Following Mrs. Shrimpton
“We have to knock on that door again,” I told my companion as we walked by Mabel Shrimpton’s house.
It was a hot day in February 1952 in Sydney, Australia, and we were tracting in an area we had covered a week earlier.
“But we were there last week, and she told us she wasn’t interested!” he protested.
But the Spirit had whispered. My reluctant companion and I knocked on Mrs. Shrimpton’s door and were met with the same greeting: “Please don’t bother me again. I’m not interested.”
I quickly replied, “If you would take just fifteen minutes sometime during the coming week and read this little pamphlet, my companion and I will fast and pray that you may know whether it speaks the truth or not.”
Mrs. Shrimpton laughed. “If you two boys are foolish enough to not eat anything, I’ll read your pamphlet.”
As we went out the front gate, my companion expressed his dismay about the promised fast. “You were kidding, right?” he asked.
But I wasn’t, so we fasted and prayed that Mrs. Shrimpton would know the Church was true.
Tuesday morning we pushed our bicycles to Mrs. Shrimpton’s house. We were shocked at her greeting this time: “Come in. I have read your pamphlet and believe every word of it.”
Ecstatic, we began teaching Mrs. Shrimpton the gospel. She was later baptized, and we continued to keep in touch after I returned from my mission. I remember well a letter in which she bore her testimony and voiced her concern because her husband still was not interested in learning about the Church.
About ten years later, a letter came from Sister Shrimpton telling me that her husband, Alfred, had joined the Church and that they were soon to be sealed in the temple. I was excited and grateful to hear the news.
After five more years, I received a letter telling me the Shrimptons were coming to Salt Lake City. Along with Tony Stander, who had baptized Sister Shrimpton, I met the Shrimptons at the airport and had a wonderful time renewing old friendships. Staunch Church members, they told me many stories of the area and the members I had grown to love. They were both deeply involved in Church work; in fact, Brother Shrimpton had just been called to serve as stake patriarch.
I was curious to hear his conversion story and asked him what had caused his change of heart.
“For twelve years I watched my wife wake up every Sunday morning, get all the kids ready, and take the tram to Hurstville for church,” he replied. “It didn’t matter what kind of weather conditions or what inconveniences came up—she always went.
“One morning after she left for church, I thought, ‘What motivates her to go?’ I got into the car and drove over to the chapel. I slipped in and sat on the back row. By the time the meeting was over, I knew the Church was true,” Brother Shrimpton said.
A few years later, I heard about the Shrimpton family again. My son, Brian, was called to serve in the Australia Sydney Mission. One day we received a tape from him. Tears flowed as he related an experience he’d had during a recent testimony meeting.
A young woman bearing her testimony had shared this story: “Many years ago two men knocked on my mother’s door and taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ. She accepted the truth and was later baptized.
“Since that day, fifty-two people have joined the Church because of her. Four of these converts later became bishops of this ward. And now the elder who first met my mother has a son serving in Sydney—and he is here today.”
We never know what will happen as a result of the gospel seeds we plant.
In the Lord’s Time
The high councilor spoke, like so many before him, of the importance of temple attendance. Oh, how I wished I could have pulled out a pocket stereo with earphones to drown him out. It was difficult to sit through these meetings knowing there were those present who possessed temple recommends but let them go unused. Here I sat, willing and able to go, but not permitted. My husband was not a member of the Church, and even though I knew there was wisdom in the Church’s policy in effect at that time, it was hard to accept that I could not go to the temple unless he joined the Church. The policy has since changed, but I still remember the events of that period.
I had grown up in a family in which we were baptized but never attended Church meetings. My Church activity had been confined to a few short years in high school—when I attended mostly for social reasons. I never read the Book of Mormon or developed a strong testimony. Not having the gospel in my home, I didn’t recognize the importance of temple marriage.
I married, had two children, and then divorced. I married again and continued to be less active. However, not long after my second marriage, the Spirit spoke to me so strongly I could not deny it.
I was awakened several times in the middle of the night by a still, small voice telling me it was time to get my life in order. I had only a glimmer of a testimony, but I knew where to start. I was concerned about the effect my newfound spirituality would have on my marriage, but my husband admired my efforts and was very supportive. My testimony grew by leaps and bounds.
As my testimony increased, so did my desire to go to the temple. I prayed and promised the Lord that if I had a recommend I wouldn’t let it go unused.
Meanwhile, I tried to make the best of my situation. If I couldn’t receive my endowment, I could do baptisms for the dead. I was a little embarrassed tagging along with youth groups, but if that was the only way I could go to the temple, then that was how I would go. I enjoyed the spirit I felt when I was in the Lord’s house. I also knew the importance of any work done in the temple. But I yearned to walk through the main doors to take out my own endowment.
I’ll never forget the day I heard the news. I was serving as the Young Women president when I learned that a letter had come from the First Presidency stating a new policy. Those who were married to unendowed spouses could now go to the temple. I could hardly believe my ears. My stake president, however, assured me that indeed it was true.
