“Let’s Include Abby!” New Era, Apr. 2019, 16–21.
About 14 years ago, Tanya Price (who the young women know today as the bishop’s wife1) lost a baby at birth. The Prices named her Abby, and mourned as a member of their eternal family was laid to rest. Now, years later, at a Young Women in Excellence fireside in northern Utah, Bishop Jared Price spoke about his daughter.
“She would be your age now,” he said. “She would be with you, working on projects you’re working on, going to your meetings, joining you in prayer.” He said he and his wife still missed Abby, even though they had known her for only a few hours in this life.
“When Bishop Price talked about his love for Abby, it made me realize, ‘That’s how my father feels about me,’” says Kayla F., 16. “It helped me love my own family even more, and realize how much Heavenly Father loves me.”
Earlier that same evening, one of the Young Women leaders, Danielle Jensen, had been praying to find an activity for the coming year that would bless the girls.
After hearing the bishop speak, Sister Jensen’s husband, Tyce, suggested: Why not do the Personal Progress program on Abby’s behalf, then surprise Bishop and Sister Price with the results? Sister Jensen talked to the other leaders and the girls, and The Abby Price Project—AP Project, for short—was underway.
In addition to doing her own Personal Project activities, each girl would do a values experience or project on behalf of Abby. As activities were completed, they would describe in a journal what they had done. At the end of the year they would present the Prices with the journal, a video of the year’s activities, ribbons, and a medallion. In the meantime, everything was confidential.
“We wanted to show the Prices that we thought of Abby as one of us,” says McKenna U., 14.
“Sometimes it was hard to keep it secret,” says Jocelyn J., 13. “On Sundays, we would talk about our plans, but just in the Young Women room. If anyone asked, we told them we were doing Personal Progress.”
“My values project was to improve a talent,” says Hannah H., 15. “I had already done it for myself, but doing it again for Abby made me think about what kinds of talents she has and what she might be doing with them in heaven.”
“It was interesting reading the Book of Mormon for someone else,” Morgan S., 18, says. “Sometimes I would read a scripture out loud, to share it with Abby and think about what it would mean to her.”
“I think it was neat that when we worked on the AP project, we couldn’t count it for ourselves,” says Sidney B., 16. “We got to feel Abby’s spirit, and when we were done we got to write in the journal how we felt about her and her family.”
“It kept us thinking about someone else,” says Hallie C., 13.
On Abby’s birthday, the young women decorated her grave with sunflowers and balloons and cleaned and decorated other graves nearby.
“When President [Russell M.] Nelson invited teens to join the youth battalion, it was like we were already prepared to join,” says another Abby, Abby E., 14.
Olivia A., 14, agrees. “When we minister to others, we feel the Savior’s love and they do, too.”
“When we went to the temple and did baptisms for the dead, we did something for them that they can’t do for themselves,” says Stephanie S., 18. “The AP Project let us do something like that for Abby, something she couldn’t do for herself.”
“I never thought about the other side of the veil before as much as I did when we did our service for Abby,” says Britten M., 15. “I think we were all more motivated to learn about our ancestors.”
“They need us because they don’t have physical bodies to receive ordinances,” says Emma E., 16, “Helping them is part of gathering Israel, another thing President Nelson said to do.”
When a year had passed and the annual Young Women in Excellence night arrived again, the Prices came, eager to support the young women. Then, as each young woman summarized her achievements, she also told what she had done on behalf of Abby.
“We were overwhelmed that they had done so much for our daughter,” Sister Price recalls.
“They were filled with love for us, and we were filled with love for them,” says Bishop Price.
Since then, Bishop and Sister Price have read and re-read the words of love and encouragement in Abby’s Personal Progress journal many times.
Not long ago, the young women visited the Prices. They delivered a vase of sunflowers. They laughed, teased each other, and ate brownies. Then the young women went once again to the cemetery, to visit the grave of their friend.
“Someday, we’ll get to meet Abby Price,” Sister Jensen says. “We’ll give her a hug and let her know that we loved ministering to her and her family. It was a blessing to us all.”