While serving a Church Educational System support mission in Washington with my husband, John, from 2002 to 2004, we were assigned various duties and responsibilities.
We taught institute and seminary classes; did office work for the director; recruited; served as activity chaperones; played "Grandma and Grandpa" when needed; and were in the food service business at least two days a week in preparing after-class snacks for the institute students.
These students were made up of many busy and hardworking individuals the Brigham Young University interns who lived at the Barlow Center, students from George Washington and Georgetown universities, and young adults working in the area.
One Monday in October, I was having a difficult time thinking of what to prepare for treats after Tuesday night's class. It seems we had served everything we could think of.
I decided to prepare apple and pumpkin cakes with milk and completed my grocery list for Tuesday morning shopping. When Tuesday morning arrived, a thought popped into my head: "How about serving pancakes?"
My second thought was, "I don't want to. It's way too much trouble to drag everything down to the building to make pancakes."
For the next hour a very strong, persistent and good feeling about serving pancakes with syrup along with juice and milk grew and grew until I could no longer ignore it. So I shopped for pancake makings.
That evening we packed up and lugged electric griddles, oil, eggs, milk, pancake mix, syrup, butter, powdered sugar, sliced apples and orange juice down the elevator from our apartment to our car. It took three trips.
While our director, Dan Rogers, taught the lesson, we cooked a huge batch of pancakes and kept them warm in the oven. After class, the students were pleasantly surprised, but one student named Heather looked at the table and said, "I can't believe it. Pancakes! I can't believe it!"
A few days later, I received the following letter from Heather along with a bouquet of flowers. The letter read:
"Dear Sister Olsen:
"I want to thank you for being in tune with the spirit last Tuesday. That morning I had a light on-the-run breakfast and a similar lunch that afternoon, since I did not have time to prepare something more substantial that morning. I was helping a foreign student write a deadline/critical paper and missed dinner. I was starved, but already late to institute. The spirit urged, 'Get to institute as quickly as you can.' So, I did.
"I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the pancakes and milk after class a real meal, not just refreshment snacks. What's more, Sister Olsen, is that I had just purchased pancake flour on Saturday. On Sunday I fasted, and Monday and Tuesday I had too many things to do to worry about making pancakes. Even Tuesday morning the thought crossed my mind to chance getting my Polish assignment done on the way to school and take the time to make pancakes for my breakfast. I had wanted pancakes for four days! I would have been grateful for anything to eat on Tuesday night, but pancakes were just what I would have chosen.
"I think I floated all the way home feeling the Lord's love for me. I do not doubt in the least the Lord's love for me and his awareness of my needs, but I have come to think of this as a continually present element in my life. In this instance I surely felt, 'The Lord knows me and he showed his love for me in such a powerful way Tuesday night.'
"The next night was my first night as a temple worker in the Washington D.C. Temple. They asked if I would be available to serve every week. I planned on serving every other week but my spirit cried, 'I will!' I wondered how I could possibly handle my grad load in conjunction with weekly temple service and other commitments, but then I remembered the pancakes at institute. It was such a small thing, but such a big testimony for me.
"Once again, I felt the childlike exuberance of being assured that the Lord knows me. If he can meet my needs in such a small thing, he can help me accomplish my studies in such a large thing. Thank you so very much for being an instrument in the hands of the Lord to bless my life.
"Love, Heather."After reading Heather's letter I was reminded of how the spirit can whisper to the Lord's simple servants in order that this love can be manifest in very personal ways.
Linda M. Olsen lives in Midway, Utah.