After Gerald N. Lund and his wife drove to Edinburg, England, to release President Stephen C. Kerr from his full-time service as a stake president, they had dinner with President Kerr and his wife, Yvonne. They discovered Yvonne was a convert to the Church and asked her to share her conversion story with them. This is her story:
I was brought up in the town of Ayr, about thirty miles from Glasgow on the west coast of Scotland. My mother and father were members of the Baptist Church in Ayr, as were my mother’s family. I remember my grandfather, whom I called Papa, with a lot of kindness because I knew he loved me. He was a tall man, a very fine man, and had a great knowledge of the Saviour. He owned a local clothing store and served as a lay minister and as an elder for the Baptists in his hometown of Maybole. I grew to love the Saviour through my grand-father, and I loved attending church, even on the boring days!
Because of going to church regularly, I started to read the scriptures. I loved the feelings I had when reading in the Bible about Jesus Christ, and I knew that He was the Son of God. I began to have a deep desire to know both Him and His Father more.
In time, both my beloved Papa and my father died. One of the last times I saw my dad before he passed away was when I was ten years old. He told me that his being ill was no excuse for my not going to church and that I could cycle there. As a result I always attended church.
As my knowledge of the Bible increased, I began to realise that not everything was explained in the book that I held most dear, so I prayed to God for help to understand more. Some of my church’s teachings did not fully make sense, but as long as I could worship Him then I felt that would have to suffice. My greatest desire was to meet an Apostle. I wanted to have more of God’s words that I could study. I also began to realise that whenever I attended church I felt good—warm and at peace—but those lovely feelings left when I returned home. I wanted that feeling with me all the time, so I again prayed hard that one day I would feel Him with me all of the time and not just at church or evangelical meetings.
When I turned eighteen, I left home to attend university in Edinburgh. I enjoyed my time there and attended the local Baptist Church. It seemed different from the one in Ayr. The people acted differently, and the things they taught were not the same as at home. I wondered why the same church would teach different doctrines.
One day I saw a group of Mormon missionaries at a bus stop. I thought I knew all about the Mormons! I had been taught by my church that not only were Mormons misled, but that they were also evil! I stood as far away from them as possible in case they noticed me. When they got on the same bus as I did, I again sat as far away from them as possible. They were telling jokes and laughing! I had to admit their jokes were funny, but I was not going to let them notice that I was listening. More than that, though, was that I could feel something from them, but I didn’t know what that feeling was. When they spoke to me, I answered them back very curtly.
The following day they passed me in the street. Again, I could feel something from them. The day after that, I saw them again. Then the following day! In fact, I began to notice them daily, much to my annoyance! Scottish people are friendly to each other and when we see people we recognise, even if we don’t know them, it is polite to acknowledge them with a nod of the head or a simple “hello.” And these missionaries were growing familiar to me! So, when the missionaries passed me, I would condescend to saying “hello,” but I refused to smile. Every time I saw them, I would feel something powerful and I didn’t know what it was, but I would never have told them that. I was so confused by the good feelings I could feel from them. If they were as bad as I had been taught, then why did I feel this way?
One day they came up to the campus I was attending. Since they knew my face, they stopped me and asked for directions. They wanted to perform a musical number in the theatre there. I was a drama student and had all the contacts, so out of courtesy I told them I would help them. “Helping my enemy,” I thought, and I couldn’t believe what I was doing. I made introductions and helped as much as possible. They both had very strange first names—they were both called “Elder”! They told me they were missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A short time later, I was standing in the local post office when I had the very strong impression that two Mormons were about to come in. As I looked toward the door, I saw the missionaries enter, and the feeling that came into the post office with them was so exceedingly powerful that I felt I could hardly breathe. I left as fast as I could without them seeing me, and I cried all the way to my Halls of Residence. I was shaking and scared. I didn’t understand what it was that I was feeling from them but knew it was something that I had to pay attention to.
Because I had been taught the Mormons were evil, I would not let myself think that this could be a good feeling. All that day I cried in my room and missed all my classes. The only place I could think of to find out more about the Mormons was the university library, so I checked out the only book they had on the subject. It contained dreadful and impossible things that the Mormons believed. The feelings I got from that book were awful. I later found out that it was an “anti-Mormon” book that was written by someone who hated the Church. Yet, even with all of that, I still could not stop thinking about the missionaries I had met.
Attendance at a Concert
A few days later I met the missionaries on campus again. The student union president had told them that if they could find a few people who would sign a petition for them to do a performance then they could give a concert on campus. The missionaries asked me if I would send around a letter asking for people to attend the concert, then convince my friends to sign it. I agreed. However, I refused to sign it myself! Although my friends signed the letter, they told me privately they would not attend. In fact, not one person told me they would go along with this request.
Over the next short while, I would bump into the missionaries often. They tried to get me to listen to their message, but I told them I was not interested. Little did they know about the feelings I was having! On the night of the performance, I prayed and told God that if more than a certain number (which I chose) turned up, then I would go into the theatre and listen to the concert. I felt safe that not even one person would go! The missionaries saw me and asked me in. I said “no” and stayed outside to count the number of people entering. I felt quite smug that the missionaries would have no audience.
To my horror, students began to enter one by one. I was astonished! When my count reached exactly the number I had prayed about, I knew I was in trouble. I had promised God that I would go in, so I knew I had no choice. I sat in the back, hidden behind the others. The missionaries’ music made me cry, and I was astonished that the things they sang about were things I already believed in and felt familiar with. They taught that we lived with God before we were born and could live with God again one day. They taught about the purpose of life. More than all of that though, they gave me a beautiful feeling inside, and that was what made me cry! What was this that I was feeling?
