My Dearly Loved Spirit Sister
Before the birth of our third child, I asked my husband to give me a priesthood blessing as he had done before the births of our other children. In the blessing, my husband said I would recognize this child from our premortal life. I was excited, naturally thinking that something out of the ordinary would happen in the delivery room that night. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, but when nothing unusual happened, I temporarily forgot about the promise made to me in the blessing.
Late one night several weeks later, only my baby and I were awake. Esther was lying on the bed kicking her feet merrily and making cute little sounds. I began to sing her a lullaby I had written about our premortal existence. I then remembered the words of the blessing, and my thoughts turned to Heavenly Father. I asked what the blessing meant.
Immediately I sensed a wonderful feeling in the room, and gazing into my baby’s eyes, I did recognize her—not in the way I expected, but in a far deeper and richer sense. A thought came to me that brought me to tears: this child was not just my baby girl but also my sister, my dearly loved spirit sister. As I gazed at her, I sensed that somehow she too was feeling something special. Perhaps she recognized me and felt that great love we had shared in our premortal life. I knew at that moment in a way I have never forgotten that she was truly a noble daughter of our Heavenly Father—one I had admired in our former estate. When I had learned I was to be her earthly mother, I had been deeply touched and overwhelmed by this great responsibility. Now here she was, my cherished sister, my baby, helpless in my arms—and I holding the key to her future.
I came to understand that I really was also a sister to all my family members, including my husband, and that each was precious in the sight of God. In the years since, as we have faced the normal ups and downs of child rearing, I have recalled this experience and been able to share with my children who they really are, making an important difference in their lives.
“You’ll Be Needed in 30 Minutes”
I’ve served in my small-town volunteer fire department for over a decade. A few years back I spent two evenings a week attending an emergency medical technician course sponsored by a neighboring fire department. After class I would often seek out the late-night peace and solitude of our unmanned fire station to continue my studies. With only about 100 emergency calls a year, an interruption was unlikely.
One night I arrived at the empty fire station at 10:30 P.M., concentrating on my studies until after midnight. The late hour wasn’t unusual for me as I had worked nights for quite a while and enjoyed it. Needing a break from my studies, I spied a stack of fire department reports in need of filing and took up the task.
After half an hour of filing reports, I decided I’d worked long enough and tossed the remaining papers on top of the filing cabinet. It’s time to go home, I thought.
Suddenly I heard someone say, “You can’t leave now. You’ll be needed in 30 minutes.” I looked around, but no one was there.
The clock above the cabinet read 1:05 A.M. It took me a few seconds to grasp what had just happened. Motionless, I stood pondering the experience. Then I opened the drawer and resumed filing.
Boy am I getting punchy at this late hour, I thought.
The minutes passed until the early-morning silence was shattered by the department’s fire alarm. Before the radio dispatcher could utter a word, my eyes swung to the wall clock. It was 1:35 A.M., 30 minutes since I’d heard a voice telling me not to leave.
Three miles away a house was on fire, and the dispatcher sounded nervous. At such an early hour firefighters would ordinarily be at home asleep.
Hoping to cut the warm-up time for the trucks and firefighters who would soon be arriving to drive them, I rushed to the apparatus floor and started three engines. Seated behind the driver’s seat of one truck, I anxiously waited for others to arrive, but no one showed. Knowing that some of the firefighters lived near the burning residence, I decided to head out alone, hoping they would be there when I arrived.
One of those who lived close by was the fire chief. First on the scene, he had run into the house, where orange flames danced across the master-bedroom ceiling, and helped everyone to safety. Then he stood on the road watching the house burn, knowing that within a few minutes the entire structure could be in flames and feeling helpless to save it without proper equipment. As he lifted his radio to signal additional alarms, he saw his main engine coming down the street!
At first he thought his mind was playing tricks on him. He couldn’t believe that anyone could get out of bed, get dressed, drive to the fire station, and get the truck that quickly—yet there it was. Within seconds neighboring firefighters began arriving, and the flames were quickly doused. The extent of the damage was a burned bedroom, a charred attic, and a small hole in the roof.
Back at the fire station, the chief approached me. “When I saw the blaze, I knew that at that early hour the house would be lost before someone could get to the station and drive a truck to the fire,” he said. “You don’t know how surprised and thankful I was to see that truck coming down the road. By the way, what in the world were you doing at the station so late at night?”
I explained that I had been studying after that night’s EMT class. Luckily, I told him, I stayed late.
