Originally written July 21, 2006
I was born December 2, 1962, at the Red Bud, Illinois, hospital to Gary Melvin Walker and Betty Jo (Pedigo) Walker. We lived in Waterloo, Illinois, at the time with my grandparents, Orval Eugene & Clara “Isabelle” (Helton) Walker. My brother, Eric Dean Walker, was born July 22, 1964, in Centralia, Illinois, while we lived in Carlyle, Illinois.
I married Clyde Stanley Ferree, Jr. after a seven-month engagement (proposed to on January 1, 1984 at midnight) and after dating since October 15, 1982, on July 14, 1984 in Havana, Illinois at the Methodist Church on Main Street. We lived at the time in Dickinson, Texas, but married in Havana because all of Clyde’s family lived there, while my family was scattered in Texas and Illinois. We met June 1982 in Dickinson, Texas, he having a mutual friend of mine.
My family moved to Clear Lake City, Texas, in mid-December 1980 in the midst of the oil and real estate boom around Houston, Texas. My father in real estate felt we could make a good living there. Clyde moved to Texas for the same reason in November 1979.
Our first child, a son, Ryan Ashley Ferree, was born February 8, 1985, at 8:19 am in a Galvestion, Texas hospital, while we lived in Dickinson, Texas.
Our second and last child, a daughter, Kori Lianne Ferree, was born April 3, 1987, at 3:46 am in a Houston, Texas hospital, while we lived in Houston, Texas.
We moved from Houston to a Chicago, Illinois suburb in August 1987. It was always our intention to move back to Illinois to raise our children. When a job opportunity presented itself in Illinois, we jumped at the chance. We lived in Arlington Heights, Illinois until October 1988, when we moved to Banner, Illinois to live with Clyde’s mother, Barb Bohanan, until we could find, purchase and move into our first home.
We moved to 312 Ehrett Street, Creve Coeur, Illinois in mid-December 1988. We lived there until July 3, 1996. On April 5, 1990, two young missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked our door. Their names are [Elder] Ken Lamborn of Salt Lake City, Utah, currently residing in Lehi, Utah and [Elder] Stan Morgan of Parowan, Utah.
My Conversion Story by Alicia C. Ferree
Prior to April 5, 1990, I had been searching for truth in a variety of places. I attended several churches, including Methodist, United Church of Christ, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and New Age. I followed and learned a lot about the New Age movement and liked some of their beliefs. I did not like typical Christian churches for their doctrines. I attended for social reasons and because I had a belief in Christ and in God and knew I needed to worship. By spring 1990, I had decided there was not a true church. I took bits and pieces of various faiths and made my own belief system.
On Thursday, April 5, 1990, two young men dressed in suits (like you) knocked on my front door. It was about 10am and we (my friend, Sherry B., her daughter, Nicole, Ryan, Kori and I) were watching cartoons in the front room. I was not prepared to have guests. Sherry looked out the window and said there are two boys outside. I threw on a coat and answered the door. They said they had a message about Jesus Christ they would like to share w/ me. Out of character, I invited them inside. I immediately felt a spirit about them. I felt a presence. I felt I was being lead. I don't remember their message except that I later learned it was the 1st discussion. It was about Joseph Smith and the restoration. I remember they introduced me to the Book of Mormon and had me read from Moroni 10:3-5. They asked me to explain it to them. I really didn't understand it. I needed them to explain it to me.
I was struck most by the fact that they believed (testified) that there was a "TRUE CHURCH" on the earth. I loved that idea! I had no idea of any such church. They asked me if I knew anything about their church. I did not. I knew there was a Mormon Tabernacle Choir and I saw commercials on TV from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but had no idea they were the same church. I never saw a missionary before in my life.
I asked them if they would mind coming back to share everything they told me w/ my husband and my best friend. They said they would love to. They gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon and a reading assignment (3 Nephi 11-27). We made an appointment for that following Sunday evening when I knew Clyde would be home. I told Clyde about it that night. He did know about the church. He had seen missionaries in Havana, two boys in suits and white shirts on bikes going door to door. He said he'd give them 30 minutes. If he didn't like what they had to say, he would leave the room. I said, "Fair enough!"
They arrived for the appointment and stayed two hours. They came everyday after that. They taught Clyde the 1st discussion. Sherry was not home, so Monday night they taught her the 1st discussion; so I heard it 3 times! Nearly every time they came, they brought a different video for us to watch, like "Together Forever" and "Labor of Love" and several others.
