Forewarned by a Dream
I woke up from my dream, frightened. It was the same dream I’d had before, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of foreboding as I recalled a phrase from my patriarchal blessing: “You will be warned of the approach of evil and be protected from harm and accident.”
The dream was simple but terrifying. The small two-bedroom mobile home where my husband, our three children, and I were living was engulfed in flames. I didn’t know who, if anyone, was inside. But after the dream, I knew with certainty that we must move.
That would be more difficult than it sounded. My husband had just graduated from college, and we had moved to DeSoto, Georgia, after he had found a job.
Since he hadn’t been working long, we didn’t have much money. We’d been lucky to find the trailer, which had been sitting vacant on a cattle ranch owned by some friends.
And now I was insisting that we move. I didn’t know why, but I had faith in the promptings of the Spirit and in the counsel given in my patriarchal blessing. And my husband had faith in me. So I began looking for a new home.
I searched all over town and finally found a small, three-bedroom house inside the city limits of Americus. After we cleaned the place up and moved in, I sat back with a sigh. For the first time in days, I felt truly safe.
A week later, I received a call from the cattle ranch. “Have you heard?” my friend questioned. “The trailer you lived in burned to the ground today.”
To this day, no one knows what caused the trailer to burn. And it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the safety of my family and the guidance we can receive from the Lord if we will but listen and obey.
Bless Those Elders
For no apparent reason, I introduced myself to the Mormon missionaries in a local bowling alley in 1961 and invited them to come to my home for dinner. When they accepted the invitation and told me of their reason for being in Australia, I felt a desire to listen to them.
After listening to some discussions and attending a sacrament meeting, a baptism, and a youth activity, I began to understand that what the gospel meant was involvement—and I didn’t want any. But the missionaries were likable fellows, and I kept up my association with them for a time. I remember vividly that one day while we were sitting in the car, one of the elders bore a fervent testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. That testimony never left me; afterward my life was never the same. But I refused to recognize what I was feeling and finally decided not to be at home when the elders called.
Some time later, I found a copy of the Book of Mormon in my letter box. Throughout the time of my previous association with the missionaries, I had managed to resist their efforts to give me the book. Now I had one in my possession. I didn’t make any attempt to read the book, but often, as I walked past my dresser where it lay, I felt some influence beckoning me to pick it up.
I remember one day throwing it into the closet and piling clothes on top of it in an effort to get it out of my mind.
Four years later, just before Christmas, I sat on my bed in the early morning hours, unable to sleep. I knew that my life was lacking in purpose, and I longed for a second chance. I found myself wishing I could actually be reborn. I began searching the room for something comforting to read, and I finally found the Book of Mormon.
The book was marked with small pieces of paper on which were handwritten questions, with scriptural references providing answers. One read: “How can you know this book is God’s word? Moroni 10:4–5.” [Moro. 10:4–5] I read the text referred to and was impressed with Moroni’s promise. In plain terms, he was challenging me to pray about the book.
I continued to read as the days went by. Then, one warm afternoon in January, I took the Book of Mormon into the backyard where I could sit and read in the sunshine.
Again, I came across a small piece of paper. It asked, “Why repent? Alma 34:31–35.” I read with interest Amulek’s exhortation to the Zoramites not to procrastinate the day of their repentance, and I suddenly realized that that was what I had done for four years—procrastinate. With the missionary’s testimony ringing in my ears, I turned to Moroni’s words of counsel, and I decided then and there that I would pray.
Immediately I felt the distinct presence of some being telling me there was no use asking for an answer, for I was not worthy of one. But gathering strength from somewhere, I clenched the book firmly in my hand, looked up into heaven, and cried, “Dear God, is it true?”
Immediately I felt a deep burning within my bosom, and a sweet feeling pervaded the atmosphere. And then I heard a still, small voice which simply said, “It’s true.”
Ten days later I was baptized. And even today, years later, I ask the Lord to bless those two faithful, persistent elders who left that book, with appropriately marked passages, in my letter box.
On Call for the Lord
It was a beautiful, picture-perfect summer day as I left the meetinghouse at the end of our Sunday services. After a morning of meetings and lessons, I began to switch mental gears to family and home as I contemplated the menu for dinner.
As I approached the house, the thought came to me forcefully that I needed to visit Jennie, * an older widow. I felt a surge of guilt as I remembered that I hadn’t seen her at church for several weeks, and I wondered if there was something keeping her from the meetings. I quickly dismissed the idea, though, turning my thoughts to the fun of a Sunday meal with my husband and children.
After dinner, I had another nudge of conscience about Jennie. I tried to dismiss it once again, telling myself that since I had already spent many hours at Church meetings, I deserved to spend a pleasurable afternoon with my family. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get my mind off Jennie. Once again, the still, small voice whispered to me that I had to visit my dear neighbor around the block.
I finally walked the short distance to Jennie’s home and rang the doorbell. A distraught Jennie answered the door. She burst into tears as she saw me. Then she softly said, “I’ve been praying that you would come.”
