1986, we moved to our new home on the mountain. I finished dental assisting school and found a job in a dental office in Toronto, Arpad was working at Ford Motor Company in Oakville, Krisztina made new friends and liked having them over in our swimming pool. Sari Mama moved with us and looked after Julia when I worked. Julia liked spending time with her grandma but missed me and cried often.
We felt proud and content that we accomplished our dream : we made a living in Canada, we had good jobs, bought a nice house and our family had all the material things we needed.
What we were lacking was spiritual identity. We did not attend any church. We baptized Julia as an infant in the Hungarian Presbyterian Church in Hamilton but we did not attend any Sunday services.
Arpad and I felt that it was by divine guidance that we succeeded to escape from Romania and attained the freedom and life we were living in Canada. .
In the past in Communism we did not practice religion. I grew up not believing in any supreme being,
I had a grandma, my mother’s mom, who was very religious and prayed every day but I was convinced that it was just a habit of an old woman who was naive and superstitious.
When I met Arpad, I was very surprised to hear that he believed in God and he prayed and read the Bible. How could this good looking, cool. young man believe in God? Only old women like my grandma did. But he believed and was not embarrassed and did not hide it. Over the years the idea of a God became believable and I started to pray for our escape from Romania. Our prayers were answered and we escaped. In Traiskirchen I was given a bible by a religious group. My first bible! I started reading it. For years I was content reading the bible, one chapter a day. I found the messages of the New Testament comforting.
We attended services at different churches but did not find the fulfillment we were looking for.
We tried non denominational assemblies, we even went to the Hamilton, Salvation Army Chapel were the members were very welcoming but we found the Corps Band that provided the music for the service very loud.
One day a TV add captured Arpad’s attention. It presented a book, the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ. It was something he never heard before. He was interested to find out more about it so he called the telephone number on the screen to ask for a copy of that book.
On the other end of the line, a pleasant voice took his personal information and told him that two elders from the Mormon Church will deliver the book.
We never heard of the Mormon Church before. Our only reference to the word Mormon was the Miss America contestant, Sharlene Wells, who in 1985 won the crown. We watched the contest on TV and at one point she mentioned that she was a Mormon. I remember looking in the World Atlas for Mormon Country (Google was not invented yet) and not finding it.
A couple of days later, two young men dressed in dark pants and white shirts wearing ties, rang our door bell . Arpad answered the door and was surprised to hear that they were the elders we were waiting for to deliver the Book of Mormon. We were expecting to old men, not knowing other meanings for the word elder, other that older.
They were very friendly young men and with the book they wanted to deliver a message about the only true church on earth, The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints.
We were interested to find out what they had to say and invited them back. We enjoyed their company and they liked coming to our house. We found out about their church and their beliefs .
Through the 6 discussions , as they called them, we learned about the restoration of the gospel and the plan of salvation. It was all new to us but we were more interested to hear about what these two young men told us about themselves. We found out they were 19 years old and they left their homes to go on mission to teach the Gospel and to spread the teachings of their church. Elder Everet was from England and Elder Badger from Utah. We were surprised to find out that the length of the mission was two years and they volunteered to do this without any financial retribution and they were required to pay for their own expenses while on mission.
They came regularly to our house for months and we enjoyed their company. They had lively discussions with Arpad , they liked my cooking, they were friendly with Krisztina and her friends and playful with Julia. They invited us to attend one of the Sunday meetings at the Hamilton 2nd Ward of the LDS Church. We went and met many of the members. Families with many children of all ages that occupied whole rows of benches.
It was a very different set up from what we’ve seen before. No paid priest or minister to hold a sermon. It really was set up as a meeting: the leaders of the ward called bishopric, made up of three man were presiding and preselected members offered prayers. After sacrament consisting or bread and water was passed around by young men, the bishop invited the members to bear their testimonies. One by one different members, prompted by the spirit, walked up to the pulpit and bore their testimonies about their feelings about the church, the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ.
I found it strange and overwhelming. I thought I needed time to feel more at ease.
The members who greeted us were very friendly and invited us to many church activities geared to families, or man only, or women only, or young women/men only. It was a new experience to participate and to belong to a community with strong family values.
Months have passed and the elders continued their visits. Elder Badger was transferred to another ward in another town. Elder Jensen came in his place as companion to Elder Everet.
In June, Arpad known as Tom by this time, decided it was time to be baptized.
Baptism by immersion is the baptism practiced by the LDS church and that is the true form of baptism taught by the Bible. That was the main reason Arpad wanted baptism, not necessarily to join the church. He felt strongly about baptism by immersion. He was the first one to be baptized in June. Then Krisztina, in August. I was surprised by her decision and had a feeling that her new friends at the church pressured her. I told her to think about it but she said that she was ready to be baptized. It was very touching to watch how Tom immersed her in the water in the baptismal fount and baptized her in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. I was not ready yet. Even though I attended church services and all the activities, I didn’t feel the need for baptism. Then I started feeling like an outsider and I felt that the right thing would be joining my family. I found out about Temple marriage of young church members attended by their families. But parents who were not members of the church were not allowed to enter the Temple.
I imagined the future marriages of my daughters that I will not be able to witness if I was not an LDS member. In October I entered the baptismal fount and was baptized by my husband Tom.
For the next couple of years we became very involved in the Mormon Church and all the activities of the church and the Mormon way of living. From a family who did not attend church, we became a family whose life revolved around the church. We tried to become the perfect Mormon family by doing everything we were taught to do. We attended meetings, accepted callings, had family home evenings every Monday night, had family prayers, observed the Sabbath day by not watching TV or swim in the swimming pool, did not consume alcohol or coffee and did not smoke. When Julia reached the age of accountability ( eight years old) she was baptized by her father as well. By being worthy members Arpad and I received our Temple recommends that allowed us to take part in sacred ordinances at the temple. Our family was sealed for time and eternity. Isabella was born into the covenant because she was born after our family received the sealing. There is no infant baptism in the Mormon church because children are born innocent. Only when they are eight years old, they reach the age of accountability when they can be baptized.
As the years passed, our fire started to die down and after seven years of being faithful members we left the church. It didn’t happen all at once but gradually we became inactive. I think our daughters were happy about that. We returned for a short time when Isabella reached the year of accountability and she was baptized as well. We still believe in baptism by immersion but the Mormon Doctrines were to hard to live up to and we started to question many of them. We lost our testimony of the church, plus we missed our morning coffees .