It was shortly thereafter that I encountered the missionaries. When they told me about their belief in personal revelation and service to others, I knew they spoke the truth and I listened and learned more. I found the true Church of Jesus Christ.
I Didn’t Feel Worthy
My wife and I had come to believe we would never have children, but in the middle of 1990 the doctor told us my wife was pregnant. Several months later, though, when my wife collapsed, our excitement to have a child was lost in worry. Tests were not encouraging: her blood pressure was too high, her liver was shutting down, and her kidneys were failing. Her doctor told me that in order to save her life, he had to deliver the baby about 16 weeks early.
The doctor delivered our daughter, Chelsea, by emergency C-section, and she was immediately placed in an intensive care unit. When I saw her for the first time she was two hours old, and her entire hand was the size of my thumbnail.
My wife soon recovered and went home, but Chelsea had to stay in the hospital. Each morning I called to find out how Chelsea was doing, and the report was always the same: Chelsea’s stomach was too immature to accept a feeding tube. That meant she couldn’t get the necessary nutrients to gain weight. One morning when I called I was told that Chelsea had lost even more weight. My heart sank, and I was sure she was going to die.
I took time from work that morning to visit Chelsea, and as I sat next to her isolette I had a sudden feeling I needed to give her a blessing. I shrugged it off—I hadn’t been to church for 10 years and didn’t feel worthy. But the feeling came back even stronger. This time I argued with myself, saying I had no oil and no one to assist me, and besides I’d given only one blessing in my life and that was 12 years earlier. Finally, words came clearly to mind: Give your daughter a blessing, or she’s going to die.
Hardly understanding what I was doing, I put my hands in the gloves at the side of Chelsea’s isolette, laid them on her head, and in a firm voice said things I knew did not come from me. I commanded Chelsea in the name of Jesus Christ to be healthy and to grow up a normal girl. Tears were streaming down my cheeks as I closed the prayer, and I knew she was going to live. That very night, doctors were able to get a feeding tube in, and she began gaining weight.
Chelsea’s recovery was the beginning of my road to full Church activity. A year later my wife joined the Church, and we were blessed with one more child, a boy this time.
Today Chelsea is a normal eight-year-old. She astounded doctors with her lack of complications from being in intensive care for almost three months. Her senses are intact, her limbs have developed normally, and she can count and write like any other child her age. In fact, at the end of the last school year, she was at the top of her class.
I am grateful for Chelsea’s birth and the opportunity she gave me to use the priesthood, which subsequently blessed me as I listened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Having Ears to Hear
As the fireside in the English town of Hull began, I stood on the stand in the chapel along with seven other missionaries to perform an evening of sacred music. Our mission president and his wife had chosen specific pieces of music and put them together with narration to teach about our purpose on earth and Christ’s role in that purpose. We hoped the music and words would give an introduction to the gospel for those who knew little about it and reaffirm the testimonies of those who already believed.
While we sang, I looked at the audience and noticed an elder seated with some hearing-impaired investigators, signing the words of the music to attentive eyes. Another elder who was performing with the choir, Elder Adams, had met them on the streets of a small town in north Lincolnshire earlier that day. Elder Adams had a limited British Sign Language vocabulary and conveyed that he and his companion were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He asked them simple questions that he could sign, and they were receptive to what he had to say. Among them was a young man named David.
Elder Adams invited the group to our fireside that evening, and they expressed an interest in attending. He gave them the address, promised to meet them at the door, and sent them on their way, intending to hand the referral to the missionaries assigned to work with the deaf. Later, he wondered why he had thought to invite people who could not hear a musical program, especially when they lived 45 minutes away. He doubted he would see them again.
But there they sat, on the front row, while an elder signed the words to the music. As the evening progressed, David often shifted his attention from the interpreter to those of us singing. I felt the music swell with conviction as we sang about our premortal life with a loving Heavenly Father, our birth and purpose on earth, and our eternal potential. The Holy Ghost enveloped us in a sublime climax as Sister McCulloch sang about our Savior’s hands while Sister Horman, who was also hearing impaired, signed the words for the entire congregation.
When the music ended, teary-eyed listeners came to the stand to thank us, and I saw Sister Horman and Elder Adams huddled with the hearing-impaired investigators. Later I was told that Sister Horman signed to David, “What did you think of our presentation?” He signed back that he actually knew what the people were singing about, he just knew. He pointed to his chest repeatedly: “I knew.”
