Why Did I Leave Protestantism?
I don't know if this fits into this category, and by that I mean, I really don't think it fits at all, but I am really curious.
You have posted about attending a few protestant Churches when you were younger, I guess I gathered (maybe incorrectly) that you didn't grow up in an LDS Church. I am wondering what your story is. When, why and how transformation happened in your life. What lead you to become a Mormon? what were the struggles you had when you made this decision. has it been easy? hard? What do you regret? what are the challenges that you faced? who helped you along? who do you have to thank? who is your spiritual hero? what helped you make your faith your own.
Anyhow, it is up to you if you want to share any of this, or how personal you want to go, but I would truly be interested in the story.
That's a lot of questions. If I answered that in full it would make "War and Peace" look like a tract (pamphlet). So I'll briefly answer how I got into the church: Conversion was another process.
I was brought up going to a Congregational church in the morning and a Methodist mission in the afternoon and evening. I also attended the latter a few times a week for activities. At 4 I decided that I wanted to become a missionary as a full life occupation (something Protestants can do), due to a meeting I attended. As time went on I expanded my horizons and began going to other churches. At first it wasn't that many. But circumstances made that expand considerably.
In the midst of this expansion I got to 11-years-old and began to think about the whole thing. It began with what seemed to me an obvious and simple question - "why did God make us?" My minister told me that we weren't meant to understand these things. That went over like a lead balloon. Sense told me that God wouldn't have a book as large as the Bible written just to say that we shouldn't understand things. So I went out to ask other ministers of other churches. I got the same response. Finally one minister told me that God made us because he was lonely. I thought about this and came back the next week asking, "as God has been out there forever why did he pick now to be lonely?" To this he also reverted to the "not meant to understand" routine.
During this I also became concerned about my salvation. I began to think on my Catholic friend and where the line should be drawn for whether I was doing enough of the right things to get into heaven. My minister assured me that as I was attending church and believing in Christ I would be fine. Yet my knowledge of the Bible made me know that this simplistic viewpoint wasn't what the Bible said. It talked of Christ saying that those not feeding the hungry and visiting those in jail etc wouldn't go to heaven. And that not all even doing great works and professing his name would be going to heaven.
My Congregational church minister started turning his back on me so that I couldn't ask embarrassing questions, as he shook hands at the front door. I began to see that this man had no more knowledge about God than I did. By this time I was coming toward 13. I came to decide that the only hope I had for learning the answers to my questions was to study the Bible myself. So I began to read through it, searching for understanding.
As I did so I could feel this feeling from the writers. I went to church and waited to feel this same feeling there. Sense said to me that if this feeling was in the Bible, then it ought to be in Christ's church. But I couldn't feel it. I went all over the place, from church to church searching to feel it. I thought that perhaps if I stood outside I might feel it inside. But this only made me more aware of its absence. It seemed like feeling in for it there was a vacuum of it. It was just not present at all. I would get to church 5 minutes late and stand outside for 50 minutes and leave 5 minutes before it finished.
By the time I was around 13 and a half my mother felt inspired to join the LDS church. This was the first I had heard of it. And it was so far away and required so much time, I didn't go with her. Eventually I did. And for the first time I found a church that didn't have a vacuum of that feeling that came from the Bible. I was confused as it wasn't as strong (as some members have the Spirit and some don't, and its in varying degrees in people - I came to realize in time).
It was 2 years and a lot of things occurring before I joined the church. The Holy Ghost told me to join the church. I had 5 reasons why not, which he answered. I didn't want to do it, but I posed to myself that I couldn't claim to follow God, yet not follow his instruction. It was then another 4 and half years before I was really converted to Jesus Christ.
Who I can thank (apart from God, of course) for this particular aspect of my conversion - 2 missionaries who used the Spirit and answered my Biblical objections. All the other missionaries just said, "read the Book of Mormon and pray about it." A senseless statement to a person with real objections to the book and teachings of the church. I would thank my mother for teaching me to honor Jesus Christ. And I would thank the scout master for making me feel I had a friend in the church. I suppose I could also thank all those ignorant Protestant ministers for driving me to the Bible for answers.
My spiritual hero would be better made plural, as otherwise "Heavenly Father" would be the answer; and I don't think that would tell you much. - Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, John the Baptist, Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, the Nephi and Lehi who were brothers a bit before Christ came (the most unsung heroes of Scripture IMO - Hel 5), Jesus Christ (of course), King Benjamin, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Joseph F. Smith, the Brother of Jared, Peter, James, John and Matthew. Not in that order.
I will write on all the other questions you have asked in time.