When World War II broke out, all foreign Latter-day Saint missionaries serving in Great Britain were sent home. In order to keep the British mission active and organized, a fund was established to support a few British members who might serve missions within the country. Families generously donated to the fund.
I didn’t know about this when my branch president asked me, "Sister Ripley, would you like to go on a mission?" I was so concerned about the war and my own lack of finances that the thought had not entered my head. So I told him that I would love to go but that I had no means—no money, no books, nothing. He explained, "If you are willing to go, you will be provided for." To me, the prospect seemed impossible.
Three days later, my mother told me of a sister in our ward who wanted to see me. She had become less active in the Church because her husband objected to her involvement, but she had two books she wanted me to have. One was her triple combination; the other was Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. "Take them," she told me. "You’ll make more use of them than I." She knew nothing of my being asked to serve a mission.
Soon after that, a niece said, "Auntie, you can have my Bible." After receiving these scriptures, I began to see how the Lord was going to provide for me to serve a mission. I was overwhelmed; for the first time, the mission seemed possible.
My mother then took me to the market, saying, "If you are going away, you’ll need some new clothes." In spite of our tight budget, she was able to purchase what I needed. The very next morning, all clothing went on ration, as so many commodities did during the war. Could we doubt that the Lord was providing? In less than a week, I had the books, the clothes, and the promised funds, so that I could accept the call.
Soon I was on my way to the Sheffield District with my companion, Delia Bedford, from my branch. We were welcomed with open arms in the branches and worked there for six months, tracting, teaching, and serving in other ways. We were asked to serve an additional six months, but the mission president told the members there were only sufficient funds to support one of us. A member came forward and offered financial means so that both of us could serve for an additional six months, and we were each given a new companion and were under way again. I was set apart to serve with Mabel Fitton from Oldham, and we were blessed to teach the gospel to someone who came into the Church.
In the Grimsby Branch, we began to teach a couple with a little baby. Because we showed special interest in and concern for their baby, they welcomed us back. The Spirit worked on them until they both joined the Church.
After that six months, I was asked to continue to serve for another year, bringing my mission to two years altogether, during which time I served in five districts, with five different companions. One of the most common problems in contacting people related to the war itself. People thought we were conscientious objectors and would reject us or criticize us. "Can’t you find something else to do?" they would ask. "Don’t you know there’s a war on?"
We never mentioned it when our funds ran out, but the members seemed to sense it and would support us and feed us. At times, this support came in ways that could be attributed only to the Lord. On one occasion, my companion and I were to attend a missionary conference in a distant city. I had very little money, and my companion had not sufficient to help me. So I fasted and asked for the Lord’s help. I told Heavenly Father in my prayers about the conference and my lack of funds. Two days after my fast, I received a letter from Scotland, although I’d never been there and knew no one there. The short note read:
"Dear Sister Ripley,
"My sister and I have been looking in the Millennial Star for reports of missionaries who are doing good work, and we have chosen your name. We had this check in the house, a small amount, and send it hoping you will accept it in the spirit in which it is given."
I wept, thanking the Lord for these two dear sisters and asking him to bless them. In the note I wrote to thank them, I assured them that I was not the only missionary doing good work but that I was one who had prayed for financial help. I felt sure the Lord had inspired them to assist me.
After paying tithing on that check, I bought my ticket to the missionary conference and had three pennies left. Once again, the Lord had blessed me with a very real answer to my prayers.
(Lucy Ripley Bradbury)