My Illness Led Me to the Gospel

My Illness Led Me to the Gospel
I was confirmed a member of another church at the age of 12. I remember that I was not satisfied with the teachings of the church and used to ask many questions. As a result, the minister became very upset with me. I was instructed to keep quiet, and told that I would learn more if I listened and stopped questioning.

As a teenager I met a young man, Gerald Wiffen. This was a very important meeting for me. We spent many happy hours together. Towards the end of the year I became very ill. I had pleurisy and spent six weeks in bed. During this time, Gerald came into contact with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through a friend of his. He was touched by what he saw and heard, and eventually joined the church.

Because I was so sick, Gerald brought two Mormon missionaries from the church to see me, and before they left they asked if they could say a prayer. I agreed, and during the prayer, they asked the Lord to bless me that I might be made well. The sincerity and humility with which the one missionary, Elder Dale le Baron prayed, impressed me. When they left they said they hoped to see me in church on Sunday. I smiled as I was in great pain and was unable to move without assistance. I recovered completely within a few days and attended the LDS church that Sunday as they had invited me.

I attended the LDS church regularly after that and asked the missionaries to teach me. As the gospel truths were unfolded to me, they seemed so sensible and natural that I was able to accept them easily. I was then baptised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thus started a great and wonderful new chapter in my life. Gone were the doubts and fears. My testimony continued to grow steadily.

I served a mission, beginning in Cape Town where I lived. This was rather difficult as I met many old friends and school teachers, which taught me humility. Although we taught many people the gospel, only a few accepted. My companion and I were visiting with a family when some friends of theirs arrived to visit them. We began to teach this family instead of the original family, who weren’t very interested in the gospel, and soon the other family were baptized.

When I was first married, we decided that we wanted a temple marriage as soon as possible, and worked towards that goal. When we had a daughter we realised anew the urgency of being sealed together as a family. Finally we achieved our goal. After visiting my husband’s family in Holland, we made our way to the temple in England. I will never forget my first glimpse of the house of the Lord. It looked so beautiful, so peaceful, so quiet. And when we entered, it was lovely too. Such a sweet spirit was there. Even though it was our first visit, I felt as if that was where I belonged.


Our little daughter was brought to us in the sealing room and sat very still while she was sealed to us. My heart was so full I thought it would burst. I thanked my Heavenly Father for giving me so much. Never will I forget our temple trip. While in England, we did a lot of genealogical research for my relatives, then we received our patriarchal blessings, which was a rich spiritual experience. When my husband received his blessing, the patriarch said to him, “You must be a very good man because I felt the Lord very near.” Going to the temple and receiving our patriarchal blessings are experiences which I shall never forget.

Excerpted from South African Mission Autobiographical Sketches 1969 by Collette Burgoyne