Mary Jane Listens


(Based on a true story)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27).

“Hurry faster!” Mary Jane’s friends cried as they ran down the street.

“I’m coming. I’m coming,” Mary Jane yelled back, bending to put one more rock into the bulging pockets of her light blue apron.

For a nine-year-old girl in Wales in 1846, Latter-day Saint missionaries coming to town meant excitement. She and her friends had heard many terrible stories about the “Mormons.” Surely such people deserved to be pelted with stones.

As the three girls rounded a corner, they heard music. A small crowd was singing a familiar hymn. Mary Jane was a good singer, so she joined in after she caught her breath. She didn’t know all the words, but she enjoyed humming the melodies.

As the singing ended, Mary Jane followed the elders’ example and knelt to pray. One by one, the rocks fell from the pockets of her apron. When the prayer ended, Mary Jane’s friend picked up the rocks. “Let’s get them!” she said.

“No,” Mary Jane said quietly. “I want to listen to what they’re saying.”

She turned her eyes toward the missionaries and listened carefully. One of the elders said that a prophet named Joseph Smith had seen Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in a grove of trees. Another explained why we are born on this earth. As Mary Jane listened, her friends slipped through the crowd and ran off to play. When the elders finished preaching, Mary Jane walked slowly home, thinking about all she had heard.

As the days passed, Mary Jane kept listening to the elders. She loved what she was learning about Heavenly Father. Her mother did not. She was so opposed to what the missionaries taught that she sometimes hid Mary Jane’s clothes or denied her food so she would stop going to church.

But Mary Jane loved the gospel more than ever. She had learned to pray, and her prayers for a testimony were answered. She wanted to be baptized. Finally on a cold December night, she was baptized in a frozen river. The elders had to use an ax to cut a hole in the ice. Even though Mary Jane’s body was very cold that night, her heart was warm. She knew that she had made the right decision.

But she was sad because her mother could not understand the true gospel. Every day, Mary Jane knelt to pray. “Heavenly Father, I am so glad to be a member of the Church, but I want my mother to be baptized, too,” she said. “Please help her to understand the message. Please let something happen to help her accept the gospel.” For three years Mary Jane prayed for her mother. She never gave up hope.

When Mary Jane was 13 years old, her mother became seriously ill with a disease that settled in her foot. It was very painful.

One day Mary Jane said to her mother, “Why don’t I ask the elders to come and give you a priesthood blessing?” Because her foot was hurting so much, Mary Jane’s mother finally agreed. The elders gave Mary Jane’s mother a blessing, and to her amazement, her foot immediately stopped hurting. Mary Jane knew her prayers had been answered.

Soon afterward her mother started going to Church meetings. It wasn’t long before she also joined the Church. Mary Jane was happier than she had ever been.

When Mary Jane was 17 years old, she and her mother sailed to America on the ship Jersey and then traveled on to Utah. For the rest of her life, Mary Jane followed the Savior as she had been taught on a street corner in Wales. She was always grateful that she had listened to the elders that day. She was especially glad that when she was nine years old she had decided not to throw the rocks that had fallen from the pockets of her light blue apron.

[Not by Chance]

Elder Henry B. Eyring

“The Lord trusts His true disciples. He sends prepared people to His prepared servants. You have had the experience, as have I, of meeting people where you were sure the meeting could not have been by chance.” Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “A Child and a Disciple,” Ensign, May 2003, 31.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Stefanie Eskander

Mary Ann Snowball is a member of the Little Valley First Ward, St. George Utah Washington Fields Stake.