Our Son Was Blessed
It was the end of the summer, and my four-year-old son, Kento, had been playing inside our home in Komatsu, Honshu, Japan, while I busied myself with various tasks. Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of screeching brakes. Alarmed, I hurried outside to see my son lying on the street, with his left foot bleeding badly and part of the bone showing. Even his favorite blue Mickey Mouse shoe had been partially melted by friction as it was pushed across the pavement.
In the ambulance all the way to the hospital, I held Kento’s hand and tried to comfort him, but I was trembling with shock. My husband, Yasunobu, was out of town on business, and it would take hours for him to return. Kento kept calling for his daddy, and though I tried to remain calm, in my heart I too was crying hard for Yasunobu to come back.
At last Yasunobu returned, and we were able to bear this trial together. The doctors told us that Kento had suffered no serious head injuries but that his foot, although doing better than expected, would require many surgeries until Kento reached his teenage years. Even then, they said, it would never be the same and he would always walk with a limp.
During the next weeks as I waited in the hospital, I kept reading and repeating a scripture to myself to gain strength: “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:36). My faith supported me, and my testimony of the priesthood would continue to help me through this difficult time in my family’s life.
Seven days after the accident, I had a dream. In my dream I was praying beside Kento’s bed after hearing the doctor’s explanation about Kento’s condition. Then I heard a voice say, “This boy will recover from his injury faster than the average case.”
At first I thought the doctor had returned to the room. However, when I looked around in my dream I saw a man in white standing next to my sleeping son. He said again, “This boy will recover from his injury faster than the average case.” The message gave me comfort and peace and deepened my hope and faith.
Yasunobu and I fasted and prayed often. One day Yasunobu said to me, “Isn’t there any way Kento can receive a blessing from our Church leaders?” After discussing it, we decided to write a letter to President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency and explain our son’s situation. In the letter we said that because of our great concern when Kento was released from the hospital we would even come to Utah if necessary, and we asked President Monson if he would please take the time to give Kento a blessing.
It wasn’t long before we received a reply to our letter. President Monson had found the time to ask our priesthood leaders to visit us. He said that there was no need to make the journey from Japan to Utah, testifying that we had the same access to the priesthood in our own home as in Salt Lake City. The Lord would bless us according to our faith and his will.
Kento’s name was placed on the temple prayer roll. Two days later, when he was having the dressing on his foot changed, he was able to move his foot—even though the doctor had said he would not be able to do so because his tendon had been severed.
“It cannot be possible without surgery,” the doctor exclaimed with wonder. Yet when he examined Kento’s foot carefully, the tendon was intact.
Although Kento’s foot looked sore, that day he was able to walk without pain. A week later, to the doctor’s amazement, Kento was running down the corridor of the hospital.
Our blessings continued. Not long after, our branch president, district president, and others came to see Kento and to help give him a priesthood blessing. There was a sacred, spiritual atmosphere in our home. As the men listened, one leader talked about the power of the priesthood, mentioning that each priesthood holder in the room held the same priesthood power. As the priesthood leader in our home, Yasunobu could choose someone to give the priesthood blessing to Kento. Yasunobu said that he would like one of the men to anoint Kento and that he would like to administer.
Later Yasunobu told me that because of what our leaders said that day—even though in our trial we wanted our leaders involved—he felt it really didn’t matter who spoke the words of the blessing, for the power of the Spirit was there and the priesthood holders were united as the blessing was given.
After the blessing, Kento never complained about his foot. He showed his faith by not complaining. Now, as I watch my healthy son run and play, my heart fills with gratitude for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the priesthood. I am so grateful for a husband worthy of holding the priesthood power so that our family may be blessed no matter where we are.
The Mormon Boy’s Gift
In the spring of 1853, a small but devout party of emigrants set out to cross the plains to establish a religious colony in Oregon. Although they followed the Mormon Trail much of the way, they had little goodwill for the Mormons, who, according to reports in the East, were said to be a barbaric band of religious fanatics.
As the wagons neared the fork where the Utah and Oregon Trails divided, a series of disasters hit the Edmund Richardson family. As the family crossed the Platte River, their wagon overturned, nearly drowning their daughter; in addition, most of their belongings were lost or damaged. Soon after, their wagon began to fall apart, and then their oxen died. The family struggled onward by dividing what remained of their belongings among other wagons and by using their milk cow to pull their own broken-down wagon.
