“My Pioneer Days in Calgary,” Liahona, July 2011, 40
I was born in a small town in northern England in 1947. When I was 15 years old, I was introduced to the missionaries through friends, and I joined the Church. My family, however, did not join.
As I learned about the early pioneers of the Church, I felt that I had been shortchanged by not having a heritage of ancestors who had crossed the plains. But as I progressed in the gospel, my feelings changed.
I came to understand that the early pioneers forged the way for people like me to join the Church. The two missionaries who introduced me to the gospel were descendants of those pioneers, so I owe much to the pioneers. I came to feel linked to them in a special way.
I also realized that I do have a heritage of generous, hardworking people who sacrificed, labored, and even fought wars to make it possible for me to have things they never had and to give me the freedoms I enjoy today. My parents didn’t join the Church, but they raised me with good values and principles that prepared me to accept the gospel.
Finally, I learned that there are many kinds of pioneers. I am a first-generation member of the Church. My family was not happy with my decision to be baptized, which made it difficult for me to attend my meetings. Our small branch struggled because of a lack of members, especially priesthood holders. Eventually it became evident that the mission was going to close it.
As a result, I decided to move to Canada, which was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I was an only child and loved my parents very much, as they loved me, but my testimony would have been at risk had I stayed in an area where I couldn’t attend church. I can still remember the night I left—my father running alongside the train blowing kisses to me while my mother looked on. My heart was breaking, but I knew I had to leave.
I arrived in Calgary, Alberta, on Mother’s Day in May 1967. I attended church with the members I was staying with and cried through the whole meeting. I remember writing letters home to my parents with tears streaming down my face, telling them I loved Canada but missed England and my family so much.
I struggled to adjust to my new life, suffering homesickness, loneliness, and disappointments, but I stayed true to the gospel. I attended all of my meetings and accepted callings. These were my pioneer days.
Eventually I met my husband. We were sealed in the Cardston Alberta Temple and raised three children in the Church.
Each time I return to England, I am flooded with memories of my conversion and can’t help but be grateful for my blessings. Where might I be today had I not had the courage to make such a difficult choice and follow the Spirit?
I will be eternally grateful to the early pioneers both in and out of the Church who paved the way so that I and others like me could hear the gospel. Those who came before gave me the opportunity and the courage to be a modern-day pioneer.