Mormon Journal

By


Downhill toward Disaster

I had been working the past five weeks for my brother-in-law, logging up the Monte Cristo Canyon on my days off from the Lincoln County sheriff’s office in Kemmerer, Wyoming. My wife was insistent one particular morning that I not go. I thought it was just because it would be the first week she wasn’t going to spend with me at the logging camp, but I later found out she had felt something bad was going to happen. When I arrived at the camp, the work day started out normally, but soon we were plagued by small inconveniences and breakdowns.

Since the section of mountain we were logging was too steep for equipment to access, we were doing what is called highline logging. A heavy cable is suspended 20 to 50 feet above the surface of the steep hill, running from a derrick at the top of the mountain to a spar tree at the bottom of the valley. A smaller cable rides down the main line on a block pulley. When the block hits what’s called a button, which is essentially a pulley that locks on the main cable, the smaller cable releases to the ground. We then attach it to three or four logs so they can be pulled to the top of the mountain, where machinery can get to them. We can get only so many logs in one area before the button must be moved.

One of the many breakdowns that morning had been our radios, so we were using hand signals to communicate. The time came when we needed to move the button, and we signaled for the main line to be lowered. The button came down within my reach but still over my head. I decided to unlock the button even though it was still too high.

Standing on a steep embankment, I unlocked the 60-pound button, and its weight immediately tried to pull me down the steep incline. As I struggled to gain control of the button, a gust of wind caused the main cable to whip, lifting me off my feet. Instantly I was airborne, still hanging on to the button and quickly picking up speed as I sailed down the line toward the spar tree below. I looked for a place to jump, but as I looked 50 feet below, all I could see were tall, pointed trees sticking straight up at me. I glanced up in time to see I was about to hit the gigantic spar tree at about 35 miles an hour.

Spotting one large limb that extended from the side of the tree, I thought I might be able to grab the limb and avoid falling to the ground. I let go of the button with one hand and reached for the limb. The impact dislocated my arm and flipped me upside down. As I spun, something hit the back of my head and everything went black.

When I hit the ground at the base of the tree, the impact threw me 20 feet across an old logging road. I came to, lying on my stomach and unable to breathe. For a minute, I couldn’t remember who I was or what had happened to me. I heard a faint voice asking me if I was all right. Having difficulty breathing, I asked to be rolled over. The pain was so great I blacked out again.

I woke up again, this time lying on my back in the middle of the logging road with no feeling from my hips down. There were cuts and bruises all over my body, and I continued to slip into unconsciousness from the pain. I said a simple prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me. When I opened my eyes, there was Ethan Call; it was his first day logging. I remembered my wife had told me Ethan had returned from serving a mission. I asked him to give me a blessing. As he began the blessing, a sense of calm came over me. I was unconscious during most of the blessing, but I recall hearing Ethan bless me that my body would be made whole. I felt as if my body were being pieced back together. The pain was now bearable, and I was able to breathe again.

I lay there knowing it would be a long wait. A man had already started down the mountain for help, but it was a two-hour drive to the nearest phone. I closed my eyes and said another simple prayer, asking Heavenly Father to speed the help I so desperately needed. Driving down the mountain, the man who had been sent to get help happened across a paramedic who was out for an afternoon drive. The paramedic contacted the Weber County Sheriff Department on his high-powered radio. They in turn contacted the main hospital in Ogden, Utah, and a Life Flight helicopter was dispatched. The paramedic immediately began first aid. He started an IV and stopped my bleeding.

Within an hour and a half, the helicopter was circling overhead. After a few passes, they radioed that the only place to land was a half mile up the old logging road. My blood chilled at the thought of riding in a truck up that dirt road. I again prayed for help. The pilot circled one last time and decided to try to land closer. He was able to land just 50 feet from me. Fifteen minutes later I arrived at the hospital emergency room. Doctors started more IVs and put me on oxygen. They pumped blood out of my stomach for three hours. In all, there were four doctors and two specialists working on me for over six hours.

To the amazement of the doctors, initial x-rays showed no broken bones. Plus there appeared to be no internal injuries. They performed more tests with meticulous x-rays from my neck to knees and a series of CAT scans. Baffled again, they found nothing. Later, in my intensive care room, the doctors told me that because of the severe trauma my body had been through I wouldn’t be able to walk for several weeks.

That night Bryan, my brother, gave me another blessing. During the blessing I received a strong witness that I would be all right. The next day I stood and walked. I also said another prayer—this time a prayer of thanks. I was not sure why my life had been spared, but I thanked Heavenly Father for the power of the priesthood and for His help and love.

