In the Colorado Cold
Each year a group of us in Dallas gets together to backpack in the Colorado mountains. Our group consists of seven men ranging in age from 50 to 61. We come from different religious backgrounds, but the unifying feature of our group is that we all have a firm testimony of Jesus Christ as our Savior.
One year we decided to go camping the first week of July. The previous winter had been harsh, with more snow falling than in any of the past 20 years. The ground was dry where the sun shone through the trees, but in the shady areas there were snow piles two to three feet deep. Although the temperature was pleasant during the day, after the sun set the air quickly cooled. Our coldest morning reached 28 degrees.
All too soon our week of fishing and exploring was coming to an end. On Friday, our last day for adventure, we decided to break into two groups. Four of the men decided to go one direction, and Dan, Cecil, and I decided to go the opposite way in search of Lily Pond. Late in the afternoon we reached our destination and enjoyed the beautiful day while we circled the pond.
The day was now far spent, and we needed to get back to camp for the 6:00 P.M. dinner hour. We had almost reached Keer Lake when we saw two trucks in the muddy meadow. A pickup was stuck in mud up to the front bumper, and a three-quarter-ton flatbed, connected with a chain, was trying to pull it free. Dan and I decided to go help free the truck. Cecil had a bad back and would be unable to help, so he went back to camp to tell the others where we were.
Upon reaching the trucks we discovered three families: an older couple; their two married sons, both with their wives; and several children. All told, there were nine children ranging in age from 3 to 12, and six adults. The families had expected to spend the afternoon on a pleasure ride in the mountains, and, as it had been warm when they started out, they had not taken heavy clothing.
We worked for an hour and couldn’t budge the pickup. It was late in the day, and the temperature was dropping rapidly. Six of the children sat cold and hungry in the back of the pickup; they had last eaten at 2:00 P.M. Their shoes were wet from playing in the meadow, and they began to shiver from the cool mountain air. I decided to take the children back to our camp to dry them out and get them something warm to eat. Dan elected to remain in the meadow and continue working to free the truck.
As we were walking away from the meadow we heard a loud bang, and in looking back we saw the grandfather lying in the mud. The chain had snapped loose and struck him. Fortunately he wasn’t severely hurt and soon was back on his feet. It wasn’t until later we learned the family’s situation. The grandfather had had a heart attack six months earlier, and one son had been diagnosed with cancer and had only a short time to live. Fortunately the other son was healthy.
When I arrived at camp, my friends were surprised to see all the children. They immediately built up the fire and heated some hot chocolate. Everyone at camp had already eaten, and we shared the stew that was being saved for Dan and me. A prayer was offered that there would be enough food for the children and for those still in the meadow.
A cold rain started to fall, and without a word each man went to his tent, put on his rain gear, and left for the meadow, where another prayer was offered for the Lord to temper the elements. Within minutes the rain stopped.
It took another hour of working in the mud, but finally the truck was free. Everyone came back to camp to dry off and have something to eat. I saw Dan eating his dinner and was amazed at the heaping pile of stew on his plate. Then I looked into the pot; there were still two helpings left over after everyone had eaten. A meal that was prepared to feed 7 fed 17.
As we were talking, the healthy son told us that after struggling for several hours to free the truck, he had realized that the task was hopeless and had finally prayed for help. Upon looking up, he saw the men of our camp coming through the trees.
Another blessing came when a warm breeze began blowing through camp. We were all wet and cold, but the breeze warmed and comforted us. Two people commented on how warm it had turned. We needed that blessing, and even though we had not asked for it the Lord knew our need and provided for it.
Before our new friends left, we all stood in a circle around the campfire holding hands while the healthy son offered a prayer of thanksgiving. Then, people who had never met until that day hugged one another. Not much was said; we had reached that sacred moment when words were unnecessary. As they left our camp and disappeared through the pines we heard the children singing. A potential disaster had been averted.
Sabbath on the Ranch
When I was 14, our family moved to a small community in Oregon. Although jobs were scarce there, my father found a job at a sawmill 30 miles from our home. The work was hard and didn’t pay enough to support our family, and he came home exhausted every day. After work he attended to his duties as branch president. He often said that his body wasn’t up to the demands he was putting it through, but with the Lord’s help he would succeed.
