Mormon youth strive to be living testimonies as they allow their light to shine throughout the world. They try to set a good example for everyone they meet. As a result, they are able to see the lives of their classmates, friends outside the classroom, and even their teachers changed for the better. One example of this is the conversion story of Jennifer Ludtke.
Getting to Know Her Students Leads to Conversion
Jennifer Ludtke is a math teacher at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. For the past seven years she has spent most of her time lecturing and answering questions from her students. Although she kept a mental list of some of the students who impressed her, because of their impressive interaction with other students and faculty alike, she was never able to learn much about their backgrounds.
That all changed several years ago when the school decided to begin a new counseling program. The program got her to interview different students for approximately 20 minutes per day. Through the interviews, she was not only able to give students suggestions and provide help where needed, but she was also able to finally learn a little more about their backgrounds.
She recalls that one of the students that made a lasting impression on her was a student named Amanda who became one of her student aids. She made the following comments:
I watched with admiration how she interacted with others. I noticed that she respected herself and was considerate of others. She was admired by all who knew her. During one of our interviews, she mentioned to me about the importance of agency. I thought that was an odd word for a sixteen year old girl to use. In fact, I’d never heard a teenager use that word before. Amanda explained to me that she used the word often, particularly with her family, and that it was an important part of her LDS theology. She was just a junior in high school and I’d known her for three years at this point.
She states that the thing that impressed her the most about Amanda was her deep understanding and knowledge of religious doctrines. Ludtke had been raised as a Catholic and had met very few Mormons in her life. What she thought she knew about Mormon theology was what she had learned by watching television shows such as “Big Love.” Amanda was able to clear up the misconceptions that she had. She assured her teacher that those portrayed in the television show are not a part of The Church of Jesus Christ. She also explained that Mormons are Christians, and assured her that there is only one mom in her home.
Because of the conversations that she had with Amanda, she began to wonder how many other Latter-day Saint students were in her class. Amanda named a few students whom Ludtke also admired and respected. Although each of the students Amanda named had their own talents, abilities, and personalities, and were of different ethnic cultures and backgrounds, Ludtke considered each one to be outstanding. She further commented:
I tried to analyze what made these young students so outstanding. Amanda was very studious and popular with the boys. When she started dating at 16, I asked her why she didn’t date the two boys I knew wanted to take her out. She replied, “I don’t appreciate their arrogance.” I was so impressed! As an experienced educator, I recognized immediately that this was not normal behavior for a 16 year old. Heather was gregarious and loved theater. Koby was an outstanding athlete. These outstanding LDS youth and others often had little in common but I was drawn to them all. I respected them. I wondered what it was that made them different.
Finally I started to recognize some of the character traits they had in common. They were cheerful, full of confidence and enjoyed a healthy self-esteem. They knew who they were and what they wanted out of life. They seem satisfied and confident in their religious beliefs. They were kind and considerate to other people. They were respectful to their parents and teachers. They radiated goodness. They were disciplined and well behaved.
A Visit from Mormon Missionaries
About a year after discovering the religious beliefs of her wonderful students, she received a visit from two full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who wanted to share a message with her. She told the two young missionaries that she knew one thing about the Church, and that is they raise wonderful kids.
At first she had no interest in becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, but she was interested in knowing what religious doctrines the youth were being taught that made them such commendable people. She was so impressed with what the missionaries taught her during that visit that she invited them to come back.
She struggled with a few of the doctrines the missionaries taught her, such as baptisms for the dead, nevertheless as she continued to read, ponder, and pray, she gained a personal testimony that the Church is true. She was baptized on 30 July 2010 and currently serves as a teacher in the Relief Society of the ward she attends. The story continues.