Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, England—
It all began with the Grice girls. Sutton Coldfield teenagers, Sarah and Rachael Grice, have no fears when it comes to missionary work. Nor have the friends they bring into the Church. Talking and teaching come naturally, resulting in six conversions.
They chat on the school bus, during breaks and lunch hour, between classes, and walking home. Sharline Niblett first heard the gospel this way. “I was invited to another Grice sister’s (Wendy’s) 21st birthday at their home, stayed the weekend, went to church meetings Sunday, and have been attending nearly every Sunday since,” she laughs.
Sally Millerchip’s introduction was a bit different. “I lived across the road from the Grices from the age of two,” she explains. “I always wanted to join their church one day, but my family said no. They sent me to a parochial school. I always had questions about many things.”
So she kept in touch with the Grice girls. “I attended church with them on and off for three years,” she admits. Then came Sharline’s baptism. “I had such a good feeling inside,” she recalls. “During the testimony time, I sat next to Rachael and could clearly hear the Spirit whispering to me, ‘Go on up there.’ I tried to explain to Rachael, asking her to come with me. Rachael hesitated, so I told Sarah I had to go up. She was really surprised. Eventually we walked up to the stand together, and I was just able to say, ‘I know this church is true,’ before bursting into tears.”
Sarah’s tears were spirit filled also. Prior to Sally’s desire to see Sharline baptized, Sarah had been earnestly praying about her friend. “I really wanted Sally to accept the gospel,” she says, “and when she only came to church on and off for so long, I pleaded with the Lord that she would have an answer to her searching. When I heard her testimony, I knew my prayers were being answered.”
Sally’s own baptism seemed like a miracle too. “My Dad said I must wait until I’m 18,” she recalls. “Two years is a long time, so we all prayed about it—the missionary sisters included.”
Gradually Mr. Millerchip’s time limitations decreased to a year—then six months. “I never gave up praying,” Sally says. “Then one day I decided to set a goal date of 17th March, because Sister Dickerson would be returning home to the States after that, and I wanted her to be there. I told my mum about it, knowing she would mention it to Dad. That evening I left them downstairs and went to my room. I prayed very hard. I also asked the Lord for both parents to come to my baptism.”
Next morning Sally was getting ready for school. As she passed the kitchen door on the way out, her father called, “So you want to be baptized on the 17th, do you? Well, you can’t.” Sally’s heart sank. “Not the 17th,” he went on, “because I’m out walking that weekend, but if you want to be baptized on the 10th, then that’s okay with me.”
“And he did attend,” smiles Sally. “He came in frosty and went home warmed.”
It didn’t take long for Sally to get the missionary spirit. Together, she and Sarah invited a young man by the name of Mark Hall to sit in on Sally’s discussions.
“I thought it was all a bit stupid at first,” Mark remembers. “I had been an altar boy, brought up in a Catholic family. I took lists of questions to those meetings. My questions were answered.”
Sally remembers Mark finally asking her, “What is this feeling in me? I’ve got to get it out. Turn off the central heating, Sally.” Her reply—“It’s not on, Mark.”
He was baptized one month later. His mother became so impressed with the Church and the people that she wanted more of her children to be part of it.
Some weeks later Amanda and Sara Hall entered the waters of baptism. As Amanda says, “This church provides a happiness in life that wasn’t there before.”
Kirsty Slater, now 17, first met the Grices when she was 9. They invited her to a Primary party, then other activities. By age 14 she was a regular visitor, and the missionaries began teaching her at age 15.
“I had a calling before baptism and was doing my Personal Progress,” she smiles. “I was second counsellor in the Mia Maids.” On 4th February 1990 her parents eventually agreed to Kirsty’s baptism, and family attended in full force—aunts, uncles, and all.
“Conventions and testimony meetings were a great influence,” Kirsty admits. “Church gives me something to aim for. Sometimes it’s hard, but it seems to make things more complete. Seminary helped me learn a lot before baptism. I got answers to things I didn’t understand.”
Kirsty agrees with the Grices—“It’s easy to do missionary work.”
“Lots of people get embarrassed and shy,” she adds. “I can’t be bothered being embarrassed. It’s too much hassle. It’s easier to just tell it as it is.”
And they do. When Sarah, Sara, Rachael, and Sally went on holiday with the Millerchips, they also invited church friend, Jessica Hayes, who brought along yet another nonmember, Marie.
And, of course, Marie had plenty of questions to ask and be answered, especially when she observed Sally maintaining her daily scripture reading whilst away.
“The Word of Wisdom usually brings church into conversations,” smiles Sarah Grice. “Everyone asks us if we’d like a drink, cigarette, tea, or coffee.”
So why do the Grices get involved in missionary work?
Rachael has one answer—“because I wanted more Church members in my school”—there are now ten of them.
But perhaps the main reason is summed up by Sarah. “When you’re really young, and family and church are your life, they still don’t separate you from nonmember friends. But as you get older, as a teenager, you become more separate, because some friends do things against gospel standards. The Church gets more into me, and me into it, whilst outside friends’ standards get less and less.
“I want them to have the understanding and happiness that the gospel can bring, and I’d like them for eternal friends, not just earthly friends. Also, I know Heavenly Father loves all his children and wants them to return to him. He’s done so much for me, I feel I should do something for him.”