With my husband’s support and approval, I prepared to attend the temple. I bought the fabric for my temple dress on Monday, arranged an appointment with my bishop on Thursday, had an interview with my stake president on Sunday morning, and arranged to attend the temple to receive my endowment on the following Saturday. On the Sunday evening before I received my endowment, my husband and I met with the stake president, who explained the significance of the temple endowment and the commitment I would be making. I was ready.
Saturday was a stormy, overcast morning—a contrast to the glow I felt inside. As I approached the Oakland Temple, its dimly lit spire came into view through the fog. Standing high in the hills, the temple had always stood as a beacon, beckoning me from the world. Finally it would bid me enter.
As I walked through the entrance, I felt as if I were beginning a new life. I clung to every word I heard in the temple, wanting to absorb it all at once. When it was over, I couldn’t wait to return.
The windows of heaven have certainly opened up and showered blessings upon me. Six years ago, I could only long for the blessings of the temple. Today, I have attended the Oakland, London, Los Angeles, Provo, St. George, and Salt Lake temples. I attend the temple joyfully. The veil has been very thin on several occasions and I have felt the spirits of those waiting. As I look at their names and birth dates, I realize these women have waited for temple blessings much longer than I. I’m learning to view life from an eternal perspective, and I have come to appreciate that things do happen in the Lord’s time.
A Prayer in the Parking Lot
I remember the night vividly and marvel at how far I had strayed from what I knew was right. There I was, searching through trash cans behind a supermarket for food. I was close to suicide, yet I was afraid to die. I was deeply frightened as I reflected on the incredible changes I had permitted to occur in my life.
I had been born into a Latter-day Saint home, and from the time I was a youngster I had attended my Church meetings. I graduated from seminary, was active in leadership roles, and loved every minute of my activity in the Church.
After graduating, I was offered a scholarship to Brigham Young University. Instead of accepting it, I decided to try out for the top-rated baseball team of a university in another state. I had visions of becoming a professional athlete.
In college, I was exposed to an entirely different life-style. People’s attitudes were different, and I discovered a maze of differing philosophies. My Church activity dwindled, and my value system soon weakened. In spite of my lifelong membership in the Church, I wasn’t a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I was fully capable of ignoring the Spirit of the Lord.
New ideas and temptations hit me head-on. I began experimenting with drugs and alcohol and started dating a girl who was not a member of the Church. I even quit the baseball team to get a job so I could buy a car to impress her. I skipped classes as I became more involved with my girlfriend and drugs.
It wasn’t long before I was addicted. Within two years I became a “speed freak” who couldn’t hold a job or function in normal society. I was broke, sick, and friendless on the beaches of San Diego.
That night in the supermarket parking lot, I fell to my knees. With tears streaming down my face, I pleaded for help, hoping that what I had learned as a child was true and that someone was listening.
Suddenly a wonderful warmth engulfed my head, then filled my entire body. I could feel the Spirit of the Lord with an intensity I’d never known. A soothing calmness came over me, and for the first time in years, I felt at peace.
When I finally stood again, I was free of fear and anguish. I knew my desperate, sincere prayer for help had been answered. Miraculously, I experienced no withdrawal pains and had no more desire for drugs.
The road back was a long but rewarding one. I returned to activity in the Church and began seriously studying the scriptures. I served as director of a drug rehabilitation center in southern California for a time and saw many helped through the power of God. I also saw others, who would not heed the Lord’s teachings, sink lower into hopelessness and degradation. I ache for those people and feel ever grateful to the Lord for hearing and answering my desperate prayer.
We were all eager to attend stake conference. Our regional representative, Earl C. Tingey, was going to report on the disastrous floods and mud slides that had recently hit our area, as well as the massive volunteer efforts that the Church and its members had been involved in.
Although we had never been in any danger, we lived close enough to view the destruction. My husband, my eldest son, and I had helped with sandbagging and flood patrol efforts. I ached for those who had lost homes and belongings.
At conference that day, Brother Tingey shared the parable of the rich young man (see Mark 10:17–23) and then issued a challenge to the youth, encouraging them to become more involved in service and sacrifice.
I resounded to his challenge. On the way home, I bore my testimony to the children and asked them to be prayerful as they considered what they could sacrifice.
But my ten-year-old daughter had already decided. “Mom,” she said. “I’m going to take the thirty-six dollars I’ve saved for skating lessons and give it to the flood victims.”
I recognized what this meant to my daughter. Earlier in the year, I had talked with each of the children about working toward goals they selected; my daughter had chosen to save money for ice skating lessons. I knew how diligently she had saved and how long it had taken her to accumulate that thirty-six dollars. But I also knew that the Lord would reward her in ways I never could. Tears flowed freely as I told her that I was certain the Lord was pleased and would bless her with many more opportunities to earn money. She might have to wait awhile, but she could have those lessons eventually.
And the Lord did bless her. She ran a small preschool two mornings a week and spent many evenings baby-sitting. She earned some money, but not enough for the lessons. However, one day she received a letter in the mail:
“The Lord loves you! Enjoy your ice skating lessons.”
Enclosed was a check for fifty dollars. We don’t know who sent it, but we do know that the Lord does open the windows of heaven (see Mal. 3:10) to bless those who are willing to sacrifice of their means to help others.