Well, if all we gained in coming to Australia for 2 years of our life was to meet Pam Hinton and witness the transformation in her life after receiving the gospel, it would be enough!
We first met & taught Pam with Elders Dahle and his companion, Elder Hobby. Elder Dahle had knocked on her door by mistake – he thought it was the address of a nearby sister in the Darwin Branch. Little did he know the impact that chance meeting would have on Pam’s life – and her happiness!
Born in the United Kingdom, Pam came to Australia in 1959, settling with her parents in Melbourne. The family moved to Darwin in 1972 for her father’s employment as a customs officer, and most of them have lived here ever since. Her mother was here in 1974 when Cyclone Tracy blew her home apart, and away, and left her huddled and frightened beneath the open sky in the rubble. Living away at the time, it took Pam days to find out that she was still alive. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been.
Possessing uncommon wisdom and a great deal of common sense, Pam happens to be an avid reader, usually finishing a new book every day. She is also incredibly perceptive about people and relationships. From what I have observed, Pam is also a wonderful mother, gently lifting and encouraging her family members with great patience and love. Pam comes by it all naturally, however. She grew up with a wonderful example to follow: her mother is equally kind and supportive. Both are incredibly giving. And I’m hoping if I stick around this family long enough, some of their typically British tact, politeness, and demeanor will rub off on me. 🙂
Pam’s life has had its ups and downs, like most of ours have. She actually had a number of the missionary discussions back in 2013 with her husband, Colin. It was shortly after this, however, that her world was rocked when her dear husband suddenly died in their kitchen, right in front of her, of a massive heart attack on the 13th of January in 2014.
Grieving and learning to move on has been a difficult process. However, something from the discussions stuck in her mind after Colin’s death. Pam longed to have the opportunity to be sealed in the temple to Colin, as she had been taught was possible by the first missionaries. And when elders showed up a second time on her doorstep wearing those familiar black name badges, Pam was not only ready, but eager to hear their message and finish what she had only started before.
It wasn’t always easy sailing. I have been touched as I have heard Pam relate some of the tender, spiritual experiences and answers to prayer she has had during the process of her study and conversion. She says she feels like a huge burden has been lifted off her shoulders, and that she actually feels lighter, physically. In my mind, there’s no doubt that the Lord and his angels have had a hand in not only restoring peace to her, but in bringing great joy into this wonderful woman’s life. Everyone who knows Pam has noticed and commented on this transformation and her increased happiness!
Elder Buckner was privileged to baptize Pam on December 31, 2016. Elder Farrer, who had accompanied Elder Dahle during that initial knock on Pam’s door, confirmed her on New Year’s Day. This was just the way Pam had wanted it – to start her new life with the new year!
But that’s enough from me – here is Pam’s testimony, in her own words:
Thank you to my family and friends for being here today to witness this event in my Journey. I also thank my family for their love, support and interest in this journey, which has lightened my sorrow and brought great joy and calm.
This journey began about 4 months ago. Having come to terms with the loss of Colin, my husband of 12 years, l felt l needed more in my life. l wasn’t sure what l needed, but knew it would come to me sooner or later. Well it came sooner and not how l expected.
I was at my neighbour’s when l saw two elders going to my door; l went and spoke to them to find out they were at the wrong address. We talked for awhile and made a time for them to come and talk. The 2 elders were Elder Farrer and Elder Dahle
That is how l came to start this wonderful journey. While l was taking lessons from Sister Mongan and Sister Taufa l became aware of tithing. This was new to me and once explained, caused me some concern because l thought that if l didn’t or couldn’t find a way to do this l would not be able to come to the meetings anymore. I spent two days in tears, worrying about this and when l was on my way to an appointment l asked God for an answer to what l should do; so being of the Catholic faith l called in at the presbytery to speak to a priest. I spent 15 minutes knocking on the door and no one answered. That just doesn’t happen – there is always someone there. I went on to my appointment and while sitting there, a lady noticed me and came and had a chat with me. That lady was Sister Jill Kuhn, who said she would ask her husband to give me a call to organize a meeting with the branch president, President Chick.
That meeting brought about a lot of clarity and enabled me to continue on this journey. During this journey l have meet and been taught by some wonderful people but none more so than Sister and Elder Buckner who l have become dear friends with and who have helped with my learning. I would like to thank Elders Seeling and Raiqisa also for making the lessons easy to understand and also for helping me on this journey.
I have a testimony that if you ask God a question, he will answer. I thank God for answering these prayers and others l have asked. Some of my answers were Elders Farrer and Dahle and Sister Kuhn and President Chick. They all helped lead me here today. I also have a testimony that the Holy Ghost is real: he spoke to me in a dream. He gave me a special message that l believe was asking me to let God back into my life.
I testify the Book of Mormon to be true, and this church to be the true church and that God , Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are real. I say these things to you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
Incidentally, Pam going up to the pulpit after her baptism to bear her testimony is a little miracle in and of itself. Possessing a great fear of speaking in public, it wasn’t an easy thing for Pam to even read out loud in a church class. Praying out loud for the first time in one of our meetings at her home was a huge stretch for her, and it took her weeks to gain the courage to do it. I remember the first time Pam ventured to make a comment in Sunday school class as another milestone.
She knew she wanted to bear her testimony, but was so worried about it, she had arranged for some of her grandchildren to accompany her to the podium to give her moral support, and prevent her from backing out at the last minute. Yet, when the time came, her fear was completely gone. She did a beautiful, confident job sharing her feelings. And her wonderful family, some of whom I believe have never set foot in a church before, all came to support her. That alone speaks volumes about the love in this family.
Pam felt when she first met us that she and Elder Buckner had some sort of link, or special connection between them. Some of Pam’s facial expressions remind us both so much of his mother, we are looking forward to seeing if they actually have some common roots back in England, where some of both their family histories originate. Both Pam and Elder Buckner’s mother also share a common love for reading and family history. Whether we find some common ancestor or not, we definitely have found a place in our hearts for this wonderful woman – truly, our forever friend.