A Penny’s Worth of Honesty
After I had completed my education, my family and I moved back to my home state, Utah, and lived with my parents until I could find a job. Our son, Paul, who was three at the time, made some friends in the neighborhood and was playing with them one fall afternoon when some apples were delivered to our neighbors. The neighbors weren’t home, so the apples were left on the porch. Paul and his friends watched this event with great anticipation. As soon as the men left, they ran to the porch and helped themselves to the apples.
Paul also brought a few home to share with his mom and grandma. When asked where he had gotten the apples, he answered that he had taken the neighbors’ apples.
My wife and I explained to him that what he had done was stealing and that Jesus taught us that stealing was wrong. We told him he needed to apologize to our neighbors for taking the apples. We suggested that he use the money he had been saving for a special toy to replace the apples he had taken.
We drove him to the store and helped him pick out the nicest apples. With tears in his eyes, he reached into his pocket to retrieve his money and pay for them.
When Paul delivered the apples to our neighbors, they helped Paul to realize that what he had done was wrong, and they told him that they hoped he would always be honest.
A few days later, Grandma invited Paul to go to the grocery store with her. At the produce section, Grandma tested a grape to make sure the bunch was ripe and sweet. Deciding that they were, she put the bunch in her shopping cart. Paul watched Grandma closely. Then he asked, “Grandma, did you pay for that grape?”
“No,” she replied.
“Does Jesus care if we steal?” Paul asked, and Grandma answered yes.
“Did you steal that grape, Grandma?”
Grandma tried to ignore the questions as they walked through the store, but Paul questioned her persistently: Hadn’t he, just a few days before, done something similar with apples and gotten into trouble? Was it okay for Grandma to take a grape and not pay for it? If so, why?
Grandma quickly finished her shopping, paid the bill, and left the store. As they drove home, Paul asked one more time if she had eaten the grape without paying for it. “Yes, Paul, I did. Do you think I should go back to the store and pay for it?”
Paul nodded his head yes, and Grandma said, “So do I.”
Although Grandma was nearly home, she turned the car around and drove back to the store. Taking Paul by the hand, she went to the clerk who had helped her before and said, “Sir, I ate a grape and didn’t pay for it. My little grandson convinced me that it was wrong and that I should come back and pay for it.” With that, she plunked a penny down on the counter.
The clerk and the people in line looked at her strangely, but Paul was beaming with pride. Despite the embarrassment that returning to the store to pay for a single grape may have caused, Grandma had helped Paul understand that Jesus wants everyone, whether young or old, to be honest.
Driving with the Spirit
My husband, Duane, and I had finally finished packing in preparation for our move north several hundred miles. Our mini-caravan finally hit the road at 6:00 P.M.—Duane driving the yellow moving van, my father-in-law driving his pickup truck and towing our van behind it, and me driving our station wagon. Nine-year-old David, four-year-old Jason, and fifteen-month-old Matthew were in the car with me.
By the time we got on the road, it had gotten dark and was raining. I love the rain and enjoy driving at night, so I wasn’t nervous. But after about ten minutes, the rain turned to snow. Accustomed to warm weather, I couldn’t believe that it was snowing at the end of March.
The farther we drove, the heavier the snowstorm became. The wind was blowing so hard that the snow whipped violently in front of me, making it impossible to see the road clearly. I began to get nervous. The tires on our car weren’t snow tires, and it had been many years since I had driven in snow.
I silently prayed for Heavenly Father to bless me that I would drive carefully. The road had become a snow-covered sheet of ice, and we were slipping all over it. Within a few minutes, the snow became so deep that it was scraping the bottom of the car.
I was so frightened that I could no longer pray silently. I needed to talk to Heavenly Father vocally. I asked David and Jason to bow their heads; then I began to pray for guidance: “I can’t remember how to drive in the snow. Please help me to remember what to do.”
Suddenly I began to remember what my husband had taught me years earlier about driving in snow. I got the car under control again, and we offered a prayer of thanks. I felt the Spirit strongly.
