As Sherry conducted our stake institute graduation I felt a surge of pride. At the age of nineteen, she showed a confidence and maturity beyond her years.

Sherry had been my Laurel. She wasn’t my first Laurel or my last, but she was a unique one. That year there were only two girls in my Laurel class and, when the other went to the United States for an extended holiday, Sherry was left alone. I was ward Young Women president as well as the Laurel adviser, and I could think of many reasons why I should put Sherry with the Mia Maids for her Young Women lessons. The handbook gave me that option.

She had only recently joined the Church, and I felt Sherry would feel more comfortable having other girls in the class. It would also give me the opportunity to visit the other classes instead of teaching. The list of reasons went on, and I almost made the change.

Our stake Young Women president changed my mind when I attended a leadership meeting with the theme of “Reaching the One.” She reminded us how important each individual is in our Heavenly Father’s plan. She said that if we had a class of twenty girls, we actually had a class of twenty “ones”—twenty individual daughters of God. She told us that one-on-one is the ideal teaching situation.

That made me think! I had an ideal situation and I wanted to mess it up.

I met with the bishop, and soon Sherry was called as Laurel class president. She took her responsibilities seriously. We began to have weekly class presidency meetings during which I taught Sherry her duties as a class president. I also learned a great deal myself.

We found that we could turn to Heavenly Father for help in our callings and that he would answer our prayers. We discovered that we had a joint responsibility for all the girls in the ward between the ages of sixteen and eighteen who didn’t attend church—the “inactives.” We learned their names and their interests and worked on ways to involve them in our activities.

Our activity calendar was prepared three months in advance and covered all six areas of focus in the personal progress program. Sherry went to the monthly Youth Committee meeting ready to discuss the needs of the girls in her class (even though they were inactive) and ready to answer any questions the bishop might ask her about them. She planned and conducted our opening exercise, which added to the spirit of our weekly meetings.

Sherry and I became close friends during the time that she was my one Laurel, and we remain so even though she now lives at the other end of the country.

When I was called to the stake Young Women presidency, I was often told by presidents that they only had one class because they didn’t have many girls—or that they didn’t need to hold class presidency meetings because they only had two or three class members.

That may well be the best solution in their circumstances. But when I hear this I think of the opportunities for learning, leadership, and service that Sherry had because she was the only one—training which prepared her to become Primary President at the grand old age of twenty-one.

Photography by Eldon Linschoten