A former member of the Church Writing Committee and a convert, Sister Neill Marriott exhibits a sincere charity that endears her to Latter-day Saints around the world. Recently, we sat down to learn some interesting facts and inspiring insights from this mother of 11 and beloved second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.
You joined the Church when you were 22 years old. What advice do you have for converts?
Study, study, study the doctrine of the Church in the scriptures and conference talks. Also, remember that your nonmember friends and family members are watching you to see if you are happy with your choice to be baptized. Develop common ground with them despite any differences of opinion and love them no matter what. Accept callings, for by them you will grow in your ability to love, serve, and live by the spirit. Jump right into your ward or branch meetings and activities and feel the love of your fellow saints. Very soon, go to the temple to participate in baptisms for the deceased and better yet, for your own ancestors.
What is something interesting about your calling?
The big red chairs on the stand at general conference are so tall that when I am seated, my feet don’t touch the floor! We sisters have little matching footstools under our chairs, and when the talks begin, I pull mine out and rest my dangling feet.
What is your favorite classic novel?
I found the favorite novel of my lifetime in the fifth grade. I reached to an upper library shelf at school and pulled down Men of Iron by Howard Pyle. I fell in love by the second page. The book is beautifully written in elevated English, set in the days of feudal lords, and contains humor, history, growing tension, and a mystery, which is not revealed until the last chapter. Written in 1891, it is courtly, instructive, and thoroughly engaging. I re-read it every year or two.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
Soon after I was baptized, I read much of the Book of Mormon for the while riding on the back of my brother’s Triumph 500 motorcycle as we toured France and Switzerland.
What is your favorite Southern food?
It would have to be crusty French bread sopped in the last bit of shrimp gumbo in the bowl. Delicious! (But proper manners dictate that such sopping be done when no one is looking!)
What are some of your hobbies?
Beekeeping (honestly, though, my husband does all the scary stuff like checking the frames while I stand behind him in my beekeeper suit and say “great job!”), planning family events and gatherings, reading, home storage in all its various aspects, walking and talking with friends, and rearranging the furniture in our house. Such rearranging relaxes me! My colleagues in the Relief Society Building know when I have received an assignment to speak in the Conference Center because I start rearranging the furniture in my office.
Who do you most admire?
I most admire my husband, David, for loving me through ups and downs and thick and thin, for getting me to the temple often and honoring me in every way he can. And the whiter his hair gets, the cuter he is!
Which Primary song is your favorite?
“Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” because I grew up in the Methodist church singing that song in Sunday School. But “He Sent His Son” is a very close second.
Where is your favorite place?
My happy place is with my husband, David, in our backyard in the afternoon with all our children sitting around talking and laughing. As we visit, the grandchildren zigzag through the yard playing chase, often dressed in princess gowns tattered from long use or equally worn superhero garb. That’s just heaven to me.
What advice do you have for the youth of the Church?
Learn of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel and then live by those truths. Choose what is pure, true, and good, and live by those standards. Your unique gifts are needed—offer your service in your ward, family, and school. Turn away from the world’s opinions, even if it means you aren’t popular for a time. If you do these things, Heavenly Father will bless you with a greater understanding of His love for you, and your confidence in Him and your knowledge of your great value will increase. With that trust in God, you will have a deeper happiness and better guidance for your life than anything the world can give.
Lead image courtesy of Sister Marriott. Read her latest book, Seek This Jesus, at Deseret Book stores or on deseretbook.com.