The High Priests’ Compassionate Service
Sometimes in our church we think only of our dear sisters offering and doing compassionate service. But it is the high priests in our ward who have served our family.
One day, without warning, my husband suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left side. He spent two and a half months in the hospital, and when he came home, I had round-the-clock responsibility for his care. Other members of our family, who live many miles away, called and wrote letters filled with kind words of encouragement, but it was impossible for them to help care for him.
My husband had been home only a day when our home teacher, Cliff Barton, stopped by to see how the high priests in our ward could help. We decided that my getting out for a few hours weekly would be the best therapy for both my husband and myself.
Since then, loving and caring high priests have come to stay with my husband for a few hours each week. They have brought spiritual and intellectual enlightenment through sharing magazine articles, stories, humor, and companionship.
Men we knew only casually are now dear friends because they have given of themselves in precious service to us. The first Monday of every month, without fail, the telephone rings; at first it was Brother Barton and now is Brother Lyon wanting to know my schedule for the month so he can arrange the visits.
These men are wonderful, caring, and tender. Their cheery visits have made the long, cold winter days shorter, the dull days brighter, and the sunny days more brilliant.
There’s no question that in my ward, the brethren know how to serve.
A Test of Faith
The words “God can heal anything” seemed to jump back at me from the page as I read another faith-promoting story in the Ensign. My eyes welled up with tears, and bitterly I muttered to myself, as I had done a thousand times before, “Then why hasn’t he healed me?”
I had been ill for ten years. The doctors were baffled. My husband and I had spent thousands of dollars, seen many physicians, tried many prescribed medications.
Our families and our ward had fasted several times in my behalf. I had been administered to a number of times, and we had pleaded with the Lord to make me well. Still, relief had not come.
Meanwhile, my husband had cared for our four children, cooked the meals, cleaned the house, done the shopping and the laundry. I was unable to function as a wife and mother. Both of us were released from our church callings. Each day was a nightmare for me and a struggle for him.
It was a test of my faith to learn to endure when relief did not come, when it seemed as though my prayers had not been answered.
Although blessings and prayers didn’t bring the healing I sought, they did bring me comfort and reassurance. They helped me endure as I struggled to get through each day and went through difficult and repeated procedures and tests.
I finally received some relief, and the illness eased enough so that I could bear the pain. But many of the puzzling symptoms persisted.
One day as I was getting ready to cut out a dress for my two-year-old daughter, I couldn’t find my scissors. I looked and looked. Finally I prayed for help. It seemed like a trivial matter to pray over, but I needed them to make that dress. I felt impressed to look through my chest of drawers, where I found the missing scissors. I offered a prayer of thanks and went on with my sewing.
That night I related the story of the lost scissors to my thirteen-year-old daughter and commented, “Isn’t it interesting that Heavenly Father helped me find a pair of scissors but hasn’t helped me get well?”
She replied, “Then he must have a reason for you not to get well yet.”
I realized she was right. I will keep going, keep praying, keep hoping.
I now know that there are some lessons in life we cannot learn except by going through adversity. My illness has improved my relationship with God. I have become very dependent upon him. I have found I cannot endure without his strength.
I will take whatever else comes my way, for I know that if I am living righteously, am repenting, and exercising faith, the rest is in God’s hands.
Monday Would Have Been Too Late
I was serving as district Relief Society president in 1969 and felt I should make a special effort to keep in contact with the sisters who lived long distances from the meetinghouses.
One of these sisters lived one and one-half hours’ drive from my home and an hour from the nearest chapel. She was diabetic, and a recent stroke had left her partially paralyzed.
I had arranged to visit this sister on a scheduled Monday holiday. Fast Sunday preceded this holiday, and when we came home from church and broke our fast, I felt an urge to visit her immediately. My husband felt I’d have more time for a proper visit the next day, but I kept feeling that we should not wait. Finally, my husband said, “Right, let’s go.”
We arrived at her home just after 6:00. We knocked and got no answer, at front or back. The house seemed deserted.
We knocked and called through the letter-box and were on the point of leaving when I recalled my friend had said, “When you come to see me, just open the door and come in.” I asked my husband what he thought, and he said, “Try the door.”
It opened. I called her name and heard a faint reply from a room to the left of the hall. We found her lying in a pool of water on the kitchen floor. Her walking stick had slipped, and she’d dropped the kettle of water she was carrying and had fallen to the floor herself. Once she was down, she couldn’t rise again.
