Among the many wonderful people we met when we lived in a small town in Utah years ago was a family named Williams. They were a good family of strong faith and testimony. But Brother and Sister Williams had five small children and struggled to make ends meet. Then Brother Williams’ back was broken in an automobile accident, and he was hospitalized for several weeks.
As counselor in our ward Relief Society presidency, I went with our president to visit Sister Williams and her young family. What a blessing the Church welfare program is at a time like this! As our president explained how the program worked, Sister Williams was relieved of many anxieties.
When I arrived home, I couldn’t get the plight of this young mother out of my mind. I could identify with her because we had six young children at home, and they really kept me busy. I kept wondering what I personally could do for her. My thoughts went to milk. I was sure her family drank milk by the gallons, as mine did, and we had found a dairy that sold milk cheaper than the stores or home delivery. I called Sister Williams about it, and she told me she got her milk there too, so I arranged to get hers when I went for mine. When I went to pick up her cans, she had them and the money ready for me, but I told her I would like to buy her milk that day. She resisted, but finally relented.
I went back a couple of days later to get her cans again, but she was hesitant—she didn’t have any money. I told her not to worry, that I wanted to buy the milk for her. This arrangement went on for several weeks, until I began to feel the strain on my own budget and found myself borrowing money from my children.
But just as I decided I would have to tell Sister Williams that I could no longer buy her milk, I noticed that every “milk day” some little miracle would happen. I remember one day there simply was no extra money and I was ready to reach for the phone when I was prompted to go to the mailbox first. I did; and there was a little check—just enough for the milk—for some jury duty I had performed earlier in the year. I continued to buy milk.
One evening several weeks later Brother Williams was released from the hospital. He was in a brace, but he insisted on coming by our home to thank us personally for buying their milk. However, their compensation checks were coming in now, and everything was going to be all right for them.
After they left, I leaned against the door and silently thanked the Lord that I had never told Sister Williams I couldn’t get her milk. Still, that very day I had only had enough money to buy their milk, but not ours; and our littlest, Chuck, would be awake at six o’clock next morning, wanting a drink.
The very next morning, before Chuck was even awake, there came a knock on our door. On the step stood a young man from our ward holding two big jugs of milk. He said, “Sister Cutler, I understand you have a big family. For some reason or other our cow has started giving more milk than we can use, and we just hate pouring it down the sink. Would you be insulted if I dropped it off here each morning on my way to work?”
I couldn’t believe it! Immediately, into my mind flashed a saying I had heard my mother quote often when I was a little girl: “Cast your bread upon the waters, and after many days it will return-buttered” (see Eccl. 11:1). By the time that cow got back to normal production, we had received two or three times more milk than we had ever given away.