There are 12 young women in the Riverside Ward, Columbus Ohio Stake. Just 12. But in that small group, eight of the girls are sisters—four sets. And best of all, these sisters are great sisters, good to each other and the best of friends. Plus, they consider the other young women in the ward to be sisters, as well.
Before the four oldest in the sets of sisters go away to college, they gathered with their younger sisters to talk about what it takes to have good relationships with each other.
Christy Frost is the bishop’s daughter. She and her younger sister, Jenny, are a close and supportive pair. “The best thing about having a sister,” says Christy, “is that she is always there. She is a built-in best friend.”
Lindsay Shannon agrees that her younger sister Erin is a very good friend. And she adds, “My sister is one person I can feel completely comfortable around. I can tell her anything. She is always there to listen to me when I complain about stuff or I’m sad. She is always supportive of everything I do.”
Heidi Welling doesn’t like to do things alone, so she enjoys being with her sister, Andrea. “She’ll even run errands with me,” says Heidi. “We have fun hanging out on Friday nights if we both happen to be home. We like to play lacrosse and watch movies.”
And for the Blanco sisters, Cristina and Michelle, a sister is someone to share clothes with and is a ready listener. “I’m sort of the designated driver of the family at the moment,” says Cristina. “We spend lots of time in the car and have lots of time to talk with each other.”
The younger sisters have noticed that their older sisters have learned things and have some good advice. They want to gain that wisdom and self-control too.
“It’s cool to watch people who are older than you,” says Michelle. “If you’ve grown up with them, like your sister, they seem to be your age. But then you hear them bear their testimonies, and you realize that they aren’t your age. They are older, wiser.”
Watching their older sisters gain their testimonies has been a big boost to the development of their own faith. Erin remembers her first year at girls’ camp. She felt lonely, and the bugs were horrible. She wasn’t having a very good time, but her older sister, Lindsay, was there to help.
“She was being so positive and was trying to help me have a good time. I remember my first testimony meeting. I was too afraid to get up, but she got up and talked about her feelings about the gospel and how much we share together. We were both crying. It really strengthened my testimony. Even though it was five years ago, it still is a really big faith builder for me.”
And for Jenny, it’s easier for her to relate to her sister. “When she gives her testimony, I see how much the Spirit moves her. I think, ‘Well, if she can do that, then I can do it too.’ It’s nice to have her be such a good example and to always be there and see how much she loves the gospel.”
Kelley Smith and Heidi Walser both have older sisters who have now left home. The separation has been hard on them because they are close to their sisters. Heidi goes and stays with her sister whenever she has the opportunity. And Kelley says, “My sister would take me places I wanted to go. I can tell her anything. But since she moved out, I am telling those things to my mom.”
Another interesting coincidence of this Young Women group is the fact that every set of sisters also has a brother of deacon age. In fact, Ashley Greathouse and Heidi Walser also have deacon-aged brothers. So these girls have some definite ideas about how to support their younger brothers in their new priesthood duties.
“It’s really a nice change to see him on Sunday,” says Lindsay. “It’s nice to see him being respectful and serious. You can tell he knows the sacrament is not something to be taken for granted. He knows it’s special.”
“My brother’s been coming with me when we have joint activities with the Young Men. And he went to the temple to do baptisms for the first time. That was really cool to be there with him,” says Andrea.
Jenny has some good tips for relating to her younger brothers. “Be there for each other whenever things get tough or if you ever need someone to talk to. My brothers like to play games. Just play with them. It will make their day. If you’re happy and you’re there with them, they’ll enjoy it.”
Andrea tells about a girl at school who asked about her weekend. She was amazed that Andrea and her sister, Heidi, did some shopping together and went to a movie. The girl asked, “Don’t you ever fight?”
Andrea answered, “No, not really. If we do, we get over it in two seconds.”
Andrea explained, “When people say that Mormons are really family oriented, we really are. That’s what makes us strong. To be a better sister, do stuff together.”
Erin says, “I can never stay mad at my sister because there’s always something I want to tell her. If something exciting happened, I want her to be excited with me.”
Christy Frost explains how she and Jenny get over their differences. “We fight sometimes over something ridiculous when we’re in bad moods. We are both stubborn, but we just apologize and get it over with. And we’re friends again. We respect each other’s opinions.”
The connection between sisters is a strong one. A sister can be your best friend, not just in childhood but for your whole life. But the friendship needs to start at home, growing up. Be kind, and chances are your brothers and sisters will follow your example. Be the peacemaker, and arguing will decrease. Be a friend, and you’ll find the most loyal of friends in your own family.
Jenny talks about going to a school dance. She knew Christy was somewhere in the crowd. “It’s like we have a sister signal. I’m not really looking for her, but I always seem to find her. Whenever we’re in a crowd, it seems like Christy will pop up. It’s always fun to have a familiar face, a friend, someone to talk to.”