Kayla Gilbert Lemmon, a recent graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho, is a young adult who’s endured many trials. Everyone has trials, but for her and her family it’s hit hard at home recently. She’s had to cope with a long job search, losing a close sister-in-law to cancer, attending the funeral, discovering her father has cancer, and trying to help her family grow closer together while raising money for their cause. Lemmon’s attitude is one of optimism and love for her family.
Lemmon was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through a young man whom she had dated her senior year of high school in Seattle. He had been preparing for a Mormon mission, and Lemmon could really tell that he “had a light about him.”
When it came time to say good-bye to her friend to go to college, he invited her to his last Sunday at church there. After knowing him for quite some time, she accepted. “The spirit right away hit me. Instantly, I knew it felt good here, I knew right away I wanted to learn more. Then it just had to do with my parents, because they didn’t comply right away.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley had been encouraging members to read the Book of Mormon in a year or less. Lemmon, then 19 years old, read the Book of Mormon in eight days. The next week she went back to church and asked the missionaries if they could teach her more. At first her parents were very hesitant, but her younger sister Ashley Gilbert, who was 12 at the time, loved the LDS Church and all the youths her age.
Her mother started reading the Book of Mormon and listened to what the missionaries had to say. Eventually Lemmon asked her dad to read the Book of Mormon and that if he didn’t like it the missionaries wouldn’t come over anymore. During his lunch breaks at work, he took up her challenge.
As Lemmon learned more about the LDS Church, she said she really enjoyed how the missionaries were able to answer her questions — until her close uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer and died. She had millions of questions enter her head: “Where did he go?” “What happened to him?” “Is he happy?” “Where will I go when I die?”
“That was a beautiful moment of learning about the plan of salvation," Lemmon said.
“Since I’ve been in the church I’ve had more trials, but they’re easier to deal with," Lemmon said of being her and her family being baptized in September 2008 and becoming members of the LDS Church. "If I wasn’t in the church it’d be impossible to overcome, but with the gospel I felt like I can always be a light at the end of a tunnel."
During a girls' night out at a restaurant, she noticed a man there. When asked how she knew he was the one she would marry, she said, “He came into my life when I was happy with myself I felt peace around him. I wasn’t worrying if I was pretty enough, or funny enough, I never felt the need to compete.”
Kayla and Matt Lemmon quickly fell in love and were married in May 2012 in the Salt Lake Temple. After she graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, Lemmon's husband had a spiritual prompting that they should move back to Seattle where a majority of their families reside. They didn’t have a job or apartment there, but followed the prompting and moved in with his family. Very quickly after they moved in they found out Matt’s sister, Natalie Lundberg, had been diagnosed with cancer.
Kayla Lemmon said it was a blessing to be near family at that time, and before they had moved, they were unsure of why they were supposed to go back. “For a few months I couldn’t find work, and we would pray every night. You just go where God wants you to go and don’t ask questions. He wanted to humble us before building us back up.”
Natalie Lundberg and her family lived in Logan, Utah, but Kayla and Matt Lemmon would visit all the time. “She quickly became one of my closest friends," Kayla Lemmon said. "She wasn’t just a sister-in-law, she was a sister. She had two wonderful kids, and I love them. It was a really hard time. It’s still hard, I want to call or text her sometimes.”
Kayla Lemmon said, “I sang at Natalie’s funeral, and the casket was right in front of me. I felt that she was there, it was a very real experience, she wasn’t gone, she was just somewhere else. I’m just grateful that she’s my sister forever.”
While Lundberg had been fighting her battle with cancer, Kayla Lemmon’s dad hadn’t been feeling well; they thought it was a stomach bug. Just a week after Lundberg’s passing, he went in for a test and found out he had cancer. “Natalie’s death was still really fresh. My dad and I weren’t very close growing up. We’ve been a lot closer lately. I’ve been trying to be a better daughter.”
He’s still in chemotherapy; they’re setting up a plan for his stomach surgery. After that, he’ll be on a different diet for the rest of his life, and have weeks of chemo again. (She started a campaign, “A Miracle for Dad,” at pledgie.com/campaigns/19003.)
Lemmon said she has learned many lessons through her recent trials. The greater the sorrow in our lives, the greater happiness we can receive, she said.
“Just having friends, family, even short Facebook messages, makes me realize that life is sweet. There are people who pray for us, the Savior has gone through all this before," said Lemmon, who is working for a local television station. "It’s hard to lose people in our lives and see them go through pain, but I know they’re still in our lives. People have way worse trials than me. That’s what keeps me so optimistic, seeing how blessed I really am.”
Ashlynn Green is a wife, a daughter, a sister, a pug-lover and a huge believer of the family.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company