Latter-day Saint Voices

By


Comfort from My Mother’s Journal

After I had suffered with poor health for several years, my condition worsened. Although I had been promised in a priesthood blessing I would one day experience a cure, my doctor thought it unlikely. Certainly it would not be soon. A black cloud of discouragement settled over my heart, and my painful burden seemed unbearable despite the support of my loving family.

After months of suffering, one day I recalled something that both my mother and grandmother had often said: “For tomorrow and its needs, I do not pray. Help me, guide me, direct me, Lord, just for today.” 1 This phrase came to mind often and I repeated it frequently, finding a small measure of comfort in the words. But I still felt terribly alone in my struggles.

One quiet Sunday, while visiting my sister, I opened my mother’s journal and read in it for most of the day. I delighted in the remembrance of this loving, funny, caring woman I missed dearly. Near the end of the journal, I found a heartfelt account of her battle with cancer. During my mother’s long hours of suffering, she wrote that she could almost hear her deceased mother’s voice comforting her time and again: “For tomorrow and its needs I do not pray. Help me, guide me, direct me, Lord, just for today.”

I stared at the words, and suddenly my eyes were opened. I hadn’t been left to suffer alone and comfortless all these months. Whispering to my soul were kind, gentle words of comfort from my mother and grandmother. Tomorrow would take care of itself—no matter what was required of me today. The dark cloud over my heart dissipated in the light of love from my Heavenly Father, who knew the need of a daughter for her mother and sent me that comfort.

I give thanks often that my mother kept a journal in which she recorded the significant events of her life, for it became the instrument in the hands of the Master Healer to help me recognize the blessings of comfort extended to me, to heal my heavy heart, and to give me a measure of joy and the strength to face the future.

Laura Mackay is a member of the American Fork Eighth Ward, American Fork Utah Central Stake.

    Note

  1.   1.

    Adapted from Sybil F. Partridge, “Just for Today,” Masterpieces of Religious Verse, ed. James Dalton Morrison (1948), 70–71.

Shortly before my wedding, my brother, Neipta, and I started arguing. We had been mad at each other for a long time, and the tension finally erupted into words. Although we couldn’t remember what had made us angry in the first place, the feelings were real. Everything he said and did upset me, and I felt justified in my feelings.

At that time my brother’s relationship with the whole family was suffering. There was antagonism and misunderstanding between him and my father, and he and my two sisters did not communicate at all. But my mother suffered the most. She said I didn’t love Neipta. But I knew I loved him, and it hurt to hear my mother say that.

The problems escalated, and my brother left our home in Venezuela. I began to wonder what I could do to get this situation under control.

The next week in Sunday School we had a lesson about forgiveness. I started to feel horrible, and a thought came to my mind: “Aurora, you must apply what you have learned.” The Spirit touched my heart that day, and I knew I needed to forgive my brother. I left with a firm determination to fix things between us.

On Friday of the next week, Neipta came home to pick up some things. I feared his reaction, but that day was my mother’s birthday, and asking my brother’s forgiveness would be the best present I could give her. I went to my room and said a prayer for strength and for the right words to say to my brother. Heavenly Father heard my prayer and gave me courage.

I pulled Neipta aside to talk. I explained how much this situation had hurt us and that I wanted it to end. With tears in my eyes and almost unable to talk, I asked for forgiveness. My brother also began to cry, and we hugged each other. He forgave me and asked for my forgiveness in return. In just a few minutes we were able to erase months of bitter feelings.

Two days later, my brother and father worked to reconcile their differences and ended their discussion with a hug. The transformation in my family was a miracle. My heart was filled with joy and gratitude to Heavenly Father for teaching us to forgive.

Aurora Rojas de Álvarez is a member of the El Pinar Ward, Maracaibo Venezuela South Stake, where she is a counselor in the stake Young Women presidency.

“Please Clear the Way for Me”

The day began with a sense of foreboding when a routine check-up with the pediatrician raised concerns about my baby.

“Let’s go home now, Mommy,” begged my three-year-old daughter, Dana.

“As soon as we can,” I promised. “Just one more stop. You’ve been such a good girl.” Through all the tiresome waiting she’d looked at picture books, amused the baby, and behaved as patiently as a toddler possibly could. After two sets of x-rays were taken, the technician released us without any comment about what he saw on the films.

