When 4-year-old Kellie Rimmasch asked her mom if she could walk two houses away to visit her neighbor, little did anyone know where that innocent journey would lead.
A year later, her new neighbor friend, 67-year-old Arthur Dunbar, is a convert in the Greenfield Park Ward, Mesa Kimball East Stake, and Kellie may be perhaps one of the youngest missionaries for the Church.
"I just thought he was a nice man and I asked if I could go," said Kellie, now 5. Now Brother Dunbar and the youngster are best of friends who enjoy bike rides and attending Church together.
Brother Dunbar's conversion to the Church was indirectly the result of a life-threatening stroke he experienced. After his stroke, he had to recuperate at home for three months. As part of his recovery he rested much of the time on his front porch. "I guess I was kind of a recluse before this," he said, adding that he was busy working in real estate and spent little time at home. "I didn't know any of my neighbors," he said.
Kellie and her parents, Peter and Marianne, would see him sitting in front of his house and would wave as they passed and he would wave back.
"After a couple of weeks of waving, we felt like we knew him," recalled Sister Rimmasch. So one day Kellie asked if she could go say "hi" to him. That was their first official meeting and the two quickly became friends. From then on the precocious 4-year-old would go often to visit her new friend and show him something new she had gotten or tell him about her day.
Soon she began playing soccer and invited him to watch her games.
Brother Dunbar remembers being happy to go with Kellie's family to watch her play. As he lived alone and couldn't drive during his recuperation, he seldom left his home except for a once-a-week trip to the grocery store with another friend.
One Sunday, as the Rimmaschs returned from Church, Kellie hopped out of the car and raced to see her friend. He asked her where she'd been and she told him she had come from Church. Kellie's father followed his daughter over to the neighbor's house and began talking with him also. Brother Rimmasch asked Brother Dunbar if he would like them to give him a ride to church sometime. After replying that he would, Brother Rimmasch asked what church he wanted to go to.
In response, Brother Dunbar asked what church the Rimmaschs went to. When he found out they went to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he said he'd like to go there.
The next Sunday Brother Dunbar accompanied the Rimmaschs to their ward, where he was introduced to other ward members and neighbors. In the weeks that followed, Brother Dunbar met with the missionaries at the Rimmaschs' home to learn more about the faith of his young friend.
Last November, after receiving the missionary discussions, Arthur Dunbar became a member of the Church.
One of the speakers at his baptism commented that Brother Dunbar was there because Kellie had first made friends with him. Sister Rimmasch remembers Kellie being surprised that someone had mentioned her name.
"Because of Kellie, I better understand what it means to have the humility of a little child," said Sister Rimmasch. "When she made friends with Arthur, she didn't show up with anything but her love."