The Farewell

    “The Farewell,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, 11

    The Farewell

    The bishop stood, arms folded, waiting for the minute hand to start the hour.

    Quickly they came—fathers leading children, mothers carrying babies, a grandmother slipping into an end seat.

    After the sacrament and the first speaker, there was a choir number and then she spoke. She would be leaving soon.

    Ours was the ward where she learned of the gospel, where she was baptized, where she gained a testimony that the gospel was true. She had some things to say in love, and we were listening—even the 13-year-olds who had introduced her to teaching, and the girls who had gotten up at eight o’clock on Saturday mornings to practice basketball.

    She used the notes from her heart as she told us that she knew the gospel was true. And she was willing to leave all the family she knew in the Church in order to teach others and enlarge her family.

    There wasn’t a sound in the congregation as she said she had noticed, while waiting to give her talk, that few of us were smiling when we entered as we sat with our loved ones surrounding us. She wondered why, since we all knew the gospel was true.

    Or did we?

    She was just one girl, going to leave us soon. She hoped when she returned that we’d be smiling more. She was sure we would be if we fellowshiped the 180 families who weren’t there tonight.

    She was sure we would if we …

    We knew we were being admonished, and she was right—few of us were smiling.

    All of us were thinking. And we went home that way.

    Photography by Frank Gale