Finally we were on our way home—until we encountered the flagman in front of the hospital. A road crew had stalled traffic. Two long lines of cars took turns passing slowly through a narrow lane between immense pieces of heavy equipment. To me, distracted by a now-cranky toddler and a screaming baby and numb with anxiety, the delay seemed interminable.

When we finally arrived home, I placed the baby into her crib with a bottle and quickly made Dana a peanut butter sandwich. At last I had a minute for myself. Running cool water over my face in the bathroom soothed and refreshed me.

Suddenly the bathroom door burst open. “There’s a pretty butterfly in the backyard, Mommy,” Dana announced excitedly. “Can we catch it?” She danced from side to side with anticipation, holding up a canning jar. “Can we, please?”

I hesitated. Catching butterflies was the last thing on my agenda for the afternoon. But Dana had been so good all morning; surely I owed her my undivided attention for a while. “Just a minute,” I said, giving her my stock answer for delaying action as I turned back to the mirror.

But a minute was too long. Seconds later I heard an ominous crash. Dana lay flat on her stomach, shards of the broken jar scattered across the floor, and a shocking crimson stain spreading over the white tile. Lifting her carefully, I discovered a deep cut across her left inner wrist that slashed six inches down her arm. Tiny, truncated vessels poked upright through the skin, spurting precious blood.

I grabbed a hand towel and wrapped it around the wound; it was soaked in seconds. While applying a heavier towel, I noticed the blood was coming in regular pulses, unmistakable proof of arterial bleeding. I hoisted Dana to my shoulder, where she hung limply. Somehow I got the baby into her car seat, and in desperation I carried both of them at once to the car.

Wrapping the bloody towels as tightly as I could around Dana’s arm, I settled her on the back seat of the car. Her eyes were closed; she was pale and frighteningly quiet. I rammed the gearshift into reverse and tore out of the driveway.

Then I remembered the road construction in front of the hospital. How would I get to the emergency room quickly through that labyrinth? For the first time since the terrifying crash in the bathroom I thought about praying. Almost as if the words had been spoken out loud, a scripture crossed my mind: “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14). Of course I knew it wasn’t.

“Heavenly Father,” I pleaded aloud, “I know nothing is too hard for Thee. I need to get my child to the hospital quickly. Please clear the way for me.”

Just then I turned onto the busy street leading to the hospital. I couldn’t believe what I saw. An hour before it had been choked with chaotic congestion and clogged with construction equipment and traffic. Now the scene was completely different.

The road was clear as far as I could see: not another car going my direction, not one piece of yellow equipment or a single orange caution sign in view. The surface was hard and smooth and black—freshly rolled asphalt ready to carry us quickly to help.

“Thank you, Heavenly Father,” I said fervently as I pressed the accelerator. Within minutes I drove into the emergency entrance of the hospital. An orderly hurried outside. He gently lifted Dana out of the car. I followed him, carrying the baby in her seat, weak with relief and gratitude.

If you’d asked me at noon to estimate how long the road construction might go on, I’d have said cynically, “A year and a day.” Yet somehow it had been completed in time for us. Just in time.

Angela B. Haight is a Primary teacher in the Menlo Park First Ward, Menlo Park California Stake.

“And What Have You Learned?”

Her question didn’t exactly startle me, but it was unexpected. While waiting for others to join us to perform temple sealings, we spoke of this and that—about the snow, the crystal chandelier—and then, after a moment, the young woman turned to me and asked, “How long have you been a sealing officiator?”

“I’m beginning my 19th year,” I said.

“And what have you learned?”

I had no reply at first. I’d never thought that question through.

I searched my mind for possible answers. I thought of saying, “I’ve learned how perfect people can seem to be here in the temple.”

I thought of answering, “I’ve learned to appreciate the ordinances themselves—their simplicity, their antiquity, their profundity.”

But I knew that she was asking for the essence of my experience. And suddenly I found the words to express what I knew.

“When all is said and done, the basis of eternity is the family. That’s what I’ve learned,” I said. “The essential purpose of the Church and all that we do is to make it possible for families to be together forever.”

She sat motionless, her brown eyes staring at me.

“The ordinances performed in the temple empower people,” I said. “They make eternal family relationships possible. In the temple, I find that family and love are synonymous. That’s what I’ve learned.”

Sensing a need, I turned the question back to her. “What have you learned?” I asked.

Her lip trembled for a moment. “I’ve learned that what you are saying is true,” she said finally. “Family is what the Church—and the temple—are all about. That’s why I’m here—for my family.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“My father was good to me, but my mother died when I was tiny,” she said. “They were never married. As I was growing up, it was hard not knowing who I really was. But the temple gave myself to me. When I was 13, my father died. And then I found the gospel, or it found me.”

