When I went to the Philippines to serve my mission in 1969, the church there was new, only 3000 members. Among the members, many kept asking me if I knew Sister Mary Ellen Edmunds. Though the name sounded familiar, I had never met her. Over the two years of my mission I was astonished at how many people, even in far flung places, members and non-members a like, inquired after this, obviously very unique and influential person. She arrived in the Philippines in 1963 and I arrived six years later. Still, she was very much on the minds of many! How they loved her! I wondered about Sister Edmunds often. How remarkable that she remained so important to them after so many years.
Upon my return to BYU in the fall of 1971, I reclaimed my part-time position as head custodian at the Smith Family Living Center on campus. I cleaned the heads. One of the restrooms was a private one in an office in the Nursing Department. There, upon a desk, stood a name plate with the name of Mary Ellen Edmunds on it. Aha! So that's how the name was so familiar to me! She was still occupying that office two years later. Since my shift was from four to seven in the morning, still, I never met her.
In the event that I had carried some sort of parasite home from the islands, BYU requested that I provide a stool sample to the Student Health Center. I was given a little box to bring it in. As I awkwardly crossed the campus with my little box I noticed dozens of others toting their little boxes too. All this foreign poop converging in one place. Seemed pretty ominous to me! A few days later I went back to see a doctor and discuss the results of their tests upon my residue. The Doctor was Dr. Edmunds. I asked if he might be related to Mary Ellen and it turns out he was her father. I was pleased to tell him of the profound influence his daughter still held on the hearts and minds of so many Filipinos.
At Conference time, I was anxious to see my old missionary pals and went to my Mission Reunion in Salt Lake City. It was then, that I finally met this remarkable sister. I expected her to be ten feet tall or some other equally remarkable form of extraordinary. I was quite surprised, after someone pointed her out, to find her to appear just as ordinary as the rest of us. When I finally found her alone I ventured to introduce myself. I reported to her of the frequent loving inquires I had entertained in her behalf. Her eyes glistened with tears and then she giggled. Her expression was a form of joy and attention and love and delight such as I had never experienced! I can hardly describe how I felt being near her. She made me feel as if all was right with the world because I was in it. We chatted for a few moments and reminisced about the Philippines and she seemed especially emotional. Then she said she felt impressed that she should tell me a story.
Mary Ellen pointed out that she was single and that she longed to return to the mission field. She said she had thought it impossible to do that until she was retired but that she could think of nothing else. She considered going to her Bishop and sending in papers as she had done before. But then she thought, "I want this to be a call from the Lord." So she told no one but God. In fasting and prayer she humbly made herself available to serve as God wished. And then she told me that on that very morning she had received a letter from The President of the Church, calling her to serve as a health services missionary back in the PI!
I was astonished! I couldn't comprehend the power of her faith, her love, her humility. What I could comprehend was why, after so many years she had been so lovingly remembered by so many. And I could see why God had heard and answered her prayers. As a missionary, she is priceless!
Funny way to start a book review eh? Well now you can see why I read her book when I discovered it. It was a good book, full of faith, well worth reading. Still, Mary Ellen, like Nephi, can't quite put in written words, the profound effect that comes of hearing her voice. When MEE (her initials) Speaks there is something so bright, and cheerful and hopeful and kind and optimistic and humble that you can't help wondering if you aren't hearing the voice of God.
Read the book! It has a ton of encouragement and contains wonderful messages of hope and faith; but if you get the chance, listen to her speak. The book contains what she would say but is a poor second for being in attendance when MEE Speaks!
Here's and example: