Trapped on the Mountain
We were at eleven thousand feet. The fog was closing in, it was late in the day, and it was getting mighty cold.
My brother, Wayne, and I had decided to go on a Big Horn sheep hunt in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. On the way up, the sky had been partly cloudy, but the weather had been satisfying. On the first day, we had reached the top of the mountain, where we made camp and ate supper before going to sleep.
When we woke up, we faced an eerie world of fog. We couldn’t see more than fifty yards, and so we sat in camp all day, waiting for the fog to lift. It stayed for two solid days.
We finally decided to go down lower on the mountain. Upon consulting our contour map, we found a way down that was different from our route up the mountain. Down we went. After a hundred feet or so, we broke out of the fog—but to our dismay, we found ourselves on a steep slope formed by an accumulation of rock debris. It sloped down about forty-five degrees or more and formed a point about five hundred feet below us. From there on, broken rock and smooth snow persisted for a couple of thousand feet.
We tried to go back up, but the combined weight of our packs and ourselves, as well as the impossible footing in the loose rocks, made us give up on this idea. We went to the slope’s point and checked the snow. It was glare ice. We had no ice axes or other equipment to secure footholds. I turned to my brother and said, “We can’t go up, and we can’t go down. We’re trapped.”
Vertical mountain slopes to the side of us were the obvious reason why the contours on the map were so close together. There was no place to pitch a tent, and it was getting colder. Now what?
Turning to Wayne, I asked, “What do you suggest?” And from the look on his face, I knew that he felt we were in serious trouble. If we tried to go down, it would be a wild slide to our deaths in the jagged rocks below.
Finally, he said, “Let’s pray.”
We each knelt down and poured out our hearts to the Lord. We told him about our situation, about what we had tried to do, and about the grim prospects of our staying on the mountain. We both knew beyond a doubt that our getting off the mountain was now in the Lord’s hands.
I looked again to my brother for direction. He was the mountain man, the hunter. After a pause, he said, “We go down.” Then, upon checking the ice and snow, we found to our joy and amazement that the ice had turned to slush. We could walk on it. The weather was still cold, with no warm winds to soften the ice, and I knew in my heart that the Lord had melted the ice.
We made it down the slope using a thin nylon rope as a safety factor. Upon getting to the end of the rope, we gave it a flip and attached it to another rock. We were tired when we finally found a tent site, but not too tired to thank our Father in Heaven for our deliverance.
The next day brought beautiful weather. Grateful to be alive, we gave up the idea of hunting sheep. After loafing in the sun, we broke camp and hit the trail for home.
“I Just Couldn’t Throw This Family into the Trash”
I have always wanted to share the gospel, but just didn’t know whom to share it with or how to go about it. Then I thought of Karryn.
Karryn and I had been friends since high school. She had always been active in her church and I had been active in mine. I remember spending many sleepless overnight visits debating religion with her. Finally, we had just agreed to accept our religious differences.
Twenty-six years had passed since high school and we were still friends—with a solid agreement not to discuss religion. But I felt strongly that it was time for me to broach the subject again.
So one day I said a prayer, took a deep breath, and called my friend. I issued a challenge for her to listen to the gospel message, and she agreed to pray about whether or not to listen to the missionary lessons. I hung up the phone, feeling confused. On one hand, I had obeyed a prompting and felt good about that; but on the other hand, I felt deeply pessimistic.
Karryn was not converted. I was frustrated and often wondered why I had been prompted to talk to her. One day, these thoughts were racing through my mind as I took my walk. Suddenly a voice interrupted my reverie.
“Come over here—I want to ask you something.”
Across the street was Helen. I didn’t know much about her. She was a big woman with a big heart, a mane of red hair, and a California tan. I crossed the street with no clue what she wanted.
“Are you still Mormon?” she queried.
“Yes,” I answered, stunned that she knew anything about my religious affiliation.
“Could you send someone over to my house to teach me about your church? I need something in my life.”
Walking home, I could hardly believe what had happened. The missionaries were sent, Helen was taught the gospel, and I received a reward beyond my belief. Attending the Gospel Essentials class, seeing the Spirit convert others, fellowshipping, talking for long hours about gospel principles, and noticing lives change were all experiences that brought me back to the touchstone of my own conversion. There was renewal in my commitment and enthusiasm.
