Preparing to serve as instrument of the Lord
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As a young mother, Linda Sheffield Reeves felt overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for four small children and the things she thought needed to be done — keeping the house clean, preparing meals on time, staying caught up on laundry. Her husband, too, felt burdened with balancing the demands of work, Church callings and home life. Together, they determined to fast, pray and go to the temple and ask the Lord what they needed to change.
After weeks, even months, of petitioning the Lord, the answer became clear: They needed to make personal and family prayer, personal and family scripture study, consistent temple worship and weekly family home evening their first priority.
"I cannot quite say enough about the difference this made in our lives," she said. "Was our house always clean? Did the laundry and dishes get done in a timely manner? Sometimes, but the blessings of increased spiritual strength and testimony, love and kindness in our home and confidence before the Lord have been worth every effort."
The experience not only taught her to put the most important things first, but was yet another example of the faith she had developed in Heavenly Father.
"We knew the Lord would help," recalled Sister Reeves, who was sustained March 31 as second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.
That testimony was first instilled in her as a youth growing up in Pasadena, Calif. The oldest of six children born to Elbert and Barbara Welsch Sheffield, she grew up as a true "California girl" — developing a love of swimming, the beach and Disneyland.
She learned from the stalwart faith of her convert mother that she could look to the Lord for comfort. During her youth she and her family were faced with some challenges. At the time, she wondered "Why me? Why us?" Now looking back, she recognizes the blessings that came through adversity.
"I came to know the Lord well early on. … I had nowhere to go but to my Heavenly Father. I trusted in Him and in the Savior. Daily study of the Book of Mormon became a foundation of my life," she said.
As a young teenager, a 13-year-old at Young Women camp, she remembers walking back to her cabin, looking up at the starry sky and offering a simple prayer: "Father, are You there?"
"I was enveloped in His Spirit, the knowledge of His presence and reality, and His love for me," she said.
Her father instilled in her a drive to excel and get an education. Just before leaving to attend Brigham Young University, around high school graduation, Melvyn Kemp Reeves and his family moved into their Pasadena ward.
"It was love at first sight," she recalled.
They dated for a few months before leaving for school and then again at BYU after Mel's mission to Bolivia. They were married June 22, 1973, in the Los Angeles California Temple.
"We determined early on in our marriage that contention had to be absent from our home. I am blessed with a kind and patient husband who has always been a great example to me and to our children."
Sister Reeves received her bachelor's degree in special education and taught school for one year before staying home to raise their 13 children as her husband built his career in third party administration.
Though their years together have been "wonderful," they have not been without hardship, the most poignant trial for their family being the death of a daughter in 2005. Their family had piled into two cars on their way to the oldest granddaughter's baptism in Eagle, Idaho, when the cars struck black ice. One car spun into a ditch; the other rolled. Their 17-year-old daughter, Emily Michelle, was killed. "Adversity is a great teacher," Sister Reeves said. "We've had many challenges but many blessings have come from these challenges. [After Emily's death] we came to know to a greater degree the reality of the Atonement and Resurrection and comfort of the Holy Ghost. We strive more than ever to be worthy to be with our daughter again and together as a unified family."
The different trials in her life have also taught her compassion and empathy toward others. "Adversity builds us and prepares us for future service in the kingdom, in our homes, and in our community, and to become an instrument in the Lord's hands."
It is her testimony of the Savior's Atonement that she has tried to share in her various callings including, most recently, as she and her husband served together as he presided over the California Riverside Mission from 2008-2011.
"To see the light and the transformation that comes over people as they feel the Saviors' Atonement working in their lives is so amazing," Sister Reeves said. "It was a miracle we saw over and over again on our mission — the process of people realizing that they can repent of their sins and become clean before the Lord. That's why the sharing of the gospel is so imperative in our lives, that we share this incredible message."
It's a message that she is eager to share, said her husband. "She is an incredible friend to all. She goes out of her way to visit those that are lonely or in need, in any circumstance. She has been blessed with a love of people. She talks to everyone about the gospel."
"I love missionary work," Sister Reeves agreed.
Family: Born August 1951 in Los Angeles, Calif., to Elbert Jolley and Barbara Welsch Sheffield. Married Melvyn Kemp Reeves June 22, 1973 in the Los Angeles California Temple. Parents of 13 children: Julie (Brett) Bourgeous, Michael (Jennifer), Laurie (John) Stacey, Carrie (Brian) Warnick, Jennifer (Nyall) London, Jonathan (Leah), Gregory (Brittany), Eric, Jessica (Reid) Anderson, Emily, Allyson, Valerie and Ryan; 27 grandchildren.
Education: Bachelor of science degree in special education from BYU, 1974.
Community Service: Served on many PTAs, School Site Council, co-chairman of United Women's Forum and other volunteer work.
Church service: Stake Relief Society president, ward Young Single Adult adviser, Sunday School teacher, Primary chorister and in various callings in Primary, Young Women and Relief Society; accompanied her husband as he presided over the California Riverside Mission from 2008-2011.