Latter-day Saint Voices

By


Prayer in a Wheat Field

One spring morning when I was about eight years old, my father asked me and my five brothers to go with him in the pickup truck to one of his wheat fields near Ashton, Idaho. After we arrived at the field, he explained to us that each year in the springtime he would go to the fields and kneel down in the green wheat to pray to Heavenly Father.

We walked about a hundred feet into the green field, then removed our hats and knelt down together. My father offered a beautiful prayer. He prayed for rain and protection from the elements. He asked that the farm would yield a bounteous harvest. And he consecrated the harvest to the Lord for the raising of his family and the building up of the kingdom of God.

The harvest that year was good, and we knew that the Lord’s hand had blessed the crops as in years past.

Several years later, after four more children had come into our family, my parents decided they must leave the farm in order to provide for such a large family. Both Dad and Mom went back to the university to become schoolteachers. Our family moved to the nearby town of St. Anthony, Idaho, where my parents’ service in the Church and work in the school district blessed the community.

From my vantage point, the bounteous harvest of my parents’ life has been not of wheat but of their children, including spouses and grandchildren. As I look back on the lessons learned and blessings received from that experience with my father in the wheat field that spring morning, I recognize the power of prayer and of a worthy father who dedicated all he owned to his family and the Lord.

Percy William Hawkes is a member of the Gavea Ward, Rio de Janeiro Anderai Brazil Stake.

“Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled”

In July 1989 our family moved to French Polynesia, where my husband had been called to preside over the Tahiti Papeete Mission. The change from the dry climate of Utah to humid Tahiti caused me some respiratory trouble, and six weeks after we arrived I developed bronchitis and then pneumonia complicated by pleurisy. I cracked a rib during a particularly violent spasm of coughing, and the pain was so intense I could hardly breathe.

“Madame Perrin, there seems to be another complication,” the doctor said after he examined my chest x-rays. He pointed to an opaque shadow on my upper right lung. “There’s a spot here that looks very suspicious. You’ll need to have some more x-rays taken.”

The next day I returned to the hospital for a test, and that night I knelt by the side of my bed and poured out my heart in prayer. I expressed that I had been called to assist my husband with his numerous responsibilities but that with poor health I would be a burden to him rather than an asset. I prayed for the opportunity and strength to do what the Lord had called me to do, and then I placed the problem in Heavenly Father’s hands and asked that His will be done.

As I got into bed, I reached for my scriptures hoping to find solace. I opened my quadruple combination at random, and this well-known, underlined passage in John 14:27 seemed to jump off the page: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

I was overwhelmed with the feeling that the Lord was speaking directly to me. This was the answer to my heartfelt prayer. He was telling me to not worry, to be at peace. I literally felt the anxiety leave my body and be replaced with the calm, quiet knowledge that all would be well. That night, in spite of my persistent cough and the excruciating pain it caused, I was able to get some much-needed sleep.

“I don’t understand,” said the doctor the next day. He again looked over my original x-rays and compared them with the tomography. “There’s nothing here at all. That area of your lung is completely clear.”

I do not know why my life was spared. I realize that others in similar situations have not been healed despite exercising great faith; but I am grateful I was soon back on my feet and able to thrust in my sickle with all my might.

Kathleen C. Perrin is a member of the Union First Ward, Sandy Utah Cottonwood Creek Stake.

A Friar’s New Life

As a young child living in Tacna, Peru, I remember sitting around my father’s chair with my brothers and sisters, listening to stories of Jesus Christ and the ancient prophets as my father read from the family Bible. The teachings of the Savior and the lives of the prophets made a deep impression on my life at an early age.

Around the age of eight, I made a promise to myself to give up the things of the world and devote my life to the service of God. I knew that He loved me, and I began to seek Him to know His will for me. But at age 14, I was still confused and I wondered what direction I should take.

During the years that followed I stayed busy, helping out in a local monastery. The superiors of the monastery observed my actions, often discussing among themselves whether I would continue my training to become a priest or be permitted to join the Franciscan order. Ultimately the decision was mine, and remembering my earlier promise to serve the Lord, I signed a deposition in court giving up my worldly goods and my inheritance.

For many years I worked within the Franciscan order, serving and studying in many places while holding many positions of responsibility. As I learned more about the Bible through my studies and prayer, many questions arose that I could not find answers for. To help satisfy my desire for more understanding, the superiors at the monastery allowed me to attend meetings of other religions. I attended a number of Protestant churches and meetings held by traveling evangelists. Time after time, I came away dissatisfied. As my frustrations grew, I finally decided to withdraw from the order and become a civilian.

