1950 was a memorable year for my husband and me, for then our second daughter was born, my husband graduated from Nottingham University and started on a career and we had just moved into our first home of our own. The previous year two American second cousins of mine had visited England; they were Mormons and we learned that one had a son on a mission in England. We said that if he could come and explain his religion to us, we would be interested to hear what it was all about, but that we would never consider changing from the Church of England.
I was disappointed when it was not possible for my cousin to visit us, but one day I got really excited to see three obviously American young men walking round our new estate. About a week later they called on me – and I do not believe any missionaries any time could have had such a reception. They had hardly managed to say, “We are missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of …” when I enquired “Mormons?” When they said they were, I flung open the door and invited them in, babbling about my cousin and asking if he was one of them. I was thrilled when they said they knew him, but since he was not working in the Nottingham District they would be pleased to explain about the Church. They gave me the Joseph Smith story which I accepted without question, for I have always believed in miracles. They then loaned me a copy of the Book of Mormon and left, after arranging to come one evening when my husband would be in also. I was full of their visit and told him all about it when he came home; incidentally I told him that they all appeared to have the same Christian name: “Elmer!”
My husband was far more cautious than I, and every week he had long lists of questions ready foe the elders. Meetings often lasted two hours at a time – sometime twice a week – but we did not get very far.
Then we decided that we were not really giving them a chance to explain and let them give the lessons. We had been urged to pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and every time I read it I knew it was true; I was afraid to pray because I knew the answer already. One night I asked my husband if he believed it all and he said he was not sure yet, but that if any accident should happen to him he would want to be baptised. That bothered me, for I had had exactly the same thought – it meant that we both knew the teachings to be true but did not have the courage to accept the Gospel in its fullness. I talked to my husband again and told him I would give him one more week to make up his mind. Then I definitely wanted to be baptised.
A few nights later the missionaries came again, an as they were leaving they said, as they always did, “Now don’t forget, if there is ever anything we can do for you …”
“Well, there is one little thing,” said my husband, “my wife and I would like to be baptised!”
I looked quickly at him, and then at the missionaries; they were practically in tears. Words were hard for all of us, but we managed to arrange for our Most Important Event on the following Saturday.
We were baptised January 27, 1951, three months after starting to investigate the Church. The following day we all attended the services and I remember the marvellous calm that was with us both throughout the whole of that day. I remarked to the district president that I knew we had done right; nothing could upset us on that wonderful day and we were confirmed in sacrament meeting and our two children blessed.
After that, my husband would take three-year-old Janis to Sunday School and I would go to sacrament Meeting. About three weeks after baptism I was sitting on the bus talking to one of the sisters when we saw a missionary at the bus stop and I enquired who he was. To my amazement I found it was my cousin Elder Graves who had just finished his mission and was returning home in two days time. I felt that the Lord’s hand had guided us together at last.
One Sunday morning Janis refused to go to Sunday School without me, and since Derek did not want to miss I quickly got myself and baby ready and we all went. It was a job to fit in with feeding times but we managed. Catching a bus at 9.30 we would be at Church by 10.00, just in time to feed her and then we would just be finished in time for Sunday School. After learning that where there’s a will there’s a way, we have attended Sunday School as a family ever since, missing only through illness and while having three other babies. I laugh now when I think of the excuse that I made that I could not get to Church because I had a young baby; the last three have been regular attenders since the age of three weeks.
Once I thought it took courage to live the Gospel, but through the last seven years the Lord has strengthened my testimony, showered our family with blessings, given us many opportunities to serve in His Church and showed us what real happiness is. Now I know I would never have courage to deny or stop living the Gospel because it is more precious than anything in this world. We are looking forward eagerly and praying that we will be worthy to be married in the Temple, and to have our sixth child, due in November, born under the covenant.
I can never thank the Lord enough for guiding the missionaries to us, because I learnt later that they had had a discouraging day and had decided to finish tracting in that area for the time being. The district president who was working with the missionaries at the time, felt that they ought to make one more call. They did, and so my life began again – a full and wonderful life in the Lord’s Church with many new brothers and sisters with whom to share it.
Muriel’s husband was Derek A. Cuthbert, who served as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy from 1978 until his death in 1991. Sister Cuthbert is still living.