2019
Stories of Faith and Conversion in Darwin
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Stories of Faith and Conversion in Darwin

Anne Marie Ngukurr: The Name of the Church

Anne Marie lives in the Katherine Branch in the Northern Territory which is about four hours away from Darwin where she goes for medical treatment; she is on dialysis.

During a period of great sickness, Anne happened upon a few Bible scriptures in a Christian healing book. She read from 2 Corinthians 10:5:

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Anne found comfort in this scripture but did not yet fully understand why.

Later, she had a dream where the name of the Church came into her mind: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She had the same dream the next day; this time she shared the name with her granddaughter.

When she came again to Darwin for dialysis, she began looking around for this church that had been on her mind and in her dreams. On the way to dialysis, Anne drove past a chapel and written on a plaque on the outside of the building, as clear as in her dream, was the name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She asked her daughter to drive to the church but it being a Saturday, everything was locked. She went back the next morning and found the sister missionaries who eagerly taught her.

Even before being taught by the sister missionaries, she had committed to baptism. She knew in her heart that the Lord had led her to the right church; the Church of Jesus Christ and she’d made up her mind to “stick with it” and bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

As she attended church, she saw and heard things that she had dreamed about. She realised that Joseph Smith had seen visions too. These visions had led to the restoration of the true church of Jesus Christ. She had been weighed down by anger and sadness for many years but at church, she felt those burdens lifting from her shoulders. Anne was baptised on 28 October 2014, within two weeks of finding the Church from her dream.

Anne Marie is the only member of the church in her family; she has three daughters and a son who passed away. She wants her family to be stronger and is currently saving to go to the Adelaide Temple. She wants to help her people and knows that through the ordinances of the gospel she can bless her family and her people both living and dead.

Tanya Peris: A Miracle—Plain and Simple

Sister Peris was baptised when she was 15 years old. Her testimony of prayer and the power of the priesthood was strong, but a recent near-death experience and a miraculous recovery strengthened that testimony for Tanya.

She had been working long hours and not eating well. She collapsed suddenly in her home and the police had to break in to get her to the hospital. She was in kidney failure; everything was shutting down.

The team of doctors didn’t expect her to survive the night. According to them, she was the sickest person in the Northern Territory for about two weeks. While in intensive care, President Jared Archibald gave her a blessing. Her family and friends visited her every day and her nephew, Jack Peris prayed every day while she was in the hospital.

Though the prognosis was very bad, she survived and became well enough to get around and even to attend church.

“It is a miracle—plain and simple!”, said President Archibald.

Tanya bore her testimony of her experiences and shared her gratitude for the priesthood blessings and prayers that brought about this miracle.

Though her experience with kidney failure was terrifying, it caused many people, for whom praying was not a habit, to turn to Heavenly Father and to pray. It was not her time to die and she feels that the prayers of her friends and family, the priesthood blessing of President Archibald and living the Word of Wisdom are the reason for her miraculous recovery and the health she enjoys today.

Margaret Schoenfisch: My Church Family

Margaret was born in Queensland and raised by her grandparents as her relationship with her parents was troubled. She did not have much of a family life and when she eventually moved to Darwin, she was very lonely.

When the elders came to her door, she invited them in saying, “When God has a plan, you just go with it.”

She was baptised on her second visit to Church. The members loved and served her and became the family she never had.

“It was something I was craving,” she said, “It was strange to have somebody that cared about me. The Church members taught me what it was like to have a family.”

Her daughter also joined the Church. After being baptised, Margaret wanted to go to the temple but didn’t have the resources to do so. She got a job as a telemarketer and saved money and went to the temple in Sydney on 21 November 1995.

“Being a member of the Church is wonderful. I’ve been in Primary most of my time in the Church. I was a seminary teacher from 1995 to 2004. ‘You can do it,’ they said. It was hard but I loved it.

“Later I had a heart attack that led to bypass surgery. I had more visitors than anyone else at the hospital, ‘that’s my Church family,’ I told the staff. I had two brethren come and give me a priesthood blessing and felt so much peace. The surgeons didn’t think I would make it, but I did and my Father in Heaven, as well as my ward family were there with me every step of the way.

“The Church has given me a whole new life. I wouldn’t be anywhere else on a Sunday. The Church has given me a family; apart from my daughter and son-in-law, John, and my two granddaughters, I don’t see the rest of my family. It hurts, but I have learned to let it go.

“My gospel family and my Father in Heaven gave me a reason to live and I will be forever grateful.”

Barb Backers: At Home with the Members

“When I was 17 years old, a friend invited me to go to church and it instantly felt like a family. I went to the young single adult conferences and we’d have so much fun. I always felt at home with the members of the Church. I wanted to get baptised but my mother wouldn’t let me. I never saw another missionary until I got to Darwin.

“In 1995, I was feeling depressed and sorry for myself. One night two missionaries knocked on my door. I meant to say, ‘No thank you,’ but instead I opened the door. When they began to teach me about Joseph Smith and other gospel topics I said, ‘I know all that.’ I was golden for them and the Church was golden for me. I had saved many fliers from various churches but never went. I was soon baptised into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first time I walked in the chapel I felt so comfortable.

“I’m the first counsellor in the Relief Society. I try hard to fellowship new members, so we don’t lose them. That friend who had first invited me to church has since gone less active and I’m determined to help as many as I can stay with the Lord.”