And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (3 Ne. 12:8)
Although Grace Willmott Bell has been a member of the Church all her life, it was not until she was about 22 years old that she was converted. She was reading and contemplating the teachings of Alma in the Book of Mormon when she had some strong impressions that what she was reading was true. Since that experience, Sister Bell has been a faithful member of the Church.
When the president of the Toronto Ontario Stake, Terry Harrison, was asked if he could suggest someone who exemplified the concept of being pure in heart, her name came to his mind immediately. Although he considered other worthy members, he felt Sister Bell was particularly representative of this sacred trait.
Sister Bell came from England to Canada about 1948 with two dozen other members of the Willmott family. Some of the family went on to California, but those who stayed in Ontario were pioneers in every sense of the word. At the time, there were no stakes in eastern Canada and only one branch in all of the city of Toronto, which was part of the Canadian Mission, with a Church-built meetinghouse on Ossington Avenue.
Like so many, Sister Bell feels she owes much to her ancestors - her great-grandfather in particular. John Willmott was an example for his descendants after enduring trials and remaining sensitive to the Spirit. He joined the Church in 1888 in London, England. When his wife died, leaving him with six children, working and caring for them took all of his time and energy and he slipped away from Church activity for many years. One day, however, as he passed some young men preaching on a street corner, he heard the name of Joseph Smith and his heart was touched. He took a pamphlet to read, the spark was re-kindled, and he returned to Church activity to be faithful all the rest of his life. In 1992, a reunion was held and more than 100 of John's descendants gathered in California.
Admiring his endurance and sensitivity, Sister Bell exemplifies the same characteristics.
She has four children who all attended early-morning seminary, thanks to their mother, who drove them to class and waited for them. Sister Bell's three married children were all married in the temple. Three of her children served missions.
Sister Bell considers her greatest blessing to be her opportunity to be a temple ordinance worker in the Toronto Ontario Temple. She serves there two days each week. She has difficulty describing her feelings of having a temple so near and of the privilege of serving there. Those who know her witness the purity of her heart that enables her to draw near to the Lord in His temple.
Sister Bell's brother, Joseph Willmott, who is president of the temple in Toronto, sees his sister as one who is pure in heart, and says she has always been a faithful member of the Church. As one of his older siblings, she was an example to him and a person he has always looked up to. Many lives have been blessed because of the purity of her heart.
- Kenneth E. Shoesmith is stake director of public affairs in the Hamilton 2nd Ward, Hamilton Ontario Stake.