For most, youth dances were just a fun way to pass time in high school, but for Mindy Harter, a freshman studying communication, these activities are what started her journey into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Raised as a non-denominational Christian, religion was not a very big part of Harter’s life.
It was in her English class when she met Ammon, an outgoing, fun and positive person. Ammon had a countenance that was special, but she did not know why.
“Everyone in the school knew he was LDS,” Harter said.
Ammon would often invite his class members to stake dances. Eventually, Harter accepted Ammon’s invitation and went to a stake dance with her friends from school. When she arrived, she immediately knew it was not like a school dance. The music and dancing was cleaner, people did not bring dates and everyone seemed so happy.
“That dance inspired me to learn about the religion that brought a light into people’s eyes because I wanted that light, too,” Harter said.
Harter continued to be invited by Ammon to activities, and their friendship grew. After attending various stake activities, and even going to church with Ammon’s family as often as she could, Ammon invited Harter to attend early morning seminary with her.
Despite the early hours in which their seminary was held, Harter accepted.
“I was just going to go once to be polite, but I ended up actually loving it,” Harter said.
Harter accredits her seminary teacher for teaching her so much about Church history and for really helping her to develop a testimony.
As Harter’s faith grew, she told her parents about her increasing interest in LDS faith. Her parents were shocked. It was then that Harter learned that her very own father had been raised LDS.
Harter’s father had left the Church as a teenager after his parents had filed for a divorce. Harter’s grandmother was still an active member of the Church who had converted at age 17. Unfortunately, she passed away the next month before Harter was ever able to talk to her about her newly forming faith.
“It was a bummer because right when I was really starting to learn about the Church she was gone,” Harter said.
Although Harter’s parents do not have plans to go back to church, they have been incredibly supportive of Harter’s decision to be baptized.
“My dad likes all of the morals of free agency the Church taught, and my mom has even read the entire Book of Mormon,” Harter said.
Aside from their support in deciding to become baptized, Harter’s parents were also happy for Harter to attend BYU-Idaho.
“I wasn’t even a member when I applied to come here,” Harter said. “My mom and I looked up tuition one day, and we were like, ‘Woah! That’s so cheap!’ So they were on board with me coming here.”
The more Harter was around Ammon, she realized it was not his blonde hair or good looks that made him so special.
“When he started teaching me I saw how much he knew about the gospel, and I saw that light within him,” Harter said. “It really changed the way I looked at him, and he became so much more attractive to me.”
After taking lessons with the missionaries, Harter was baptized by Ammon just before they graduated high school.
Harter said she will be forever thankful for Ammon’s example to her in helping her find something she didn’t know she was missing.
“I have a strong testimony of our Heavenly Father who cares, and who I know is looking out for me,” Harter said. “At the time it may not seem like everything’s going right, but it always works out.”
On March 7, Harter will celebrate her one-year anniversary of of being a baptized member of the Church.
She said she is happy with who she has become.
Harter is living her grandmother’s legacy, and was able to develop her testimony through her own trial of faith.
Harter looks back at her first experience with the youth of the Church with great fondness and gratitude.
“If I never attended that dance my junior year, I definitely would not be the person I am today,” Harter said.