Unfortunately, the family’s problems slowed the progress of the entire group, and members of the wagon train decided they must continue on without the Richardson family or risk the safety of all. The leader of the pioneer band, a Reverend Whitworth, suggested that with care, the Richardsons might be able to survive the coming winter months among the ferocious Mormons in Utah and then continue on to Oregon to join their friends the following spring.
With heavy hearts, Mary and Edmund bade farewell to their traveling companions, and the family limped south toward the Great Salt Lake. Their progress was painfully slow, and their fears of Indians were intense. Nevertheless, the family felt the hand of the Lord guiding them from the moment they turned south.
On the evening of 3 August 1853, the Richardsons made camp on the west bank of the Jordan River, hoping their location would put them a safe distance from any Mormons yet provide them with safety from Indians. They had scarcely settled for the night when the approach of a rider filled them with apprehension. Their fears were calmed, however, when they discovered the rider to be a barefoot boy on a small pony. It seems the boy’s mother had noticed their arrival and had sent him over with a pail of milk. The family was surprised, thinking it strange that such a gift would come from a Mormon. Shortly after, another neighbor invited the family for supper. The Richardsons worried that their hosts might be offended upon learning that they were not of their faith. Later, Mary stated it was the best meal she had ever eaten. Other invitations followed, including an offer of employment for Edmund in the local flour mill.
These overtures of friendship so impressed Edmund and Mary that they accepted an invitation to attend Church services on Sunday. Edmund said that he heard the first real gospel sermon of his life in that meeting. The family was baptized two months later.
Today, thousands of descendants of this pioneer family are grateful for the trials that brought the Richardsons to the Salt Lake Valley and for that unknown woman who put her son on a pony with a pail of milk.
Although I was never a rebellious child, at 14 I began to feel Mom and Dad were becoming so hopelessly antiquated that I wanted none of their advice—especially concerning a mission. I knew Mom and Dad expected me to serve, but what was so special about a mission? Or about my parents, for that matter?
Then one Sunday afternoon I found my dad’s white family history binder, with a temple embossed in gold on the front cover. When I picked it up, it fell open to a page marked “Personal Record.” Intrigued, I started to read my father’s life story.
It began by listing three of his teachers who later made important contributions to the Church. Then the story took a new turn when he was in fifth grade.
He wrote of a personal tragedy when it was discovered that osteomyelitis had infected the bones of his left leg. Local doctors performed a series of operations, but without success. By Christmas they had given up and sent him home with pain so intense that a bump against his bed, or even someone sitting beside him, hurt unbearably. In desperation he was sent by train to a bone specialist in a distant city.
The day after he arrived, the diseased bone was removed. During his 14 months in the hospital, he suffered through 13 additional operations, many without anesthetic. Sent home to regain strength for another round of operations, he took a carefree ride on horseback. The mare stumbled and pitched him off, and the blow caused the disease to flare up and run rampant through the bone. Finally his leg was amputated.
I read on, fascinated. The story became more cheerful. During his recovery his older brother pulled him to school in a little wagon while Dad became proficient with his crutches. Then an artificial limb was fitted, though it felt awkward and unwieldy at first. And there eventually came a day when his crutches broke and he had to depend solely on his legs.
Soon my father was participating in singing lessons and festivals. He was blessed at one time with a promise that he would serve a mission. The call came, and he responded. His faith and testimony inspired me, especially when I realized he walked everywhere.
Later, the tale became a love story. He had gone to school to become a teacher and had met a girl who liked to go for long walks. She even agreed to dance with a one-legged date and had fun. They fell in love, married in the temple, and had a child—me.
I wept as I read. I wept with joy for the little boy who had endured so much to live and who later became my father. I wept with pride for the girl who showed much maturity in accepting him and marrying him. And I wept with gratitude for a Heavenly Father who had sent me to such a special home.
That afternoon was a turning point. The very next Sunday I stood and bore my testimony for the first time since childhood—a testimony of love and trust in my parents. Because of my newly softened heart, later on I was able to accept counsel from my father, which helped me grow significantly toward my own mission, all because a binder fell open to my dad’s personal record.
All I Had to Give
My first testimony of visiting teaching came when I was a young mother. It had been a very prosperous year for my husband and me, and we were enjoying being new parents. Then one day my husband came home from work and told me the company he worked for was going on strike. Thinking our supply of funds would never run out, we had not set any money aside for emergencies. Surely the strike would not last long. After two weeks went by without settlement, my eyes were opened. Bills kept coming in, and our food was running low.
