Violet Bailey is the strongest link many children here have to the Church.
Sister Bailey was lured out of inactivity 17 years ago by her visiting and home teachers. In the years that followed, she introduced her husband to the gospel and was sealed to him just 10 days before he died of leukemia.Since her husband's death, Sister Bailey has devoted much of her time to fellowshipping the Laotian families who live not far from her in northeast Amarillo.
Some of the Laotian immigrants who came to Amarillo as a result of the Vietnam War are active members of the Amarillo 4th Ward, reported Bishop John Hunt.
In addition to the members who joined the Church as families, a number of children have been baptized,
with their parents' consent, as the sole member in their families, said Bishop Hunt.
Sister Bailey has shown great love for many of these children. "That's a golden relationship," Bishop Hunt noted. "They call her grandmother."
Sister Bailey's interaction with the children began four years ago, when she began taking 10-year-old Laura Phommyvong, the only member in her family, to Sunday meetings and other activities. The two soon bonded, and Sister Bailey's photograph earned a place of honor on the Phommyvong refrigerator door.
The number of children who depended on Sister Bailey for rides began to grow and soon she was hauling a large group of children to Church activities and on other outings - such as to a local skating rink.
"I said to the bishop as a joke, `You've got to get me a van,' " Sister Bailey said. Not long afterward, a family in the ward gave her a van. She logged 6,519 miles while driving the Laotian children .
When Sister Bailey turned 64, the children showed up at her house with all the fixings for a party: flowers, gifts and a cake that said "Happy Birthday, Grandma Bailey." Their mothers supplied traditional foods including sticky rice, which the children have since taught Sister Bailey how to cook.
Sister Bailey has also learned to speak and understand a few words of the Laotian language.