Mormon Journal

By


An Accident Helped Save Me

I was sixteen, of an adventurous nature, and active in church and school activities. Yet I was beginning to feel tied down by compulsory attendance at church meetings and activities. I would hear other boys tell of their worldly escapades, and I felt I was being deprived of something. I wanted to be free to go along with the crowd.

My special assignment in the high school chemical laboratory was to make matches and gunpowder. I tested various chemicals to see how high they would flame up. I remember my agriculture teacher sending me to the lab to mix up an explosive for the entertainment of the class. As the year progressed, my mixtures became more original and produced more astounding results.

At general conference time, my parents went as usual to Salt Lake City and left me to take care of the farm. I invited my friend Lynn to stay with me, thinking what fun we would have that night lighting up the whole countryside with my mixtures.

We rode home in a truck with some friends, and I carried in my hand a flask containing my very best formula. When we arrived at the house, I put it in my pocket so I could help Lynn with his bags. As we stepped into the kitchen, the chemicals exploded.

If you have ever noticed the inward white-hot ball when a firecracker explodes, you can perhaps visualize what happened. This ball was about three feet in diameter. Lynn was blown across the back porch out onto the lawn, and I was hurled up to the ceiling and across the kitchen. I slid down the opposite wall to the floor. The explosion cracked the walls, blew the window out, jarred the bathtub loose in the next room, and split the door leading to the bedroom. Parts of my clothes were scattered over the room, one scrap being wedged under the moulding board so tightly it couldn’t be pulled out. My leg was twisted under me as I slid to the floor. I remember thinking that I would probably go through life with only one leg.

It wasn’t long until I was at the hospital where I begged the doctor to give me something to relieve the pain. They gave me an anesthetic and wheeled me into the surgery room. The surgery lasted about two and a half hours.

I had lost the top of my right thigh. Glass had penetrated my stomach and leg, and I had third-degree burns over a third of my body. During the surgery I vividly remember coming out of my body and going over in the corner to watch them operate. My condition was very serious.

The next day, after I regained consciousness, my father—who had been called home—and one of his counselors in the stake presidency administered to me. I know that blessing saved my life, for I felt a soothing, healing power permeate my body. All the parts of my body seemed to begin to function properly. I knew that I was going to live.

I wasn’t sure, however, that I still had my right leg. I asked the nurse to tell me the truth, and even though she said they had not amputated, I persisted until she held it up so that I could see it was still attached. I asked about my friend Lynn and was told that he was not seriously injured, but he did suffer some loss of hearing.

I had considerable time to meditate. When I thought about my previous wavering, I was a little frightened and ashamed. I now felt deep gratitude for the power of the priesthood, and suddenly the Church became the most important thing in my life. I realized that all the things my parents had taught me were true. How grateful I was for their example! The doctor informed me that because I was in perfect physical condition and had not abused my body with alcohol or drugs, it was strong enough to withstand the shock and fight off infection.

I made a vow that I would do all I could to be an instrument for good in the hands of my Heavenly Father. Regardless of what the other boys did, I would live by the teachings of the Church. Although it took months for me to recover, and I had to learn to walk again, I feel that this accident was the greatest blessing of my life.

[illustrations] Illustrated by G. Allen Garns

Daniel Hess, professor of religion at Ricks College, is Young Men president in the Rexburg Idaho East Stake.