Circuitous route brings centenarian home

At the age of 100, Bill Ireland, in a sense, has come home.

Due to help and support of priesthood leaders and members of the Burpengary Ward, Brisbane Australia North Stake, the last couple of years of Brother Ireland's long life have brought him progression in the priesthood and temple blessings he did not pursue in his younger years.He was born to LDS convert parents in Victoria, Australia, on Feb. 26, 1891. When he was only a baby, the family moved to the Mormon colonies in Mexico, where at age 8, he was baptized in the waters of a spring.

Inspired by his widely traveled family, he later pursued an adventurous lifestyle and eventually lost track of the Church. In a search for gold, he returned to Australia sometime between the two world wars. Although he had isolated, brief contacts with the Church in many locations, it wasn't until he arrived in the Burpengary Ward that he finally found full fellowship with the saints.

In 1987, at age 96, Brother Ireland came in contact with a local member, and this contact increased to a network of families who took him into their homes. They gave him the help he needed with his failing health and the spiritual nourishment he required to strengthen the testimony he always had.

Brother Ireland still yearned for independence in his advancing years. So with the help of members he moved into a home of his own, still receiving regular support with transportation and other necessities.

By 1990, he was faithfully attending sacrament meeting each week, even though his hearing impairment prevented him from following the services. His faithfulness demonstrated his preparedness to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

His temple experience was the highlight of his long and varied life. Miraculously, he responded that during the temple ordinances, he "heard every word they said." He was powerfully touched by the Spirit upon being sealed to his late wife and parents. And all this was made possible because of some truly caring ward members.

Bill Ireland is not the only one, however, to have reaped tremendous blessings through his return to full Church activity. Members of the Burpengary Ward have discovered the joy of service and have grown to love this witty and colorful character.