“I Began to Test God”
After that night, I met with the missionaries often and was taught about the feelings of the Spirit. I began to test God. I was so determined to prove that the elders must be wrong. One day, for example, I was walking down a long hill in Corstorphine in Edinburgh. It was on a very quiet and sunny Sabbath Day. There was no one in sight. I was so confused by the feelings from the elders that as I walked along I prayed with my head down and eyes open. I recited the Lord’s Prayer from the Bible and asked God that if the elders were saying words that were true, then “let me bump into the missionaries right now!”
I looked up and there was no one in front of me. What relief! However, at that precise moment, a bus drew up and stopped right next to me. There was no bus stop there so naturally I wondered why it was stopping. To my amazement, two missionaries got off the bus! I tried to pass off the incident as a coincidence, but I could not.
Every time I prayed to God He would directly answer me. I was so determined that the elders must be proved wrong that I was looking for either the missionaries to slip up, or for Heavenly Father to stop answering me. Neither happened! I asked the elders more and more questions. To begin with, I would only let them give me answers from the Bible. I already believed in God, but they had to prove to me that they knew Him and loved Him the way I did. They answered all my questions with ease. The ones they couldn’t answer they found out for me.
After about eight months of refusing baptism and struggling to admit that the wonderful feelings that I felt were from the Holy Ghost, I decided to go on a long summer holiday to Canada and America. I wanted to test the members of the Church at its roots in Salt Lake City. To my surprise, I bumped into missionaries wherever I went in Canada. In fact, one day I was staying at the home of an American Baptist preacher and prayed to ask if the Mormons were telling me the truth. I asked that if they were, then, “let me see some members right here and now!” I got off my knees satisfied that He could not answer that prayer because I was in my bedroom. I turned on the small TV that was there and saw a choir singing. The music was wonderful, and they sang of things the missionaries had taught me. I cried. The feelings were so beautiful! At the end of the programme I read that this had been a broadcast by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I had indeed seen Mormons in my bedroom!
After staying with another friend in Canada, I had a fall while water-skiing one day and had to go to hospital. I could not walk, and my ankle was badly sprained. I was told by the hospital that it would be impossible for me to continue my travels across Canada and the States and that I had no alternative but to cancel the rest of my holiday and catch a flight home. That night I prayed. By this time even I realised that the things I had been taught were true. So this time I prayed and told Heavenly Father that if He would heal my ankle miraculously overnight then I would obey the Word of Wisdom as I had been taught.
Early the next morning I awoke with a start. The mother of the house was calling me for breakfast. I had slept in! I jumped up and ran downstairs. The family looked at me with amazement. My ankle was completely better! I was able to carry on with my journey with barely a limp. From that day I started to keep the Word of Wisdom. Once you make a promise to God, you cannot retract it!
A Trip to Salt Lake City
Eventually I arrived in Salt Lake City. This was my final chance to find out what these Mormons were really like and for me to be able to finally walk away from them. The Greyhound bus station at that time was in the heart of Salt Lake City. As I stepped off the bus, the Spirit hit me so strongly and I felt I had come home. Again I cried. What was this place? Everywhere I went I felt I was surrounded by the Spirit, and I could find fault with not one person there. Every single person portrayed the pure love of Christ, and I felt the Spirit strongly with them all. I had many more beautiful spiritual experiences, some too sacred to me to record here.
When I returned home to Scotland, the missionaries continued teaching me with patience and answered my questions. Finally, I determined I wanted to be baptized. One year after first meeting the missionaries, I finally accepted baptism. It was the hardest thing I have ever done as I felt I was betraying my roots. My family were very opposed to my baptism and felt that by doing so I was denying God and also rejecting both my family and my heritage. My grandmother disowned me. A Baptist friend attended my baptism and stood at the font when I went down into the water. She told me that this was not something God wanted me to do and that at that moment my old church was holding a prayer meeting for me! However, I went ahead with the baptism and later was given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Since then I have always felt the Spirit with me.
Many years later I recollected my early youth when I wanted that lovely feeling I felt at church to be with me all the time and remembered that it always left me when I left church. Now I have the gift to have the Holy Ghost with me all the time and I never want to be without it again. It has been the most wonderful, precious gift and I can never take it for granted. I also remember wanting to meet an Apostle. I pleaded with God to one day let me meet an Apostle. Now I have sat and talked face to face with real Apostles and can testify that they are truly men of God. As a youth I had always believed that there must be more scripture, that the Bible could not contain all of God’s words. But I didn’t know where those words would be or what they looked like. I have found those missing words in my life and am satisfied that the Book of Mormon is indeed another witness of Jesus Christ.
My mother was eventually baptised herself. It may have taken her fifteen years, but she is now a very active member and says that it was partly because of my example in the way I raised my children that she began to investigate the Church. She now wishes she had found the Church earlier in her life. Over the next few years following my baptism, I managed to convince my grandmother that I still believed in Jesus, and she became more accepting of my newfound faith and even defended me to her friends.
All of these experiences in my life have been for my good. I am grateful to missionaries all over the world for serving in order to find people like myself. More than that, I feel so humble to think of the many missionaries who taught me and brought me the gospel restored in its fullness. Since my baptism, I have learned not to test God, but to trust in Him. I have met great people through my membership in the Church, but none greater than those first missionaries who taught me the restored gospel of the One who means the most to me in my life: my Lord, Saviour, and Friend, Jesus Christ. I bear witness that this is His Church.
Lead image from Mormon Newsroom
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