and learning about the church. I always wondered what good I could ever do with it. Then, my insurance man asks me all these questions, and now Ruth has asked me to be up front. I will never cease to marvel over the workings of the Holy Spirit. It was this testimony that I gave that day.

It is now November 2000. I have had many experiences with the workings of the Holy Spirit since that time. The Spirit was prevalent in my calls and ordinations to the Priesthood office of Teacher in 1987, and Elder in July of this year.

My favorite thing to do is to teach the Pre-baptismal class in our congregation. I have also been privileged to teach the class to all of our grandchildren that have come to the age of accountability, although some of them live in different states. My husband, daughters, son-in-laws, and all of my grandchildren, that are of the age of accountability, have also become members of this church.

I enjoy sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and I've never been sorry for the choice I made!

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