Tonopah, Nevada is an interesting town and was one of the places I lived as a girl. An old mining town, the hills around are dotted with mine shafts; some of the buildings from the 1800′s are still standing. As kids, we ran barefoot in the hills, pretending we were cowboys, making complicated sets out of whatever was lying around. Kids today don’t know how to play.

Our grandparents lived in a tiny four room house built into the side of one of the hills; they were our stability because our parents moved frequently—sometimes just around Tonopah, but often leaving on a whim for parts unknown as we crowded into Grandma’s house for an extended stay.

As usual, we were in the dregs of local society because of our parents’ shiftless ways and drunken public brawls. Outdoor toilets, no electricity, and hunger were part of our lives. And this was in the early 60′s! We felt a bit more security there because of our grandparents–we could always eat at Grandma’s.

We ran with other ragtag kids, although we were the lowest on any totem pole. I usually had my nose in a book (I refused to play unless I could be a cowboy—the others always wanted to be horses and I just couldn’t pretend I was a horse) if I wasn’t with my one best friend, but my younger sister had quite a few friends whose parents, like I said, were slightly higher on the social register than ours.

One of those friends was Darcy. Darcy was beautiful, long blond hair, blue eyes—I don’t remember her well, but I remember how pretty she was. Together, Chris, Darcy and several others roamed town, creating mischief and surviving their days as kids whose parents are seldom do would. Basic anarchy and chaos, I guess. What I remember best about Darcy is a rumor that she and my boyfriend started “going together” after we were placed in foster care in Las Vegas. I don’t remember being broken up about it, probably because the very real anguish of being separated from my sisters put things like puppy love in perspective.

I hadn’t thought about Darcy in literally years. Chris and I traveled through Tonopah a couple of times to visit an aunt and she met up with an old friend, but no one mentioned Darcy. She and Chris had long since lost touch. Foster care has a way of doing that to a kid.

They have re-connected. And it’s a great story. It involves me. Okay, well, I enjoy watching some of those shows KSL puts on between conference sessions; they’re really quite interesting in a human interest kind of way (Carole Mikita does a lot of them and I saw her once at Nordstrom’s with her daughter–she’s prettier in real life, and I watch her and ponder on that “do people know she doesn’t look as lop-sided in real life?”). Anyway, last conference I was sort of absent-mindedly watching a show that came on after a session and my ears perked up at the words “Michael Kennedy from Tonopah, NV”—Tonopah! Not many people have even heard of it!

I pushed the record button and as I watched the story of this descendant of Joseph Smith who’s done a lot of gathering, the narrator said these words, “together with his wife, the former Darcy Dodge, also from Tonopah” (or pretty close to that) and a picture of them popped up on the screen, I sat stunned. It was Chris’s Darcy! Darcy, a Mormon? Married to a descendant of Joseph Smith? What? No way!

Yup, way. It was Darcy. How cool is that? I, of course, called my sister, who was equally stunned and delighted. Then I went online and found information about Darcy and Michael. I found an article in Meridian Magazine and I forwarded that to Chris, with a link to their website http://www.josephsmithjr.org/the-news/128-missionary-moment-the-michael-kennedy-conversion-story-third-great-grandson-of-joseph-smith She found their phone number and had a wonderful visit a month later. I could even feel the spirit as she shared their dedication to their life’s mission of bringing Joseph’s ancestors back into the fold.

Isn’t God weird? Well, life is weird. My life is weird, in sometimes wonderful ways. Boy, the stories I will tell when I’m an old lady in my rocker. Here’s this girl, not THE last I’d figure for ever becoming a Mormon–but close, whose life has been transformed by the gospel and now she’s transforming other people’s lives. I know there are people who knew me in Ely, during my and David’s hard drinking and domestic violence days, who never thought I’d become active. But I did. I changed.

I’ve said this before: People Change. Don’t rule anyone out. We hear so much about how hard it is to change; when I was young, I swore my mother would never stop drinking in this life. When she did, however, totally on her own, I had a paradigm shift. Bill and I have changed. It sometimes takes a lifetime, but people can change.

I’ve said this before, too (sort of): Look around. Look at that person you least expect to do whatever it is you think they should or know would make their life better and be comforted. People change.

Darcy’s story is a miracle. My story is a miracle in many ways. Other miracles are out there. Guys, go look for them.