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Bonnie D. Parkin

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Bonnie D. Parkin served as General President of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from April 6, 2002, until March 31, 2007. Sister Parkin's wish was for every woman in the Church to feel the love of the Lord in their lives every day.

Family Life

Parkin was born in Murray, Utah, and spent much of her young life with her four siblings on her family's farm in Herriman, Utah. Money was tight, and Bonnie says her teeth remain crooked because her family didn't have money to buy braces. Rural upbringing taught Bonnie the value of work, and she went on to earn a bachelor's degree in elementary education and early childhood development from Utah State University in Logan, Utah.

In 1963 she married Jim Parkin and later moved to Seattle for Jim's medical residency at the University of Washington. Jim became an ear, nose, and throat surgeon, and Bonnie kept busy raising four sons. She was active in her local PTA, serving as president, and also volunteered for reading and tutoring programs.

Bonnie believes she has had many experiences that have helped her prepare for service in the Relief Society.

"...she has been single, in the workforce, had children and now grandchildren. She has seen the terrible twos and troubled teens. She has nursed a mother after a stroke and a father with cancer. She has sent sons on missions to foreign lands and welcomed daughters-in-law into her embrace. She has known farm life and school life and city life and non-American life. She has seen close-up the effects of alcohol, disbelief, illness and disappointment.... 'I know what it means to have a husband gone for many hours a week, days on end. I know how it feels to be alone with young children with no one to talk to.' " [1]

Church Experience

Parkin was serving as a ward missionary and Laurels adviser in her home ward in Salt Lake City prior to receiving the call to direct the Church's women's service organization. Other Church service includes callings as Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, member of the Relief Society General Board, ward Relief Society President, stake Young Women President, Young Women Adviser and ward Primary President. She served with her husband, Dr. James L. Parkin, during his assignment as president of the England London South Mission.

