Conversion is a Process
Contributed by Ray & Ruth Barrett of the Brampton Ontario Stake
A hot day in May 1972 brought Elder Coll and Elder Lloyd to knock on the door of Ruth and Ray Barrett. The Barretts had moved to the area one month before and were soon to have their first baby.
“We invited them in for lemonade; they looked so hot and tired,” Ruth recalled. “We had a nice talk and they asked if they could return, so a return appointment was made.”
Soon after their introduction to the missionaries, the couple travelled to Winnipeg, Manitoba to visit Ray’s grandmother. During the trip, the Barretts experienced a series of “coincidences.”
While traveling near Thunder Bay, Ontario on Lake Superior, a severe thunderstorm threatened their safety. Though the motels were filling quickly, one clerk suggested they try another inn some 20 miles ahead. The couple called ahead and Brother Barrett said, “Heavenly Father blessed us with a place to stay.”
Later, the Barretts decided to visit Ray’s uncle and aunt in Dryden, Ontario. Ray recalls that some years earlier, his relatives' earlier hotel had burned and one life was lost in the blaze. It may have been an “unfortunate” accident that an hour after retiring to their room, alarms began to sound. Their relatives' hotel was again afire. Ray rushed to assist guests from the building. As walls of flames engulfed the structure, he still returned again and again. All of the guests were escorted to safety; no one was injured. “As I worked to help the guests, I was aware that I was receiving protection myself,” Ray remembered.
At length, the Barretts arrived at his grandmother’s home, who was then in her eighties. Following a visit filled with close conversation and warm memories, the couple departed, happy to have deepened their relationship. Two months later, they learned that Ray’s grandmother had passed away. “In hindsight, it seems that during those experiences there was some influence with us. It made our hearts tender and open to receive the truths of the gospel.”
As the missionary discussions resumed, the elders told the Barretts to make a list of any questions they needed answered. Ray told his wife, “There’s no way they can answer these questions because there are no answers.”
When the missionaries returned, Ray says, “They did answer all the questions concerning where we’re going, why we’re here, and questions of that nature. I felt it was right for us to be baptised.” On October 19, 1972, Ray and Ruth Barrett became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The missionaries told us that we would have opposition,” Ray remembers. “They were right. Opposition from our extended family was strong.” Ray’s father was concerned that the couple was joining a cult and he thought the Church would draw Ruth and Ray away from him. Ruth’s family also worried that family closeness would be lost. In time, the families found the opposite was true. Barrett family activity increased which demonstrated that the Church is family oriented.
“The more we got involved with the Church, the more we got involved with the family. The Church truly is a family organization.” After several years, challenges with employment and other distractions lead the Barretts away from Church meetings. In addition, their sons needed transportation to and from college and the couple was overwhelmed with caring for aging parents. Through it all, Ruth explains that they never stopped paying tithing. “We felt like that helped us to hang in there. We continued to receive blessings because of tithing. We gained strength from a faithful member's testimony about tithing. His testimony always got back to tithing and that encouraged us to pay.”
Then their bishop counselled the Barretts that they could go to the temple more to boost their spirituality, so Ruth and Ray began weekly temple service. “That gave us more strength to stay spiritual, to forgive others, to accomplish our duties and to lift ourselves toward Heavenly Father.”
Whenever Ray shares his testimony or teaches the gospel, he explains, “Conversion is not immediate. A certain amount of opposition will come into your lives and you have to overcome that in order to grow. If you give it time, you’ll learn for yourself that when you keep the Lord’s covenants, your life will change for the better.”
“We tell our new member friends that you’ll learn basic teachings and as you qualify yourselves to go to the temple, you will find that your important questions will be answered when you make yourselves worthy to receive those impressions.”
Following ten years of volunteer service in the bishop’s storehouse, the couple has accepted a mission assignment there.
“Our hopes and dreams are to have our extended family with us in the eternities. We wait on the promises of the Lord as we continue to extend family love and show good examples.”