The Pursuit of Happiness
Contributed by President David G. Evans, Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake
"So compelling were the teachings and doctrine laid out in this strange volume that I wondered who or what church had published it. Nothing within the covers of the book revealed a person or organization as the publisher."
As a young man caught up in the culture of the seventies, David Evans never envisioned himself as a man of God, but that was half a century ago, at a time when even David did not know the Lord, nor that His eye was upon him.
David was one of four sons and a daughter born in Manchester, England to Brinley and Margaret Evans. A year and an half after his birth, the family transferred to South Africa. As the Evan’s family saw it, the area was “not good with happy living,” so they moved back to England, and eventually to Ontario, Canada, by the time David was 12 years old.
After earning a veterinary medicine graduate degree from the University of Guelph in 1972, David took a position in Nova Scotia, with intentions of later returning to Ontario.
“I was not happy with life at the time,” he says. “I had a great job, good money, I was building a house, and had everything that the world said would make you happy, but I wasn't. I couldn't put my finger on it. I thought that I should have been happy, but I just wasn't. So, I began a concerted effort looking at what would make one “happy.”
One day, as he spoke with his landlady about the death of her husband, David talked about his anxious pursuit of happiness. The landlady gave him the book “The Robe.” At that moment, it struck David that his contemporary popular “heroes” were not ideal role models. He took the Christ-oriented novel and began to read it. The novel led him to compare the book’s ideals to those recorded in the New Testament.
“That story, plus reading scriptures, made Heavenly Father real and I realized that what I had been skeptical about was actually correct. The social norms of the sixties and seventies that I had embraced -- the drug culture, moral revolution, do what you want to do, etc. -- were incorrect.”
During the summer of 1975, David was thinking of getting married. He had always wanted a large family and said to his girlfriend, “I need to check some things out. I'm going to stop doing drugs and stop drinking. Let's change our relationship to strictly platonic.” She agreed to the ”experiment.“
About six months later, as he continued his practice of living a less worldly life, the landlady offered another book to David. She explained that she had had some missionaries in her boarding house some time ago, and they had left the volume on her bookshelf. It was “The Book of Mormon.”
David focused his attention on the new book and devoured the chapters as he read through to “Mosiah” and “Alma.” So compelling were the teachings and doctrine laid out in this strange volume that he wondered who or what church had published it. Nothing within the covers of the book revealed a person or organization as the publisher.
David called the Seventh Day Adventist Church to see if it was theirs, but the phone number had been disconnected. “I waited until the Jehovah’s Witnesses came around again and planned to ask them, but they said it wasn’t their book.”
Then, David spotted a newspaper article about the construction of a new chapel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “For some reason, I made the connection,” says David. “Maybe this is the church that published the Book of Mormon.”
The following Saturday, David set out to find the Mormon chapel under construction. It was typical for missionaries in those days to help build the chapels, but they were instructed to not work on the building on Saturdays, which was prime proselyting time. As one set of elders were studying that Saturday morning, the senior companion got up and said, “We need to work on the chapel.” The junior companion balked at the idea, preferring to stick to the rules. His more experienced companion said,“No, I feel the need to be working at the chapel.” And so the missionaries went to work, just before David found the building and walked inside.
At first, David encountered the custodian, a young woman. “I want to know something about this church,” he inquired. The pretty woman took him to where the missionaries were working. David told the missionaries about his quest. Years later, the senior companion recalled, “When I saw you walk into that building, I knew you.”
The missionaries began teaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to David. “It was like someone turned a on light. They were answering all the questions that I couldn’t put together. As they started to teach me the gospel, it just made sense. It was true.”
David G. Evans was baptized in April 1976. He currently serves as president of the Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake in Canada. The young woman custodian is now Sister Linda Evans, President Evan’s wife. The couple was sealed in the Washington, D.C. Temple in 1976. They have 8 children.
President Evans recalls, “When I came out of the waters of baptism, I felt fantastic. During all my conversion experiences, no one said, 'That was the Holy Ghost.' It was a process of learning and growing and learning and growing. That old Book of Mormon had sat in that landlady's home for 20-plus years, and no one had read it, but the Lord knew that someone eventually would. There is tremendous power in that book. I was converted, and now I know the true source of happiness.”