With no inheritance and no source of income, I turned to my education from the university and entered the world of business. There I found stability and success, but it did not quench my thirst for the truth of God.

A few years later, while vacationing in Tacna at my parents’ home, I met the Latter-day Saint missionaries. In broken Spanish they tried to tell me about the restored gospel, but I didn’t really listen to their message. I did, however, agree to meet them the next day for more interchange of ideas. Because of a mixup we did not meet the following day at their chapel. A few days later I saw them in the street and was disappointed they had not met with me when we had scheduled. With a large crowd watching, I embarrassed the young men because they had been unable to keep their appointment with me; I felt they had been discourteous. As the crowd dispersed, I realized I should have helped them in this nervous and difficult situation; I had been rude to them.

When two new missionaries came five months later, I felt I should give them a chance and I listened to their message. I listened but still had no real interest. They left me a copy of the Book of Mormon and challenged me to read it, explaining they would return in two days to discuss it further and answer any questions I might have.

Determined to right the wrong I had committed against the earlier missionaries and to prove these young men were deceived, I stayed up all night and read the entire book, taking 13 pages of notes on doctrinal points. When they returned in two days, they were surprised to find I had read the entire book. Many of my questions were designed to raise contention. Realizing this, the missionaries suggested I put aside my questions for now and listen to the presentation they had prepared. At the end of their visit they gave me a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants and some pamphlets, once again challenging me to read and pray about them.

Soon after their next visit, they gave me a copy of Jesus the Christ and explained that it contained much of the information I had asked about earlier. Thinking this would be the last book I would have to read, I accepted it. As I read I was impressed by the truths contained in this book as well as the others the missionaries had brought me in subsequent visits. The more I read these books and the more I studied the scriptures to prove them wrong, the stronger the understanding came that they were true.

At the end of each visit, the elders would tell me to pray to obtain a testimony. After reading the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, Jesus the Christ, and all of the pamphlets given me, I knew in my heart that the Church was true, but I still wanted a spiritual witness. Retiring to my room, I knelt down and asked God if the Church was true. As I opened and read from Jesus the Christ, I received a burning in my bosom that I recognized as the witness of the Holy Ghost. Again I prayed, asking if Joseph Smith was a prophet and if the Book of Mormon was true, and again He answered me. The burning in my heart continued to swell as I found answers to questions that for so many years had gone unanswered.

My manifestations from God that the Church was true left me only one road to follow, and I was baptized along with 11 others on 6 April 1972. That day marked the end of my search and the beginning of my new life in the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Abel Telésforo Gonzales Rebaza is a member of the Santa Patricia Ward, Lima Peru La Molina Stake.

Their Season of Service

One Sunday at our ward meetinghouse, I was alone in my office praying, searching the scriptures, and pondering my responsibility as bishop. As I thought about several retired couples in our ward who were financially sound and in good health, I felt inspired about calling them to serve missions.

When I opened the office door to head for home, there stood True Feild, one of the potential missionaries I had been thinking about. She had seen my car parked outside and stopped to see me about an item of business.

“I have just been thinking and praying about you,” I said. “Come in, and let me ask you a question.”

Sister Feild was obviously surprised. After she was seated, I said, “I know this is a little out of the ordinary because I would like to discuss this with you and your husband, but would you consider serving a mission?”

She nodded her head and then began to cry.

“What will Keith say?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “Why don’t we go and see?”

We went out to our cars, and I followed her to her house.

“Brother Feild,” I said, “I am here as a servant of the Lord to call you on a mission. Can you go?”

“Certainly!” he exclaimed. “When should we be ready?”

Within a few weeks, Keith and True Feild sent in their paperwork for a full-time mission. Soon they departed to work for a year among Native American people in Nebraska and South Dakota. The time passed quickly, and before long we welcomed them home.

On the Sunday they were scheduled to speak about their missionary experiences, Brother Feild came to church quite ill. We felt particularly concerned because 10 years earlier he had gone through a bout with cancer. But they both bore wonderful testimonies about their labors. Sister Feild told a moving story of a troubled young woman who came to her for counsel and support. Brother Feild told about several opportunities he had to strengthen members who were straying.

Within a few short weeks, Brother Feild was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The night before he died, I called him.

“Bishop,” he said, “my wife and I have served an honorable mission. Now I am ready to go home. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.”

I am grateful that the Spirit prompted me to issue this couple a call to serve a mission. Those small branches in Nebraska and South Dakota were blessed by their service, and I know that the Feilds were equally blessed.

