From Despair to Devoted Purpose

From Despair to Devoted Purpose

Life was not easy for most Canadians during World War II.  Many suffered grief from the loss of a father, son or brother killed in battle. But even in these worst of times, the Lord's hand is seen in the lives of honest, faithful people. One wartime tragedy brought a family of saints into His church.

While Thelma Fielden grieved the death of her older brother Freedie on the battle front two months before the end of the War, she yearned to ease the burden of his widow, Florence and their three small children. For her part, Florence searched for comfort from local church ministers in Windsor, Nova Scotia, but found none that could assure her that she would see her husband again or that her family would be reunited especially since her husband never had the opportunity to hold his youngest child.

In the midst of a prayer for comfort one day, there was a knock at her door. There stood two young Mormon missionaries, Elders Truman Madsen and Ellsworth Brown.  She invited them in and they taught her the plan of salvation. As she learned that God’s plan provided for her family to be together forever, she joined the Church.

Florence then shared her new beliefs with Freedie’s sister, Thelma and her husband, Aubrey. They were impressed with the changes that Florence's conversion had made in her life, but since there was limited contact with missionaries, it was not until six years later that the missionaries finally came to the Fielden’s home. After hearing their message, the couple felt that they too had found the true gospel and were baptized in the small Halifax branch in April 1953.
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A year after his baptism, Aubrey received the Melchizedek Priesthood in May 1954 and was sustained as first counselor in the branch presidency. Three years later, he was sustained as branch president. “I served for five years in the Halifax Branch,” says Aubrey. “It included all of Nova Scotia. I had to travel as much as 300 miles to visit each Sunday School.”
Church authorities urged the small groups of Saints to promote the growth of new branches. “I attended a mission conference with Elder S. Dilworth Young,” says Aubrey. “We all wore Golden Question pins. Elder Truman Madsen had taught us to say, “What do you know about the Mormon Church? Would you like to know more? After his influence, we were getting 350 baptisms a year.”

In 1958, Brother Fielden was called to be Assistant Supervisor of Construction for the first chapel in Halifax. “The other churches would oppose our building,” says Brother Fielden. “When we proposed a place to build the church, another church would find out and buy the property. Finally, I told a man about feeling harassed and not being able to buy property. He said, ‘I’ll sell you property and hold it until you get it approved.’ I notified Salt Lake and about three months later, we had $4,300 and bought the property,” says Aubrey. “The women held bake sales and other fundraisers to pay off the loan and raise the money to build the chapel and the brethren donated their time in the evenings to its construction. It was interesting and challenging and gave us a testimony of the virtue of God. Every step of the way, He blessed us to accomplish what we were willing to do.”

Since joining the Church, the Fieldens established the tradition of having the missionaries to dinner each Wednesday evening—a tradition that has blessed their home in many ways during the past 60 years. This associated has motivated the family to keep missionary work a priority in their service to the Lord.  They learned early that He would provide a way for them to fufilll every assignment.

As Aubrey and Thelma serve faithfully in many callings, they never forget how the blessings of the gospel came into their lives. Missionaries had brought them the gospel of Jesus Christ and a beloved family member, Florence, opened the way for them to accept it. They remember to ask the Golden Questions and to share their testimonies with their friends and neighbours. Their missionary efforts also extend to family history research and temple work. Together they have brought thousands of family names to the temple. They continue to show their gratitude to the Lord by extending gospel blessings to others.
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