One of the greatest miracles a Bishop sees comes in the form of the wanderer returning home. That is, after all, the point of the plan—getting us home. Bishop Brant Quist of the Dartmouth Ward, became part of such a miracle the night Brandy contacted him. “I got an email one night in the spring asking if I was a bishop.” The message was plain, “I need to talk. I feel so lost. I can't go to church, though. I've done a lot that I shouldn't in the last several years. I don't even know you, but I know that if anyone can help me it's you,” Brandy’s text read. Bishop Quist arranged for a meeting. Brandy opened up and in so doing opened the door to help and healing.
“In 2002 I became a member after moving to Utah from North Dakota. I was 16. By the time I was 19 I’d mostly stopped going to church. I met a guy on the internet and moved to Nova Scotia. I had three children during that time. I went to church on and off until 2011, after my youngest daughter was born I stopped completely.
I honestly don’t know why I felt like contacting Bishop Quist. I saw something on Facebook quoting a conference talk, but not in a good way. I downloaded it so I could join in the negative comments. All of a sudden, I just needed to talk to a bishop. I didn’t want to, but, still, I just had to talk to him for some reason. I contacted a friend in Utah and he gave me Bishop Quist’s information,” Brandy recalls. “That Wednesday I talked to him at the church. I had pink and blue hair. I told him I needed help, that my life was going bad and needed direction,” Brandy said. “I wanted to come back to church.” Bishop Quist visited daily with Brandy via the internet and phone and she was back to church by the next Sunday.
Saying you want to change and making a change are two different things. Brandy had to jump in all the way and that was a big step. “I had no reason to come back. I didn’t realize I was unhappy or looking for something, just suddenly that day I needed to talk to the Bishop. For 10 years I’d used bad coping strategies. I went back and stayed with the changes because I was one hundred percent committed. I knew that I couldn’t do it any other way. It was hard. I felt like I didn’t fit in; me, a single mother with three young children When I went back to church I lost friends faster than I gained new friends, so it was pretty lonely for a long time,” Brandy says. “The ward was amazing. Bishop Quist was amazing. I didn’t have a car at the time, Bishop Quist’s mom picked me and my three children up and drove us to church and other places like the temple. She even watched my children when I eventually went to do temple work.”
“I didn’t really understand the Atonement before all this. I didn’t know about its different sides, the healing side and the cleansing side. The Atonement has helped me heal from a lot of things in my life, but it also helped me change, to become better and to move past all of the things I’ve done in my life. At first, it was really hard to get past thinking that I was a terrible person and shouldn’t be back to church. Because of the lifestyle, I was living, I’m pretty sure people thought I’d never come back to church. The Atonement has allowed me to repent and return to the Church.”
“When I first came back to church I made a commitment that if I ever got married, it would be in the temple. I really wanted to get married. I wanted a complete family. I wanted it for my children and for myself. So many times, it felt like an impossible goal. It felt like, maybe I was expecting too much. There really weren't a lot of single guys at church. I kept praying about marriage, but my prayers started to change. I prayed for help to be okay with not being married if that is the plan for me and praying for help to become stronger. During general conference in April 2015, I got the feeling that I needed to have hope. Not the 'I hope this happens' kind, but the, 'I have hope that it will happen' kind. Later, while waiting for the Sunday afternoon session to start, I remember praying and asking why I hadn't even dated anyone. Instantly the answer was, 'He's just not ready yet.'
That same year Bishop Quist began working with Kyle who had been meeting with the missionaries. Kyle had joined the church in Moncton, New Brunswick in 2002. Kyle made his way back to the Church, too. “This young man moved into my ward, but was not known to us, he had been less-active for many years and had not yet received the Melchizedek Priesthood.” With the help of missionaries and other local members of the church, Bishop Quist introduced him to Brandy.
When asked what advice she would give someone contemplating a return from wandering she replied, “I’m not qualified to give advice, but one thing that helped me was realizing I didn’t have to do it all by myself. The changes I made were hard and I prayed, ‘Help me; I can’t do this by myself.’ Without that help, I couldn’t have done it. Now, I’m married in the temple, something I never thought possible.” Brandy says.