Jenna Hyde, 10, lives in the village of Gaysville, Vermont. Gaysville is part of a town called Stockbridge, which has fewer than 700 residents! The other residents in Jenna’s house include her mom, her younger brother, and four pets—Snoopy the dog, Cupcake the hamster, Elmo the hairless rat, and Sammy the cat. Jenna especially likes to play with Cupcake.
In addition to her love for animals, Jenna has many talents. She enjoys school, especially art. She likes to sew, and her mom, Hilde, says that Jenna can sew better than she can. Jenna’s latest project is sewing a pillowcase for her dad.
A budding chef, her favorite things to cook are “mostly cakes and cookies—sweet stuff.” But she also helps cook the family meals, including her favorite, mini shepherd’s pies. Here’s Jenna’s recipe: “You take a little bit of meat and put it at the bottom of a cupcake pan and let it cook for a little while. Then you add the mashed potatoes and corn on top and let it cook a little bit more. And then you have a mini shepherd’s pie.” Jenna hopes to become a cake decorator or pastry chef when she’s older. She observes, “Art and cooking can mix together—you can bake a cake and use your art skills to decorate it.”
Jenna enjoys spending time with her family, especially traveling to the coast or going skiing. Her dad lives in a nearby town, so she is able to visit him a lot. She also helps take care of her younger brother, Zack. He has Down syndrome, and she helps him communicate. “Zack has special teachers at school, and sometimes when they have trouble understanding him, they come to me,” she says. She is very protective of Zack. “The hardest thing in my life is keeping people from making fun of Zack and asking them not to use bad language around him,” Jenna explains.
Sometimes it’s difficult for Jenna to have a brother with special needs, but she has learned to be loving and compassionate from helping him. One time their grandparents gave them a few dollars to buy a toy at a gift shop. When they came back, Zack had a toy and Jenna didn’t. “Jenna had given Zack her money so he could have the toy that he wanted,” her mom says. “She always does little things like that without expecting to be rewarded for it.”
Jenna and her mom were both baptized in 2002, and Zack was baptized when he turned eight about a year later. Her mom met the missionaries through the hospital where she works. As her mom studied the gospel, Jenna also became interested and eventually decided that she wanted to be baptized too. They attended several other churches before deciding to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When asked how the Church was different from other congregations, Jenna answers, “It feels like the right church. It just feels like I’m close to Heavenly Father.”
One of the first things Jenna learned about was a modern-day prophet. She says, “When [the missionaries] started talking about Joseph Smith, I was not very sure about that at first.” But she prayed to gain a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and was blessed to receive one.
Jenna lives about a half-hour’s drive from the Prophet’s birthplace in Sharon, Vermont. She and her family are members of the Sharon Ward, which meets in a building next to the monument commemorating the Prophet’s birth.
Like Joseph Smith, Jenna has faith that Heavenly Father hears her prayers. She says, “Heavenly Father always responds in a good way. I know He hears me, even if sometimes He doesn’t grant whatever I want.” Her mom comments, “Jenna has a relationship with Heavenly Father that seems to keep a sense of calm within her.”
Jenna wants to continue growing in the gospel. “I want to become a better person to be around,” she says. “I want to be a person that you can always depend on.” It’s clear that she is already well on her way to accomplishing her goal.