“Area Authority in England,” Ensign, Oct. 1998, 68
In the summer of 1950, one year after being introduced to the Church, eight-year-old Brian A. Watling and his parents were baptized. The baptism took place in the North Sea near a small island off the coast of Essex, England.
“I remember that we used an old World War II defense bunker to get changed into our white clothes,” says Elder Watling, now an Area Authority Seventy for the Europe North Area. “I also remember how the missionaries had mistimed the tide, for it was out, and we had to walk over a mile of mudflats to get to the sea.”
The Watlings were the first family in Colchester, England, to become Latter-day Saints since the late 1800s. For a time they formed the entire branch, though soon other families joined. Church meetings were held in rented buildings, usually political party halls. “I used to clean up the beer mugs and cigarettes from the hall and open the windows to clear the air so we could meet in a place more conducive to worship,” says Elder Watling. “Those were great faith-promoting days, and my faith grew in leaps and bounds.”
From 1962 to 1964 Elder Watling served in the Alaskan-Canadian Mission. “This was a time during which my love, devotion, and commitment to Jesus Christ and his great Church became absolute,” he says. “Wonderful companions, sacred experiences, and bringing souls to Christ made these two years the turning point in my life.”
Upon returning home, Elder Watling was pleased to find that the first meetinghouse in Colchester was nearing completion. His father had played a large part in securing the land and helping to construct the building.
On Christmas Day 1964 Elder Watling proposed to Pamela Turrell, whom he had met several years before his mission. They were married in 1965; the couple now have eight children. Elder Watling currently is a consultant who specializes in management development, and he says that nothing helps him better perform his job than the teachings contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“As I go about my work, I tell people who I am, what I am, and why, and I have never felt that this has done anything less than enhance my relationships,” he says.”I have learned that people everywhere respect values and standards, even though they may be unwilling to accept them as their own.”