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January 16, 2015
Pebbles, Potholes, and Perspective
Oh Ye that Embark!
by Sarah Hancock

Today my Young Women president called and asked me to speak about this year’s Youth theme at the Youth Conference tomorrow.

You may have already guessed that I love to talk. In fact, I talk a lot. I talked so much in high school that my friends called me MOPS — Master of Pointless Stories.

At the time the name hurt, because my stories weren’t pointless to me. On the contrary, they were desperately interesting. I know because I was always dying to tell someone something. It didn’t matter who the person was; if he was willing to listen, he’d get an earful. It wasn’t an earful of nothing. It was an earful of things I felt were most interestingly pressing on my young mind.

Talking aloud is how I sort things out. If I have someone to talk to, I have a sounding board, someone to bounce ideas off, someone to ask questions so that I can unweave what can at times be a burdensome thought process. Gratefully, as a youth I always had someone with whom I could unravel those knotted strings of thought.

After I became ill, the ability to talk with an abundance of friends gradually dried to a few choice individuals who didn’t tire of my endless babblings. When I think of embarking on a journey of service in the Lord, I think of one woman in particular, The Gummi Bear Queen.

The Gummi Bear Queen and me.

When I was hospitalized in the fall of 2002, The Gummi Bear Queen’s husband was the bishop of my singles’ ward. Daily, she (and frequently he) came to visit me in the ICU unit where — I am sure — I made very little sense.

I think I was in the hospital for around three months, during which time she came and laughed with me, brought me little quotes, and reminded me of the person I once was back when I was the Camp Youth Leader and she was the Stake Young Women President.

She reached in to my mind and pulled out memories long dim of camp songs, silly Young Women camp stunts and countless other treasures my illness buried. In each effort she made, I could catch, if only for a brief glimmer, the girl I once was.

When it came time to be discharged from the hospital, I joked with her that I would only get to see her once a week at church. Her response, “Then I guess we’ll have to get together for ice cream this week; how’s Tuesday?” It was the beginning of an amazing friendship. Every week thereafter we went out for ice cream.

I honestly don’t know how she did it. She was a busy mother, grandmother, wife, stake Relief Society president, visiting teacher, temple shift coordinator and a realtor. I know she wasn’t wearing all those hats at the same time, but several she surely did.

She tells me of this conversation that we had at one very point in my illness. Evidently one afternoon while spooning in the frozen yogurt, I looked at her with tears tracing down my warm cheeks and asked, “Am I your service project?”

I was just certain that someone like her, someone pulled in so many directions, just had to have a hidden agenda. I knew it because at that time in my life, I felt I wasn’t worth the effort. Surely someone with a heart as large as hers would be willing to put up with me on such a consistent basis only if she had made it a goal to serve me.

She was so taken back by my question that she didn’t even know how to respond. Why? Because serving me wasn’t her goal. Loving me was.

Little did she realize just how desperately I needed her. Here I had embarked on my own life’s journey with a destination in mind, only to have my spirit’s little ship sucked into a brutal and long-lasting typhoon.

Tuesdays with The Gummi Bear Queen were like having a coast guard swoop in to scoop out the water I’d taken on, patch up the holes, reorient my compass and repair my torn emotional sails. By the time she dropped me off, I was afloat and catching my breath. I even had a smile on my face.

The Gummi Bear Queen didn’t just take me out for ice cream; she included me in her life. Tuesdays together meant participating in grocery shopping for family meals, making cookies for stake Relief Society board meetings, baking cinnamon rolls in the kitchens of houses at open houses, choosing greeting cards for others she loved, brainstorming stake service projects, typing up not-so-secret family recipes and going on countless other adventures.

She said that she believed I was her service project because she always put me to work. It was just what I needed. The only reason our weekly tradition lapsed was because she chose to embark on a mission to Africa with her sweetie.

When I think of embarking in the service of the Lord, I think of The Gummi Bear Queen because she was someone who taught me the value of loving others to the point that they finally recognize there has been someone to love hidden within themselves all along — even if, like me — current circumstances hide that scared someone beneath the label of a serious mental illness. Thanks, Gummi Bear Queen.

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