In early 1963, when I was a student in Nova Scotia, two young men arrived at the door. I was close enough to hear their being told that no one in the house had any interest in learning about their religion.
As they were leaving, I looked out an upstairs window and saw them walking away. Their shoulders were slumped and they were dragging their feet. I felt an strong impulse to talk with them, so I rushed downstairs and ran to the street and invited them to come back to teach me at another time. Over the next several weeks, they taught me on a few occasions, but the school year soon ended; I graduated, moved home and they were gone from my life.
Many of the things they taught struck me as being far-fetched. I conceded, however, that if prophets existed in biblical times, there could be prophets today. I simply didn't recognize any.
Months later, as I was living at home in Sydney, two missionaries appeared at our door asking for me. The elders had found my name and address in their apartment on some paperwork left behind by the previous missionaries. I made an appointment with these new elders to teach me again. As I listened to these discussions, many of the teachings that had seemed so foreign to me were actually based on scriptures from the Bible. However, I moved to a new city and my contact with those missionaries ended.
In 1966, my wife Sandra and I were married. She also had had some connections with Mormons, but felt that their teachings were strange.
Then one day we met the missionaries in a laundromat and invited them to supper. Though we welcomed the spirit they brought, we still felt unprepared to accept the LDS religion.
Over the years, other missionaries came and went without our making any commitments. In the early 1970's, we became close to a particular set of missionaries—Elder Bill Mead from Idaho and Elder Ken Carr from California. Though they again taught us the precepts of the restored gospel, fasted and prayed for us and we felt their great love for us, we still declined be baptized. We considered being baptized for them, but we knew that it would be wrong to accept baptism just to make them happy. They were transferred and we again drifted from the Church.
Part of what frustrated the missionaries was our decision that Sandra and I would be baptized together or not at all. Inside our wedding rings, we had inscribed the words 'All Stages To Come', signifying our pledge to each other to face together all the remaining stages of life.
While we teetered on the edge of commitment, we agreed to attend a district conference in 1976. Sandra felt unwell, so I took our two children to the conference in Dartmouth while she rested. Each of the speakers seemed to deliver a message just for me. During the sermons and in conversations after the meeting, I felt the Spirit within me. As I drove home that afternoon, I uttered a silent, soul-filled prayer to know whether the Church, Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon and everything were true.
Heavenly Father answered my prayer! Right then, I felt the Spirit flood through every cell and particle of my body, telling me that I did not have to understand everything before I was baptized and that I would continue to learn for the rest of my life. I was told that I must act on that faith. I knew I had to be baptized. Then I felt a tremendous sorrow for I knew that I could not refuse to be baptized, which meant that I would have to go forward without Sandra.
As we arrived home, Sandra was in the kitchen. I asked her how she was feeling and she said, 'Do you know what?' As I looked at her, I felt the Spirit flow within me and I said, 'Yes. I know what!' She looked at me with a puzzled expression and said, 'What?', I replied, 'You have decided to be baptized.' With emotion in her voice she asked, 'How did you know that?' I responded, 'Because I made the same decision about 45 minutes ago as I was driving home.' Then Sandra said, 'I made my decision 45 minutes ago too!' Our testimonies were a blessing given to us at the same instant while we were 80 kilometres apart.
In the next week, Elder Smith came to my office. He asked if we could attend my brother's baptism, two weeks to the day after Sandra and I were baptized. Imagine my joy! Unknown to me, the Spirit had touched him at our baptisms and he could not deny that witness.
On 16 July 1977, Sandra and I knelt at the altar in the Washington DC Temple and were sealed for eternity. When our two children entered the sealing room and joined us at the altar, there was not a dry eye in the room. Even our sealer, President Clyde E. Black, had tears streaming down his face and deep emotion in his voice.
Since our family was sealed, we have since been blessed with three more children. As we continue to strive to be faithful in the Church through our serving in assignments, being patient in afflictions and helping one another, I often feel grateful for that day when across the miles, the Spirit testified the truth to us “coincidently”.