The Conversion of Mrs. Bader
Two missionaries had been enjoying a beautiful spring day until they knocked on the door of Mrs. Bader. She hadn’t noticed the lovely day, and it soon became apparent that she didn’t feel there was anything of beauty in the whole world.
As soon as the missionaries had introduced themselves, Mrs. Bader took over the conversation and proceeded to explain to them why life wasn’t worth living. She told how her alcoholic husband had run away with another woman, but not before he had taught her eight- and nine-year-old sons some very bad habits. He had been out of work for some time and had taught the boys how to ransack the house to find the welfare check. He would than take the two boys down to the pub to drink with him instead of using the money for their food and other necessities.
After the father had left, the boys continued to develop the bad habits he had taught them, by stealing at school and from the local merchants. Eventually they were expelled from school. Their education seemed to be over before they had even become teenagers.
Mrs. Bader had become so discouraged and depressed that she had tried to kill herself on three separate occasions. On two of the attempts she had been declared dead on arrival at the local hospital. As she spoke to the missionaries, she cursed the doctors for bringing her back to life.
While one of the missionaries stood there, wondering how to get away, his companion said, “Mrs. Bader, we would like to come back tomorrow and tell you about the gospel and how it can bring you happiness.”
The discussion the next day was not the kind you put on a missionary training film. As one of the missionaries was showing a filmstrip, a hand came out from under the couch and grabbed his leg. This was one of the sons introducing himself, and it was the only time the missionary had ever screamed in the middle of Meet the Mormons. The other son introduced himself by placing his fingers in front of the filmstrip projector and forming shadow images of ducks, dogs, and other assorted animals on the screen. Things went downhill from there, and the missionaries finally stopped the filmstrip. Mrs. Bader apologized for her sons’ behavior and the missionaries politely accepted. The missionaries did not give up, however, and another meeting was scheduled for the next day.
The next day a miracle happened—the boys were out somewhere. Mrs. Bader actually listened to a whole discussion, and even seemed receptive. But when she was challenged to read the Book of Mormon, she had all sorts of reasons for not being able to. One was that, since her suicide attempts, she could not read for more than ten minutes without developing terrible headaches. One of the elders felt prompted to promise her that while she read the Book of Mormon she would not have any headaches.
When the missionaries returned the next day, she had read over half of the Book of Mormon. She told the missionaries that it was the first time in years that she had been able to read and not get sick. After praying about it, she received a spiritual confirmation that it was the word of God and, in spite of opposition from some of her family, she was baptized a week later.
As the missionaries laid their hands on Sister Bader’s head to confirm her, they felt the same Spirit that had been directing them throughout the conversion process. They blessed her that she would be healed of several physical problems that had been plaguing her for years, and from that time forward she was healed.
Teaching her two boys was quite a chore. After five or six weeks of constant tutoring, though, they were finally ready to be baptized and become members of the Church.
Sister Bader’s story did not end there, however. Her husband returned home and was amazed at what had taken place in his family. His wife had changed from a depressed, negative woman with no personal pride or goals into an enthusiastic, happy woman who knew exactly what she wanted and who was trying to live each day to the fullest. Because of the change in his family, Mr. Bader soon listened to the missionaries and was baptized.
The gospel is more than just concepts and ideas. It is a true power in the lives of people that transforms them and fills their hearts with joy. It is the great plan of happiness, and God shares it with us because we are his children. Celestial life and happiness are synonyms in a very real sense, and the more celestial we become, the happier we are.
This experience by Allan K. Burgess is found in his book “Becoming a Celestial Person in a Telestial World“, pp. 19-21.