For the next hour I listened to Jennie as she sifted through several serious problems. Members of her family were undergoing some severe trials, and she had just learned of a divorce within the family. With the news of this latest family crisis, Jennie had reached her breaking point and was finding it difficult to cope. She had been praying desperately for a listening ear, and the promptings of the Spirit had been trying to tell me so.
The visit to Jennie taught me some valuable lessons that Sabbath afternoon. I saw that no time or day is off-limits for serving the Lord or his children. He expects us to cultivate a listening ear and follow the urgings of the still, small voice of the Spirit, for it is often through us that the Lord answers our neighbors’ prayers.
Name has been changed.
“How Does She Know Our Songs?”
Our family has always enjoyed music. As we have sung together in family home evening and at church, we have felt the unifying effects of music as it brings us closer to each other and to our Father in Heaven. But it wasn’t until recently that we learned that the language of song can be universal.
A Latter-day Saint family came to the United States from Taiwan to attend the wedding of their daughter in the Washington Temple. The following week they attended a reception our New York ward held to honor the newlyweds. The reception was lovely, but my wife and I were concerned as the bride’s parents struggled to communicate with guests through a translator. Although they smiled as they greeted everyone, it was obvious that they were uncomfortable in such foreign surroundings. We wanted to do more.
Knowing that this was their first trip to this part of the United States, we offered to take them to visit the Sacred Grove and the Hill Cumorah. They enthusiastically accepted the invitation, and the following morning, we picked up the bride’s parents and the newlyweds and left for Palmyra.
Although our family struggled to talk with them on the three-hour drive to Palmyra, our conversations were relatively brief and simple. As time went on, the silence became increasingly uncomfortable.
When we arrived, we noticed few people at the visitor sites. Although the solitude gave us all an opportunity to contemplate the events of the Restoration, it also emphasized the formidable barrier between our two families and cultures. We felt a strong desire to share our feelings with them as we walked through the Sacred Grove. But as my wife sat with the bride’s mother, they were able to exchange only the simplest of words, not knowing for certain if the other understood.
During the long drive home, two of our children began singing Primary songs to pass the time. “Book of Mormon Stories” soon filled our station wagon, and to our surprise, the new bride began singing along in Chinese. Our children stopped singing and listened. “They’re from Taiwan!” our children said. “How does she know our songs?”
Our children and their daughter began singing more Primary songs. Our children sang more and more verses, and the bride kept right up with them—verse for verse.
Soon everyone was involved. It became a game to see who could sing a Primary song that couldn’t be sung in Chinese. We sang “I Love to See the Temple,” “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus,” “Love One Another,” “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” “The Golden Plates,” and many more. To our astonishment, they knew them all. They even knew the actions that go along with the words of “Popcorn Popping.”
Mile after mile we sailed along, singing and laughing. As we sang, our music seemed to fill me and to brighten everything around us, and my love for our Chinese guests grew without limit. For I had discovered once again that we are all brothers and sisters, children of the very same loving Father. And as members of the Church, we are bound together by the gospel of Jesus Christ and by the music that sings his praises.
“I Was Doing His Work Today”
It was late on a cold, blustery Saturday afternoon. Stake leadership meetings had just concluded, and people were getting ready for the long trip home. The group that climbed into Emily’s van shared the ideas they had learned in the meetings. The conversation was so lively that no one heard the moan of the engine as it sputtered and then failed.
In North Dakota in the winter, when a car doesn’t start, it’s more than inconvenient—it can be life-threatening. Everyone in Emily’s carpool recognized the gravity of their situation: They were eighty miles from home with little money, car repair shops had already closed for the weekend, and bad weather was coming in from the west.
Emily sat in the driver’s seat, mentally going over all the possible reasons for the engine’s failure, but she couldn’t recall any engine problems. In fact, before her husband had left for overseas military duty for a year, he had tried his very best to leave her with a good, dependable vehicle.
A small group quickly gathered around the vehicle and offered advice. Someone from Emily’s ward soon had the hood up and was looking for the problem. In the midst of these concerned conversations, Emily excused herself and disappeared into the dark and deserted stake center.
Everyone was baffled. No one could imagine who she could call at this hour, and her husband was thousands of miles away.
Just as the person under the hood again announced that he simply couldn’t find anything wrong, Emily came running from the building.
“I know what the problem is now, and I know how to fix it,” she announced. Emily climbed into the driver’s seat, leaned forward, and flipped a small switch. This time, when she turned the key, the engine roared to life. All of us were amazed. Emily then began to explain how she knew what was wrong.
“As we were trying to fix the van, I remembered that I hadn’t asked the one who would know what the problem was. I needed to ask for the Lord’s help,” she said. “I knew he wouldn’t give me a problem I couldn’t fix while I was trying to fulfill my calling.
“Almost right away, I realized that as we were climbing in and out of the van, one of us must have bumped the switch that controls the gas tanks. So the engine was using the empty tank of gas instead of the almost full one.”
She explained that when her husband had gone overseas, she had promised the Lord that she would willingly fulfill all her responsibilities. “In return,” she continued, “I have been reassured that a way would be made available for me to accomplish that goal. I just knew this wasn’t a big problem, because I was doing the Lord’s work today.”