Wendy sat next to me. Bold, courageous, resilient Wendy. From Wendy I learn determination, perseverance, and optimism. I learn the importance of getting back up, no matter how many times life knocks you down and how to face each day head on, no matter how daunting.
I first met Wendy when I was assigned to be her visiting teacher. Following a divorce she moved to Hawaii for a few years, and had just come back. We quickly became friends, so I was sad when our ward divided and she was on the other side of the division. But fate intervened and she moved back into our ward boundaries. Without even missing a month, we were back together. A year later our ward divided again and once again Wendy was on the other side of the division, but also once again she moved and was back in my ward.
Wendy graduated from high school early and had a college degree before most girls her age were settled into dorm life. She is smart, sassy and athletic. She rejoiced in making the US Olympic swimming team only to have her dreams dashed when it was announced the US was boycotting the Olympics. Her life since then continues to be filled with successes and setbacks. Yet despite the trials, and despite the challenges, she looks forward to each day with optimism. I love that!
Across from me sat Christy. I met Christy when she was a new convert to the church and a young blushing bride. From Christy I learn about facing life with faith instead of fear, and turning to the Lord in prayer and scripture study every day--- especially when life gets the very darkest.
Christy lost a son nearly two years ago in an accident that occurred in my front yard. A tree now stands in the spot where dear, young Ben slipped from this world into the next. Christy has faced many additional challenges since that day, but I have watched her quietly face each one-- day by day, scripture by scripture, prayer by prayer. You can not be in her presence without feeling the power of her spirit. She has gone from being the new convert, unsure and unknowing of the gospel, to having a powerful spirit and deep knowledge of spiritual things. When I asked another son who his hero was and he said, “My mom” I thought, “She is my hero too.”
Next to Christy sat Michelle. Of all the women at the breakfast table that morning, I have known Michelle the longest. We met when we were both fairly inexperienced in marriage and motherhood. I gave birth to my second child just a month after she gave birth to hers, and yet she drove across town to visit me in the hospital and bring me a baby blanket she had made. Other than my husband and my mother, she was my only other visitor.
We moved from our apartment into our house in another city and I lost track of Michelle. Eleven years later, we moved again. Then one day I learned she had moved into our stake. Later she moved into my ward and we were assigned to be visiting teaching companions. Twice. This is the second time.
From Michelle I learn about having a kind and compassionate heart. Michelle is tender and sweet. She is quiet and thoughtful. She is wise and hard working. After raising her own five children, she and her husband adopted a young boy and have taken many foster children into their home to love. Currently she has four foster boys, a new puppy and her adopted son. She serves in the relief society presidency, is taking college courses and trying to start a business. I don’t know anyone who is busier than Michelle.
And yet from her I also learn the importance of selfless service, and to be willing to stop whatever I am doing to help someone in need. One day I hurt my back and was down in bed. I had made plans with my daughter to take her to lunch, so she had not taken a lunch or money to school. Michelle was at a friend’s house helping sew table cloths for a wedding reception when she learned of my situation. She left that friend to run some money to my daughter for her lunch and then ran back, finished the table cloths, cooked me dinner and brought it to my house.
She is always the first person to volunteer to help and the last to leave when help is needed.
I love all three of these wonderful women. I am sure that through all eternity I will be grateful for the blessing they have been in my life.
And to think they are in my life because of Relief Society!