The Bus Stop

by C. S. Hankins

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    All I knew was that she smiled and waved every day, even in the drizzly rain. How could I know that she would change our lives forever?

    As I drove to work through our neighborhood in Puyallup, Washington, I began to notice a young girl among a group of children waiting for the school bus.

    Washington is well blessed with rainfall, and there were many cold, wet mornings when the kids would huddle together. But I could always count on her to ignore the elements and come up with a big smile and wave as I passed the bus stop.

    The young girl was tall and slim and about 13 years old. She wore a mouthful of braces and I could see them glisten in the glare of my car lights.

    Somehow her little effort to be friendly helped me get my day started right and became something I looked forward to.

    I told my wife about the little friend I had, and how without fail she would always be there with that sweet smile and friendly wave. We didn’t know who she was, but she seemed to be an outstanding young girl.

    It wasn’t very long after this that our own 13-year-old daughter, Cheryl, asked if she could go to an activity that a local church was having. She called it MIA. She was going with a neighbor girl, Vicki, and promised us that there would be parental supervision.

    Cheryl began to attend MIA regularly, and after a few occasions she told us that Vicki was a Mormon. Cheryl also said Vicki was my friend from the bus stop.

    Discovering that Vicki was a Mormon gave us a good feeling. I was aware of the reputation the Mormons had of being a good and family-oriented people.

    A short time later Cheryl came home from school and relayed a message from Vicki. She was sending two young men over, missionaries, to tell us about her church.

    “Tell Vicki that I have been waiting for 30 years to know what a Mormon is,” I told my daughter.

    The elders arrived and we heard about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I will never forget when those young men bore their testimonies of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith being a true prophet of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Over the next few weeks we began to read and were soon captivated by the new scriptures.

    I finally met Vicki—she was at church our first time and was in the audience, smiling, when the three members of my family were baptized. We moved away from that part of the state soon after and have not seen Vicki since. I recently heard she is married now and has a family of her own.

    Through her actions and those of the young people we have known since, my wife and I are thoroughly convinced that the greatest potential for missionary work lies in the youth of the Church. We have served as stake missionaries and have served a full-time mission in Pennsylvania, and each time have relied upon the referrals and good example the youth have supplied.

    We will never forget Vicki and will be forever grateful to her.

    Illustrated by Roger Motzkus