As a 10-year-old girl, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, remembers Elder L. Tom Perry, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, visiting her home. The apostle was in town for a special celebration that her father was in charge of in his responsibilities as a stake president.
At the close of a full day of events, the Cordon family and the Perry family were talking in the living room enjoying each other’s company, when Sister Cordon’s mother called her into the kitchen.
“She asked a simple question," Sister Cordon said. " ‘Bonnie, did you feed the chickens?’ ”
Recognizing she would need to leave the conversation and head out to the dark, moonless night, young Bonnie tried to get out of her responsibility.
“I suggested the chickens could fast until morning,” she said. “My mother said no. I invited my brother to join me. He said no.”
Just then she heard the apostle’s booming, enthusiastic voice asking, “Did I hear someone needs to feed the chickens? Can my son and I join you in feeding the chickens?”
Young Bonnie ran to get a flashlight and the group headed out to feed the chickens. The young girl knew the path well, and she skipped ahead crossing the corn patch and passed through the wheat field.
“When we reached the small irrigation ditch that crossed the path, I instinctively jumped over it as I did each night,” she remembered. “Elder Perry, however, had been struggling to keep up on a dark and unknown path all the while trying to keep his eyes on my dancing light.
She heard the apostle groan as he stepped right in the ditch of water.
She remembers hearing Elder Perry say, prior to returning home, “I need to see the path. I need the light to shine where I am walking.”
“I had light and I was letting it shine,” Sister Cordon said during an LDSBC devotional on May 29. “But I had not shined it on the path so that Elder Perry could see. .. What lessons do we learn from my late-night journey to feed the chickens?”
First, Sister Cordon taught, “we need a light to make our way through the darkness — do we recognize the true source of light?”
Second, “our light is needed to illuminate the way for others — do we see the needs of those around us and act to help?”
Third, “if they join us on our journey (which is always more joyful) — do we point to the path that leads to Christ?”
Sister Cordon warned of the distractions of technology and encouraged students to not let the “social noise … absorb your attention and engross the energies of your time or soul.”
“This technological world tends to decrease face-to-face social interaction and fosters isolation and it is one of the leading causes of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation,” Sister Cordon said.
Individuals are happiest, Sister Cordon said, by engaging socially and spiritually in ways that positively build others while building themselves.
“Don’t be distracted from the true source of light if you feel you are in the shadow or even in darkness, don’t remain there,” she said. “I invite you to increase your light — or more accurately, your ability to shine and share the Savior’s light.”
It is important to follow the Savior, who “went about doing good,” Sister Cordon said.
“For some of us, this capacity to notice others may be challenging or new. For those who may feel this apprehension or frustration, remember this is a learned skill — an acquired attribute. The Savior set a perfect example for us to follow, but we must practice if we wish to become better at seeing the needs of those around us. It may not come easily, but it is something we can learn.”