At family home evening one night, we discussed the situation and decided my siblings and I, five of us in all, would go to work in the fields. It was harvest time, and we soon found employment on a farm. To make ends meet, Dad committed to work there too. The harvest had been slowed by rain that year, and it had come to the point where the crop either had to be harvested by the next day, Sunday, or it would probably mildew and rot. The farm owner, Mr. Cobine, came around to each of the workers and told us to plan on working the next day. Our family had always observed the Sabbath, but not wanting to upset Mr. Cobine, I simply nodded my head when he asked me to work the next day.
As I watched the owner turn to go ask my father the same question, I followed him and hid myself so I could hear them talking. Mr. Cobine told my dad he would have to work on Sunday. My father stopped picking. He looked up at the owner and asked him if he could talk with him for a few minutes. Reluctantly, the owner agreed.
In a kind voice my father explained that the Lord provides everything we have. He told Mr. Cobine that keeping the Sabbath day holy was a commandment and counseled him not to anger the Lord by harvesting on Sunday. My father went on to testify that the Lord would provide—his men should not have to work on this or any other Sunday. He even invited the owner to attend Church services with our family.
To my astonishment, after asking Dad a few questions, the owner accepted his counsel about the Sabbath and asked his workers to wait until Monday to come back to work. I could not have been prouder of my dad, but I was also concerned. I thought to myself, How can my father promise him that the Lord will provide?
Then I said a silent prayer to Heavenly Father to help my dad.
The crop harvested on Monday was abundant and of an unusually high quality. To my amazement, there was no sign of mildew damage or decay. So many workers showed up for the picking that the harvesting was completed in record time. The Lord had, indeed, provided bountifully.
That summer the ranch produced more than it had in any other year. Mr. Cobine repeatedly thanked my father for his counsel and guidance. Even though he didn’t consider himself a religious person, he believed that the Lord had blessed him for keeping the Sabbath day holy.
The lesson I learned that day from my father’s courage to stand up for what he believed has stayed with me. The Sabbath is a holy day and not one to be used in pursuit of the things of this world; it’s a day for us to become closer to our Heavenly Father.
I Heard a Little Voice
I want to come to earth. I need to come to earth. Please help me. I seemed to hear those words in my mind that bright and humid August morning as the nurse wheeled me to the car where my husband waited. The baby we had both yearned for had miscarried, and my heart was broken. Sleep would not come that first night in the hospital, and morning brought no relief.
My husband and I were not religious people, although we both felt there must be a God. We had rejoiced over a daughter born four years earlier, and it had taken so long to begin our dream of adding a son that we were disheartened by the loss of this baby.
Once home, my physical body began to heal, but my spirit was deeply troubled. A little voice, which seemed to be that of a child, continued to pass through my mind. I had heard of women who had emotional problems after the loss of a pregnancy. Was I losing touch with reality? My early religious background had taught me that existence began with the formation of our physical bodies. How could a child be crying out to me when it did not exist?
Days turned into weeks. The idea of a voice was with me when I went to bed at night and when I arose in the morning. It was with me during quiet moments and pushed its way into my every activity. I needed help, and I needed it soon. But to whom could I turn?
One night as I lay in bed, I thought of Mark, a relative. Mark was a loving person, and I had never heard him speak harshly of anyone. Though I had heard some people jest about his newly acquired Mormon beliefs, I had noticed an increase of peace and family unity come into his life. Feeling desperate, I called Mark, and he came to pick me up.
It was hard to talk about my experiences, but once I began I felt the weight of a hundred sleepless nights being lifted from my weary shoulders. As I poured out my story, Mark sat smiling and nodding his head. When I finished, he began to teach me a doctrine that was to change my life—something about a premortal existence. He explained that we lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before coming to this earth and that evidently there was an unborn spirit who wished to come now to my home. He suggested that I try again to have a baby.
I soon became pregnant. The voice was suddenly gone. The pregnancy was difficult, and I spent many months in bed. But on a hot and dry summer morning, my little son was born. I will always remember the joy I felt as I held that little baby whose spirit had cried out to me from a world I had never even heard of.
My husband and I were baptized into the Church when our son, Aaron, was four months old. When the missionaries taught me the lesson on premortal life, I felt an overwhelming gratitude to Heavenly Father for a son who, through the events of his birth, brought to our home the glorious news of the gospel.
“Abide with Me”
It seemed the hot, oppressive miles stretched on forever as we fidgeted restlessly in the crowded car. We had already been traveling 12 hours through a midsummer heat wave on our trek home to Chicago from a vacation in the West.
My husband, Chris, was driving, with seven-month-old Peter in his car seat next to him and our friend Sheryl next to the baby. I sat in the back with our three-year-old daughter.
