I Invited Them In
My role as a mother to a toddler and a baby was never more challenging than the day my two-year-old daughter went exploring in the refrigerator while I tried to feed breakfast to her 10-month-old brother. I had succeeded in getting only one spoonful of cereal into David when I heard a crash and a splash. Turning to see what had happened, I saw my little daughter sitting on the floor with an empty pitcher in her lap. She, the floor, and the inside of the refrigerator were covered with sticky red punch.
To make matters worse, the doorbell rang. My first impulse was to ignore it. I picked up Andrea and started removing her wet, sticky clothes. David, not understanding where his breakfast and mommy had gone, sat in his high chair wailing. The doorbell rang again, and I remembered that my visiting teachers had scheduled a visit with me for that morning.
Discouraged and on the verge of tears, I picked up Andrea and went to the door. Seeing the look on my face, Sister Jefferson asked if they should come back later. I looked at her and thought of the mess in my kitchen. Then, instead of sending them away, I invited my visiting teachers in and showed them my problem.
Coats went off, and lesson materials were left on a chair. Sister Metcalf sat down in front of David and tried to calm and feed him. Sister Jefferson mopped the floor and wiped the refrigerator clean. I cleaned up Andrea and put her in the playpen.
As I waved good-bye to my two wonderful visiting teachers, I was both grateful and cheerful. And as my day progressed, I found myself chuckling over what could have been a discouraging and stressful experience. I will always remember the visiting teachers who cleaned my kitchen, fed my baby, and truly brought sunshine into my home.
“The Gospel’s True, Julio”
My wife and I had always wanted to be effective member missionaries, but we didn’t know how to proceed. One Sunday we attended a sacrament meeting that focused on missionary work, and we were deeply impressed by the message. That evening and the next morning we prayed fervently that we would be able to find someone with whom we could share the gospel.
I was stationed at the time at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington. On Monday I was introduced to a new airman in our squadron, Julio Reyes, and we were assigned to work together for the day. No sooner had Julio and I been dropped off at our post than he turned to me and said, “I hear you’re a Mormon. Why don’t you tell me about your church.” For the next eight hours we discussed the gospel, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. By the end of our shift, Julio had committed to taking the missionary discussions in our home.
Julio had been raised in a faithful Christian home and had considered entering the priesthood upon his discharge from the service. He had an intense interest in religion. During the first three discussions, everything went well. He read the Book of Mormon faithfully and came prepared with thoughtful questions. He and I continued our conversations at work, and I could tell he was finding answers to questions he had wondered about for years.
His mood shifted dramatically, however, during the fourth discussion. Julio argued with the missionaries on every point until the missionaries decided to end the discussion and leave. I was shocked by this unexpected turn of events and prayed that Julio would be blessed with understanding.
The next day at work I asked Julio what had happened to make him so angry during the missionary discussion. His eyes immediately began to tear up. With a quivering voice, he said, “All my life I have known that I needed to be rebaptized. I even went to several priests and asked them if I could be baptized again, but they said it wasn’t necessary. Now you have told me why I should.”
“So, what’s the problem?”
He lowered his head and sighed. “If I accept what I now know to be true, I will give up everything I have worked for to this point in my life and destroy my parents’ dream of my entering the priesthood. I may not even be able to see my family again.”
I was at a loss how to help him. All I could do was put my arm around him and say softly, “The gospel’s true, Julio. What are you going to do?”
A few weeks later, Julio was baptized into the Church, and it did cause a strain in his relationship with his family. Unfortunately, within a few weeks of his baptism, Julio was transferred to Korea. Since he was new in the Church, my wife and I were concerned about his leaving behind his supportive friends, but we hoped the Saints in Korea would pick up where we left off in fellowshipping him.
About two months after his departure, my shift supervisor came to me one day and told me I was being transferred to Korea and was to leave immediately. In shock I argued that this could not be possible because a tour in Korea required more months than I had left in the service. He explained that my orders had actually come six months earlier but somehow had been lost until now. As I later pondered the events of those six months, I realized that had I gone to Korea when I was supposed to, I never would have met Julio.
Since I was given such short notice for my departure, I was unable to notify Julio that I was coming to Korea. When I arrived, I took a bus to the base where he was stationed and went to his barracks. When he opened his door, he wrapped his arms around me and shouted, “Where have you been? I have been praying you would come for the last two months!”
