You can still imagine the hymns ringing out over the water, music sung by young Saints who boarded ships, leaving their homeland to gather in Zion—when Zion was across an ocean.
They came from every part of the Kingdom by the Sea. From coal-mining valleys in Wales, from industrial cities in Northern Ireland and England, from rural communities in Scotland and Ireland. They left behind all they had, for the challenge of life as a pioneer. But even in the face of challenge, they sang.
Now, it’s autumn 1992. And if you listen, you can still hear the same sort of singing. No matter where LDS youth live in the British Isles, they are ready to face the challenges. And they raise strong voices, in a hymn of faith and love.
“Where there’s not so many of us, you pioneer the gospel through your example. There’s been a lot of talk here about nailing your colours to the mast and actually flying your colours. You have to stand up for what you believe in.”
Simon Munday, 18, Liverpool, England
“I feel that having a testimony is my reward for being a member of the Church.
“My friends ask me if I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not going to the pubs. It would be embarrassing telling someone I was a Mormon acting like that.”
Tracie Bryce, 16, Airdrie, Scotland
“If people know you’re LDS they watch you. Some may think they’re smart and tease you, but slag (tease) them back or laugh with them and they realize you can take a joke—that you don’t have four or five different heads.”
Sara Magee, 17, Portadown, Northern Ireland
“I went to a party last week. It was a little bit out of control so I rang my father and went home. I was so scared when I went to school the next morning, but about six of my friends came after me and said they were proud I stood up for myself.”
Melinda-Jane Davis, 15, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland are countries known for their rigid, demanding schools (see page 41). Only those with top marks in school can move on to university. But LDS youth remain optimistic about their futures. They hope by working hard in school and on the job, the can overcome economic hardships that exist throughout their nation and still do all they want to do in life.
“Being in the Church makes me want to continue my education. I want to be a social worker, so I joined a group called ‘Friends of the Elderly.’ We visit old people. That’s good fun, and it might get me a job one day.”
Tracey Keogh, 16, Dublin, Ireland
“One teacher asked, ‘Are Mormons Christian?’ I said, ‘We are.’ And I told him all about Mormons.”
Rachael Edwards, 17, Lisburn, Northern Ireland
“I was asked last week to go into town and give out leaflets about the store I work at. I didn’t throw them in the rubbish bin; I gave them out. I try to be totally honest and that pays off. They trust me.”
Hilary Ashford, 16, Barry, Wales
“I’m an apprentice plumber; that means I’m in college and working. Secondary school was totally different than college. You find your own ability once you’re in college. I’ve found I have the ability to memorize things. And now, before I leave on my mission, I’ve got a trade for life.”
Ronald Scott, 16, Stirling, Scotland
In many ways, youth in the British Isles are similar to young LDS members around the world. When they have a problem they turn to fellow church members, friends, family. Most love the gospel and find strength in scriptures and seminary study, in church attendance, in fellowshipping others.
“I don’t think I’d like myself as much if I wasn’t in the Church. I think I like myself stronger, having the opportunity to say no to things. You can feel that you have got a standard to live by—like King Arthur—and you’re proud of it.”
Roger Bigwood, 18, Forest Row, East Sussex, England
“The youth are a good strength to each other. We pull together through everything. I know a lot of times I don’t have the strength by myself, don’t want to go to church, forget about it. And then, my sister or a friend will pop in and make me feel better.”
Tara O’Farrell, 17, Dublin, Ireland
“I used to hate reading the scriptures. I’d do anything to avoid reading them—pray ten times longer. But then I was reading about Moroni, right at the very end—how a people could become bad and how he was the only good one left. That just got to me. I was in tears, and that had never happened to me before. But the scriptures grow on you. I’m learning more than I thought I could. Reading them makes me stronger.”
Laura-Jane Smyth, 16, Airdrie, Scotland
The Church is growing in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Where there were only a few voices, now there are many, joining together to share an important song—a song about the gospel, about love and the Saviour. The future will be filled by the young people we hear today. Their example and their voices will lead and touch more people than they will ever know.
As you know by now, there is singing in this land still.
“I don’t know if a lot of people necessarily like the things we Mormons do or our standards. But in a lot of ways many people really do respect you for the way that you conduct yourself and for your example.”
Daniel Johnson, 18, Port Erin, Isle of Man
“The youth can be pioneers. We’re the future stake presidents and bishops and prophets.”
Alex Winters, 15, Cardiff, Wales
“I was in a primary school with 500 students and I was the only Mormon. I had to take a lot of insults, but it strengthened my faith quite a bit being the only one. As a result I never want to lose that feeling of uniqueness. If you hold on to that, people may see how strong you really are.”
Susan Chapple, 13, Edinburgh, Scotland