On the 2nd discussion, they challenged us to be baptised. I said to them that I had no interest in joining their, or any, church. I just simply wanted to know everything they knew about their church and about Christ. I was still in the mindset that there was no true church, and that I would take bits and pieces and construct my own belief system.
Wednesday we had the 3rd discussion. They again challenged us to baptism. We again said no. Thursday we planned to have the discussion without interruption of the children (Ryan was 5 and Kori was 3 and Nicole was 5). So we got a sitter and went to a park. We played and joked and had the 4th discussion, which was the Word of Wisdom discussion (I'm pretty sure). They were nervous because they knew we drank occasionally and loved iced tea! I accepted it immediately. They were shocked. I said if I had to choose between God and tea, the choice was simple. I began to realize this was a truly special church. I had read in 2 Nephi 31:14 earlier that day. It reads, "But, behold my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me." That scripture struck me harder than any other scripture to that point. I knew I had not been baptised yet, but I knew that I could no longer just accept bits and pieces of the doctrine. I knew I believed it was true, and if I knew that, then God knew it. I thought, "How can I deny this? If I do, the scripture says, 'it would have been better for you that ye had not known me'." That seemed like quite a serious warning to me! I knew they would ask us again that night to be baptised. They did and I answered that we would discuss it and let them know.
I knew in my heart what was right and knew I needed to accept it all and change my life, but I would not do it without my husband. We went home and the three of us (Clyde, Sherry, and I) talked about it for an hour. Sherry said, "I'll try it for awhile and if I don't like it, no big deal." I told her and, mainly, Clyde that this decision was very serious. This requires a lifetime commitment. Either we do it all the way forever or we don't. Clyde said if I felt that seriously about it, we should do it. I was so relieved! I immediately called the missionaries (after 10:30pm) because I knew they would be up and waiting for our answer. They were so excited that they screamed really loud!
The next day we just had a fun visit, no discussion. Then Saturday night, we had the 5th discussion, which was about titheing, I think, among other things. Clyde had a problem with it, but by then, I accepted everything with no problems. I knew it was true, all of it, and it felt like I was remembering everything rather than learning things. It was so easy for me. Sunday morning was Easter Sunday, so the kids were dressed up so cute (Ryan in brown pants, white shirt and tie-like the missionaries and Kori in a sweet pink dress) and Clyde and I looked pretty snazzy. The missionaries came to have us follow them to church. We took pictures.
Church was great! I loved it so much. It was so different than any other church. The only problem I had was that everyone seemed so perfect. I was not perfect, not even close. I felt very "out-classed" by everyone, but I thought I could transform with time. That night, April 15th, we had the final discussion. Baptism was set for April 29th. The missionaries continued to come everyday and have dinner. We had discussions everyday. I was so eager to learn and Ken (Elder Lamborn) was eager to teach. Clyde and Stan played a lot. They wrestled and played chess. Stan played with the kids. Ken and I had 12-hour conversations about the gospel. I know they should not have spent so much time with us (don't you do that!!), but I did not know it at that time.
I was thrilled to finally have the truth. I rarely ate. I felt spiritually fed for the first time in my life. I felt like I had been starving and dying of thirst, but did not know it. I felt the light and the love and the peace of the gospel and needed no other nourishment! I began to read the D & C and loved D & C 93!! I impacted me so strongly. I loved the Pearl of Great Price as well.
I could accept the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price and The Doctrine & Covenants, but only had mustard’s seed faith in Joseph Smith. I wanted to believe in him as a Prophet of God, but was scared. I didn't want to offend God. The missionaries showed me Alma 32:28 - 43. That I didn't need a perfect knowledge in Joseph Smith, but only a seed of faith or a desire to want to believe. I did not have a real testimony of Joseph Smith until July 1990 when we went to Nauvoo for the first time. As I toured the area and heard testimony after testimony of Joseph Smith that I truly believed. Prior to that, I only had a desire to want to believe. It was that way with any point of the gospel, which seemed odd to me. I didn't immediately believe, but I re-read Alma 32 and planted the seed. I used Moroni ‘s promise with every point of the gospel. I prayed on my knees. I asked Heavenly Father to give me "eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to understand". I asked for spiritual eyes and ears and heart. When I read Enos' prayer, I tried that and prayed 30 minutes.
