Her parents' trust instilled desire in her to 'do what is right'

Bonnie D. Parkin vividly remembers her first two days at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. An 18-year-old freshman, she was so homesick she was physically ill. She had had enough and was going home.

And she did, traveling home to Herriman, Utah, about 110 miles to the southwest and some 23 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. She related: "We had a big brown leather chair that my dad sat in, and I remember sobbing, I'm not going back. It's too hard.'"My dad listened and, being so wise, said,You don't need to go back. You can decide what you want to do.' "

Sister Parkin added that her father did, however, encourage her and remind her of her ability to overcome any obstacle.

She went back. "Had he said to me, You have to go back,' I'm not sure that I would have, but it was him saying to me,You can choose,' and knowing that whether I went back or whether I stayed home I was still loved. I think I went back because I needed somebody to say they believed I could do it and I was going to be OK."

Her parents' trust in her so impacted her life that today, as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, Sister Parkin urges all parents and Church leaders to trust and believe in young people.

"I think we should believe the very best of them and listen to them. I love the young women of the Church, and I know that they are strong and they want to do what's right. They just need a support system," said Sister Parkin, who was sustained Oct. 1 in general conference. She replaced the former Young Women second counselor, Patricia P. Pinegar, who was sustained the same day as Primary general president. (Please see Nov. 5, 12 and 19 Church News for profiles on members of the new Primary general presidency.)

During a Church News interview, Sister Parkin discussed her new responsibilities and the effects of family, faith and trust in the lives of young women today. She also related, at times with great emotion, her memories of growing up in post-war Herriman, a small rural Utah town.

Her parents, Jesse H. and Ruth Butikofer Dansie, taught their five children well the value of a good name and of family respectability. "My mother trusted me, and I feel that trust is one of the greatest gifts that she gave me. I felt a real obligation to never disappoint her. She used to say, It's better to be trusted than loved.' I respected her so much that I felt it incredibly important to make sure that I represented my family well. My mother taught us,Do what is right; let the consequences follow.' "

Sister Parkin lived by that counsel as she grew up in the West Jordan stake. As a young woman, she remembers gathering with friends for stake activities and traveling by bus 15 miles each day to Jordan High School. She spoke of the challenges of dating and participating in activities during winter because sometimes her family got snowed in.

The cold outside, however, could never penetrate the warmth of the Dansie home. Sister Parkin recalled her mother, sisters and herself snuggling together while they read to each other from the scriptures, from the Relief Society Magazine published at the time, and from classic books.

"Learning was a thing that went on all the time in our home. My father was a real reader, with a special love for biographies. Mother didn't read as much, but what she did read she shared with us."

Continuing, Sister Parkin related: "There were lean years. My father did some farming, and he also did what you called leasing. You would lease an area within a mine, then work a vein. Sometimes you would find great ore products and so things were pretty good, but sometimes you didn't find much, so those were the lean times. We learned a lot about self-reliance and preparing and saving."

The Christmas when Sister Parkin was 14 years old was a lean one. The family had been in an auto accident during the holiday season. "Father was in the hospital recovering, and things were financially very tight. I remember that a family in our town brought Christmas to us. It was a very powerful experience."

She was particularly touched because the giver's present to her was just what she had wanted - a sweater. "It was such a little item, but at 14, I was thrilled with something to wear that was pretty and fun."

Because of the warmth the family felt, being the recipients, they decided to become the givers - a new family tradition. "I remember one Christmas specifically. It was Christmas Eve and we heard of a family who had nothing. We did not have a lot of extra things either, but we did have fruit that was bottled. We had meat because we had our own cattle. We had some oranges. We each gave one of our own toys or possessions.

"My mother did not really get involved in all this. She let us plan the whole thing. We delivered the packages that night. I drove the car. My brothers jumped in the ditch because the family opened the door so soon. The kids were thrilled - there was something for Christmas."

The warmth and love Sister Parkin felt growing up carried into her college years at Utah State University. After overcoming her homesickness and settling in, the young freshman got involved in "all the exciting and wonderful things of college." Among her many activities during her four years at the university, she was a member of the campus Sponsor Corps, a service organization.

In addition, she served on the homecoming committee and was president of Kappa Delta Sorority. She also served in a student ward Relief Society presidency. In speaking of her activities, Sister Parkin noted: "There were a lot of leadership opportunities and growth; each experience built upon the previous."

In 1962, Sister Parkin served as vice president of the senior class and was selected as a member of the Mortar Board, a national honor society. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in elementary education and early childhood development. Soon after, she began working at Hannah Holbrook Elementary in Bountiful, Utah, north of Salt Lake City.

That year she had a blind date to the movies. Sister Parkin's eyes twinkle when she speaks of that evening with James L. Parkin, a first year medical student. "We shared great conversation, and I thought, `I'd like to date him some more.' "

The two began dating and were soon engaged. On July 1, 1963, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. The young couple moved into a little basement apartment in Salt Lake City, while he finished medical school at the University of Utah and she continued teaching in Bountiful.

In 1966, the Parkins moved to Seattle, Wash., where Brother Parkin did his residency at the University of Washington. During the couple's six years there, Sister Parkin began realizing the strength of her testimony.

Although she had always had a testimony, she realized she needed to enhance her knowledge of the gospel.

"I had one other friend who was about on the same level as me, and we really got into the Book of Mormon. We read and we found exciting things and we'd call each other and ask, `Have you read this scripture?'

"That's when I really started making gospel study a daily process in my life," she continued. At the time, Brother Parkin was not only a medical resident but was also in the bishopric. Thus, on Sundays, Sister Parkin and her children had a lot of time together. "I would read to my children Bible stories. Because I was also reading the Book of Mormon, I connected the two, and this is when I learned to love the scriptures."

In 1972, the Parkins moved back to Salt Lake City, where Brother Parkin took a position in the division of otolaryngology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He currently is chief of surgery at University Hospital.

From her parents, who died in 1987 and in 1988; and from her life experiences, Sister Parkin has learned the value of a gospel foundation. She suggested the following for helping youth:

Love them. Sister Parkin related the story of a Laurel leader who reached out to a young woman whose mother was less-active. In time, the Laurel leader attended the temple marriage of the girl.

Later, both women got cancer. "They were both dying. The girl said to her former leader, `What am I going to do? How can I possibly die and leave my children?'

"The leader replied, `You have made right choices. You have married right. You have taught good principles to your children. Somehow it will be all right.'

"They died within four months of each other. It was a real connection of heart and soul."

Help them develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. "I think of the mother who has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and she exhibits that. Faith in Christ is the basis of everything you do."

Get a patriarchal blessing. Sister Parkin encouraged young women to break down their blessings into gifts, admonitions and promises. "This helped me realize my own individual possibilities and blessings from the Lord."

In a voice filled with emotion, she recalled reading her blessing the day she received her new calling. She pointed out: "After all the blessings our family has received, I am accepting this calling on faith. The Lord is going to bless me to be able to do it. I know He will."


Sister Bonnie D. Parkin

Family: Born in Murray, Utah, to Jesse H. and Ruth Butikofer Dansie. Reared in Herriman, Utah. Married James L. Parkin, four children: Jeffrey, Brett, Matthew and David, two grandchildren.

Education: Bachelor of science in elementary education and early childhood development from Utah State University.

Community service/profession: Community Council, Great Books Foundation, PTA board member and president, docent for Utah Symphony for elementary schools, page on Utah Senate floor; taught elementary school for three years.

Previous Church callings: Relief Society general board, stake Young Women president, ward Primary president, ward Relief Society president and counselor, Sunday School teacher.

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