Stories from the Life of Bonnie Parkin

  • When Bonnie was about 10 years old, her mother had an infection around the lining of her heart. The family lived a long distance from the hospital, and at that time, children were not allowed to go into hospitals to visit patients. When the children visited their mother, they stood outside the building so she could look out the window and see them. When the family returned home, Parkin's father gathered the children together and the group knelt and prayed. Of the experience, Parkin said, "That had not always been done in our home, but my father needed a mother for his children and a wife for himself." [2] After being in the hospital for a month, Bonnie's mother recovered. Bonnie learned that "our Father in Heaven hears and answers our prayers." [3]
  • Bonnie gained a testimony of David O. McKay's calling as a prophet of God in an instant:
"As a young woman, I came to downtown Salt Lake one wintery day. I had parked in front of the Church Administration Building and was just putting a nickel in the meter when I noticed a man leaving the building. He wore a dark overcoat and a wool hat. But he had something more: a spirit that stirred my soul. I could not take my eyes off him, and as he descended the steps, I suddenly realized he was President David O. McKay. He said nothing as he passed me; he merely smiled gently and tipped his hat. The Spirit literally filled my being. I knew I had seen a prophet of God." [4]
  • Bonnie gained a love of the scriptures by studying with a friend:
I wasn’t very good at studying the scriptures as a young woman. I wish I would have! Not until I was living in Seattle, Washington, did a friend and I realize we were hungering to know what spiritual women in our ward knew. We wanted righteous children, “taught by their mothers” to be believing (Alma 56:47). And like a good dinner, the gospel becomes more exciting sharing it with a friend. I had Louise Nelson. We feasted together.
I remember sitting on an old worn couch reading scripture stories to my sons. As we studied, a power began to permeate our lives. I learned that Ruth left her family to join the believers, that Sariah reared children in the wilderness, that Esther risked her life to save others, and that, most important, Mary bore a son in a straw-filled stable and laid him in a manger. I learned that God worked miracles in the lives of others, and he could work wonders in mine too.
I discovered the scriptures later than some. But I discovered them. [5]
  • Bonnie's husband, Jim, was called to be Mission President for the London South Mission in 1997, and Bonnie served with him. At a zone conference in front of 75 missionaries and just 11 days after arriving in England, Bonnie and her husband took the stand. During the opening hymn, Bonnie told her husband she felt ill. Jim noticed that Bonnie's eyes were jerking abnormally, and enlisted two missionaries to escort an embarrassed Bonnie out of the chapel for a priesthood blessing. The condition worsened, and Bonnie became queasy and dizzy. Eventually Bonnie completely lost her sense of balance and hearing in her right ear. Bonnie says:
"I was scared, worried, and angry. While I believed my husband and I had been called of God, I wondered, 'How can I assist the Lord in this great work if I cannot hear or even walk?' With no other family members or close friends to turn to for help, I felt completely alone. I needed a miracle. Believing I had done God’s will in accepting callings and trying to do what was right, I pleaded with Him to make me well. I was sure I had sufficient faith for a miracle."
Eventually, her sense of balance returned but the hearing loss was permanent. Bonnie felt even more frustrated, wondering:
"Why me? I was serving a mission for three years! Did I deserve this? Unlike Joseph, I did not view this affliction as an opportunity for good. I was more like Joseph’s brothers who, upon finding their money in their grain sacks and fearing an evil stratagem, wondered, “What is this that God hath done unto us?” (Genesis 42:28).
"I had forgotten that the same Lord who can turn water into wine can make our weak things strong (see Ether 12:27), that 'all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory' (Doctrine and Covenants 98:3)."
Later, Bonnie came to realize many blessings as a result of her affliction. Out of necessity, she became a better listener because she had to carefully focus on people's faces. She also became more understanding of those who suffer from disabilities. Bonnie learned that miraculous cures are not always the Lord's will. [6]
  • During her missionary service in England, a three-year-old grandson asked Bonnie, "Grandmother, do you work for Jesus?" Bonnie says, "It was wonderful to say to him, 'Yes, we work for Jesus.' When we serve in the Church, we’re working for the Savior. I love Him, and I'm happy to serve Him wherever I am." [7]
  • When Bonnie received her call to be Relief Society General President, she received a fax from a son that read: "Mother, I know you can do it. You may not remember, but you used to have a scripture on the fridge that said, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Josh. 24:15). I was in and out of the fridge a lot, and I knew that you and Dad meant that." [8]
  • Bonnie stated her testimony in brief during General Conference:
"I know that the Lord loves the women of the Church. If I could have one thing happen for every woman in this Church, it would be that they would feel the love of the Lord in their lives daily. I have felt the love of the Lord in my life, and I am so thankful for that. I'm thankful for the peace that I have felt.
"I testify of my Savior Jesus Christ. I know He lives. I have felt His love; I have felt His forgiveness. I think of a sister missionary as she departed the mission. In her final testimony she said, 'I came on a mission to let Heavenly Father know I loved Him, to express appreciation to Him, and to pay Him back,' and she said, 'I'm leaving more in His debt than I ever was before I came.'
"I give testimony of the power of a prophet of God, President Gordon B. Hinckley, and I’m thankful for him and for his love and for all prophets who have had confidence in me. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen." [9]

References

  1. Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune, LDS Leader to Foster 'Global Sisterhood', October 5, 2002.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Friend to Friend: Working for Jesus," Friend, June 2004, page 8.
  4. Bonnie D. Parkin, “An Anchor for Eternity—and Today,” Ensign, May 1996, 90.
  5. Bonnie D. Parkin, “Fat-Free Feasting,” Ensign, May 1995, 90.
  6. Bonnie D. Parkin, “Lessons from the Old Testament: Blessed in My Affliction,” Ensign, Mar. 2006, 9.
  7. Friend to Friend: Working for Jesus," Friend, June 2004, page 8.
  8. Bonnie D. Parkin, "Feel the Love of the Lord," Ensign, May 2002, 84.
  9. Ibid.
pt:Bonnie D. Parkin

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