Last Sunday our Sunday School lesson was entitled: "The Shepherds of Israel." It compared the difference between a sheepherder and a shepherd. The one drives the flock and cares more for him/herself than those 'sheep' in his/her care, versus the one who leads the flock with kindness, concern and gentle persuasion. One who cares more about 'the one' than him/her self.
There was a question in the manual, one the teacher did not ask, but one which I read and pondered on for a good long time. It was:
How have you been blessed by true shepherds who have done these things?
My mind went back to the year 1970/1971, when I was 18 and 19 years of age. I was young, I was thin and I was prone to wear very short skirts. I mean very short skirts! Even though I had not been raised in the L.D.S. church I had been baptized. At this point in life I was somewhat of a lost lamb. But I was blessed with a most wonderful shepherd who entered my life for only a year. His name was Larry Cook, Bishop Larry Cook. He was married to Rosemarie and they had 3 small children, Rosemary, Andrea and Christopher. The first thing this fine Bishop did was extend a calling to me. Sunday School Teacher (this was in the day and age when Sunday School was Sunday morning and Sacrament meeting was late Sunday night)! I was to teach the 3 and 4 year olds, or was it 4 and 5 year olds? Whatever age it was his two daughters were in my class. He actually trusted me with his most prized possessions! I know this calling displeased some members, especially one lady who was quite vocal about it... even to myself! With my personality she just made me chuckle and I made certain to wear the shortest skirt on Sunday just for her! Okay, so I was somewhat naughty!
Bishop Cook never discussed my attire with me. In the spring of 1971 I applied for entrance to B.Y.U,. (at my mothers insistence). I was not a full tithe payer at the time, I did not dress modestly. I had my interview with Bishop Cook and I was not terribly concerned about it. You see I had back up plans....I was planning on attending Adams State College in Colorado. I had my acceptance, I had a grant, I was set to go. I was just appeasing my mother. Imagine my surprise when I was accepted to B.Y.U.! Better yet, imagine the surprise of some Rangely Ward members!!! I have often felt Bishop Cook was an instrumental player in that acceptance.
I am deeply indebted to this man and his family. He will always be near and dear to my heart. I sent him a thank you note years ago. About two years after I sent the note I received a phone call from this wonderful man. We had a most delightful conversation. Laughing over the short skirts I then wore and the fact that he never made it an issue with me! Now Larry Cook was a true shepherd. I feel he was instrumental in the path my life took. Which has been a most wonderful path to take.
On this day of Thanksgiving I am grateful for oh so many things, but I am especially grateful for the kindness, compassion and loving acceptance of one mortal man who followed in the footsteps of the True Shepherd. I am very grateful for Bishop Larry Cook. May the Lord pour out His choicest blessings on this wonderful man and his family! Happy Thanksgiving Bishop Cook!