An anonymous poet wrote: “Don’t write your name on sand, waves will wash it away. Don’t write your name in the sky, wind may blow it away. Write your name in hearts of people you come in touch with. That’s where it will stay.”
In my second year of Beehives, Maxine Myers became our advisor and remained with our group until we graduated from high school. She was cheeky, had the best laugh and the biggest heart.
She took us snow cave camping, on a 40-mile trek (years before everyone was doing it), and to visit Temple Square in Salt Lake City (which was quite a trip from Eastern Oregon). One week she presented each of us a letter from our father describing what they loved about us. She taught us how to serve and work. She showed us her love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I felt her testimony.
Once when we were camping, some hotdogs fell in the dirt. “It’s added flavor” she said, brushing them off and laughing. That’s the way she lived. Whenever something negative happened, Maxine brushed herself off, laughed and got on with things.
She came into my life at a very difficult time and was a rock for me to hold on to.
In 2006, I wrote a letter to thank her. Here are a few lines: “There is not a week that goes by that I do not think of you. I’m sure you have no idea how much influence for good you had on my life. I was so fat and felt so ugly and insecure throughout my teenage years—I still do! You made me feel accepted and safe and loved and that I belonged.”
“I still hear the voices of the boys who followed me up the stairs at seminary chanting, ‘boom, boom, boom’ as I walked. Sometimes I hated going to church. You were the reason I kept coming.”
“Because of you, I wanted to be a teacher and work with youth. I wanted to be a little like you and maybe have some positive influence on young people who are struggling, like you were for me.”
If there is anyone’s life I have ever touched or inspired by teaching, it is as a direct result of Maxine’s influence in my life. It is all a part of her legacy.
Edward Everett Hale wrote,
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
Each of us possesses unique talents and skills that can contribute to making the world a better place and bless the lives of those we come in contact with. The question is not whether we can do something that makes a difference, but will we?
In the film It’s a Wonderful Life, the principle character of the movie, George Bailey, feels alone and discouraged by the presumably hopeless state of his life. In his darkest hour, Clarence, his guardian angel, intervenes to show Bailey that his seemingly unimportant gestures have made a profound difference in the lives of many, many people.
Mother Theresa said,
“I alone can’t change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
This past week, an inmate who is an artist was transferred into the pod in prison where Cory is. He was working on a picture of the Savior on Golgotha, from the perspective of Mary weeping at the foot of the cross. As Cory admired the man’s work, an inspiration came to him. He offered to loan the man some Ensign magazines which contained beautiful pictures of the Savior, that he could look at for inspiration.
The day Cory handed the magazines over to the man, the prison went on lock down after a guard in another section was beaten up and hospitalized. Lock down means that prisoners are only allowed out of their cells in small groups for an hour every 3-4 days to get a shower and make phone calls. Even meals are delivered to their cells. This will continue until the end of October.
When Cory returned to his cell after a shower, there was a note from the man, thanking Cory for the magazines. He said that the pictures were so beautiful he felt inspired to read the articles. He loved them.
“I never expected that. Something small turned into something powerful enough to strengthen his testimony. We never know what is going to effect our peers in a positive way.”
I wept as Cory shared this with Kev and me. One person can make a difference, even in prison.
Belgian philosopher Desire-Joseph Mercier wrote,
This quote has eternal significance to Latter-day Saints because what we are (followers and messengers of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ) is an outgrowth of what we have to give: the good news that our Heavenly Father loved us so much that He provided a way for us to return to His presence and become like Him. The good news that Jesus Christ loved us so much that He came to earth to show us how to live and provide a way for us to gain salvation and eternal life.
When I mentioned to Cory that I admired the fact that he is fearless in sharing the gospel, he said,
“Who am I to be selfish or greedy? The Lord saved my life. I should want the same for everyone else and to share it with anyone I can.”
In a letter he wrote,
“I feel so bad for the other people in here with me. Sometimes they feel so lost and that their life is over, when it’s not. I know I’m not a saint, but I really try to help others in here when I can. Even when it’s just something small; I don’t want anyone to feel abandoned and alone when they could feel the glory of the Lord.”
Compassion and love for our fellowman are fundamental in making a difference in the world. Jude, the brother of James, admonished: “Have compassion, making a difference” (Jude 1:22). As we share our time, talents and resources, we learn to be more benevolent and Christ-like.
Heavenly Father needs us to make a difference in people’s lives.
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
“God does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs.” (Ensign, July 1978).
Our friends Stuart and Karen are looking for a church and asked me to send them directions to a Mormon Church in Los Angeles. They still remember the time, back in 2007, when they were visiting us, and our friends the Maples and Petersons had thrown us a party to celebrate our adopting Cory. Many times, they have mentioned how kind everyone was to them. They felt warmth and inclusion from complete strangers. Because of that experience with many of our friends, they want to check out The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Apostle Paul wrote to his young friend, Timothy, “…be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). That’s what Stuart and Karen saw and felt—examples of believers.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of individual responsibility. What we do matters. Our actions have eternal consequences. Charity and compassion are essential to our salvation. The Lord commanded, “except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God” (Moroni 10:21).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said,
“…we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord.” (General Conference, October 2012)
I can make a difference in the lives of those around me. I can and I must. William Penn wrote:
The question is not if I can do something, but will I?
“As the old man walked the beach at dawn he noticed a youth ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally, catching up with the youth, he asked him why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. ‘But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish,’ countered the old man. ‘How can your effort make any difference?’ The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to the safety of the waves. ‘It makes a difference to this one,’ he said.” (Brian Cavanaugh, The Sower’s Seed).
What is the one something you will do today?