When I was a young woman, newly married and pregnant with my first child, I did not attend church regularly. My parents had taught me the gospel, but I was struggling with my testimony. My husband and I felt unsure what direction we wanted our lives to go. I went to church when it was convenient for me, but I certainly did not want a calling or to have anything to do with Relief Society. In my mind Relief Society was for my grandmothers—not for me.
Then along came my first visiting teachers, Ethel Hiatt and Edna Nickels. They were in their 80s, and I wondered why they had been assigned to me. Our lives were so different, and I was sure that these sisters couldn’t possibly understand me. It wasn’t until later that I realized these women had brought blessings into my life.
Neither of these sisters had a vehicle or a telephone, so they walked each month, regardless of the weather, to visit me in my home. When they came, they brought a calm spirit of long lives of gospel service. Both had endured many trials. Both knew pain and suffering. But more important, they knew the art of cheerfulness and the gift of loving others.
When my child was born, they rejoiced in the newness of life. They didn’t bring meals and gifts, just a simple card telling me how happy they were for me. Their messages were never long, nor did they make me feel guilty or misunderstood. Sister Hiatt and Sister Nickels loved me and inspired me by their examples. Through their simple kindness, my heart was touched and I began to look forward to their visits.
As I matured, I realized that these sisters had weathered the storms of life and yet were still faithful in the gospel. My desire to follow their example grew, and before long, I found myself attending all of my Church meetings. My visiting teachers did not directly invite me to go, but I felt comfort knowing that they would be there to support me when I arrived.
Sister Hiatt and Sister Nickels have long since left this world, but their examples will remain with me always. They opened the door not only for me but also for my husband and our children. Were it not for them, we might have missed out on the blessings of eternity. I think of them often and wonder what my life would be like had they given up on me. I’ve learned that there truly is simpleness and sweetness in the tender mercies of the Lord.
Illustration by Steve Kropp