Mary Ellen Edmunds
Popular Speaker and Author
Brigham Young High School
Class of 1958

Mary Ellen Edmunds

Even in her high school years, Mary Ellen Edmunds was a writer. She contributed to the Y'ld Cat student newspaper, the Wildcat yearbook, the Fine Arts Magazine, the Literary Magazine, the Poetry Contest, and was, of course, a member of Quill & Scroll.

After graduating from BYH in 1958, she attended BYU and served a mission, graduating from BYU with a BS degree in Nursing in 1962.

She served several full-time missions, and became a faculty member at BYU in the Nursing program.

She has also served as Director of Training at the LDS Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

She is currently a member of the Relief Society General Board.

She is a popular speaker, and author of several books, including: Happiness: Finders, Keepers; Love Is a Verb; Thoughts for a Bad Hair Day; and MEE Thinks - Random Thoughts on Life's Wrinkles. Her books have been published by Deseret Book.

She is also the author of the 14th Article of Faith:
"We believe in meetings - all that have been scheduled, all that are now scheduled, and we believe that there will yet be scheduled many great and important meetings. We have endured many meetings and hope to to be able to endure all meetings. Indeed we may say that if there is a meeting, or anything that resembles a meeting, or anything that we might possibly turn into a meeting, we seek after these things."
Her hometown is Mapleton, Utah.

Vita: Mary Ellen Edmunds

March 3, 1940, in Los Angeles, California
BYU BS Nursing 1962.
1978-Current: Teacher for Relief Society and Gospel Study, Missionary Training Center

1986-1997: Member, Relief Society General Board

1962-1964: Southern Far East Mission: 4 months in Taiwan, 5 months in Hong Kong, and 15 months in the Philippines (one of the first two lady missionaries to be sent to the Philippine Islands)

1967-1969: Stake Mission: Brigham Young University 7th Stake

1965-1972: Teacher, supervisor, assistant to the president: LDS Missionary Home, Salt Lake City

1972-1973: Philippines Manila Mission: First health missionary to the Philippines

1976-1978: Indonesia Djakarta Mission: First lady missionary and welfare services missionary in Indonesia
1978-1995: Director of Training, Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah (Retired Sept 1995)

1984-1985: Director, Thrasher International Program for Children, Nigeria, West Africa

1978-1984: Associate Director of Special Training, MTC, Provo, Utah

1973-1975: Coordinator of Health Missionaries, LDS Church, Salt Lake City, Utah

1970-1972: Nursing Supervisor / Inservice Education Instructor, Utah Valley Hospital, Provo

1965-1970: Faculty, Brigham Young University (Nursing Instructor)
Africa: Big Lessons From A Little Village

Gratitude: The Theory of Relativity

Happiness: Finders, Keepers

Keeping It Together in a Pull Apart World

Love Is a Verb

MEE Speaks: An Assortment of Whimsies

MEE Thinks: Random Thoughts on Life's Wrinkles

Peace Amidst Suffering: Women's Conference Address

Peculiar in a Good Way

Prayer, The Soul's Sincere Desire

Thoughts for a Bad Hair Day

You Can Never Get Enough of What You Don't Need: The Quest for Contentment
Instructor at Education Weeks at BYU in Provo, BYU-Hawaii and Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) as well as “Know Your Religion” and “Especially for Youth” programs. Participant in Women's Conferences, Youth Conferences and other events throughout the United States and several other countries.
Trustee, Utah South Region ICH Governing Board (1998-2003)

Utah County Board of Health (1988-1998).

Formerly a member of the Board of Directors for Enterprise Mentors; the Board of Trustees for CHOICE (The Center for Humanitarian Outreach and Inter-Cultural Exchange).

Member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the Thrasher Research Fund.
1982: ALUMNI DISTINGUISHED SERVICE award from Brigham Young University "in recognition of notable achievements and accomplishments which have enhanced the name and honor of Brigham Young University."

1984: EXEMPLARY WOMANHOOD AWARD - Brigham Young University.

1986: HUMANITARIAN AWARD from the BYU Academy of Medicine for "unusually distinguished humanitarian service in alleviating human suffering and contributing to the well-being of the world family."

1989: ELECT LADY from Lambda Delta Sigma, the national woman's sorority. "To a woman of high ideals who admirably and unselfishly lives a life of service and divine womanhood. To a woman whose influence, spirit of charity and strength are felt so deeply."

1994: PRESIDENTIAL CITATION and Medallion from Brigham Young University in recognition of "extraordinary Christlike service to all of God's children."

2005: ENDOWMENT ~ The Mary Ellen Edmunds Nursing Endowment for the Healer's Art established by the BYU College of Nursing

One Thing After Another

Mary Ellen Edmunds, BYH Class of 1958
MEE '58

MEE Thinks by Mary Ellen Edmunds
MEE Thinks
MEE's life history: Born in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday, March 3, 1940, at 10:10 (kind of like my Mom paid tithing!).

Moved to Cedar City, Utah, in 1943. Dad was a family doctor (we'd go on house calls with him to carry the medical bag). Mom was a nurse (but didn't work outside the home once we started arriving).

