I was born in East Africa [Dar es Salaam] on December 18, 1940 to a Sikh family. When I was 17 year old I rebelled from my religion and cut off my long hair and shaved off my beard. My parents were not happy with me, especially my mother as I was the oldest son and she thought that my siblings would follow my example.
My life was lived for enjoyment. Whenever I would go for a drive with friends, I would sit in front with the window down and watch my hair blow in the wind. As a kid we would watch John Wayne movies like “The White Hunter.” I told my friends that when I grow up I am going to be “Brown Hunter” and make lots of money. When I turned 20 years old, I asked my dad if it would be okay for me to move to England. His reply was “yes.”
Emigration to England
I arrived in London, in 1960 and this is where my life changed although it took nine years. I had not met my future wife yet and did not have any plan for where I was going to live even though I had come 3549 miles. One friend from Africa came to meet me and asked if I would like to move in with him in a small town called South Hall in Middlesex. We got there late, and in the morning, I woke up and looked out the window. I thought I was back in Africa and said to my friend that I was sorry but was going to move on. At the bus stop, I gave the bus conductor my loose change and told him to tell me to get off when the fare runs out.
I saw an advertisement for board, bed and breakfast for five pounds a week. I called the number and told the person who I was and where I was from. She started to give me directions but soon learned that I was too new to follow directions. She came and picked me up.
The British army offered me a job as a civilian cleaning the shop. One lunch time, one of the workers asked what kind of job I had in Africa. I said that I was a heavy-duty mechanic, and after the break he went and told the manager and the next day I started working as a mechanic.
Two years passed. One day two young ladies knocked on the door and invited me to a meeting for the Young Liberal Club. The next day we walked to the pub where they held the meeting. As I opened the door for these two ladies, I saw a young lady sitting by the table and taking minutes. I said, “She is the girl for me.” We started to date and got engaged in 1965. She told me that she had rebelled from the Church of England when she was 15, and was an atheist.
Marriage and missionaries
Jen and I were married in 1967. We were having a wonderful life and our first son was born in June 1970. In August 1970, just as I returned from my shift, there was a knock on the door. As I opened the door there stood two men and one of them said, “We are from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we have a message for you.” I replied that we don’t believe in God and was closing the door when one of the missionaries said, “God loves you.” My wife was in the kitchen and our son was sleeping in the pram. I asked Jen if she believed that God loves us, and she answered, “You know we don’t so why are you asking?” I said that there are two Yankees who told me that God loves me and I am going to call them in. Her answer was, “Don’t you dare.”
The missionaries came in and I asked Jen to join us. She looked at her watch and agreed since she knew our son would be awake in five minutes and she would have a good excuse to leave. Our son slept through all of the lesson and at the end the elders asked us to pray. I said, “We don’t know how to pray or who to pray to.”
They taught us a short prayer:
Our Father in Heaven,
We thank Thee.
We ask thee.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
That night at bedtime I said to Jen, “We are going to pray.” She said, “Are you kidding? You know that there is no God.” I insisted that we pray, and that Jen do it. So, Jen said the prayer how we were taught. “Heavenly Father we thank thee for our son, and we ask Thee to keep him safe, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
The next morning while Jen was hanging washing on the clothes line she had a feeling that our son, Chris, had lived before.
When the missionaries first asked about baptism, the answer was no. I wanted to delay it because I wanted to spend December celebrating Christmas by enjoying evening drinks with my father-in-law. We did get baptized the end of 1970. I was not converted, and I missed my tobacco and drinks. In 1972 I left the Church, and Jen also became less active as it was hard for her to get to church with now, two small boys. She would pray every night that she could find a way to get to church.
Back to church
It was not long before a young couple, Tom and Kathy, moved in next door. As I was driving Tom around the neighborhood, I pointed out my local pub and told him how we were going to spend our evenings there. He said, “I don’t drink.” It soon was established that he did not smoke, did not drink tea or coffee, and that he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When Jen found this out, she ran over to meet them. Jen could go to church every Sunday now. One Sunday Tom came to me and asked me to be his home teaching companion. I agreed, with the promise that I would never have to give a lesson. He kept his word.
One day Jen asked if I would drive her to the stake centre for her patriarchal blessing. I said “yes,” uncomfortable because I was smoking a pack a day. As the patriarch was giving her a blessing, my mind was saying “no” to what he was saying. No, my boys would not go on missions but would follow their dad. At the end he asked if he could offer a prayer. The prayer was all about me. At home I sat down on the couch and took out a cigarette and could not light it. After tormenting myself, I told Jen that I was going to see the branch president because I didn’t know what the patriarch had done to me. I told the branch president that I couldn’t light my cigarette. With a smile he said, “We will talk again after you have a few months to smarten yourself up.” I went home and took my cigarettes, crushed them, and threw them in the garbage. I poured my homemade beer into the sink, and never looked back.
In 1973 I was ordained an Elder. A month later we went to the London England Temple. The following Monday Tom learned that he was being transferred back home.
We are still good friends to this day.
We moved to Canada in 1975, first to New Brunswick, then to Alberta. My wife, Jen, has passed away, but I am still looking forward. I am presently an ordinance worker in the Cardston Alberta Temple. And, yes, my boys [all three] did go on missions.