Each point of the gospel, I read about, pondered, prayed, and testified. My faith grew and grew by leaps and bounds, but it still was line upon line, precept upon precept. Heavenly Father was very patient with me. He still is. I still go to him with questions and he answers them in the scriptures or in modern-day prophecies. The day of our baptism (Clyde, Sherry & I) came and we didn't expect anyone to come to our baptism. We didn't even know people knew about it. The Relief Society room in the Morton Ward was filled to capacity. I'll bet there were 50 people there easy. We were shocked so many had any interest in us, but they did.
The missionaries taught us the new member discussions as well (new ones by that time). We went to every church event. We were invited to families’ homes for Family Home Evening and dinner. We were fellowshipped in a perfect way. We were embraced and loved and accepted completely. We had a lot to learn, but people allowed us to grow at our own pace. It was a very long time before I felt worthy of the Relief Society sisters. They seemed perfect to me for a long time. It was only after getting to know each person as an individual that I realized they were not perfect.
Each new thing I learned, I took in and pondered and prayed and studied and asked until I could make it a part of me. I still feel very enthusiastic about the gospel. I am still studying and praying and learning and asking. This is a perfect gospel, the people are not perfect, but the gospel is. This is Christ's true church. It is the only true church on the earth today. It is the restored church and gospel established by Christ himself and I love it. I am so grateful for it. I am so thankful that missionaries get to teach others about it. I hope it brings their investigators as much joy and fulfillment as it has brought my family and me! I know this church is true. I know Heavenly Father lives and loves us perfectly and completely. I know Jesus is The Christ and our Savior, our Redeemer, our Exemplar, our friend. I know Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and restored this church to the earth never to be taken away. I know Gordon B. Hinckley is our Prophet today. He loves us so much. I know he leads and guides this church and can speak for Jesus Christ. I know the Book of Mormon, The Holy Bible, and the other scriptures are the word of God and are to be read and studied and appreciated. I am so grateful for the missionary program of the church. I feel it saved our lives and blesses us everyday. I say and testify that all my words are true and say it in the sacred and holy name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
We were sealed together forever as a family on July 13, 1991, in the Chicago, Illinois Temple. About 30 people drove up to witness our sealing. Clyde & I received our endowments that same day. We returned to the Chicago Temple regularly for nine years. We took a family vacation to Utah for two weeks in July 1991. We met the missionaries who served near us and their families, Ken Lamborn, Stan Morgan, and Kyle George. We attended the Jordan River Temple and the St. George Temple.
Ryan was baptised on May 1, 1993 in the Morton Ward. Clyde’s father, Clyde S. Ferree, Sr., his wife, Diane, and Clyde’s mother, Barb Bohanan attended the baptism.
We moved to 419 North Broadway Havana, Illinois, on July 4, 1996 and became members of the Canton Branch. In 1997, we first attended the St. Louis Temple.
Kori was baptised September 8, 1996, in the Canton Branch building. The entire Branch was in attendance.
Havana Branch was formed March 1998 and we began attending first in the Ruby Barton home and then at the Odd Fellows Hall on South Broadway. We moved into the building on Main Street about a year or so later.
From April 2002 to June 2002, we volunteered at the Open House for the Nauvoo Temple. We attended the dedication ceremony in June 2002. We have attended that temple countless times since.
Ryan graduated Havana High School in May 2003. I graduated Illinois Central College with a Certificate in Sign Language Interpreting in May 2003. Ryan went on for a semester at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, from August 2003 to December 2003. He received his mission call to the Utah Salt Lake City South mission on December 29, 2003.
We took a family vacation and drove to Utah in mid-February 2004. We attended the Salt Lake City Temple with missionaries, Ivan & Ramona Jorgensen, and Ken & Tammy Lamborn, and Laurie Smith. He entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on February 25, 2004. He entered the mission field on March 17, 2004, first serving in Riverton, Utah. He went on to serve in Riverton, Herriman, West Jordan, South Jordan, Holladay, and Cottonwood area near Salt Lake City, Utah. He left his mission with an honorable discharge on March 1, 2006.
Kori graduated from Havana High School in May 2005. We took another family vacation to Utah in August 2005. She entered Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, on August 17, 2005. She attended Fall and Spring Semesters at Snow. She came home for two weeks December 16, 2005 to January 2, 2006. She came home again May 5, 2006 to June 3, 2006. She returned to Utah taking employment at the home of the missionary who baptised us sixteen years before. She is the nanny for the Ken Lamborn family.
Ryan took employment in Tempe, Arizona from May 1, 2006 to July 7, 2006. He came back home because his job did not turn out as was explained.
I will add history from 2006 to the present day at a later time.
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