Finding Mary Redhead
For as long as I can remember, my mother has sent family file names to the temple with the youth and the young single adults. It wasn’t until my first semester in college that I truly learned to appreciate this.
A few weeks before I moved to a neighboring stake, my mother took our family to a cemetery in search of family names and dates. On her list of ancestors was a woman named Mary Redhead. I volunteered to look for the tombstone of this Mary Redhead, immediately attracted to her uncommon surname.
The cemetery was small and it wasn’t long before I realized she wasn’t there. Eventually it was time to go, and I was very discouraged at not being able to find the dates needed to send her name to the temple.
We made our way to the next cemetery to find more names and dates. I had an overwhelming feeling of desperation as I searched stone after stone. I didn’t have much success until we were about to leave. I came to a tombstone that was barely readable. I traced my fingers along the carvings hoping for some luck. Mary Redhead. There she was! I couldn’t explain why it meant so much to me to find her.
Weeks went by and I found myself busy with all the anxieties and stress that come when a person leaves home to go to school for the first time. I forgot about Mary Redhead. It was on the night of a tri-stake young single adult temple trip when I remembered her again.
I was filing through the pink cards that the matron gave me when I came across the name of Mary Redhead. It didn’t occur to me that my mother would have submitted the names we had looked for, but there she was. I was overwhelmed. I felt as if Mary had chosen me to be baptized for her. I have never felt so close to my ancestors in all my life.
I truly have a great love for my ancestors and genealogy now. I am blessed to know that families are forever and that we need each other no matter what side of the veil we’re on.
I Wasn’t Nervous Anymore
We were going to hand out pamphlets to find missionary referrals for our stake youth conference activity. I had been reading For the Strength of Youth. When the activity began, I tossed it back on the table where I had found it. But the thought occurred to me that I should take it with me. So I picked it up and put it in my scriptures.
We were all nervous about talking to strangers about the gospel, but when we stopped to talk to a woman hanging laundry in her yard, she was very friendly and took one of our pamphlets. During the conversation she told us about her concerns for her family. One son in particular was struggling with drugs and other problems. We did our best to console her and then moved on.
A few minutes later I opened my scriptures. When I saw my For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, I remembered what the woman had said about her son, and I felt like I should go back. I wasn’t nervous anymore.
We found the woman still outside. I told her I had something she might like. I explained about the standards our youth follow and gave her the pamphlet to read with her son. I could tell it made her happy. She called her son outside, and we were able to set up an appointment for both of them with the missionaries.
I felt like a missionary! It was great to have the opportunity to teach and maybe help this young man. I know it was the Holy Ghost who told me to take that pamphlet with me.
Power of Prayer
I have always believed in the power of prayer. When my family first moved to a new city, I had to wait to start school for two months until a new semester began. Although I enjoyed spending time with my family, I wanted a good friend with the same beliefs I have. I eventually met all of my neighbors, and although some were the same age, they didn’t have the same standards. When I was able to go to school, I met a lot of kids my age and made some friends.
One time I went out for dinner with friends. After dinner some of them left, but the rest still wanted to do something and decided they wanted to go drink. They invited me, but I told them no. I felt even more lonesome. I went home that night and prayed to find a good friend.
A few weeks later I went out to dinner with friends again and made it clear that I wouldn’t drink with them. After dinner all but one other person left to go drinking. We started to talk and found that we had the same standards—standards we kept by personal choice. I know that Heavenly Father always answers prayers.
The Strength to Get on My Knees
My childhood dream was coming true. I was about to turn 19 and was training to be a professional firefighter. But throughout the hard training, I wanted to know if this was what the Lord wanted for me. I asked Him in prayer if I was on the right track, and if I was where He wanted me to be. I got an answer that I didn’t want—no.
At about this time, knee surgery kept me off my feet for eight months. I had a lot to reflect on, so I read the Book of Mormon. In my prayers I asked, “What should I do now?” The answer came. I knew the Book of Mormon was true, and I needed to share it with others.
I began to prepare for a full-time mission. It was not easy. My papers were sent back to me once because of my injury, but finally I was called to serve in the Nebraska Omaha Mission.
For the first 14 months of my mission, everything was great. The Spirit was with me more than I could’ve imagined. Sure, it was hard kneeling to pray, but after not being able to kneel at all for eight months, it was wonderful to be on my knees once more.
Then I injured my knee again and needed surgery. I begged my mission president to let me stay, but I found myself on a plane headed for home. My time recovering at home seemed like an eternity. I asked myself, “Why me? Why now?” It seemed so unfair. It wasn’t until I was able to return to my mission that I realized why I had to go home.
The Lord puts us through situations and trials to test our faith. Two times, I could have given up, but in both trials I returned to my knees and relied on the Lord.
Illustrations by Allen Garns; photograph © Rubberball Productions