Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hope in a voice mail - Woman discovers gospel through chance call

Hope in a voice mail - Woman discovers gospel through chance call - Latter-day Sentinel - News for the LDS community in the Spokane Temple District

By Craig Howard, News EditorNovember 9, 2009 —

"I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away and will bind up that which was broken and will strengthen that which was sick." Ezekiel 34:16

The call involved a simple reminder about a church lesson - but for Holli Medema, it turned into the message of a lifetime.

In April of this year, some 300 miles away from Medema's home in Ferndale, WA., Chris Peck of the Belle Terre Ward in the Spokane East Stake dialed the cell phone of a teacher in the Elders Quorum who had just moved from the West side of the state. When the call rolled over to voice mail, Chris left word about a teaching assignment the following Sunday that included several scripture references.

The only problem was that Chris had misdialed the number.

When she retrieved the message on her phone, Medema had never read a verse in the Bible, let alone set foot into a church. She texted the Spokane number back, explaining the miscommunication, but thanked Chris for "the message of God."

At the time, Medema was going through a transitional phase in her life, searching for a new path that would bring healing, direction and stability. In her words, "something was missing but I didn't understand what it was."

"I was never religious - I never believed in God," she said. "I did believe that we all have souls, though."

That Sunday, Medema told Chris in a text that she had been thinking of attending a church, but "had not a clue on how to pick the right one."

Chris, a ward missionary along with his wife, Cheri, recommended that Holli investigate the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

I said, 'I might be a little biased, but I know of a great church you can go to,'" Chris said.

Elder Tyler Giles and Elder Justin Moss, full-time LDS missionaries serving in the Bellingham area, received a referral the next day about Holli.

"We had been praying for people to teach," Elder Giles recalls. "When we met with Holli, we told her 'There is a God and He loves you.'"The missionaries told Holli about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the Plan of Salvation and the Book of Mormon. There were discussions about how everyone on earth is a child of God with a purpose. Questions like 'Where did we come from? Why are we here? And Where are we going?" were addressed.

"I started to gain an understanding of hope and faith," Holli said.

Chris and Cheri continued to communicate with Medema, hearing updates on her progress with the gospel lessons. The first Sacrament meeting Holli attended in Ferndale featured talks on the theme of hope.

"I think that first meeting was really important," Cheri said. "Holli came home feeling for the first time that there could be hope and there could be something different."

One of the scriptures Holli began studying during the missionary discussions is found in Alma, chapter 32 of the Book of Mormon. The verses describe the word of God as a seed that grows in the heart when nurtured by faith.

"First you have to want to know the truth," Holli said. "Getting peace is knowing what you're doing is right."

On May 8, Holli was baptized into the LDS Church. Chris and Cheri drove to Ferndale for the ceremony and Chris gave a talk on the Holy Ghost.

"It was fabulous to be at the baptism," Chris said. "It's just so amazing to see the Lord touch people's hearts."

Elder Giles described how Holli has already made a positive difference in her new ward. Medema serves on the activities committee, has spoken at a missionary fireside and was instrumental in referring the missionaries to one of her neighbors who was recently baptized.

"It's really been a testimony building experience for the people here," Elder Giles said. "It's a good reminder that you need to reach out and talk about the gospel, to have that sense of courage. We see how it can change lives.

"Back in the Spokane East Stake, leaders like President Ken Nelson, first counselor in the Stake Presidency, say Holli's experience is an example of church members "stepping outside their comfort zone" to share the gospel.

"It's an incredible story," he said. "There are many individuals out there who are being prepared - but it's never going to happen unless you actively seek and have the faith to act."

Medema, a single mom, said her conversion to the Church has brought a realization "that Heavenly Father has always been there and I can talk to Him."

"I tell people how the gospel has truly made me happier," she said. "It's become part of my life."

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