My husband and I got her up and onto the settee she used as a bed, then my husband went for a doctor. The doctor had been trying to get her to go into a home for the elderly, and when he came to see her, she finally agreed. She realized just how near her accident had been to a disaster.
She told me she had prayed the Lord would send someone to help her, and I’ve been grateful I was listening to the promptings of the Spirit that fast day. If we had waited to visit her, we would have been too late.
The End of My Search
Because my mother and father each belonged to different churches, they decided when they married that their children would not be forced into one faith or another. Instead, they would be sent to the nearest church and allowed to make up their own minds regarding religion once they knew the choices available. I had attended four different churches by my early teen years, and had lapsed into occasional attendance at my godparents’ church when they were visiting.
However, my friend’s mother died when I was fourteen, and I began to wonder about our existence here on earth. My mind wandered back to the days I had spent at church, and I decided to use all the knowledge I had to search for the true church on the earth—should there really be one.
I went back to the church into which I had been christened. I enjoyed the worship, but each time I asked questions, I was told just to attend—we didn’t need those answers. To me, if there was a God, a loving Father, I would view him much like my own earthly father—someone who wanted me to grow and search out the truth. I could not believe that God wished to keep me in the dark.
I went back to other churches I had attended, then studied Judaism and Islam, as well as Christian denominations I had never before explored. Although these religions included many fine teachings, I felt the complete truth was still missing.
My parents had always encouraged me to search for myself. Once I had begun my examination of a particular faith, they would not take me to church. They made me find my own way, feeling that only if I struggled for something would I then hold it dear.
One afternoon as our family drove out of town, we passed a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jokingly, my father said, “You’ve not tried there yet.” I asked what kind of church it was, and Daddy said it was the Mormon church. I remarked that the name on the front of the Church didn’t say that, and he responded, “Mormon is only their nickname; but don’t try them. They’re a funny lot.”
Since the church building was some four miles from my home, I decided to write and ask about their beliefs. The following week, a letter arrived for me from the branch president, inviting me to attend their meetings. I felt excited, yet nervous, as I read it—something I had never felt before while investigating a church. I decided it was time for me to ask my Heavenly Father about this.
I wasn’t quite sure what to say, since the Lord’s Prayer was the only one I had said before. However, as I finished a simple prayer asking the Lord to show me the way, I heard my mother call me. I went downstairs to find two men sitting in the lounge with Mummy. They had come to our door to see if our family would like to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mummy had asked them if they had come in reply to my letter, but they said they had never heard of me.
I sat silently while the three spoke together, and for the first time in my life all that my mother said seemed confusing, yet these two men made everything so clear. That night I thanked the Lord for sending the truth to me.
The next Sunday I set off on my bicycle to find the LDS meetinghouse. I arrived, but, too nervous to go in alone, I waited for someone else and asked if I could walk in with her. Once I was inside the church, a warm feeling came over me. The missionaries soon spotted me.
As weeks went by, the missionaries taught me the gospel and challenged me to be baptized. I readily accepted, but my parents had other ideas. I was only sixteen; they told me that I was going through a phase, but that if I still wanted to join the Church when I was eighteen, they would give their permission.
The morning of my eighteenth birthday was beautiful. I opened my presents and left for college classes knowing that the best part of the day would be at 7:30 that night, 21 May 1976, when I would be baptized.
My family met me for lunch. Shortly after eating, I found myself in great pain. My mother suggested I go home, where she put me to bed. I couldn’t sleep. The pain was so great that I got out of bed and knelt in prayer. As I pleaded for the Lord to take away the pain so I could go through with my long-awaited baptism, a great darkness filled the room. Frightened, I cried for help to see me through this terror. When I opened my eyes, it was three hours later and my older sister stood beside me. She asked how I was and suggested I get ready for the baptism. I looked out of the window and saw the sun was shining brightly. I thanked my Father in Heaven for my answered prayer, and off my family and I went to the church.
That was one of the most beautiful days of my life. I renewed the promise I had made to my Father in Heaven two years earlier to serve him as a missionary. It is now five years since I finished my full-time missionary service. After my baptism, I had started taking my younger sister to church, and she was baptized after my return from my mission. Although my parents are still not members of the Church, I am grateful for the way they taught me and the desire they gave me to search for the truth.