I have never felt such dependence on the Lord in my life. Through every mile, I struggled to stay on the road and listened to the Holy Ghost teach me how to handle each situation. On one particularly steep hill, we passed many cars and trucks that were off to the side of the road, and I marvelled that I could keep going.
Just when I had calmed down and was beginning to think our situation would improve, Matthew began to cry. Up until now, he had been so good-natured. Occasionally when he would fuss, I would pacify him by giving him his bottle or a lollipop. But now he was no longer content in his car seat. He kept grabbing for my arm, struggling to get out of his seat. I tried to soothe him, but neither my singing nor my comforting words worked. His constant screaming, along with the storm, became more than I could bear.
I felt strongly that I should ask David and Jason to pray that Matthew would go to sleep, and I asked them to do so. I could see them with their heads bowed and their arms folded, and I felt the loving care and power of Heavenly Father. Within seconds after they finished praying, Matthew’s head nodded over to the edge of his car seat and he fell sound asleep.
For a few moments none of us could speak. We were overwhelmed by the power of prayer and the love Heavenly Father had for us. The storm continued, but my fears were gone.
Now my only concern was that I didn’t know how far I was behind the other trucks. I wanted so much to talk to my husband. About this time I saw a road sign: “Junction I-70, 9 miles.” I knew that exit with its large lights that lit up the whole area. “Please, Heavenly Father,” I prayed, “Put the thought into Duane’s mind to stop and wait for me there.” A feeling of peace came over me. As we approached the lighted area, a feeling of excitement grew within me. I strained my eyes and caught a glimpse of our big yellow truck through the storm. My husband and father-in-law were standing in the falling snow, waiting for me. The gratitude I felt at that moment was beyond words.
Fifteen minutes later, almost as quickly as it had started, the storm was over. We offered a prayer of thanks to a loving Father in Heaven who had led us safely through the storm one mile at a time.
I wasn’t really interested in the Church. I listened to the missionary discussions only to find out what a friend believed. But when the missionaries asked me to pray about whether or not the Church was true, the situation got serious. I felt I needed someone objective to talk to, someone outside the Church.
I thought about talking with my minister. I was not a member of any specific denomination, but I did enjoy the Christian church I had been attending. The minister and his wife had been good to me, and I respected him as a man of God.
Surely, he could give me some direction, I thought as I put on my coat.
As I was about to leave, I was impressed to pray about the matter. The feeling was so strong that I acted immediately, without question.
I closed the door, knelt by my bed, and asked Heavenly Father to guide me as I talked to my minister. I prayed that I might receive an answer about what the missionaries had told me.
After ending my prayer, I rose to my feet and again prepared to depart. However, another strong feeling came—that I should not see the minister. I felt that mortal advice could not solve my problem. When I needed truthful answers, I was to turn to the Lord in prayer.
Without further thought, I took off my coat and set about completing my morning tasks.
After more prayer and study, my answer did come. A burning sensation within me testified to the truthfulness of the gospel, and I was baptized.
When my testimony was firmly rooted, I visited my former minister and related to him my experiences. As I politely listened to his opinions, I felt thankful that I had chosen to let the still, small voice guide me instead.
My Lesson from Pahoran
As secretary of my family organization, I was thrilled to see a book of our family history roll off the press. From the initial positive comments and praise I heard, I assumed other family members were also happy with the publication.
Therefore, I was shocked when I opened a letter that contained no compliments or expressions of gratitude for the book but instead was full of negative and unkind remarks. This relative was hurt because the information on a member of her family had been left out.
My first reaction was anger. I was ready to retaliate by writing my own letter, but then I decided to see if there was any foundation for her remarks. In going through earlier correspondence, I discovered that the latest information she had sent, the material that had been left out, had not arrived until after the book had gone to the press.
Before I had a chance to begin my letter, I was prompted to read Alma 60–61, the chapters telling of some difficulties faced by Moroni, chief captain of all the Nephite armies.
