It All Began with You
previous next

“It All Began with You,” Ensign, Jan. 2008, 19–21

It All Began with You

You never knew it, Elder, but your influence led to the saving of my soul and hundreds more.

It all began with you, Elder Glazier. You were on your mission in England in 1963. You were at Joe Hesketh’s place, the tiniest of terrace houses, tucked away behind the old parish church in the medieval town of Shrewsbury.

I was a 34-year-old bus driver and a member of Joe’s band. I played the accordion.

Joe was a workmate of mine. His son had been killed in an accident, and Joe was looking for answers. When I arrived on that memorable evening, you had your flannel board propped up on the kitchen table. I knocked your bike over as I swung my old black accordion case through the front door. Remember?

Well, perhaps you won’t, but I’ll never forget you, Elder. At least I’ll never forget what you said.

I guess you might say that’s not a very profound statement, but would you consider it profound if I told you that what you said, and the way you said it, has been indirectly responsible for the saving of a hundred or more souls? And that’s a conservative estimate.

Cultivating the Seed

I never saw you again, but the seed had been sown. About a year later my family and I moved to Canada. The first home we rented there was behind the Calgary stake center. We knew nothing about what went on there except that on Sunday mornings a lot of men attended without any women. (This was in the days when priesthood meeting was held before the other Sunday meetings.)

As I learned of the gospel, I began to experience miracles in my life as the hand of the Lord prepared my family for his purposes.

It probably seemed to my parents back in England that our letters home were a little exaggerated as we related tales of how we bought a home with only $2.50 in our pockets; how I applied for a job only to be turned down and then offered a supervisor’s job for more money; and how I was able to play as a musician and earn, in three nights, the equivalent of a week’s pay in England.

Baptism eventually came as the result of being fellowshipped by Brother Loveday, a real estate agent looking for business. As he made his first inquiry, he also asked, “What do you know about Mormons?” All I knew was you, Elder, so I was willing to listen. I told him that I liked religious arguments. This one I lost!

About a year later I was a stake missionary, and we were blessed with many baptisms in our area, all referrals. One of those baptized would become a stake mission president who in turn brought many other members into the Church.

Sharing the Seed

The crowning reward to this point, Elder Glazier, has been serving a mission to India with my wife.

For the first couple of days I just stared out the wrought-iron covered windows of our house, not wanting to step outside, never realizing that soon we would be happily roaming through rural villages where English was not understood and where light-skinned faces were rarely seen. These were early days with many obstacles to encounter and overcome.

We worked among some of the poor of the earth, the likes of whom the Savior ministered to in His time. They taught us so much about humility, love, spirituality, and faith, as well as the tenacity of the human soul.

We became good friends with Gita, a lovely young doctor from India and a good Catholic. She and her husband administered to the needs of the poor in the area. One Sunday evening she came with us to the village of Semmedu to see if she could help any sick members, and when we arrived we were astonished to see a huge line of people awaiting us. We never found out how they knew we were bringing the doctor. After she had finished her examination and we dispensed the aspirin and iron tablets, a mother brought her daughter and asked that she be given a blessing “to heal her sick.” We were there for hours and, with the help of one of our young translators, gave priesthood blessings to nearly all of the villagers. The Spirit was intense, and the faith of the poorest of the earth remarkable.

In another instance, a young woman who lived near our tiny place of worship shaved her head and sold her hair in order to feed herself and her baby because her husband had left her. We helped as best we could. I think that was the night we realized how easy it was to love the people but how hard it would be to solve all of their problems. And that was the night when I knew that this mission was for me.

Reaping the Harvest

One of the important tasks we undertook was to teach the village people the gospel. What a wonderful thing to sit in front of those beautiful faces. Surely they had a humility rarely seen in the world of plenty.

One Sunday evening while teaching the law of tithing to people who often wondered about tomorrow’s dinner, I thought of what Sister Johnson, one of our missionaries, had remarked: “How will they ever understand this at home?” I asked the village people if they could live the law of tithing. Elizabeth rose to her feet and walked to her son Samuel, a village elder. He gave her the equivalent of 30 cents, and, smiling, she passed it on to me. Surely this was the widow’s mite.

We were able to baptize in the river and in borrowed water-storage tanks, leeches and all. We were also able to experience spiritual moments the likes of which we have not had since.

What matters for now is to be able to tell you that the seed you brought across the ocean to us in England was nurtured and taken around the world and planted in the hearts of those who would listen.

God bless you, Elder Glazier, for being part of saving the souls of so many you have never seen.

Illustrations by Gregg Thorkelsen

Pool of Bethesda, by Carl Heinrich Bloch, courtesy of the BYU Museum of Art