“I Remembered the Crickets,” Ensign, Feb. 2007, 69–70
I was born in England in 1942 into a loving family of a mother, father, and sister. When I was seven, we were blessed with another addition to our family—a baby boy. My mother loved the Savior but was not a member of any particular church. She would attend the nearest church and encourage my sister and me to attend with her. Consequently, I learned a great deal about Jesus Christ and hoped to find a church to strengthen my faith in Him.
One day there came into our house a large picture book called Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Annual. I do not know where it came from. At the time I thought that perhaps one of my friends had brought it over and forgotten to take it home. It had picture stories of Buffalo Bill and Billy the Kid, just the kind of information that was important to a boy who wanted to be a cowboy. It also told the story in pictures of a persecuted people who were expelled from a beautiful city by a lawless mob and forced to trek hundreds of miles and endure endless torment before they established a new home in a western wilderness. Each little picture told a dramatic story of suffering and faith, and the story included a few pictures of a miracle involving crickets eating crops and seagulls eating crickets.
I read the story several times before I realized that the poor, persecuted people were members of a church. Then it slowly dawned on me that this church was the one that I was looking for. I wanted to join that church. Unfortunately, I was presented with a problem. The last picture in the story described Salt Lake City, Utah. From another source I was able to learn that Utah was in the United States of America. Since I had no hope of traveling from England to Utah, I would have to give up my plan of joining the Church. It never occurred to me that the Church might be located anywhere other than the United States.
And so matters rested until 11 years later. By that time my family had immigrated to Australia and settled in Sydney. There my brother began investigating a new religion. He brought home a few pamphlets that interested me and said he would ask the elders to call. I agreed, thinking I would be visited by a couple of distinguished old men. I was quite surprised when two young men about my own age called and taught me the basics of the plan of salvation. I was intrigued and agreed to undertake a series of discussions.
I listened to the missionaries but had no intention of joining the Church, especially when I learned about tithing. One day, however, one of the missionaries started talking about some pioneers who had been forced to make a long march to a place called Salt Lake City. I pricked up my ears and started to ask questions. Was this the church with the crickets and seagulls? When he mentioned Brigham Young, I immediately recognized the name and realized I had arrived at a major crossroads in my life. If I was to join any church, this was the one.
The problem of tithing was solved when I learned about the Word of Wisdom. I calculated that I spent 10 percent of my income on cigarettes and alcohol. So by paying tithing I would not be any worse off financially, and the money would be put to a far better use than clogging my lungs with black tar and poisoning my liver.
In the meantime, my brother had also given the pamphlets to my mother. She agreed to read them on the train to work that day. When she came home in the evening, she was totally converted to the Church. She was disappointed to hear that she had to have a series of missionary lessons before she could be baptized!
So we all joined the Church—first my brother, then I joined a week later, and my mother was baptized and confirmed a week after that. My father held out for 21 years but finally joined in 1985. We were all sealed in the Sydney temple a year later.
I have been to Salt Lake City several times and have visited Church historic sites in Palmyra, Kirtland, and Nauvoo. In all the places I go, I am reminded of the story in the Buffalo Bill picture book and never cease to thank the Lord for bringing it into my life when I was a boy of 10.