The Miracle of My Conversion


In September 1938 I was 15 years old and lived in the little Swiss village of Gilly, between Geneva and Lausanne, in the Swiss canton of Vaud.

One day I returned home from school and found Mamma (Geneviève Emilie Pauline Gay) visiting with two young gentlemen, one from Canada and one from the United States. They were missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were living in the nearby village of Nyon. My mother was helping them improve their French language skills. She told me that she was very happy to help, and I met them several times. Then one day Mamma told me that the young gentlemen had left Nyon. Over the years, Mamma and I wondered what had become of them.

I grew up, married, and moved to central France with my husband. In 1990 we were living in the small town of Beaumont in Puy de Dôme when by chance I came upon a magazine article in Le Point, a current affairs magazine. The article was called “Recenser l’humanité depuis Adam et Eve” (“To take a census of humanity since Adam and Eve”). It told about the work of genealogical research and baptism for the dead in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As I read, I experienced a great shock that took me back more than half a century. For several days after reading the article, I felt unsettled, as if I must do something. I thought of my mother, who had always had much faith and goodwill toward other religions and had passed away in 1978. I also thought of my father, who had died in 1937.

Finally, I wrote a letter to Mr. Patrick Coppin, director of acquisitions for the Genealogical Society of Utah, who had been mentioned in the article. I asked if the names of my mother and father might be included in the genealogy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and if they could receive the blessings of the Church. I included my parents’ birth, marriage, and death dates.

I also included something else: the names and addresses of Elder Brigham Y. Card of Cardston, Alberta, Canada, and Elder Jay Lees of Salt Lake City. They had written their names and addresses on the back of a photograph they had given my mother 52 years earlier.

Three weeks later, I received a letter from Elder Card telling me it would be his joy to act as proxy in the temple ordinances for my mother and father. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I read his letter, but it took me several days to realize what this meant for my parents. On 28 June 1990, my parents were baptized, endowed, and sealed in the Jordan River Temple, with Elder Card and his wife, daughter, and son-in-law acting as proxies. My parents had received the blessings of the temple.

Meanwhile, Brother Coppin had also contacted the mission headquarters in Geneva. In May I received a telephone call from a full-time missionary, Elder Bishop, who told me that there was a chapel nearby in Clermont and gave me the telephone number of the missionaries there. I called the missionaries that very evening, and we met the next day at the chapel. The door to the gospel was opening for me.

The following Sunday, I attended meetings at the chapel and arranged to receive the missionary discussions from a missionary couple, Brother and Sister Bair of Provo, Utah. I was baptized on 24 July 1990.

My joy in becoming a member of the Church grew as I attended the Swiss Temple and worked in the family history center in my branch. Then, in September 1994, on a trip to the United States and Canada, I met Elder Card and his wife, who served as proxies as I was sealed to my parents in the Alberta Temple. The eternal union of my parents’ family had begun.

For many years I had searched for the church that would fulfill my spiritual needs and unite me with my loved ones who had passed on. Now, in a miraculous way, I had received the blessings of the temple and was able to share those blessings with my loved ones.

[photos] Left: Germaine Emilie Auchatraire-Gay (right) at age 22, and her mother, Geneviève Emilie Pauline Gay, at age 75.

[illustration] Right: Little did Germaine realize the impact two young visitors would have on her life 50 years later. (Illustrated by Larry Winborg.)