As I read, I felt very deeply for Moroni as he watched many of his soldiers suffer greatly from hunger. I could understand his anger at the government because the necessary food supplies had not arrived. In his letter to “the governor of the land,” Pahoran, Moroni seemed to become increasingly more outraged at not receiving the needed supplies—to the point that he even threatened to fight against the government if Pahoran did not send the needed supplies. (See Alma 60:1, 35.)
The greatest lesson for me came in Pahoran’s reply to the captain. He wrote that the army’s great afflictions grieved his soul, and he then explained that he had been forced to flee for his life to the land of Gideon when a group had rebelled against him and had taken over the government. He told Moroni that the supplies needed by the army were being controlled by the oppressors and that he was helpless to retrieve them.
The words in Alma 61:9 had a strong impact on me. Instead of answering Moroni’s angry letter with equal anger, Pahoran answered with love:
“And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart. I, Pahoran, do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment-seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people. My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free.”
Pahoran’s kind response was a good example for me. As a result, I was able to sit down and write a kind letter to my relative. I explained why the information was not in the book, apologized for its absence, and said that a supplement could be added to the book later on. I ended the letter with words of love.
A short time later I received a second letter from her, full of apology for her previous words. The letter brought tears to my eyes. It also brought a feeling of deep gratitude to my heart for the prompting from the Holy Ghost to study the scriptures. Because I listened to this prompting and applied an example from the Book of Mormon to my life, I gained a true friend where I could have easily made an enemy.
“I Will Trust in Thee Forever”
Upon graduating from Brigham Young University, I married. My wife, Man-jun, and I left for Japan, where a new job and a new life awaited us. I had served a mission in the “land of the rising sun,” so I viewed our move with great excitement and anticipation.
However, toward the end of our first year, this excitement and anticipation gave way to the realization that not everything was happening as we had hoped. We desired to have a family, but to our great disappointment we were informed that we would have to wait. Man-jun would need to take medicine for several months, and the doctor stressed that it could be dangerous for our baby’s health if Man-jun got pregnant while she was on the medication.
We followed the doctor’s instructions carefully, so it was with disbelief and amazement that we discovered several months later that we were going to be parents. Although we were thrilled, we nevertheless realized the danger to our baby. Our hearts sank.
The doctors were quick to tell us what to do. To them it was an easy and obvious decision—have an abortion. But to us, it was a most difficult dilemma. How could we destroy the chance for one of our spirit brothers or sisters to experience mortality? The circumstances seemed to indicate that this child was meant to be part of our family at this time. And so with prayer, we made the decision not to have an abortion.
Though I felt calmness and confidence, a turbulent storm raged in Man-jun’s heart; every time she visited the doctor, he would warn her of the danger of our decision. I tried to comfort her, but at times it seemed as though I was fighting a raging fire with only a splash of water. My heart ached to see her in such turmoil, and I too began to feel frustrated because of my inability to comfort her.
Then one night when I returned home from work, I found my dear wife crying. She had been to the doctor again that day, and he had urged her once more to have an abortion. “Give me a blessing,” she quietly requested with tear-filled eyes.
I called the bishop and asked if he could assist in giving the blessing. As we waited for him to come, Man-jun and I shared our thoughts, feelings, and tears. Then a voice seemed to say to me, “Share 2 Nephi 4:34 [2 Ne. 4:34] with her.” I picked up our Book of Mormon and we read: “O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh.”
That one short passage of scripture, coupled with the blessing that followed, calmed the storm in Man-jun’s heart. Now she too felt peace and confidence, an assurance that the Lord intended this child to be part of our family.
The trips to the hospital became easier, and the doctors began to reluctantly accept our decision to have the baby. However, one doctor angrily warned us one last time: “Don’t forget, we advised you to have an abortion. So, if your baby is born with a cleft palate or some other serious defect, it’s your fault!” We smiled and assured him that he need not worry about us.
It has been nearly six years since our daughter was born with no complications or defects. She is a beautiful little girl who brings joy into our home. And as the Chinese characters for her name suggest, to us she is a “meaningful spirit.” I am grateful to my Father in Heaven, who gives us his loving guidance and direction.