In the News

Sarah Jane Weaver: The kindness shown to me by a Church leader who had every reason to hold back

It was my first day back to work after the birth of my first child. I was sitting at my desk at the Deseret News when I had an unexpected visitor. Sister Ardeth Kapp, former Young Women general president, pulled up a chair.

As a member of the Deseret News board, she had just completed a meeting and was checking on me.

She asked about my baby. Then she asked about me.

It was the quintessential kindness from a woman who was never able to have children of her own.

I was sad and tired and doubting my decision to return to work. I was worried about my baby.

But Sister Kapp directed my thoughts to a different place. “We go a long way back,” she said.

She, of course, was speaking of the five years I had written about the Church and, as a member of the Deseret News board, she had assumed some responsibility for the Church News.

In reality, however, I had known Sister Kapp for many years before then.

On Oct. 11, 1986, at age 14, I stood in the parking lot of my stake center clutching a balloon. I had written my testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the paper tied to the balloon’s string.

Sister Kapp — and her counselors, Sister Patricia T. Holland and Sister Maurine Turley — helped me understand that day I was part of a “rising generation” who had an important message for the world. I was filled with the knowledge that I was a part of something bigger than myself, something that mattered — a lot.

No one found my balloon testimony, but it sunk deep in my heart.

A year later, the Young Women leaders would introduce the Young Women theme, age group mission statements, motto and logo.

For those efforts — and so many more that followed them — Sister Kapp was honored Monday, June 20, during a special ceremony at Heber Valley Camp; a new pavilion at the massive camp will bear the name Ardeth G. Kapp. Speakers, including Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, lauded not only her accomplishments, but also her influence.

Read more: A new pavilion at Heber Valley Camp, and the woman it is named for, remind all to ‘stand as a witnesses of God’

Sister Kapp knows a little about obstacles,  overcoming trials and trusting in the Lord.

As a young woman, she failed two grades in public school. Still, she became a teacher who earned a master’s degree in curriculum development. She published books, gave speeches and wrote talks. She also influenced my work at the Deseret News and Church News as a member of our board.

In brief remarks shared during the dedication she spoke about leaving her small Southern Alberta community to attend Brigham Young High School. “I looked different. I talked different. I sounded different. I felt different,” she said. “I just prayed, ‘Heavenly Father, help me to have a friend.’ And the Spirit said, ‘Don’t worry about having a friend, just be a friend.’ ”

Sister Kapp certainly has been a friend to me. She taught me I was part of something bigger than myself by making it possible for me to write my testimony and send it to the world on the string of a helium balloon. She later said that her priesthood advisors quipped, “We have always known about the ‘Sons of Helaman,’ but now we also know about the ‘Daughters of Helium.’”

As a Daughter of Helium, I learned the importance of my identity and purpose.

Sister Kapp has reinforced that identity for me over and over again — with a hand-written note or a phone call or a short visit to my desk.

On that tender day more than two decades ago, this amazing woman, who never had children of her own, spoke to me about my child.

She shared with me that day years ago the same sentiment that she shared this week at Heber Valley Camp.

“Believe that Heavenly Father knows you and loves you,” she said.

— Sarah Jane Weaver is editor of the Church News.

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