Since the early arrival of Saints to Eastern Canada, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has prospered. Initially Brigham Young and other missionaries were sent to preach in Upper Canada (Kingston area) beginning in 1832-33 and were followed shortly thereafter by Parley P. Pratt to Toronto in 1836.
Subsequently, three temples have been established in Toronto, Ontario (1990), Halifax, Nova Scotia (1999), and Montreal, Quebec (2000). Families have been, and continue to be, blessed by the efforts of those early pioneers who brought the gospel to our humble part of the world.
I was first introduced to the Church shortly after my arrival to Ottawa, Ontario (from Newfoundland and Labrador), in 1997, to pursue my graduate work in French studies and linguistics. One cold, wet evening, while I was preparing dinner in my rental unit, a knock came on the door. Others in the unit refused to answer the knock, but I was inclined to descend the stairs and at least open the door to see who was out knocking on such an unpleasant evening. There, I was greeted by two young gentlemen, dressed to the nines, who introduced themselves as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked whether I had heard of it. I replied that I had only seen their uplifting commercials on television, nothing more.
Feeling a little sorry for them standing in the mist on a cold, autumn evening, I invited them into the front porch to be sheltered from the elements and have a chance to warm up before heading back outside. As they shared their message with me, I explained that I was new to the city and was actively engaged in my studies. They insisted on leaving me a book, asking me if I would make an effort to read a couple passages each night before I turned in, and to write down any questions I might have about what I had read. They also asked if they could return at a later time to visit with me. As most of my time was spent in my on-campus office, I invited them to meet with me in the large tower on campus.
Little did I know at the time that the Prince of Wales chapel was merely a stone’s throw from the building in which I spent most of my days and nights. When I became aware of this fact, and after some serious self-contemplation, I accepted the invitation to visit the church on Sunday morning, on the condition that the missionaries would be at the door to greet me.
I forced myself to the building and, as promised, the missionaries were awaiting me there. I knew no one and had no idea what to expect. It was fast and testimony meeting and I was surprised when people from the congregation freely approached the pulpit to pour out their hearts in gratitude to the Lord. I had never experienced anything like this, but remember the moment vividly some 25 years later.
I remember the feeling of peace, of the ‘still small voice’ within, of all my worries disappearing, if but for a short time. It was the inner awakening I needed to bring meaning into my life and strive for something bigger.
The scriptures teach us one of the most important principles we need in our quest for mortal happiness: “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20). I hold firmly to this principle every time I have questions about my purpose here on earth - and I have lots of questions.
More missionary visits and questions answered
As the missionaries continued to visit with me and teach me more about the gospel, I became more and more interested as I suddenly found answers to my questions, meaning to my life, and friends with whom I could relate. I soon had a decision to make—be baptized a member of the Church, or not. It would take a few additional weeks, and some life changes, but I decided to ‘take the plunge’ on February 8, 1998.
More than 25 years later, 22 years of marriage in the Church and a son to carry on the new family tradition (the first sibling born in the Church), I continue to embrace what the gospel has to offer. Part of my service is in the unique assignment as translator for the Canadian Communications Committee of the Church. Serving in this capacity in our microscopic corner of the world known as Eastern Canada, I know my work is being carried throughout the world one language at a time, one individual or family at a time, one community at a time.
Our individual work has such an enormous worldly impact, greater than we shall ever know. “ Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
A little piece of Zion
These seemingly small and simple things, carried out by the early pioneers and missionaries, have helped establish the little piece of Zion we enjoy in Eastern Canada today. Just shy of 75,000 members (37.5% of the entire Canadian Church membership) live in the six eastern-most Canadian provinces (news-ca.churchofjesuschrist.org). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has blessed, and continues to bless, the lives of individuals and families in Eastern Canada and, consequently, the world.
Let us cherish our lineage and our membership in the Church in the eastern-most corners of Canada. Let us be part of that lineage for generations to come. Let our children, and our children’s children honour us one day for sharing the gospel with them—through our examples, through our membership and through the small and simple things we have done, even in the most remote areas of the Lord’s vineyard, including our home here in Eastern Canada.