Brent W. Case is a stake missionary in the Fruita First Ward, Grand Junction Colorado West Stake.

Struggling to Say “I’m Sorry”

Someone once said the most important commandments for us to try to keep are the ones we have the most difficulty keeping. For me, one such commandment is found in 3 Nephi 12:23–24 [3 Ne. 12:23–24]: “Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—

“Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.”

As a new member of the Church at age 19, I was conscientiously trying to do what was right, and most of the time it was easy to be good. I had no difficulty keeping the Word of Wisdom, attending church, praying, and reading my scriptures. Then one day I found myself facing a spiritual challenge.

I was a freshman in college living in one of the dormitories when I befriended another young woman. However, one day she did something that greatly offended me. I was angry and made a quick decision to end our friendship. I avoided her whenever possible, wanting nothing more to do with her. I felt justified in my actions—after all, she had been in the wrong. But the scripture in 3 Nephi 12:23–24 [3 Ne. 12:23–24] kept surfacing. It’s surprising how specific scriptures become vivid in one’s mind at certain times. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or study in peace. This went on for a few days until I finally decided to face the situation. I knew what I needed to do, and I prayed for Heavenly Father’s help.

The walk to my friend’s room seemed long. My heart was pounding, and my palms were sweating as I knocked on her door. Secretly I hoped she wasn’t in her room, but she was. She opened the door and let me in. She looked glad to see me, but I wasn’t glad to see her.

Gathering all my nerve and swallowing my pride, I explained that she had offended me but that I wanted to reconcile our differences and renew our friendship. To my surprise, she didn’t even know she had made me angry. Then she started to cry. I felt ashamed. I realized I was the one who needed to ask for forgiveness. I had made a hasty judgment. We hugged and asked one another’s forgiveness. The gloom I had felt lifted, and a feeling of peace came into my heart.

This lesson on forgiveness turned out to be a precursor to a larger challenge I would soon face. My father and I had a terrible argument, and we stopped speaking to each other. I was sure my father would never apologize. In fact, there were already two relatives he never spoke to as a result of earlier disputes. I would need to take the first step.

But I felt hurt and believed I was not in the wrong. Why should I give in first? I thought. Then the familiar scripture in Nephi came into my mind again: “First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me.” I knew I should not carry this grudge with me. I had to let go of my pride or I would not progress spiritually.

Going to my father to apologize was one of the hardest things I had ever done. My pride was so strong it seemed I had to force the words from my mouth. But the words came, and again the gloom I had felt disappeared. Later, conversation became easier, and my father received me gladly. I realized he loved me but because of his pride he had been unable to say he was sorry.

I’m grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ability it has given me to forgive and ask for forgiveness. How sad it would be to allow pride to keep us away from those we love.

Would We Have a Child Who Lived?

Before my husband and I were baptized in 1973, our two-year-old son, an only child, had died after open-heart surgery. We longed to have another child, especially as we gained new understanding of gospel principles.

It was comforting that in my patriarchal blessing, received one year later, I was assured we would have the opportunity to have more children. In 1976, I learned I was pregnant, but four and a half months later I had a miscarriage.

In 1982, six years after I received my patriarchal blessing, our son Christian was born. Premature and delivered through C-section, he weighed only 800 grams (1.76 lbs.), and the doctors gave us little hope he would live. But to their astonishment, he made great progress after my husband gave him a priesthood blessing.

On the third day after Christian’s birth, I was to visit him. How I longed to see my son! I woke up at 2:30 A.M. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I pleaded, “Heavenly Father, please don’t let him die! I want to keep him so much.” Then I added, “But if that is not according to Thy will, I accept that.”

Later that same morning, my husband came and told me our son had died at 2:45 A.M. It was a grievous loss, and we wept and prayed together. Yet in answer to our prayers, we felt surrounded by warmth and peace.

In the hospital I had read my patriarchal blessing many times. There the promise was from the mouth of the patriarch: the Lord would give us children. I was already 35 years old, and after losing two children I was discouraged. Would we ever have a child who lived?

Finally, two years after Christian’s death, our beloved daughter Nina was born. I almost died giving birth to her. My husband and I rejoice in the knowledge that our two sons are waiting for us in the spirit world, and we rejoice in our beautiful daughter. The gospel is true. It has enriched our lives and made us truly happy.

Erika Heymann teaches Sunday School in the Heide Branch, Neumuenster Germany Stake.

Not Enough for My Mission

I had just turned 21 and was nearing the end of my third year at Brigham Young University when I attended a powerful fireside. It seemed as if the speaker directed his remarks specifically to me. The theme of the talk was missionary work, and my heart filled with the desire to serve.