In British Sign Language, knew is conveyed by pointing to the head, not the heart. The missionaries asked him to explain. David said he could not explain, he just knew, still pointing at his chest. The missionaries understood. They explained that what he felt was the Holy Ghost testifying to him about the Savior’s message. Then they invited him to have the missionary discussions and feel more of that same testifying Spirit.
David accepted and, after receiving the first lesson, agreed to baptism.
This experience reaffirmed to each of us who sang that evening that music is a powerful medium by which the Holy Ghost can enter into hearts and testify of the Savior—even without ears to hear.
In My Heart I Knelt
My knees had been giving me trouble for several years. Often they hurt intensely, and sometimes one knee would give out suddenly while I stood, as though I were hit from behind. Fortunately I never fell, for my other knee would support my weight. But because of my knees I had a hard time working to provide for my family.
On 27 June 1976—the day after my wife and I were baptized into the Church—our new branch president gave me a blessing in which he promised me that my knees would be strengthened and that the pain would go away. About two months later, after I had retired to bed for the night, I had an unusual and unpleasant experience. Both of my knees began to ache, and the pain increased throughout the night until about 7 A.M. the next day. My whole body was soaked with perspiration, and I was exhausted and in agony. Finally, as I lay on my side in my bed, I pretended I was on my knees and asked Father in Heaven to reduce the pain just enough that I could bear it.
In a few minutes I had fallen into a deep sleep. When I awoke about two hours later, to my amazement I felt no pain whatsoever. I could not believe it! At least one of my knees had always ached whenever I lay down, but now the discomfort I had experienced was gone. I had to move my feet and feel my knees with my hands to see if they were still attached!
I got out of bed and did several deep-knee bends, just to make sure my knees could work all right without hurting. Then I knelt down—something I had rarely been able to do in the past—and told our Father in Heaven how grateful I was that my knees had been strengthened.
Since that day many years ago, my knees have given me no problems, except when I have overworked them in some way.
“The Winds and the Waves Shall Obey”
Days after a hurricane, my husband was asked to attend the baptism of a family of five and to help confirm them afterward. At that time our branch in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, had no baptismal font, so the ordinances were to take place at Jobos Beach near the town of Isabela.
It was dusk as our car pulled onto the beach. As I stepped from the car with our month-old infant in my arms, a horde of mosquitoes attacked us. I glanced up at the lamppost and was amazed at the numbers of mosquitoes visible in the light. I pulled a blanket over my baby to protect him while slapping frantically at the dense swarm surrounding me, and I looked around to see how far the cloud of mosquitoes extended. We saw that a small group of priesthood brethren was waiting and that the family to be baptized had not yet arrived.
We quickly got back into the car and rolled up the windows. The baby cried because it was too hot under the blanket, but there were so many mosquitoes trapped inside the car that I didn’t dare remove it.
I begged my husband to return home, but in our hearts we didn’t want to leave until he had helped with the confirmations. He got out of the car and called to the people in the water to see if the mosquitoes were as thick there.
“Yes!” they shouted back. “There are mosquitoes everywhere!”
To make matters worse, the water was very rough. It would be difficult to baptize anyone in the surging waves. Then we spotted the missionaries as the family of five and other priesthood brethren arrived. I stayed in the car, holding my screaming baby while my husband joined them by the stormy beach. I prayed they’d hurry so we could escape the countless insects.
After a few minutes, my husband returned to the car smiling. “You can come out now,” he said.
“Are you crazy?” I responded. “I’m not going out there with all those mosquitoes!”
“It’s OK,” he assured me. “The mosquitoes are gone.”
I didn’t believe him. “Thousands of mosquitoes don’t just get up and go away on their own,” I shouted through the window, “especially with so many people around.” Then I noticed that he and the other brethren looked relaxed and comfortable. I slowly rolled down the car window. No mosquitoes! Cautiously I stepped outside. To my amazement, the mosquitoes had disappeared! I took the blanket off the baby, and he immediately stopped crying.
As we walked to the water’s edge to watch the baptism, I saw that the waves had somehow calmed down. The family was baptized as planned.
It was not until later I learned that the missionaries had asked our Father in Heaven to calm the waters and cause the mosquitoes to leave. But that was not all. When we arrived home later that evening, we found no visible signs of any mosquito bites on our skin.
I remembered the words “The winds and the waves shall obey thy will” (“Master the Tempest is Raging,” Hymns, no. 105) and marveled at what I had seen. Many times I have thought back to that night when I saw for myself nature’s obedience to our Father in Heaven.