Every Thursday morning at 9:45, three little elderly women come to the Provo Temple to do initiatories. I am privy to this as I spend more than half of my shift in initiatory, either organizing patrons at the desk or performing the ordinance. We were surprised and concerned last month when we did not see Sisters Nelson, Jenkins, and Ellsworth for three weeks. They rejoined us last week, to everyone's relief.
Sister Nelson is easily the strongest and healthiest of the three. She calls around 8 a.m. on Thursdays to schedule their appointment and drives them all to the temple. Her husband died a month ago, hence their absence.
Sister Jenkins is usually the first to shuffle slowly in by herself. She has poofy salt-and-pepper hair and her eyelids droop with age so that I can hardly see the whites of her eyes. I have never heard her say a single word or seen her smile, but today she leaned close to my chest to look at my name tag and then looked up, with her face close to mine, as though she were memorizing me.
Sister Ellsworth is my favorite. She had a stroke--I don't know when--she just says, "I had a stroke, but I can still come," and I am sure that Thursday morning initiatories are the highlight of her week. She thanks me every time I put my arm around her to help her stand and walk from one chair to the next for each part of the ordinance. I can't tell if she recognizes me from week to week, but she looks at me as though I'm someone special, and I wonder how she can think I'm special when she doesn't even know me. Her eyes look deep into mine and lock me in place so I cannot look away, and I know she sees me as a daughter of God, and I wonder how she can see that when I can't feel it.