Carol Gray’s patriarchal blessing told her that she would be saved for a special purpose. When she was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 28, and became the only survivor of an experimental surgery to treat it, she started to see what that meant. Over time, she became a brave, dedicated, and influential humanitarian.
She fell into this role gradually, starting off by doing bereavement counseling for families preparing to lose loved ones. Then one day, as she’d been following the Balkan wars, she saw footage of women than had been released from Serbian camps, she and felt strongly that the Lord wanted her to do more about it than write a check for a charity. She started calling charities that worked in Bosnia to see if they would take donated items, got the Relief Society involved in collected aid, and within 3 weeks, she had 38 tons of aid. Newspapers started picking up her story, and the meetinghouse became jam-packed, then overflowing with aid. Two days before the designated charity was going to pick up their supplies, they cancelled on Gray because they had run out of funds to transport aid. She couldn’t find a convoy willing to take her materials for her, but she did find one that was willing to have her join it. Because she was already uninsurable because of her cancer that she shouldn’t have survived, her going into a war zone didn’t have the same ramifications as if her husband did. She decided to go, and she brought her daughter and some friends along in the convoy.
When they arrived in Zagreb, 400 drivers met together, and they asked for volunteers to go into the crisis area. Gray didn’t realize “crisis area” meant “still under shellfire,” and by the time she did, she was “too proud” to renege on her and her daughter’s offer to go in. Only 2 other people had agreed. It was intense. They drove through minefields. Gray had forgotten her glasses, so she had her daughter drive the truck over the swollen river on a pontoon bridge that became submerged when the weight of the truck pressed on it (Gray walked ahead through the freezing waters to steer her). She arrived in an area where 400 people had just been killed. She left knowing God had “gotten her into something that [she] couldn’t turn away from.” In time, she’d go on 23 convoys, spend tens of thousands of pounds bringing the materials there, and get into places even the UN couldn’t. She did a remarkable amount of good.
In the past decade, Gray worked to establish an orphanage in Ghana (Mmofra Trom). They started from scratch, purchasing land and sinking a well, and now in addition to the orphanage, they have established a school, where over 200 students attend, and a medical center is in the works. In addition to contributions from Bentley University, Mmofra Trom underwrites many of its paying students’ costs through providing its own tilapia pond, chicken coop, mango plantation, and vegetable garden to provide nutrition for its children.
I don’t have the courage to willingly drive into a war zone. And take my daughter along for the ride? Certainly not. But Gray trusted in the Lord, followed his promptings, and has been able to do an infinite amount of good as a result.
Source: Mormon Women: Portraits and Conversations, Edited by James N. Kimball and Kent Miles.