Barbara Is Still on ‘The Trek’

by Maureen Smith

Barbara at the London Temple

Serving as a temple worker in the London Temple has been a rewarding journey for Barbara Rodriguez, who at the age of ninety-six is committed to serving for as long as her health will permit. 

In 1981, Barbara and her husband James were first called as temple workers, and together they have faithfully served two temple missions. When James passed away in 1996, Barbara continued serving in the place they both loved - the temple.

Before leaving Burma, a Buddhist monk told James he had work to do for his ancestors in England

Barbara is no stranger to adversity. Her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and her indomitable character has seen her through difficult times. 

In 1941, Barbara was twenty years old and working as a nurse in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar). One day after work, she found herself running for cover as bombs dropped over the city. This would lead to ‘The Trek’ for Barbara and her family—a perilous journey over the mountainous border into India.  

Although she worked at the first aid centre, Barbara was taken to assist at the maternity hospital after the bombing. To her shock, she arrived to find two women in labour, and knowing nothing about midwifery, she prayed help would come soon. Fortunately, when casualties arrived, a maternity nurse was amongst them. 

As bombing intensified, Barbara and her family decided to leave for Tharawaddy, seventy-six miles north of Rangoon. When they arrived, Barbara’s Aunt Essie managed to borrow a car and asked her to drive it. Barbara had never driven before, although she had a rough idea of how the gears worked, having watched her father drive. Driving all day, they continued to Thazi (mid-Burma) where they waited two days for the next boat to Mandalay. Upon reaching Mandalay, the drone of planes was heard overhead and the whole town was quickly ablaze. The safest route was to head north for Monywa and then on foot follow the passageway over the mountains to India. 

Barbara knows the Lord helped them. They had no food but drank water from little springs that seemed to burst out of the mountainside. 

Upon arrival in Assam, India, they were packed into trucks and driven to Dimapur, where they were herded into a train for Calcutta.  

After World War II, Barbara returned to Burma and married James Rodriguez. In 1962, they came to England, and it was James who met missionaries on the street in Mottingham, Southeast London. Before leaving Burma, a Buddhist monk told James he had work to do for his ancestors in England. This puzzled James, and when the missionaries taught him about the temple, he knew they had to investigate further. Shortly after, they were baptised into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   

Barbara is still on ‘The Trek’, this time following the Saviour, Jesus Christ, by keeping the covenants she has made. Her continued commitment to temple service has blessed her senior years with purpose and great joy.