I'm the 2nd of 8: 4 brothers, 3 sisters. Had an incredibly wonderful childhood. "Refined" somewhat by music — had a superb violin teacher and got lots of opportunities to play in groups.

Worked at Zion National Park two summers (age 16 and 17). Moved to Mapleton right before my senior year of high school. Dad was asked to come to the BYU Health Center.

I graduated from Brigham Young University High School (Provo) in 1958. Then to BYU for a BSN (Nursing) in 1962. Played a LOT of sports during HS and at BYU.

Served in Southern Far East Mission 2 years (4 months in Taiwan, 5 months in Hong Kong, and the rest in the Philippines; got to be one of the first two lady missionaries to go there).

Home and taught nursing at BYU for 5 years plus (didn't know a lot, but loved the students). Taught at the Missionary Home in Salt Lake for 7 years plus (loved that so much!). Two years as a stake missionary at BYU. Health Mission to the Philippines (it was like Heaven going back to such dear friends) with a month in Hong Kong towards the end.

Returned home and worked as coordinator of health missionaries. Office in the tall building in SLC. Great experiences.

Back to nursing for "20 minutes" but called to go to Indonesia as a welfare missionary (and my companion and I were the first two LM's there). Hard, fantastic experience.

Home and started full-time at the LTM (which became the MTC). What a blessing! Favorite thing: Sisters' Mtg each Sunday! Asked by the Church to go to Africa (Nigeria) for a child health project; was to have been there three years but only lasted a few months -- pretty SICK.

Home "feet first." Learned SO MUCH.... Back to MTC after a few months of recovery.

Called to the Relief Society General Board in February 1986. Served for 11 years (first with Barbara Winder, then Elaine Jack). Amazing experience! Started doing some speaking somewhere in there and have done quite a bit through the years, including Know Your Religion and Education Weeks. LOTS of women's conferences. And even a few cruises!! Cutting down now, but LOVING TOFW!!!

First two books were published in 1995 as I was retiring from MTC. Am loving time with family, which now includes 31 nieces and nephews and 33 "greats" (with more on the way). Life is good.

I have SO MUCH for which to be grateful.... Not everything has turned the way I had dreamed and hoped, but I suppose it's that way for most if not all of us.

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A Daily Spoonful of Rice

When Mary Ellen Edmunds was a child she liked to burn ants with a magnifying glass and wound grasshoppers by throwing them on concrete. These pastimes don't seem fitting for someone who would later graduate in nursing from BYU, complete four full-time missions, and serve on the Relief Society general board. However, the young Edmunds did provide a hospital with very small beds for the grasshoppers.

Somewhere along the way, Edmunds, BYH '58, BYU '62, changed from a rough little girl into someone whose guiding principle is "do good and be good." Serving missions is one way Edmunds found to both do and be good.

Edmunds received her first mission call to the Southern Far East mission, which then included Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. She and her companion were the first sister missionaries in the Philippines.

After returning home, Edmunds worked as a supervisor at a hospital and taught at the mission home in Salt Lake City. But in 1972, she was called back to the Philippines, this time as a health missionary.

During this second mission her love for the Church's welfare principles and for the people she served grew. It was in the Philippines that Edmunds met Sally Pilobello. Sally and her husband had lost their first daughter when she was five months old. Sally, who was pregnant with a second child, asked, "What can I do to have a healthy Mormon baby?" Edmunds saw the courage and faith of this sister as she implemented new health habits in her life and home and gave birth to a beautiful "Mormon baby."

Edmunds' experiences continued through a third mission and then a fourth, this one to Jakarta, Indonesia. "Here I learned much more about the meaning of relief, compassion, and service," she says.

One experience involved the Relief Society in Central Java. The sisters in the branch would set aside a spoonful of rice each morning before they began their cooking. They kept the rice in plastic bags, which they brought to Relief Society each week. After the meeting they would gather and prayerfully consider who needed a visit. Together, they would visit someone in need, taking a few of the bags with them. "I learned so much about sacrifice, wondering what my equivalent of a spoonful of rice would be," Edmunds says.

Even after serving four missions Edmunds continued her missionary work. "I was invited to work at the Language Training Mission to coordinate the training of welfare missionaries," she says. She eventually became one of the directors of training at the Missionary Training Center (MTC). In that position, her responsibilities included overseeing the training of all Asian-language and welfare missionaries.

"There is no place like the MTC on earth. It was an incredible journey working there," Edmunds says. As director, she also had the opportunity to teach many missionaries. "I wanted to give them a taste of my philosophy of missionary work, which is about teaching the fullness not the part-ness of the gospel," Edmunds says.

Edmunds has since retired from the MTC. Besides serving several missions, Edmunds has also helped with a child health project in Nigeria.

Today, she keeps busy writing books, teaching, and delivering speeches, but continues to perform missionary work. "It's wonderful to help people understand how to live the gospel," Edmunds says. "It is our duty to respond to people who are hungry, sick, naked, and imprisoned."

By Todd Michaelis
BYU Magazine Spring 2002

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