Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a touching post on Facebook today about his visit with Florida shooting victim Maddy Wilford, including Maddy's message for the youth of the Church: "Tell them that I love them. Tell them that I'm going to be OK. And tell them how much I appreciate their prayers for me."
Here's the entirety of Elder Stevenson's post:
"This amazing young woman is Madeleine Wilford. Her friends and family call her Maddy. Last week, Maddy was senselessly shot during an attack at her high school in Florida. Seventeen students and teachers lost their lives that day, including Maddy's friend and fellow seminary student Alaina Petty.
"After being shot four times, in her shoulder and in her back, Maddy was rushed to the hospital. She underwent three surgeries and miraculously was released to return home on Wednesday, only one week later. Initially, she was considered most critically wounded of those involved in the shooting, yet she was released much sooner than anticipated. Though she still has a challenging road of recovery ahead, I have nothing but overwhelming confidence that she will continue to meet this challenge with faith and perseverance.
"I had the special opportunity to visit with Maddy and her family in the hospital last weekend. Maddy is quite a resilient and special young woman! Just a few weeks ago, she shared her testimony in stake conference. And despite some difficult trials in life, her faith and determination has led Maddy to a greater trust in her Heavenly Father.
"During our visit, we spoke and prayed with Maddy and her family. I shared with her a scripture in 2 Nephi 2:2, which teaches that God "shall consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain." I know that God has a purpose for Maddy and she will grow spiritually from this.
"Maddy says that the scripture reminds her of a quote-"Give your weakness to God and He'll give you His strength." Her faith and understanding are well beyond her years. She inspires me.
"Before leaving, I asked her if she had a message for the youth of the Church. In a soft whisper, she offered a reply: "Tell them that I love them. Tell them that I'm going to be OK. And tell them how much I appreciate their prayers for me."
"During my time with Maddy and her family, I learned that the Lord knows and cares about her very much. I know many of you are thinking about this incident. I invite you to keep praying for her and for others who continue to recover. I also invite each of us to learn from her faith. Maddy is a wonderful example that when we place our trust in God, He will see us through even the most challenging trials."
Elder Stevenson also visited with Alaina Petty's family. Alaina was killed in the Valentine's Day shooting.
Here are Elder Stevenson's thoughts from that tender meeting:
"This radiant young woman is Alaina Petty. By now, you may know that Alaina tragically lost her life last week due to a senseless shooting at her high school. We mourn the loss of this precious daughter of God and the loss of 16 others who died that day.
"It was my overwhelming privilege to visit with Alaina's family a few days ago. As you can imagine, they miss Alaina more than I can adequately express. She was a light in their lives as well as in the lives of all who knew her. Alaina never had an unkind thing to say about anyone and loved to serve others.
"Clearly, the light of Christ shone brightly in Alaina's life. As I met with her family, I could see why. When I walked into the Pettys' home, I felt as if I was walking onto sacred ground. We know that one of the roles of the Holy Ghost is to comfort us in times of trial. This family had lost their daughter in an act of horrible evil, but as they shared their memories of their sweet Alaina, the spirit of faith and love that was present in the Petty home was a testament to the fact that they will someday be reunited with her. They know it and I know it.
"As I spoke with the family, I was amazed by their response to the tragic circumstances. In speaking about the teenage boy who took their daughter's life, Alaina's father, Ryan, told me that the family is committed to doing what they can to help lift other young men out of the dark places and unforgiving environments in which they might find themselves, so they can help save others from the pain they now feel. I am in awe of this family's Christlike response of faith and love during this severe trial.
"We know that Heavenly Father could have stopped this tragedy. And we ask, why didn't He? Our faith gives us the comfort and assurance to know that there is a purpose for everything. We know that the Lord knows why and one day we'll know with a perfect clarity too. We will be able to see through His heavenly perspective.
"Until then, Alaina will be greatly missed by those who knew her, and she will be mourned by many, many more. But like Alaina's family, we too can look forward with faith knowing that the great plan of our Father in Heaven allows families to be forever. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, has overcome death and because He has done so, Alaina—and all of us—will live again. I know this is true."