I, Rodney Jay Vessels, have been asked to write about ME, my personal life and journey, how I was as a kid, how I grew up, what led me to join the CCC, and how I became who I AM today. Here goes:
I was conceived in the backseat of my dad’s car. I figured this out on my own, as a teenager, when I realized that I was born just six months after my parents got married. I was pissed at my dad and felt like a big accident—but I was always loved by both of my parents, so I never felt unwanted.
I was born in Oelwein, Iowa. My dad was a reporter and photographer for the local newspaper. When I was two, we moved to Minnesota, where my dad became a columnist and editor for newspapers serving the Minneapolis metropolitan area.
Dad always had high demands for me as a writer. As a lefty, my penmanship was horrible, but Dad only cared about teaching me the craft of writing; it didn’t matter to him that I always had the penmanship of a prescription-writing doctor. I became a decent writer in high school, college and law school. In law school, in fact, I was voted the most “prolific” writer of my senior class, having written articles in two law journals and having done well on the written exams.
In junior high school, I was a good kid, only getting into trouble three times: (1) for throwing snowballs at cars; (2) for throwing a rock at a car; and (3) for shooting out a streetlight with my BB gun.
In high school, I was a loner, until I excelled in theater and was voted Best Supporting Actor of school plays, as a senior. I was tall and okay in sports—but my fame and glory in sports came when I was asked to coach an all-girls high school softball team softball team. The girls named the team, “Vessels’ Valiant Virgins.”
I didn’t do a lot of dating in high school. I went to Sadie Hawkins and to Junior Prom. I had a steady girl friend in my junior year and one also in my senior year. I was a good Methodist boy and didn’t get myself or my girlfriends into any trouble.
In college, I dated a lot and knew how to date creatively. Once my date and I roller-skated across an enclosed bridge during the winter. Another time, a date and I had a moonlight picnic under the stars, along the Mississippi River.
I had straight As my Freshman year, except for a camping class, where I got a “B.” My major was speech-communication, but I minored in theater, working behind the scenes in college plays and acting in one of them.
In my Freshman year, I joined Campus Crusade for Christ and learned how to “witness” to people about my belief in Christ. In my Sophomore year, I was taught in my dormitory room by missionaries for the church formerly known as the LDS/Mormon Church. I became convinced that the Book of Mormon was the “word of God.” I was baptized by the church, which claimed to be the only true church of God.
When I graduated from college, I went on a two-year mission for the church, serving as a proselytizing missionary, district leader, zone leader and assistant to the president of the mission. During my mission, I met the most beautiful lady missionary. As soon as I returned home from my mission, I got on a bus and traveled to Utah to date her.
I talked the former lady missionary into moving to Minnesota, where we prepared for a Mormon temple marriage. We were married in the Salt Lake Temple. The witnesses to our marriage, were our mission president and his wife.
I spent over 30 years in the church, serving as an elders quorum president, in a bishopric, in a stake young men presidency, and as the stake mission president. I also served as a seminary and institute teacher.
My ex-wife and I had the Mormon missionaries living with us, after our children left home. At night, after the missionaries where through proselytizing, we would talk about the gospel. One night, as we contemplated the promised “sealed portion” of the gold plates, we found on the Internet someone who claimed to have translated the sealed portion—Christopher Nemelka.
The missionaries and I studied online The Sealed Portion—The Final Testament of Jesus Christ. We were impressed, although the mission president found out what we were doing and took the missionaries out of my home, who eventually rejected the Sealed Portion.
I found a Yahoo discussion group, where I could challenge the True Messenger, Christopher Nemelka, after I became skeptical of his claim to be the True Messenger. I lost the debate, but gained an appreciation for Christopher and the work of the Marvelous Work and a Wonder®.
As to the question of how I became who I am today, I must answer that I still do not know who I am, but I believe I know why I exist, having been profoundly impacted by both the Sealed Portion and the book, Human Reality—who we are and why we exist!