Although stationed miles apart, Julio and I spent a great deal of time together talking about the gospel. One of his prime concerns centered on whether after his discharge, at his age, he should serve a mission or go home and find a wife. For months his decision bounced between a mission and marriage.
One weekend we had the privilege of attending an area conference in Seoul. We were fortunate to stay in the same place as the visiting General Authorities. On the last day of their visit, Julio and I were waiting in a crowd for transportation to the final conference session when I saw President Spencer W. Kimball gently making his way through the crowd. He seemed to be coming directly toward us. President Kimball stopped in front of Julio, looked him squarely in the eye, pressed his finger into Julio’s chest, and said, “You need to go on a mission to your people!” Then, without another word, he turned on his heel and was gone. Within a few months of his discharge, Julio received a mission call to Mexico.
When I think back to the night my wife and I prayed to be effective member missionaries, I had no idea then of the blessings that would flow into so many lives.
Blessed for Trying
The news that my pregnancy was ending with a miscarriage came as a great disappointment to my husband and me. Even though we had three wonderful boys, we had always wanted a larger family and had been trying for some time to have another child. Because I was well into my 30s, I wondered if this had been my last opportunity to bring another child into the world. It was sad to think there was nothing we could do to avert our imminent loss.
This is one experience that no one can help me with or comfort me through, I recall thinking that day in the doctor’s office. A great sense of defeat weighed heavily on me, and I prayed, Heavenly Father, give me courage to get through this day. I lowered my head as tears came to my eyes. Then, in the midst of my sadness these peaceful words filled my mind and heart: “Heavenly Father is pleased that you tried.”
I somehow made it through the expected events of the day. It wasn’t until several days later, however, that the full meaning of my earlier experience came to my understanding. One particularly difficult morning I felt tears close to the surface when, again, I was impressed with the thought that Heavenly Father was pleased that we’d tried to have another child. My tears of sadness suddenly seemed transformed to tears of joy, for Heavenly Father was pleased—pleased that we desired to have more children come to our home. He was mindful of our deepest desires.
The joy I experienced in this knowledge is one of the sweetest blessings I have ever known. To me it was a wonderful reminder of Heavenly Father’s loving concern for us as well as of the peace and understanding he can bless us with during our trials.
In my home in Brisbane, Australia, I was washing floors one hot Wednesday afternoon when my telephone rang. It was my boss, who owned a snack bar where I worked on a part-time basis.
“Barb,” he said hurriedly, “Pam has gone home ill and I desperately need someone to help me out over lunchtime. Can you come over?”
After saying yes, I hurriedly changed my clothes and bundled my children into the car. As I raced across town, unexpected words formed clearly in my mind: Slow down.
I hesitated only slightly. But again the words came to me: Slow down! I applied the brake.
“Why are you slowing down, Mom?” asked my older son, Stephen.
“I don’t know, but I have a strong feeling I should,” I replied.
About three minutes later as I was rounding a sharp bend in the road, the passenger door swung wide open, and my four-year-old son, Nathan, tumbled out onto the road. I braked sharply and jumped from the car. As I went racing back to pick him up from the road, I knew in my heart he would be all right. He was shaken badly, and his head, arms, and legs were grazed, but that was all. I later discovered that while I was driving, Nathan had unclipped his seat belt.
I reflected upon the other three occasions when his life was spared: he had been on a life-support system for 10 days at birth, he had been run over by a car, and he had fallen 76 feet and landed on concrete without great injury. Yes, this son had truly been preserved by the hand of the Lord.
Lost in a Thunderstorm
At the request of some young men and their leaders from my ward, I assisted them as they prepared for a hike into the wilderness area of the upper North Fork of the Provo River in Utah’s Uinta Mountains. We drove in, and I parked my car on a dirt road and jumped in with some of the boys to guide them into the area where they were to hike. By midafternoon they had set up tents and thanked me for my help. I decided to start on my planned 10-mile hike back to my car. For weeks I’d looked forward to exploring new terrain along a creek bed and had brought good maps of the area with me.
At the last minute Brad * , one of the leaders who wanted to return home that same evening, decided to hike with me.
“There is no trail where we’re going,” I told him. “Are you a good hiker?”
“We shouldn’t have any trouble,” he replied. I looked him over and noted he wasn’t dressed for the possibility of bad weather, but since the sky was blue and we still had many hours of daylight, I felt confident we would be all right.
