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Cheryl A. Esplin: Always involved in His great work

New Primary leader finds joy in children and service

Sister Cheryl A. Esplin looks forward to her new assignment as second counselor in the Primary general presidency as more than just a calling. She has a vested interest in Primary because 15 of her 18 grandchildren are primary-age.

This new calling is another way for Sister Esplin to help build the kingdom — because for her, service in the Church is a great work to be involved in.

Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, second counselor in the Primary general presidency and her husband, Max, pose for a photo in their backyard.
Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, second counselor in the Primary general presidency and her husband, Max, pose for a photo in their backyard. Photo: Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

"I love being a part of this work," she told the Church News.

One experience Sister Esplin shared was when she was sitting in a missionary training meeting in 1997 with her husband, Max. She was reading in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament where the passage of scripture was talking about a stone being cut out of the mountain without hands (Daniel 2:34).

As she sat and read that passage referring to the gospel rolling forth and gaining great momentum, Sister Esplin recalls being filled with the Spirit as she reflected on the blessings of the gospel in her own life.

"I wrote in the margin of my notes that I always want to be a part of this great work," Sister Esplin said. "I remember then thinking, 'I don't care what I do, I want to be a part of this great work, of this kingdom of God rolling forth and gaining momentum throughout the world.' "

When Sister Esplin was sustained during general conference last April, she saw her new assignment as another opportunity to be an active part of His great work going forth.

As a young girl growing up on a farm in the small town of Lovell, Wyo., Sister Esplin learned the importance of community. She felt the influence of not only her family but the wonderful people of that community. She was the second of nine children born to Orson Harris and Mildred Sylvia Stahle Asay.

"Whenever I think of my childhood, I have to think of family," Sister Esplin said. "We spent a lot of time together. We worked together, played together, ate together and prayed together. We prayed every night and morning as a family and at every meal. It was a large part of my family.

"We were blessed as a family because of [our parents'] service and their righteousness and their desire to raise a good family," she said.

Whether it was watching her parents accept and fulfill callings in the Church or tending her siblings while they attended meetings, she learned from a young age the importance of serving the Lord willingly.

"I had seen my dad get up way early in the morning and go out and work; then he came in from being out in the fields, cleaned up and changed clothes. He then went off to Church meetings or to give a blessing. He was often called to go and do different things, and I never heard him complain. My mother was always a great support to him. … I learned from them the value of serving. I learned it was a privilege. That is how they approached it and how I've learned to approach it."

Being one of the older children in her family, she often had the responsibility to help care for the other children. She found great satisfaction in helping with her younger siblings.

"I have a soft spot in my heart for children," Sister Esplin said. "Childhood is a time you hope that they can have happiness and love. I wish every child could really have a vision of the path that Heavenly Father has for each one of them."

That love of children carried on with her as she studied in college, majoring in elementary education at Brigham Young University. It was while she attended BYU that she met her husband, Max. They were married on Sept. 1, 1967, in the St. George Utah Temple in southern Utah. After graduating from college, Brother Esplin was called into service during the Vietnam War and Sister Esplin returned to Wyoming where she taught fifth grade for two years.

"I first saw her real skill in teaching in that grade school," Brother Esplin said of his wife. "She was valued as a young teacher, and then I saw her ability in our own family."

Still today, Sister Esplin finds working with children one of the greatest blessings in life. Her roles as a wife, mother and grandmother are her greatest joy in life. She said that "there was nothing I wanted to do more than to be there when my children came home from school."

For Brother and Sister Esplin, growing up in farming communities taught them the value of hard work.

"Work has been so important to both of us. … We grew up working together with our families," Brother Esplin said. "As we started raising our family we were in the city, not on farms where both of us were raised, and we had to find ways to teach our children to work."

Whether it was mowing lawns in the summer or shoveling walks in the winter, the Esplins enjoyed working together as a family. By doing projects together, they have taught their children the importance of hard work as well as forming strong family relationships.

"These relationships built upon love and trust help sustain them as they face life's challenges," Sister Esplin said. "We draw strength from each other."

As she serves in her new calling, she hopes to help children around the world build strong relationships and help them feel the love of their Heavenly Father.

"I truly believe that my joy is to hear that my children walk in truth," she said. "That is my hope, and now that extends to children all over the world."

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Biographical information

Family: Born Oct. 3, 1944, in Lovell, Wyo., to Mildred Sylvia Stahle and Orson Harris Asay. Married Max Esplin on Sept. 1, 1967, in the St. George Utah Temple. Five children: Brent (Heidi), Scott (Sarah), Michelle (Jeff) Logan, Jeff (Shannon), and Brian. They have 18 grandchildren, with another expected in October.

Education: Graduated from Brigham Young University, 1968,with a degree in elementary education.

Employment: Taught fifth grade for two years.

Church service: Former Primary General Board member, stake Relief Society president, ward Young Women president, Primary counselor and served with her husband as he presided over the North Carolina Raleigh Mission from 1997-2000.

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