The great blessing of his mission

As an 18-year-old, I understood that a mission was a special, sacred call from our Heavenly Father, but I had no idea how my mssion would bless my life.

In 1971, I was called to serve in the Northern States Mission that was headquartered in Mt. Prospect, Ill. My senior companion, Elder Steve Pace, and I were assigned to reopen the town of Jacksonville, Ill, to missionary work.

One of those who came every Sunday was a young man who had recently joined the Church but didn't seem to speak to anyone. As I tried to introduce myself one Sunday, he informed me that he was deaf and could not hear.

Gregg Scott attended the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville. I tried each Sunday to write down some thoughts about our sacrament meetings so that he would be able to understand what was being said, but sign language became a far more efficient way of discussing Church meetings.

I asked Gregg one day, after we finished cleaning the building, if he would be willing to teach me some sign language. Gregg readily accepted the challenge and, every Sunday until I was transferred a few months later, taught me some part of the language--whether it was a section of the alphabet, or a concept that I had not known before. I learned enough that I was able to use sign language on occasions throughout my mission.

Several months later, I said goodbye to some very good people in Jacksonville, and Gregg was one of them. He and I shed some tears at our parting.

Then in 1979--after getting sealed in 1975 in the Salt Lake Temple to Rebecca Arlene Hanks and welcoming the second of two daughters, Jessica and Sarah, into our family--an event occurred that made me think again of Gregg Scott.

After Sarah's first year, during which she suffered from spinal meningitis, we discovered that she was deaf. Through the years I have been able to communicate with her because, seven years before her birth, Gregg Scott taught me sign language. I have often thought of the great blessing that came to me as a result of my friendship with this young man.

In 1998, Sarah began attending a ward for the deaf in Provo, Utah--where Gregg Scott had recently been called as bishop.

This year Thanksgiving had extra meaning to me. After 28 years, I was able to again meet Bishop Scott and thank him for the gift he gave me so many years earlier--the ability to speak to my daughter.

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