(Dr.R.K.) Conversion Stories - Tamara Dunn

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Tamara Dunn, recently baptized Oct 21, 1999, spoke at the recent Stake conference (Jan 16, 2000). She's currently a student at UC Davis.

A seed is buried deep below the earth's surface. This little seed has a thick protective coating to keep it warm and safe. Now, at first, this little seed wishes to stay put. Its dormant, but comfortable hiding in the dirt and clay. It doesn't want to sprout; it doesn't want to grow. It's too cold outside of its protective shell. There are too many trials, too much adversary.

And yet, this seed had been planted. And the gardener returns to its little dormant seed and sprinkles a few drops of water. All that little seed needs is a little coaxing. It is surrounded by earth, dirt, rocks and knows nothing more. Only the gardener knows the potential of that seed. And so, with patience diligence and faith, the gardener continues to tend to the seed, to coax the seed to sprout and so a tree will emerge. Now I had first heard this story from my father. I am the only member in my family, I was baptized just recently and my parents do have some reservations about the church. And so it was odd that this fable came from my father.

A few years ago I had come to a point where I felt empty. And so I started to look for different things to fill me up. I started with just pure physical pleasure, but that obviously wasn't fulfilling. Then I turned to philosophy. I thought, all the answers and mysteries in the universe can be revealed through intelligence and reason, and that may be true to some degree. But I finally came to the conclusion that what I was lacking was spirituality. And I told my father I wanted to know God. And he told me the story of the seed. That God had planted a seed in me, a seed of faith, and all it needed was a little coaxing to grow.

Now my father never talks like that. I know he had been inspired by Heavenly Father to share these words. This story is not from my earthly dad. It comes from a higher source.

In the Book of Mormon, Alma Chapter 32:28,30,41, the exact same parable was found. In verse 28, Alma states: Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts ...

Verse 30: But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good ...

Verse 41: But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

Alma reveals the meaning quite perfectly in the little example of the seed. And when I read that I feel a great urgency. A seed is planted in the hearts of all men, even non-members. And we, as members and knowing the truthfulness of the gospel must become the gardeners. We have to realize the divine potential in all of our fellow beings and we have to help them grow.

The first time I heard about the church, I was in Japan with some other students from across the United States. And there was this one girl from Oklahoma, Marcy, who was traveling with us. And through the course of the trip as we were getting to know each other better, she began to talk about her church. And she did so with such joy and love. She wasn't trying to convert us; she just wanted to explain the reason for the joy, happiness, and peace she felt. We are in the middle of Tokyo with a surrounded by strangers and here is Marcy, sharing the gospel. And the first few water drops hit my seed, and suddenly I felt like growing.

Around the same time, I met a very beautiful and sweet spirit who has seen me through my entire spiritual journey. We were best friends, instantly. We stayed up late, talking one night and the spirit just poured out of her heart. She shared the gospel with me. She is the one that first invited me to church. She gave me my first copy of the Book of Mormon. And although I didn't respond right away, the book sat in my drawer for a year, she always stood by me. And with the patience and diligence of a gardener, she helped me grow.

I was fortunate enough to meet another beautiful spirit. And where my other friend showed me the sweet compassion of the gospel, he showed me the great excitement. He showed me the fiery electricity of the gospel. And because my dear friends showed such determination, because they did not give up, my seed burst open and I began to grow.

I have come to know so many of your faces and each of you are gardeners. Every welcoming smile, handshake, batch of cookies, every prayer is just a few more sprinkles of water for that lonely seed. Look at Marcy from Oklahoma. She was just being herself and yet she touched one life in a way and started me on my journey to find the gospel. Every single thing counts, even though they may seem just a drop in a pond, the waves spread.

I know that this stake needs to be lit on fire with missionary work. The time is now. We were given goals from our stake presidency and every single one was about missionary work. We have our orders. There are no excuses. We need to become gardeners. We need to have the faith and diligence that Alma described.

I love the gospel with passion. I have so many of you to thank. I know that Heavenly Father is before us. And I have faith that we all will reach our stake goals this year and also, one day we will return to our Heavenly Father.

Brought to you by: R.K. Owen,Ph.D.
This page is http://rkowen.owentrek.com/LDS/converts/tamara_dunn.html