For the first hours Brad and I marveled at the beautiful wilderness area and the trout swimming around the beaver dams we passed. Then, several ridgelines away, we saw lightning strike. I recalled that scattered showers had been forecast, but there had been no mention of thunderstorms. The storm moved closer, bringing thunder and light rain. I was not overly worried. However, as we hiked, I noticed a change in Brad. He wore thick-lensed glasses and seemed to be having difficulty seeing where he was going. I attributed it to the rain, noting that he stopped several times to wipe water from the lenses. We still had about six miles to go in about four hours of remaining daylight—an easy task if we continued to walk briskly.
After another mile, however, Brad announced he could not keep up the pace. Then he confessed, “I have both an asthmatic and a heart condition.” He paused. “The doctor told me that if I push myself at all, well …” He plopped down on the ground in a heap. “I can expect a heart attack.”
Suddenly frustrated, I wanted to berate him for not saying so earlier. But it was too late now. All we could do was try to be careful and avoid unnecessary stress. We walked slowly, but in another half hour Brad’s chest and stomach began heaving as he tried to catch his breath, and his eyes and face began to swell. We sat down and rested. Brad showed little energy or inclination to continue.
Meantime, the storm grew worse. We would have to get off the knoll. Suddenly rain poured down and thunder crashed in our ears. With Brad too fatigued to hike around boulders and ravines, and with the light growing dim, we began wading directly down the stream bed. For a while this wasn’t so bad, but then in the dark we inadvertently plunged into a waterfall pool nearly shoulder deep. As the sun went down, we quickly grew chilled. Swelling caused Brad’s eyes to become puffy, and he could no longer see either foot in front of him. I led him by the hand from one bend of the creek to the next.
Darkness closed in, and the going got tougher. I didn’t even have a flashlight. As lightning streaked around us, I knew I had to get Brad out of the creek. I tugged at him, and he trembled as he lunged upward against the steep creek bank. Looking for some kind of shelter, I wondered if one of the large pine trees nearby might afford some relief from the relentless downpour.
As we stumbled along, the ground suddenly gave way beneath us, and we fell into a hole. As I lay there stunned, I wondered if I was dreaming—surely this wasn’t happening to me. I had always tried to be prepared for the outdoors, both physically and mentally. Stay calm, I told myself. The Lord has given his children many resources and the power to do many things. I can figure out what to do.
We groped our way out of the hole and over to a large pine tree, where my companion collapsed. We were alone and in trouble, and I knew no one would be looking for us as I had told my wife I might not hike out until morning. As the night grew colder, I saw Brad wrap his arms about his body in an attempt to warm himself. Suddenly he was in trouble. His face contorted, his body convulsed, and he seemed to be in violent pain.
“Are you having a heart attack?” I asked. He did not answer, and I did not know what to do. It occurred to me that we should have stopped and offered a prayer much sooner. Yet still I found myself hesitating. Why? Then I understood. I had always been able to take care of myself and congratulated myself on being a prepared hiker. I was wrestling with my pride!
At that moment I realized this matter was completely beyond my power to fix. All that mattered was saving my friend’s life. I assisted Brad to kneel and uttered a humble and heartfelt supplication for help. After, Brad appeared to sleep. The pine tree sheltering us slowly became so laden with water that a solid stream of water was finally pouring down on us. Though I had brought waterproof matches, there was nothing dry to burn. For me, sleep was impossible.
My watch said 3:10 A.M. I huddled in misery waiting for dawn. About an hour later a torrent of water swept beneath the tree. Brad awoke, writhing and twisting in the cold. As the night grew wetter and colder I knew I had to move. I worried that if we remained any longer, he would have a heart attack. But where could I take him? In the lashing rain I could not see where we were.
Brad held hands with me while I uttered perhaps the most fervent prayer of my life. I asked that we could find our way to safety. When I finished, Brad said, “Let’s go. I can make it.”
For the first time in hours he sounded sure of himself. But now the wind howled more than ever, and the rain seemed more intense. I grasped Brad’s arm, and we crawled beneath the forest branches until we came to an opening in the trees. Then I felt a change in the terrain. Tire tracks! We’d found the dirt road that led to the highway where my car was parked!
Of all the hundreds of nights I’ve spent in high country, I had never before endured one so long. Yet the experience taught me the importance of including Heavenly Father in my plans, for it was through his help we were led through the stormy night to safety.
Name has been changed.