“Andy Upton: They Helped Him Build a Testimony,” Ensign, Oct. 1986, 42
In the hot, dry southern Australian summer of 1979, Andy Upton was perched on the roof of his home, busily engaged in some uncomfortable renovation work.
Suddenly, the earnest face of a young man appeared over the top of the ladder. His white shirt and tie—even in the middle of summer—were the unmistakable attire of a Mormon missionary.
“Look, you can see I’m really busy,” Andy Upton told the young missionary. “If you really wanted to help me, you’d get into some jeans and get up here.” The missionary promptly disappeared, and ten minutes later returned with his companion, both of them in jeans and casual shirts. For much of that afternoon, the three men worked on the Uptons’ roof.
For the Upton family, this was the closing chapter in a long story that finally ended in their baptisms.
Andy had first encountered LDS missionaries at a friend’s house in Adelaide when he was nineteen. He had even gone to a fast and testimony meeting, but the missionaries left the area soon afterward and the contact was lost.
Seven years later, the Uptons had a brief acquaintance with two more missionaries. They heard two of the missionary discussions, but then moved and lost contact again.
Four more years passed before another pair of tracting missionaries knocked on the door of the Upton home. Elders Craig Winter and Grant Scabelund were told by Andy’s wife, Roslyn, that they could come back and talk to her and her husband together. But again, they found the Uptons planning to move.
Andy remembers Elder Scabelund seeming deeply disappointed. “He took the time to bear testimony to me very strongly,” Andy recalls. “He bore testimony of the Restoration with such force that I couldn’t forget it. After they left, I prayed about it as he had urged me to do, and received a strong witness. The feeling of peace and calm stayed with me for the next two days.”
But with the pressures of moving and the demands of setting up a new home, the spiritual feelings were pushed further and further into the background. (The Uptons’ life had been hectic for years. A successful pop singer with a number one record to his credit, Andy had music engagements as well as a daytime job in a timber yard.)
It was the appearance of Elder Scabelund at the top of that ladder that finally prompted the Uptons to make a decision.
“What really impressed me was the fact that those missionaries came back with their jeans on to help,” Andy says. “By this time, Elder Scabelund had a different companion. He had gotten our new address from my wife, and whenever they came they would help with the work before they talked to us about the gospel.
“We still had problems scheduling appointments, but finally my wife and I talked about it and decided we should drop everything for the Church.
“I had already received a witness, but the timing had been wrong. Now, we were ready.”
The Uptons, who now have four children aged two to thirteen, were baptized in November of 1979—eleven years after Andy’s first encounter with Latter-day Saint missionaries.
Brother Upton is now mission leader in the West Lakes Ward, Adelaide Australia Marion Stake. His wife is Relief Society home-making leader.