As night approached, Peter’s frustration and fatigue progressed from whining tooutright wailing. After Sheryl’s attempts to console him failed, we finally swapped seats. I put my hand on a tear-stained cheek, murmuring comfortingly. Immediately Peter stopped crying and, with just a few whimpers, fell asleep. His obvious appreciation for my nearness was tremendously satisfying—and humbling.
As my baby slept, I pondered times when I have been in similar situations—frustrated by the constraints of my circumstances, exhausted by my trials, and feeling helpless and alone. Yet for me also had come a comforter with familiar tenderness and soul-soothing power. As we drove on into the night in those cramped quarters, I sang to myself in gratitude and relief:
(Hymns, no. 166)
An Apostle’s Embrace
It was 1979, and I had recently been called to serve in the bishopric of our struggling ward in Telford, England. My wife and I and our four children had been Church members for 14 years, and for most of those years I had been unemployed. Deeply concerned, I had prayed sincerely for the Lord to assist me and had traveled all over Britain looking for work.
After a particularly trying time with unpaid bills, I told my wife that we could afford to travel as a family to the Sunday session of conference but that I could not afford to attend the Saturday priesthood session. I had been looking forward to attending all the conference meetings because Elder Howard W. Hunter, then an Apostle, was to preside. I was feeling very low.
My wife tried to comfort me. She told me she had been praying for me and that I would get a ride to the priesthood meeting. I responded that I had already told the bishop and others that I could not attend. She told me to have faith.
A short time later there was a knock at the door, and a good priesthood brother told me to get in his car. I explained that I could not afford to help with gas, but he merely said I was not to worry. As we left, he explained that he had been halfway to Newcastle, where the stake center was located, when he kept hearing a voice in his mind telling him to turn back and pick me up.
We arrived just as the meeting began, and as I sat through the talks I began to feel much better. After the meeting, I stood in the corridor watching Elder Hunter walk past members shaking hands with them. As he drew opposite me, his back was toward me. Then he turned around and walked over to me, looked deep into my eyes, then took me in his arms and gave me a hug. Without a word he continued on shaking hands with members.
When I returned home and told my wife what had happened, she burst into tears and said that after I had left, she got on her knees and asked Heavenly Father to let me know somehow that everything would work out. I knew then that things would eventually improve, which they did. I am grateful to Heavenly Father for being mindful of me at a time when I was in such need of comfort.
The Box I’d Never Seen Before
It was a rainy night in Sakai, Japan. I had been working in the area as a missionary for nearly six months, and now, finally, the long, hot summer of 1971 was nearly over. On this wet night, however, my companion and I were in one of the offices where the branch met, looking over maps of the area. Deep in thought about planned proselyting activities, I happened to look up from the table at the now-familiar room. Then I noticed a shoe box tucked neatly away on top of a filing cabinet.
As many times as I’d been in that room, I’d never noticed it before. Suddenly curious, I arose, took down the box, and opened it. To my surprise the box contained referral cards from the Church pavilion at Japan’s expo held the year before in Osaka. These people had toured the pavilion, bought copies of the Book of Mormon, and indicated a desire to know more about the Church.
I thought we had long since contacted all referrals in the Sakai area. Quickly checking through the addresses, I was astonished to find that most were located in an area where we had just completed tracting and that some were for homes we had visited. I had been ready to cross the entire area off our map in preparation to enter another neighborhood. Instead, I began to organize the cards for a return visit.
The next morning, Sunday, the rain continued. Even after our branch meetings let out, rain continued to pour down. We had intended to begin looking up the last of these expo referrals, but it became increasingly apparent that it might be better to wait. Not only was it raining, but I was also beginning to feel ill. Besides, these people had been waiting more than a year already. What difference would another day or so make?
Unexpectedly I felt a warm witness of the Lord’s Spirit that we should proselyte that very day. The time had come for these people to hear the gospel. Accordingly, my companion and I gathered our materials and left.
We arrived in the area and began going from one address to the next. During that afternoon, no one turned us away, and we made appointments for return visits in every place we went! Several of those we spoke with mentioned that if we had visited at any other time we would not have found them at home. In all of the time I had been a missionary, I had never felt the Spirit so powerfully guiding me as I did that afternoon.
I am grateful to the Lord for that rainy day, for a small shoe box full of referral cards, and for the Spirit that prompted us to search out those names. From those contacts, many were baptized and some have gone on to become leaders in the Church in Japan.