Helen was baptized and married the same day. She, her new husband, and her handicapped son went into the waters of baptism and arose with all the possibilities and promises of a bright future.
Several months later, Helen was asked to share her story at a missionary fireside. She mentioned that years earlier, missionaries had come to her door and left a copy of the Book of Mormon. Inside its cover was a picture of a family in her neighborhood—us!—along with our testimony. We had prepared this Book of Mormon, along with several others, especially for our neighbors.
Helen, not one to read much, put the book on top of her dresser and didn’t think more about it until she dusted. Being a fastidious housekeeper, she wanted to toss it into the trash, knowing she would never read it. But each time she considered this, she would look at our family’s picture staring up at her. “I just couldn’t throw this family into the trash,” Helen pointed out at the fireside.
Her life had led her down many difficult and challenging paths, but she always felt the answers to her struggles were hidden in the book on her dresser with my family photo pasted neatly in it.
I believe I really was prompted to challenge my friend Karryn to accept the gospel. Whatever the outcome, the Lord had determined to bless me for obedience, and He did so through my new friend Helen.
I Knew I Shouldn’t Go
My husband and I had just joined the Church and were learning about the promptings of the Spirit when an incident occurred that taught us a personal lesson about that principle.
We had just moved to a dairy farm, and our working hours were very long. Money was scarce, so we could not even consider hiring help. My husband and I worked side by side for hours.
Four months after we moved to the farm, our third daughter, Jenny, was born. Each night I put Jenny to bed, waited until she fell asleep, and then took my two older daughters out with me to the barn to do the evening chores. My husband would already be in the barn doing the milking.
One night I told my husband that I had a feeling I shouldn’t go to the barn. I didn’t really know why, but I just knew I should not go. I stayed in the house, put Jenny to bed, and started doing some housework. Moments later, I was startled by a loud scream and some muffled noises coming from upstairs. I raced up to Jenny’s room. Somehow, she had managed to wiggle her little body, except for her head, through the crib bars and was hanging from her bed choking.
I trembled as I struggled to get her body loose. Then I held her for a long time.
I will never forget the terror I felt that night, but I will always be thankful for the spiritual awareness that was awakened in me. My daughter’s life was saved because I heeded the promptings of the Spirit.
How Could He Have Known?
Although I was born into a Latter-day Saint family, my parents were not active in the Church. They did encourage me to go to church, however, and I was an active member during most of my teenage years.
Just after my high school graduation, my parents moved to Alaska. When it came time to begin college at Brigham Young University, I found myself far from my family. I had good college roommates, however, and was so caught up in my new life that I rarely felt homesick. Letters from my parents were plentiful, but they included few of the details of their lives.
I hadn’t been at BYU long when I was called to fill a position in our campus ward. After sacrament meeting one Sunday, those of us who had accepted positions gathered in a large room to be set apart for our new callings.
Brother Beal, a counselor in the bishopric, set me apart. I believe that I had spoken to him once before, but we were practically strangers. He was a kind man with a warm smile, but I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me.
After he set me apart, Brother Beal added a special blessing. When he paused, I thought he was finished, but he continued, and I could feel the powerful influence of the Spirit around us.
He told me that great and important things were happening in my home. He said the blessings of heaven were being poured out upon my family. He told me to humble myself before the Lord and put my life in order so that I might be worthy to receive the great blessing that would soon come to me.
I didn’t have any idea what Brother Beal was talking about, but I was so touched that I cried. As I turned to shake his hand after the blessing, I found that he, too, had tears streaming down his cheeks. Later, I wrote to my family and told them what had happened. My mother never mentioned it in her letters.
In December, I flew to Alaska to spend the holidays with my family. When I arrived, I found that my father had quit smoking and that my parents were active in their ward. Several weeks after I returned to school, my father was ordained an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood. The following August, our family was sealed for time and eternity in the Ogden Temple.
It was the fulfillment of a priesthood blessing pronounced upon me nearly a year before by a man I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. The Lord knew me, however, and by the power of the Spirit, he had spoken to me through his servant.