You Wrote Me a Letter!
January 1997

“You Wrote Me a Letter!” Ensign, Jan. 1997, 61

“You Wrote Me a Letter!”

It was my parents’ first trip in years to their former home in California. Many faces in the old ward had changed, but they were pleasantly surprised to note how many familiar faces remained.

As my mother stood in the foyer, a man hurried up to her. “Mrs. Pederson!”

My mother turned from her conversation with old friends to see a small, brown-suited man. His face seemed familiar to her but out of place in the foyer until, with mild surprise, she recognized my sister’s former fifth-grade teacher, who had not been a member of the Church when she knew him.

“Sister Pederson, where is your husband?” he asked.

“Why, Mr. Hadley! He’s somewhere over there,” she replied, pointing vaguely across the crowded foyer.

“I need to see your husband. Can you take me to him?” he insisted.

Excusing herself from her friends, she made her way to where my father was standing. Mr. Hadley clasped my father’s hand in both of his and, giving voice to long-unexpressed emotion, said, “Mr. Pederson, you wrote me a letter! You wrote me a letter!”

My father’s thoughts flashed back to when he had written a note thanking the teacher for the special evening class he had held to teach parents the “new math” so they could better help their children.

Mr. Hadley continued, “In all my years of teaching, that was the only thank-you note I received from a parent.”

A few years after he received my dad’s letter, missionaries knocked at his door. He let them in because, as he explained to my father, “I knew you were Mormons, and I thought, if there was a church that could produce people like you and your daughter, I wanted to know more about it. That letter has made all the difference in my life. I joined the Church!”

My father had always regretted never having the opportunity to serve a full-time mission. On that Sunday he realized how far-reaching a simple act of kindness can be, and he experienced the joy that comes from helping prepare someone to learn about the gospel.

  • Kathleen Pederson Whitworth serves as first counselor in the Primary presidency in the Arvada First Ward, Arvada Colorado Stake.