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Young Women: Building the kingdom at 98

Young Women advisor is spunky, kind, and 'knows the gospel'

Zenna Travis was at June Norton Ferrel's house, ready to read to the legally blind 98-year-old widow. When Sister Ferrel asked about her day, Zenna talked about how a boy stood her up for a date and people at school made fun of her afterward.

June Norton Ferrell, with young women outside her ward, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell, with young women outside her ward, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News

"Tell me the boy's name," she said. "Sister Glenn and I will go beat him up."

Some boys are intimidated by a girl who has such a strong spirit, because they might not have the same spirit, Sister Ferrel consoled her young friend, and encouraged her to pay attention to the type of man she wants to marry, not the boys who treat her unkindly in the interim.

The spunk, intermixed with kindness, is characteristic of Sister Ferrel, who was recently called as a teacher for the Young Women in the Lindon 21st Ward, Lindon Utah Stake.

June Norton Ferrell shares a moment before opening exercises with Hannah Tolman, June is 98-years-old and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell shares a moment before opening exercises with Hannah Tolman, June is 98-years-old and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News
June  Norton Ferrell, teachers class, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell, teachers class, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News

Her first lesson was on Oct. 21. Among other topics, she spoke to the young women about having a clean heart and a pure mind. She reminded the young women that they will have their hands with them always as testaments of their actions. Because of this, it is vital to keep them clean.

"I think everyone could feel the Spirit in the room and when she talked, she talked to us," said Zenna, a Laurel who attended Sister Ferrel's lesson. "It wasn't as though she was talking at us and saying, 'This is what you need to do.' She talked to us as friends."

June Norton Ferrell shares a moment before opening exercises with Hannah Tolman who helps her with her reading during class, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell shares a moment before opening exercises with Hannah Tolman who helps her with her reading during class, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News

Zenna said the lesson was different because Sister Ferrel spoke her mind and did not mince words.

"She knows the gospel. She knows it," Zenna said emphatically.

When asked about her new calling, Sister Ferrel said love is the most important factor. Many of the young women in the ward sensed this before Sister Ferrel's call and would line up for hugs at church. Now that she will be a revolving teacher between the Laurels, MiaMaids and Beehives, she will be able to strengthen the bond she already shares with these young sisters.

June Norton Ferrell, with young women outside her ward, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell, with young women outside her ward, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News
June Norton Ferrell, with young women outside her ward, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell, with young women outside her ward, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News

"They are the luckiest girls in the Church, really," said granddaughter-in-law Sharlee Glenn, who has known "Grandma June" since her own youth.

Sister Ferrel's husband died almost 20 years ago and she has also outlived siblings and friends. But she is undeterred in her fervor to serve and endure to the end.

"I had been praying, without anyone knowing, of course: 'Oh, Heavenly Father, I would so like to bear my testimony to the young women in the ward,'" she said.

Her strong testimony has influenced many members of her ward, from the youth to the leadership. Bishop Kevin Morris said he was impressed with Sister Ferrel's testimony and experience. Having already determined to put the older members of the ward to work, her calling seemed to be a perfect fit.

June Norton Ferrell is 98-years-old and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell is 98-years-old and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News
June Norton Ferrell, 98-years-old,  during class where she has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell, 98-years-old, during class where she has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News

"Listening to Sister Ferrel over the years and the experiences she's had and the positions she's held in the Church, we just felt like, one, the young women love her and two, they would benefit from her helping teach the gospel," he said.

He added, "It was interesting to see the looks on the members' faces, because at first it was kind of like, 'What?' and then you saw all these smiles like, 'Oh, yeah, this is going to be great.'"

With almost two decades teaching early morning seminary, and prior callings teaching Young Women and serving as stake Young Women president, Sister Ferrell is well prepared to serve.

A woman who admittedly prefers babies and teenagers over other age groups, she carries a perpetual youthful energy. When her grandchildren would visit her on her ranch in California, she would camp out in the yard with them while their parents rested. Her uncanny ability to help others feel important and loved is another part of her appeal.

"She genuinely cares about everyone. She has a genuine interest in them and people sense that love and concern," said a grandson, James Glenn.

June Norton Ferrell, with young women during opening exercises, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell, with young women during opening exercises, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News
June Norton Ferrell laughs with the girls during class as Hannah Tolman who June with her with her reading and writing, uses the chalkboard.  June is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell laughs with the girls during class as Hannah Tolman who June with her with her reading and writing, uses the chalkboard. June is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News

Sister Ferrel told the Church News that the biggest challenge she anticipates lies in helping the young women know they have the capacity to be good and use their agency wisely. To do this, she said she will need to stay close to the Spirit and speak by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Because of her diminished sight, she relies on her daughter to read the lesson to her beforehand and on the young women to walk her to class, read the scriptures in class and write on the chalkboard.

The youth in this ward will be able to have one-on-one experiences with a woman who carries a legacy of faith. She will help young women who are in the midst of worrying about looks and comparisons gain a perspective of how to endure trials well, said Bishop Morris.

June Norton Ferrell, 98-years-old, drives home a point during class where she has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell, 98-years-old, drives home a point during class where she has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News
June Norton Ferrell is 98-years-old talks with girls before class, she  has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell is 98-years-old talks with girls before class, she has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News

"I think the thing that I've learned from her is that no matter what our age or our situation in life is, that we have value in building up the kingdom no matter where we're at and no matter what our stage in life. She's taught me that you can stay strong and valiant in your testimony until the very end."

This fits with Sister Ferrel's mantra, which seems to be focused on serving.

"I think our lives, if we're close to Heavenly Father, are tailored to what we can do while we're here on earth," Sister Ferrel said.

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June Norton Ferrel, 98, teaches Young Women in the Lindon 21st Ward on Sunday, Oct. 21.  During the lesson Sister Ferrel reminded the youth to have a clean heart and a pure mind.
June Norton Ferrel, 98, teaches Young Women in the Lindon 21st Ward on Sunday, Oct. 21. During the lesson Sister Ferrel reminded the youth to have a clean heart and a pure mind. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News
June Norton Ferrell while Hannah Tolman reading a passage from the scriptures, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell while Hannah Tolman reading a passage from the scriptures, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News
June Norton Ferrell, with young women outside her ward, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
June Norton Ferrell, with young women outside her ward, she is 98-years-old, legally blind and has just been called as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News
Girls share a laugh as 98-years-old June Norton Ferrell, teaches her class as a Young Women advisor,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah.
Girls share a laugh as 98-years-old June Norton Ferrell, teaches her class as a Young Women advisor, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. Photo: Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News

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