After my finals were over, the three-day bus ride home to Pennsylvania afforded me the opportunity to plan and ponder. Since it is not every young woman’s role to serve a mission, I felt the need for confirmation of my decision through prayer and from my bishop. My first Sunday home I approached the bishop to make an appointment to see him. Before I could utter a word, he asked if he could speak with me in his office.

“The reason I called you in here,” he said, “is that I feel inspired to call you to serve a mission.”

My heart again burned as I said, “That’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about!”

Once the decision to send in my papers was made, I sat down to figure out how I would pay for my mission. Finances were tight in our family of 10. I had managed to put myself through three years of college and felt confident I could earn the money for my mission the same way I had earned it for school: doing shift work and overtime in the shipping department of a local factory. With each paycheck, I paid my tithing first, reserved five dollars for spending money, and put the rest in the bank.

Over the next several months things went well. The pay was good, there was plenty of overtime, and my savings grew. When my call to Frankfurt, Germany, came, I was thrilled to know where I would serve.

Shortly after receiving my call, I received a letter of welcome from my future mission president. He explained what to bring and what weather to expect, and he included an estimate of how much money I would need for the 18 months of missionary service. As I tallied my savings and the money I would earn in the remaining month before my departure, I realized I would be $450 short. I was disheartened. I couldn’t have worked any harder or saved more judiciously. I felt I had nowhere to turn.

Not one to confide in others and believing Heavenly Father would help me, I earnestly turned to Him in prayer. I explained I had done all I could: I had worked hard, saved hard, and paid my tithing faithfully all my life, and now I needed help. A calm assurance came over me that all would be well.

But the next four weeks passed without a change in my situation. As I knelt in prayer the night before my last Sunday at home, I poured out my heart to Heavenly Father one last time concerning the matter. Again I was assured that He was mindful of my needs and that things would work out.

The next morning, as I walked out of my Sunday School class, a widowed sister took me aside and placed a check for $25 in my hand. She told me she had been seated at her table the night before, pen in hand, with the intent to write me a check for $100.

But suddenly the idea came to her that instead of giving me a one-time donation of $100, she should help out a little every month of my mission. In exchange, she asked that I write to her and share my experiences. “Each month,” she continued, “I’ll donate another $25. Would that be all right?”

“Of course. Thank you,” I said. Quickly calculating the figures in my head, I realized she would be donating a total of $450, the amount I was short! Chills ran up my spine, and again my heart swelled as I silently thanked Heavenly Father for sending His inspiration to this generous sister while I had been on my knees asking for His help.

Patricia A. Mitchiner is a Primary teacher in the Wilmington West Ward, Wilmington Delaware Stake.

How Could He Pray for a Bicycle?

As a seminary student, I had difficulty understanding what was meant by the term power of prayer. I had prayed often both privately and publicly but still did not recognize how prayer could actually help in specific situations.

At the time, my family lived on a military base located some distance from our schools and from the hall where we held Church meetings and early-morning seminary classes. Bicycles were the only mode of transportation for my brothers and sister.

One evening my brother Stefan was sent on an errand to the store. Much later he returned, declaring his bicycle had been stolen. Our parents were quite upset. Feelings ran high, because the loss of the bicycle meant Stefan could not attend seminary class. That evening our home teachers, Brother Peterson and his companion, were due to stop by. At the conclusion of their visit, Brother Peterson asked if there was anything the family required. We said no but did relate the story of the stolen bicycle. Before our home teachers left, we had prayer. During the prayer I almost coughed aloud when Brother Peterson humbly explained to Heavenly Father about the stolen bicycle, stating that Stefan needed it to attend seminary and petitioning for its return.

Pray for a bicycle? I was surprised and wondered, How could anyone pray for a bicycle? I thought our prayers were to concentrate on spiritual needs rather than material ones.

Later that night the telephone rang. It was Brother Peterson. He explained that he had seen a bicycle abandoned by the side of the road and asked Stefan to describe his. Stefan’s bike was covered with distinctive stickers, which made it easily recognizable. Upon hearing this, Brother Peterson was sure he had found Stefan’s bike only a short distance from the spot where it had been stolen. He would bring it right over.

I was astonished when he arrived with Stefan’s bicycle, and I felt I had been taught a significant lesson on prayer. How could I have doubted? This bicycle provided the means for a young man to attend seminary. My testimony of prayer increased a hundredfold, and I learned for myself that we can indeed “ask, and it shall be given” (Matt. 7:7).

[illustrations] Illustrated by Richard Russell

Andrea Burger James serves as Primary president in the Milnerton Ward, Cape Town South Africa Stake.