Last on the List

“Last on the List,” New Era, Nov. 1997, 41


Last on the List

The bishop said to include everyone. But surely he didn’t mean Chelsea! … Did he?

Lisa groaned as Chelsea’s hand flew into the air. This would be Chelsea’s seventh comment during this class alone. Lisa tried to ignore her grumbling stomach and force a polite smile on her face as Sister Beldon invited Chelsea to speak.

“When I was seven we went to a dog show. I just loved all the dogs we saw, so I know just what you mean.”

Lisa stifled a laugh. Her Laurel teacher had been talking about how the power of love can change lives. Couldn’t Chelsea understand that the lesson didn’t have anything to do with dogs? If Chelsea’s comments ever had anything to do with the lesson topic, it wouldn’t be so frustrating to have her in class.

The bell rang, and Lisa sighed with relief. The Sunday afternoon church schedule always made her so hungry. As soon as the prayer was said she rushed from her class. Unfortunately, she was intercepted.

“Hello, Lisa. I was wondering if I could talk with you for a few minutes?”

Lisa had to remind herself how much she liked her new bishop before she could bring herself to cheerfully say, “Of course. Just let me tell my parents, so they won’t worry.”

Bishop Jacobson asked her a few questions about her honors classes and her cheerleading and then got to the point.

“Lisa, we’d like to call you to be Laurel class president. We’ve prayed and feel that you are the one the Lord would like for the job at this time. Will you be willing to accept this call?”

Lisa’s heart jumped with excitement. She had been a class counselor before but never a president. “Of course. I’ve always wanted to be class president.”

The bishop gave her a sharp look. “This job might be harder than you expect. The girls in your class—and even the younger girls in the Young Women program—really look up to the Laurel class president. You’ll have a big responsibility to be a role model as well as a leader.”

“I can do it.”

“Great. I have confidence in your ability. Your first responsibility as president will be to choose your counselors and secretary.”

“That’s easy. I want—”

The bishop held up his hand. “No, Lisa. That’s not how it’s done. I want you to go home and make a list of all the girls in your class. Write them all down, so you can really discover who Heavenly Father wants you to choose. Then I want you to think very seriously about your choices and, most importantly, I want you to pray. Heavenly Father has the final say, not you.”

Lisa bit her lip. Maybe the bishop was right. This job was harder than she thought. Still, she knew she could do it, and she was sure Heavenly Father would be willing to let her have her two best friends as counselors. They were smart and creative and would be a terrific help in planning activities.

As soon as she got home, she looked longingly at the dinner her mother was setting out. Her stomach hated late Sunday meetings, but somehow she couldn’t bring herself to settle down to eat. The bishop’s words about responsibility were still ringing in her ears, and she wanted to get started right away.

“Mom, would it be all right if I just grabbed a piece of fruit and went to my room? I’ll eat later, after I’ve chosen my counselors.”

Her mother agreed, and Lisa hurried to her room, chewing on an apple as she went. Lisa closed her door and thought.

How should she start? The list. The bishop had said to make a list. Lisa wrote the names of eight girls in her class: Karen, Allyson, Lindsey, Carla, Amy, Denise, Janet, and Shari.

Lisa studied the list. The choices seemed obvious to her. Her best friend, Allyson, would be a perfect first counselor; and since the Laurels seemed to get put in charge of a lot of parties, she wanted Lindsey as her second counselor. Even the deacons liked Lindsey’s parties.

Lisa knelt down and began to pray. She explained why Allyson and Lindsey seemed like the best choices to her and asked for Heavenly Father’s approval.

She received quick approval for Allyson as first counselor, but somehow the confirmation of Lindsey as second counselor just wouldn’t come. Lisa tried again, explaining to Heavenly Father why Lindsey was the perfect choice for second counselor, but she soon began to feel Lindsey should be secretary. That was fine with Lisa, but who could be the second counselor?

Lisa picked up her list and tried again. She decided to pray about Carla. Still nothing. Resolutely, Lisa went down the list, but still no feelings of approval came.

“Heavenly Father, I have to choose someone. The bishop needs an answer. Who do you want?” Would someone new move into the ward tomorrow who was right for the job? She studied her list again.

Was someone missing? Only Chelsea, but she couldn’t choose Chelsea anyway. Chelsea couldn’t read or even speak clearly. Lisa wasn’t sure just how, but she thought Chelsea might be mentally handicapped.

As Lisa started to put down her pencil, the bishop’s words nagged her. “Write them all down,” he had said. Had he guessed she might leave Chelsea out? Lisa sighed and wrote Chelsea’s name on the list. Should she pray about Chelsea for the job? How could she have Chelsea as a counselor? Everyone would think she was crazy, and, anyway, Chelsea would never be able to do everything a counselor would have to do. The others would end up doing all her work for her, and they certainly didn’t have time for that.

Lisa looked at her list again. There was no one else left. She got back down on her knees and began to pray. For a long time, she felt nothing, so she tried again. Gradually, she found herself really wanting an answer and not just doing her job.

That’s when the answer came. She felt a peace stronger than any she had felt before, and she knew Chelsea was the right choice for second counselor.

Lisa paused to thank her Father in Heaven for his help and then hurried off to satisfy her growling stomach.

The next Sunday, Lisa was surprised to realize that for once she was not hungry. “I guess my stomach’s filled with butterflies,” she whispered to her mother, as she entered the Young Women’s room.

Lisa was pleased to see the smiles on the faces of the other girls as her name was announced as Laurel president. Then she steeled herself as her counselors were announced.

“And as second counselor, we’ve called Chelsea Stanton.”

The eyes of every young woman in the room turned to Lisa in shock. She saw several of the girls whisper to each other. Then she groaned. Chelsea’s hand was raised. The bishop smiled and invited Chelsea to the front of the room.

Lisa caught her breath as she got her first good look at Chelsea. She had tears streaming from her eyes as she stood with the bishop’s arm around her shoulders.

“I just wanted to tell Lisa how happy I am to be her counselor. I never thought I could have a calling because of my disabilities, but now I do have one. I guess I even have a friend, and I’m going to be a good counselor and work hard. Thank you.”

Lisa looked around at her friends. Then she stood up and hugged Chelsea.

“Thank you, Chelsea. I can really use a good counselor—and a good friend. I’m glad you accepted.”

As Lisa returned to her seat, she felt so good, she couldn’t help but smile. The bishop had been right. This job really was teaching her a lot, but it was worth it. Nobody could ever have too many friends.

Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh