Good Morning Everyone, my name is Nino Mendoza and I am about to give you my 22 year journey of finally becoming a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints in about a 10 minute summary. If you would like the full version you can come over our house, eat some bread for the actual 10 hour version. So sit back and relax because this will get interesting.
As most of you know I made the decision to be baptized a few months ago. So as a newbie I was hoping that I would be able to hide in my corner over there and maybe won’t be called to speak to maybe another year or 20 years but when the holy spirit calls, you trust and follow.
I moved here with my amazing wife honey rose with our children 3 years ago from New York City. Quick story of how we met I know she was hoping I wouldn’t say how we met but I will tell you anyway. Her version when someone ask is- oh we met through a mutual friend at work and it was instance love. The real guy version is I was the head bartender at this bar/lounge and she got a job as a cocktail server through the other bartender and we hit off. I will let you figure out which is more of the hallmark story.
I remember a few days after we arrived in our new home, I was home with the kids while my wife was at work. There was a knock on the door and I’m like who is that, naturally as any born and raised New Yorker we are usually on the defense and guarded so I’m like wear is my bat. But at the door it was one of our neighbors welcoming us to the neighborhood with some Christmas treats. From that day one to this day I have seen that west coast friendliness. Don’t get me wrong New Yorkers are usually on guard but are super loyal, fierce and protective people we get close to you. When I meet people here they say oh you don’t have a New York accent and I’m like well a New York accent is pretty much having a a potty mouth. So I guess I don’t have an accent but I talk with my hands as most New Yorkers do.
Our first weekend here I joined my wife with the kids to church and we met with Bishop. Of course She told him oh Nino isn’t a member of the church and he was really nice and sincerely asked oh have you met and spoke to any missionaries?. I’m like I lost track after the 100th missionary that tried to speak with me. You probably can fill a small island called Nino’s not gonna happen lds missionaries island.
I have always grown up in a faith driven home starting in the Catholic Church and eventually more into non denomination Christian churches even through my teenage rebel years. So following Jesus Christ was there by attending church, praying and reading the Bible but felt like there was still a piece of the puzzle missing over the years up to this point.
Last April 2021 after a sacrament meeting I went to the elders quorum class which I have never attended before and that’s when it began. There was a visitor who was a member who told his story of how he had friends that told him negative things about the lds church- but all he noticed was all they talked about was Jesus Christ and how all the members were such sweet people the few meetings he attended. And after going to church with my wife and meeting so many missionaries/members over the years that really sparked my curiosity cause he was right, especially in this ward. After class elder stauffer hesitantly was like hey would you be interested in doing missionary lessons, I am sure you have done them before. I’m like eh why not I will probably not listen anyway. But Those few weeks of lessons learning and diving into the Book of Mormon with actual earnest and sincerity was much different than in past experiences-as this time I felt more of a warmth, comfort, peace and the thought of being baptized. but still was on the fence about it. So I prayed and also dwelled for a couple of weeks on the scripture of James 1 vs 5-6 “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
I remember when Scott Nicholas came over and I told him that I have been thinking of being baptized , he’s like Nino that’s the Holy Spirit and off course me still trying to fight it I’m like nah maybe I should so I can get rid of the missionaries- just kidding, love them guys! They planted the seeds through the years in me. When my wife found out I was going to get baptized she looked at me like i had 3 heads saying your getting baptized? What?!!! She’s looking at me right now probably still shocked speaking up here after a century later.
During the end of my baptism interview with elder Kim he was smiling and giggling saying this was the most entertaining interview I have ever done. I’m like thinking am I suppose to take that as a compliment? you know here I am trying to be somewhat reverent but as someone in sales of course some charisma will come out of me no matter what I do.
I remember when the missionaries went over the words of wisdom, went down the list and touched on the coffee part, I literally sucked in a large gulp of air, you know for someone that drank coffee walking through the city for over 25 years that was definitely a work in progress before being baptized. The guys actually checked on me like a week before baptism day and there like hey Nino how’s the coffee thing going and of course the timing of them calling- here i am slurping some ice coffee. I’m like uh, I’m working on it. But they were so positive and encouraging. And through prayer, trusting Heavenly Father on taking that commitment to draw closer to him I haven’t had it since.
For the most part I try to read scriptures with this renewed faith with our kids daily to continue to learn and grow even if I’m not really sure there listening. One is probably thinking about lol dolls, the other one about trains and our little one about mommy. But even if they get a little of the words through daily reading like Jesus Christ, love, joy, kindness, faithfulness- that can start to build a solid foundation at our home.
So after all these years, finally becoming a member to this point that even if I can believe it- I testify that this church is true, the Book of Mormon is true and we have a living prophet in President Nelson to guide and encourage us . I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.