Jon B. Fish is a member of the Orangevale Ward, Citrus Heights California Stake.

Could Jonathan Survive?

“You should prepare yourselves to lose this child,” the doctor told my husband and me.

On 16 December 1982, I had given birth by C-section to identical triplet boys nearly 11 weeks premature, and doctors had given them less than a 50-percent chance of survival. For several weeks we had watched them struggle, and finally Joseph and Jacob had begun to make progress. But Jonathan, who had been the largest at birth—2 pounds, 14 ounces—had dropped to 1 pound, 1 ounce, and was still on a respirator. Some of his veins had collapsed, and he was not digesting milk.

My husband, Jeff, had given me priesthood blessings during my pregnancy and immediately before delivery, but he had not yet administered to the babies. I believe we put it off because our desires were so strong for the babies’ survival and Jeff did not want to bless them with health contrary to Heavenly Father’s will.

But now we knew the time had arrived to give Jonathan and his brothers a blessing, regardless of the outcome. If Heavenly Father wanted Jonathan to return to Him after only a few weeks of life, we needed to accept that with faith and courage. Desiring to involve someone who was spiritually in tune but less personally attached, we asked Bishop John Ball to help with the blessings.

Jeff and Bishop Ball first administered to Joseph and Jacob. The blessings assured each of them that Heavenly Father had special missions in store for them, and we felt relieved and joyful.

Then it was Jonathan’s turn, and fear gripped my heart as we entered the critical-care nursery. But I felt I was prepared to accept Heavenly Father’s will concerning Jonathan’s life.

As Bishop Ball began the blessing, he said that Jonathan’s mission had been to come to this earth to gain a body. Then he paused.

Horrified, I thought they were going to release Jonathan from this life. I wanted to ask them to stop the blessing. I wanted to open my eyes in case it was time for Jonathan to draw his last breath. But I managed to keep my head bowed and my eyes closed as I stood next to Jonathan’s isolette.

Finally Bishop Ball continued. He said that Jonathan’s mission was not only to come here to gain a body. He went on to pronounce a beautiful blessing about Jonathan’s future life, commanding him to be healed.

Such peace filled our souls. Within 48 hours we saw a tremendous change in Jonathan. His lungs and veins opened, and he began to digest two teaspoons of milk every two hours. He quickly regained his place as the largest and strongest of the three boys. The triplets initially had some slight visual and respiratory problems and were a bit delayed in their large-motor development, but they are now healthy teenagers and are able to keep up in school and activities.

We are grateful that it was the Lord’s will for our children to live, and we know assuredly that the priesthood is a powerful gift.

Janet L. Bleyl is a member of the Don Avenue Ward, Stockton California Stake.

Our Signs of Friendship

Until Tracy moved into the neighborhood, I had never associated with a person who had a hearing impairment. She had four children, and she was in the process of getting divorced. My first encounter with her was when I accompanied a youth group to help clean up her yard soon after she moved in.

When I approached Tracy for some instructions, I did not know how we would communicate. I talked slowly in the hope that she could read my lips, and when she responded in deep, broken tones, I turned to her oldest daughter for an interpretation. But Tracy gently turned my face back toward her and motioned for me to watch her carefully. With effort, we were able to communicate.

A few days later, Tracy’s son knocked on my door and said his mother would like me to come over so she could talk to me. When I arrived at her house, she took me by the arm and led me to the sofa. Then she sat beside me and showed me a book about sign language. She turned to several different pages and indicated she wanted me to ask her questions using the signs.

We communicated this way for about an hour. Tracy’s warmth and friendliness penetrated my uncertainty, and I was impressed with how her children—including the two-year-old—could communicate using signs. From that time on, our friendship grew stronger. Tracy often visited our home, and she taught my other family members how to communicate with her. If we turned to her children for help, she would remind us that we needed to pay close attention to her.

Tracy taught me her greatest lesson on the Sunday she was called as secretary to the Sunday School presidency. When she took her place on the stand with the other presidency members, I expected she would have someone else speak her testimony for her. When her turn came, I was surprised to see her arise and stand before the microphone. Everyone looked at her, not knowing what to expect. As she spoke in what may have seemed like barely understandable monotones to those not accustomed to hearing her, a powerful feeling permeated the chapel. She spoke with a spirit that needed no interpretation.

I am grateful for this beautiful woman who helped me, my family, and many others see how a challenge such as a hearing impairment can be dealt with and made into a positive growing experience.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Robert Anderson McKay

Sharon Barber is a member of the Maplewood Ward, Syracuse Utah South Stake.