Friend to Friend

From an interview with Sister Mary Ellen Smoot, currently serving as the General Relief Society President; by Robin B. Lambert

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For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles (2 Ne. 27:23).

Dear children, it is so important to realize who you are. You are truly children of a Heavenly Father, and He loves you very much. He knows your names, and He wants you to be happy. I see evidence of His love for us in the many miracles I have witnessed throughout my life.

When I was about twelve years old, my family was involved in a serious car accident. We were driving my oldest sister, Maurine, to meet her husband in their new home in Washington. As we drove through Oregon, it was raining and the roads were slippery. For some reason, my mother, who was driving, lost control of the car, and it started sliding into the ditch along the side of the road. Mother turned the steering wheel sharply to bring the car back onto the road, but the angle was too steep. Before we knew what was happening, the car had flipped over and rolled two and a half times.

When we came to a standstill, my father and I, who had been sitting in the front seat, were able to crawl out the passenger side. We went around to the other side to see if everyone else was all right. My sister Maurine and her baby daughter, Joy, were fine, but both my mother and my youngest sister, Ruth Ann, were pinned underneath the car. We were twelve miles from the nearest town, and no one was around to help us.

Then something happened that I will never forget. I watched my father, who always had a great deal of faith, bow his head in prayer and ask for the Lord’s help. Then he placed his hands on the side of the car and lifted our big, heavy car all by himself. Ruth Ann was able to crawl out, but Mother was too seriously injured to move. Father told us to pull her out, and I can only imagine the pain she suffered as we did.

We thought Mother was going to die. Her collarbone and six of her ribs were broken, and her pelvis was crushed. She even said that she felt herself going, and she was telling us all good-bye. I’ll never forget how she looked at me and said, “Mary Ellen, always be a good girl.”

But my father gave her a blessing, and she survived. She was even able to walk again, despite the doctors’ predictions that her legs would never again be normal. Later, she told us that she had asked the Lord to let her live just long enough to see all six of her daughters married the right way, in the temple. She died of cancer about fifteen years later, but not before she attended her youngest daughter’s wedding in the temple, the last of six.

I often saw miracles happen as my husband and I served in Church Hosting. Ambassadors and government leaders from other countries visited Salt Lake City and were frequently invited to meet with Church leaders. Miracles were often the result of those meetings.

Working with people from other cultures has also opened my eyes to the miracles we see every day within the Church. When we took visitors to Welfare Square or to the Deseret Industries Sort Center, they were amazed. “How do you get your people to do this?” they would ask. “How do you get them to be so willing to give of their time, their means, their clothing?” It was a miracle to them.

We also took many visiting leaders to BYU and to the Missionary Training Center. When they saw the missionaries, who all looked so sharp in their white shirts and ties or dresses, they were impressed. Often they had tears in their eyes as they looked out over the missionaries going to their countries. Once, a leader of another religion asked Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Tell me, how do you do it? How do you get your young people to leave their goals behind for two years, go out into the world at their own expense, and suffer rejection and hardship as they preach your religion? How do you do it?”

Elder Oaks’s answer was, “It’s a miracle, isn’t it?”

Children, I believe in miracles. I know that if you keep the commandments of God, you can have miracles in your lives. Heavenly Father has given commandments to us because He loves us. Only by keeping them will we find joy and happiness and peace.

At age 8 (front, right)

Held by her mother

At age 3

The Smoot family today, including sons-in-law and daughters-in-law