By Ebony Reeves
Colleen Battersby has always valued the bonds of family and believed in life after death. Since her grandma passed away nine years ago, Colleen has continued to feel her presence from the other side of the veil, but at first she didn’t understand why or how that could be.
Her introduction to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints came after Colleen moved from Canada to Australia in 2018. A boy in her university class, Ethan Reeves, invited her to learn more about the gospel, but she didn’t feel any interest – until almost a year later.
When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Australia, Colleen was faced with a number of challenges, including the fear of losing her job or having to return to Canada. Worried about how she could afford to continue living in Australia, she spent one Sunday trying to speak to her grandma to help her know what to do. In the end, Colleen felt peace in her decision to stay.
Later, while working on an assignment with Ethan, Colleen shared her experience. As he listened, Ethan recalled this quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
“More important than speaking is listening ... Ask these friends what matters most to them. What do they cherish, and what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting is right, you might ask what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives. I promise you that something in what they say will always highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more ... If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us – by the Spirit and by our friends” (“Witnesses unto Me,” Ensign, May 2001, 15).
Ethan recognised Colleen’s needs and how the gospel could help her. He began to talk about the plan of salvation, and Colleen felt peaceful clarity as she learned about our purpose here on earth.
She said, “My first impression was such an overwhelming happiness, because when I started to learn about the Church I just felt a lot of things I’ve believed in or felt [all] my life – but didn’t know why we’re connected; it made sense, and gave me perspective.”
Colleen decided to meet with the missionaries and continued to be taught a few times each week. When she prayed for the first time, she felt her heart racing, and knew she was feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost.
It was during her second lesson that Colleen set a goal to be baptised a month later. As the date drew near, she began to feel nervous as she considered the changes she needed to make in her life, but she knew she was on the right path.
Although she’d never been able to attend church due to government restrictions around the pandemic, Colleen was able to partake of the sacrament each Sunday with Ethan’s family in their home. She felt at peace as she participated in the ordinance. In the end, Colleen was able to stick to her goal and was baptised.
“At my baptism I felt full of love and excitement, because I’ve really felt such a different level of happiness since being introduced to the Church. Of course, I was super nervous and sad I couldn’t have my family there for it, but I felt the Spirit with me all day . . . I also remember praying that night and feeling like my grandma was happy with the decision I made.”
Soon after her baptism, Colleen finally had the chance to attend church meetings for the first time.
“Going to church on Sunday was such a beautiful feeling,” she said. “I was so grateful for the opportunity to go and partake of the sacrament. I also felt more of a purpose in my life and like I’m living according to Heavenly Father’s plan for me.”
As she waits for the opportunity to visit the temple, Colleen has started working on her family history. She loves learning about the importance of families and is grateful to know that she can be sealed to her own family for eternity.