“A Complete Turnaround,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 15–16
During high school, one of my sons withdrew more and more from our family. He resented authority of any kind, and he associated with friends whose standards did not match those of our family. He dutifully attended church, but he had no light in his eyes or enthusiasm for the gospel.
The summer after he graduated from high school, he struggled with important decisions about his future. Instead of wanting to prepare for a mission, he set goals to earn money for a car and college. One Sunday in July he chose to attend Sunday School instead of ducking out after sacrament meeting as he often did. The lesson that day was about serving missions.
Our son later told us he had never felt the Holy Ghost so forcefully as during that lesson. The effect on him was a complete turnaround. Immediately after Sunday School, he found the bishop and told him of his desire to serve a mission. In his farewell talk about a year later, he shared a letter his Sunday School teacher, Shelly Parcell, had written him after she learned of his decision to serve a mission.
In her letter, Sister Parcell described how she struggled to plan a lesson for that Sunday based on Doctrine and Covenants 71–75 and 77. She decided on Saturday evening to focus on the prophecies from the book of Revelation as discussed in Doctrine and Covenants 77, but she wasn’t happy with that plan. “I didn’t sleep well at all that night,” she wrote. “Every time I woke up, the lesson for the following day was on my mind. The overpowering thought was, What will I teach? What do they need to learn? Where is the lesson?”
On Sunday morning, Sister Parcell looked over the assigned scriptures one more time, and a lesson about missionary service finally took shape in her mind. “I knew then without a doubt that the Lord had a message for somebody in our class,” she wrote. “I had almost missed it, and the Lord knew it was so important that He had to disrupt my sleep.” She continued: “During the lesson the Spirit was very strong, and I felt like the message was getting through. I don’t remember everything I said, but I remember things coming out that I hadn’t planned on, and I know the Spirit took over.”
Shelly Parcell created a ripple effect. As our son prepared for his mission, he shared his testimony with his older brother, who also came to know for himself the truthfulness of the gospel. They entered the mission field within months of each other and now share the gospel as missionaries in Peru and Mexico. I will always remember Shelly Parcell and how her faithfulness in serving as a Sunday School teacher greatly blessed our family.—Jill Pulsipher Jones, Muncie, Indiana