In the latter part of my life, I have been an active member in the Church. However, when I was 16, I stopped attending. Even so, I always had a strong testimony that the Church was true. At 19, I married and went to the United States.
As a young, pregnant 26-year-old, I nearly lost my baby. I asked God to save him, promising that I would do everything right which meant going to church. God saved my son. Time passed and I had another child, a daughter, a year later. I remember distinctly washing dishes at the sink when a voice said to me, “What about your promise?”
I started to go to another church with relatives, however after a while, I felt very uncomfortable. In Sunday school a girl had asked, “Do you have to be baptized to be saved?” The minister said, “No,” and my eyes went wide open as I realized how important the truth was. I knew baptism was essential to be saved.
From a phone book listing, I called the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and found a bishop. The building was 17 miles away. A week later, he sent two elders to meet with me and they asked what I wanted. I said, “I want to come back to Church and I’m not sure how.” They helped me make a plan, suggesting that I work on living the Word of Wisdom. I didn't see them again. It took a full year for me to repent and get myself in order so that I would be ready. I began praying and reading, but I still had a cigarette problem. It was very, very hard to give them up. On one Saturday, the Spirit said, “Get the children up before you have a cigarette.” Then I felt that I should wait until they were napping before I smoked. I followed the Spirit all day, not smoking, then I put the children to bed. I never had a desire to smoke after that. At night, during my prayer, the Spirit said, “Now you can go to Church!”
Right away, I was given a calling to run a home primary in our little town of Granite City, Illinois.
In 1971, I returned to Canada in Victoria, BC. Little did I know that I would have so many church opportunities and family changes in my future. As I was a single mother, my stake patriarch helped me find someone who could repair my children’s’ bunk beds. He sent George Lambert to help me. I was recently widowed and had four children ages 11, 10, 8 and 6. George and I became friends, and despite our age difference, he offered to marry me and help me raise my children. I told George, “You must be crazy!” He assured me that was what he wanted to do. It took me three months to make up my mind, but we did decide to marry.
When we returned home, we just did our jobs for the next 13 years and considered other places that we might live. Our bishop said, “What are you doing at home? You should be on a mission!” George was 84 and had thought he was too old to serve a mission again. We went home from church that day and George said, “Where's that big suitcase?” and we started packing. This time we were called to Edmonton, AB to help in a ward. The bishop there was very appreciative.
Then at only 63 years old, I asked, “Now who am I?” The Lord helped answer that question. I was called to be a service missionary, working at the Abbotsford Genealogy Library and was soon called to be the director for the Family History Centre.
Later I volunteered in the Seattle temple office. When the Vancouver British Columbia temple opened, I was the first person called by the new presidency to serve there. After three years, there was a change of presidency. Other people were called to work in the office and I felt sad for the change. But a few days later they called me back saying could I work on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I did that for a while until I got sick. At one point the Lord told me. ”You have done a three-year mission working at the temple. You should be happy.”
Later I returned to work at the temple one morning a week and I’m still working there. When I moved to Chilliwack, BC, I was assigned to be the ward historian and also the ward bulletin director, which is the best job I’ve ever had!
Taking callings in the Church has blessed my life with friendship, self-worth and accomplishment. I’ve enjoyed serving in almost all the callings available at a ward level.
Church activity has also required faith. It took faith to get back to Church after being inactive. I didn’t come back wondering if this is what I need, I knew it was where I needed to be. I rolled up my sleeves and said I’d do whatever the Lord wanted me to do.
Links: Reaching Out to Each Other
Trial of Your Faith [video] Elder Neil M Anderson