One evening a friend of my husband who wanted to help us stopped by with a beef roast. I looked hungrily at it because we hadn’t had any meat for the past two weeks. I couldn’t wait to cook it the next day. After she left, the phone rang. It was my visiting teaching partner. She informed me that a less-active sister on our route had lost her father and that we’d been asked to bring in a meal the next day. I thought about the roast sitting in the refrigerator. It was the only thing I could prepare. I thought briefly about saying no but immediately felt guilty. Her need was greater than mine.
The next day the house was filled with the aroma of cooking meat. I also made homemade bread, but all the time I was cooking I was grumbling to myself about not having a nice dinner for my own family. Then a thought came clearly to mind: You will be blessed if you do this act of kindness.
My partner picked me up, and we took the meal over to the home. When we arrived, no one was home, so we quietly walked in and put the dinner on the table. I felt good about what we had done for this sister, but I still felt bad that all I had to offer my own family was macaroni and cheese—again.
The next day good things started happening. We received $50 as a gift, and more meat arrived from my husband’s friend, whose family owned a cattle ranch. The following week my husband returned to work. I was more grateful than ever for the visiting teaching program and for the chance to both serve and receive service at the hands of others.
From Zaire to the Lord’s House
I live in the central African nation of Zaire with my wife, Nambwa Mbo, and our two sons, Kabamba and Kamulete. Our third son, Vumbi, died in December 1996.
Our home in the city of Kinsuka is far from South Africa, where the nearest temple is. I had often thought, Why should I bother to get a temple recommend? I can’t afford to go. But in 1994 President Howard W. Hunter advised all worthy Latter-day Saints to get a temple recommend, even if they lived far from a temple (see “The Great Symbol of Our Membership,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 2). His words touched my heart, and I asked my branch president for an interview.
I work for a man who serves in the parliament of Zaire. Late in 1995 he received an invitation to go to North Korea, filled out all the necessary papers to have this official assignment approved, and included my name on the list of those who were to go with him. However, our government did not approve the plans. This refusal began a lengthy period of negotiations as my supervisor continued to try to get approval.
I asked my priesthood leaders to pray with me that the plans would be approved and that my name would remain on the list. Four months later, approval was given. Only two names remained on the list—my supervisor’s and mine.
When I received the news that the trip had been approved, I was elated. However, I knew there was no temple in North Korea. Then I heard these words whispered quietly in my heart: “Do not delay! Make sure Switzerland is included on your travel route.” I realized that perhaps I would be able to go to the Swiss Temple!
I immediately went to my supervisor and suggested that we fly to and from North Korea through Switzerland. He had no objection, so I arranged for the tickets and for visas for all the countries we were to travel through. Incredibly, when the visas arrived, I discovered that all of the countries had sent us only short-term transit visas—except Switzerland, which had sent us tourist visas good for a month!
We left Zaire and arrived safely in North Korea. I felt strengthened by Heavenly Father to live according to his word and to be a good example of the restored gospel. It was wintertime, and we were often offered a hot cup of tea. But I was always obedient to the Word of Wisdom. When we sat down at a table with the North Korean officials, they would all raise teacups, coffee cups, or wine glasses while proposing a toast. I would drink a glass of water or a cup of milk.
At the conclusion of our assignment in North Korea, we flew to China and then on to Switzerland, landing in Geneva. My Church leader in Zaire had suggested that I contact a member of the Church named Brother Rimli as soon as I arrived in Geneva. I planned to meet Brother Rimli the following day and go to the Swiss Temple with him. However, my supervisor told me he wanted me to accompany him to Lausanne, another city in Switzerland. I explained that I had a very important appointment the next day and would not be able to accompany him. But he insisted that I go to Lausanne with him instead.
I retired to my room and offered a prayer. Not long after, my supervisor told me he had changed his mind—I didn’t need to go to Lausanne with him after all.
When I traveled to the city of Bern and met Brother Rimli at the Swiss Temple the next day, how humble and grateful I felt! I was impressed by the beauty and stateliness of the building. The temple workers were expecting me and made me feel welcome. I felt at home there. I will never forget the love the temple president and his wife, President and Sister Mario V. Vaira, expressed for me. I received my endowment that day, and it has been the greatest gift in my life. I pray for the day when I can take my wife and be sealed to her and to our sons.
I did not think I would ever be able to go to the temple, but I obtained a recommend as the prophet had counseled. And my Father in Heaven prepared a very special way for me to receive temple blessings.