Her face brightened. “A few months ago I got back from my mission and began the temple work for my father and mother. I was sealed to them for eternity. For the first time, I am whole. Knowing I am sealed to my family gives me a place to be. The day I was sealed to my parents was, for me, the beginning of eternity. I feel so happy when I am here in the temple.”

I looked into her smiling face. Through my tears, I could see hers. Each time I go to the temple I think of that sweet sister’s face and of the eternal blessing it is to be sealed to our families forever.

Lael J. Woodbury is a member of the Oak Hills Seventh Ward, Provo Utah Oak Hills Stake.

I Had Shut Out the World

For two months missionaries had lived in the flat next to mine in suburban Auckland, New Zealand. They were good neighbors, but we were no more than nodding acquaintances. However, one evening they knocked on my door to inquire when the landlord, who was on vacation, was due to return. I gave them the information, and as they turned to go, I asked, “What happened to the other guy who was with you?”

“Oh, he went home to California,” replied one of the missionaries. “I’m Elder Vreeken, and this is my new companion, Elder Judd. By the way, what do you know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

“Not much,” I replied.

Elder Vreeken pointed to a book with a blue cover strapped on the back of his bicycle, which was parked against the wall. “Would you like to read this?”

“Yes, thanks. It’s always interesting to learn of other people’s beliefs,” I said, accepting a copy of the Book of Mormon.

“Perhaps we could call sometime and discuss it with you?”

“You can visit, but it won’t get you anyplace. I was brought up Christian, but I dropped out years ago.” The term dropped out just about described my life at that time. A longtime bachelor, I had withdrawn from society in recent years and had become a studious recluse with shoulder-length hair, and I lived on coffee and cigarettes.

A week later the missionaries stopped by again. We had a pleasant discussion, and they showed interest in my library of books on family history. They made an appointment to return once again—on the anniversary of my late father’s birthday. My father had passed away 20 years earlier, but shortly after his passing I had had an experience that confirmed to me that there was an afterlife. I wanted to hear what they had to say about such matters.

On the night of their appointment, memories of this experience came back to me as the missionaries explained about the visit of the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith, and I readily accepted all they taught me that day. Yet I balked at the thought of baptism; I could see no reason to alter my way of life.

The following day at work, I considered the things I was learning, but I did not feel happy about them. There seemed little enough time now in my life to do all I wanted. If I became involved in Church activities, I’d have even less time to pursue my interests. I decided to ask the elders not to call again.

When they came to my door a few days later, I announced to them I had decided not to join their church. The elders looked crestfallen.

“Now that we are here, do you mind if we go ahead with the lesson?” asked Elder Judd.

Surprised, I consented. As I listened, I realized I was somewhat intrigued by all they had to say. Yet nothing was further from my mind than receiving instruction in the Latter-day Saint—or any other—faith. I began giving offhand and occasionally hostile answers. The atmosphere was not cordial. Then I asked myself why I continued to fight the missionaries. Their message made sense; it had a ring of truth. And the bearers of the message were two young men of seemingly exceptional character. Their perseverance and patience amazed me. I was impressed in spite of myself.

As they left, I surprised myself by saying I would attend a meeting the next evening. At the meeting I came face to face with other members of the Church. They turned out to be the friendliest and happiest group I had ever encountered. Within minutes I had received an invitation to lunch the following Sunday. Then, as I watched a videocassette entitled The First Vision and participated in the discussion after, I found some matters clarified.

Later, the missionaries and I knelt in prayer and asked for guidance. When it was my turn to pray, I felt the power of the Holy Ghost fill me. My voice rose in excitement as I felt my whole being embraced in peace and happiness such as I had never before experienced. I knew my prayers had been answered. Overwhelmed, I turned to the missionaries and said, “I need time to think about this.”

The next day I felt as though I was becoming a different person. I was given strength to set aside my cigarettes, and I was baptized the following Sunday.

I am grateful for the changes that came into my life and the new opportunities that Church membership brought me. Because missionaries lived in my building only two months, I believe the Lord helped bring them to my door. I have often reflected on the love Father in Heaven has for His children that He would be mindful even of me—a person who had shut out the world—and guide me to the truth.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Gregg Thorkelson

Robert H. Dunne is a member of the Balmoral Ward, Auckland New Zealand Mt. Roskill Stake.