Jodi Maxfield, BYU Cougarettes coach and director, addressed a crowd at the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, as she talked about the importance of gratitude and reaching out to those in need.
In her talk titled, “Listen, Lift, Rescue,” Maxfield discussed many experiences in which the Cougarettes lifted others and provided teaching moments as they performed in the United States and abroad.
Maxfield began her remarks by quoting Dr. Seuss’s book, “Horton Hears a Who.”
She said Horton heard whisperings coming from a speck of dust and later realized these faint cries for help are from a “who” colony.
“A person’s a person no matter how small,” Horton said. He did all in his power to rescue and protect these little ones, often enduring others’ scoffs and laughter.
Maxfield then illustrated the importance of gratitude by quoting President Thomas S. Monson.
“To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven,” Maxfield quoted President Monson as saying.
Maxfield said the Cougarettes have taken that message to heart this year. She said the dance team has written personal messages and treated each other with extra kindness to show their gratitude for their team members.
Maxfield also said she and the team try to enrich testimonies and lives while striving to make spiritual moments happen frequently.
“While we will not do everything that other universities do, the expectation is that everything we do will be first-rate,” Maxfield quoted President Worthen as saying.
She shared an experience the Cougarettes had in 2008 while preparing for a national competition. The girls wanted to share a “heartfelt” message through dance and sought missionary experiences.
Each girl took 50 copies of an Ensign magazine to distribute. The team did not win first place, but Maxfield said she was grateful for the experience because it made it easier for the team to share copies of the magazine.
“Some expressed a feeling they had experienced during our performance and others said they had even been brought to tears,” Maxfield said.
Maxfield shared another powerful experience in which the Cougarettes performed to the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” in 2012. That type of performance doesn’t usually draw high scores from judges, so Maxfield said the team felt discouraged.
“Needless to say, the Cougarettes took the stage the next day, dressed in a beautiful white costume,” Maxfield said. “As the girls began to dance, a hush came over the audience, you could hear a pin drop as those in the audience watched intently. As I looked around, I could see individuals unmistakably moved by what they were witnessing. Each of these girls was bearing a powerful silent testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ through dance.”
At the conclusion of the performance the audience members sat in silence rather than applauding. Maxfield said the spirit had truly communicated to them.
Maxfield shared one final story about two twin girls, Kyrie and Briella, born 12 weeks before their due date. Kyrie’s health improved quickly, but Briella went into critical condition. A nurse asked their parents for permission to put the girls in the same incubator in hopes of saving Briella’s life.
Briella’s condition improved almost as soon as Kyrie touched her. Kyrie wrapped her arm around her sister, captured in a famous photo known as the “Rescuing Hug.” Maxfield said the ability to rescue may be as simple a listening ear or a hug.
She encouraged the audience to listen to the promptings of the spirit and pray for opportunities to rescue and help. This will provide a chance to be a miracle in someone’s life, Maxfield said.
“Our Savior gave us the perfect example of love, compassion, respite and rescue,” Maxfield said. “He has beckoned us to come unto him, to be his hands, to love one another.”