Former Catholic Church Member
There Was A Hole In My Heart That I Could Never
By Paula Vario
When I was 15 years old I got married. But that's
not the story I wish to tell right now. I want to tell you how I was
converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My new husband, Tom, was L.D.S. as was his whole
family. His mom wanted me to be baptized into the Church right away.
She arranged for the missionaries to come and
teach me the lessons. I sat through the lessons, but my stubbornness
kept the Spirit at arms length, and I declined the invitation to
baptism. I had only been to the Catholic Church for Catechism and
Mass, and felt that even though I had never been baptized, I was a
During the next year or so I took the lessons
again for my mother-in-law, Billie, with the same result.
Then, when I was 17, I became pregnant with my
son, Bill. We were living in the small town of Altamont, Utah. Tom
was driving and truck and working in the oil fields. We had a little
trailer there and I spent all of my time waiting for Tom to come
One day there was a knock on my door. Two young
missionaries were on my doorstep wondering if I would like to learn
about my Savior, Jesus Christ. I was lonely, and invited them in. In
those days, the rules weren't quite so strict about teaching women
alone in their homes.
My first baby had died at just 27 hours into his
life. I was 16 and almost died myself. So, as I listened to the
young elders talk about families being together forever, I began to
I listened to the lessons and decided to get
baptized. I was a bit scared of the whole childbirth thing and at
least, if anything went wrong this time, I wouldn't die unbaptized.
I was eight months pregnant when we went to the stake center and
sealed the deal.
I went to Church with my missionaries exactly one
time after I got baptized, and left half way through Sacrament
Meeting. I became ill and went home, and that was that.
Through the years that followed, I went to Church
a few times, but never regularly. Life was busy and the kids came
and the first husband went. I never should have married at all at
15, but you know what they say about hindsight.
Then, when I was 27, married to a wonderful man,
kids growing, working hard, I felt like there was just a hole in my
heart that I could never fill. I was still mourning the loss of my
first little boy. My mom and I were avid readers of romance novels.
It passed time for her and provided an escape from everyday life for
One day, my mother gave me a book called "Woman of
Destiny" by Orson Scott Card. She said it was about Joseph Smith and
the Mormon Church and was a really good read. I told her no thanks.
Even though I didn't go to Church, I didn't want to read anything
negative about it. She kept trying to give it to me until I finally
gave in and took the book.
As I said before, I loved my husband. But our
family life was not perfect. Harry drank quite a bit and ran around
with is buddies. I was always at work or home with the kids. It
frustrated me, but I didn't know what to do about it.
One night, Harry was out as it was Friday night. I
picked up the book Mom had given me and began to read. It was so
interesting, and touching. I had always had a problem with polygamy.
It was a real spiritual stumbling block for me. But in his book, Mr.
Card really helped me understand.
It was as though I was living through those
earliest years of the Church and felt their doubts and struggles,
their hopes and their joys. Before I realized it, I looked at the
clock when I heard Harry's friends pouring him out in the driveway.
It was almost four in the morning! I helped Harry in and got him to
Then next morning I finished the book. With tears
streaming down my cheeks I knelt by my bed and prayed for probably
the first time in my life. Truly prayed to Father in Heaven to show
me what He wanted me to do. I was still on my knees when the
I dried my eyes and went to the door. It was my
visiting teachers! Edna still had an apron on and her partner,
Bonnie, asked if they could please come in and talk to me for a bit.
She told me she was sitting in her house down the
street from me practicing the songs she would play in Relief Society
the following day when she suddenly got the feeling that they needed
to come and see me, fast! She ran down the street and pulled Edna
away from baking bread and they came to my house.
At that, I burst into a fresh bout of tears and
told her what I was doing when they rang my bell.
Bonnie invited me to Church with them the
following day. At nine o'clock the next morning I was ringing her
doorbell. We sat in Sacrament Meeting and it was great. Our closing
hymn was How Great Thou Art.
After meeting she handed me to another sister who
took me to Sunday school and then took me back to Bonnie for Relief
Society. Then after that, Bonnie said that she had decided during
our closing hymn to invite me to join the choir, so we stayed for
choir practice! It was a blast, I didn't realize that Church could
be so fun!
Two years later, Harry and I were sealed to my
little Tommy by proxy in the Jordon River Temple. And I'm happy to
say that even though he's no longer really "active" he has a strong
testimony and has not been "poured" into our driveway since.
My patriarchal blessing said that the majority of
my work would be with the children of the church. I've been in
almost every Primary position at least once and I'm still there 24
years later. And I was brought to them by a sweet mother pushing a