Latter-day Saint Voices

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Trapped inside My Car

One morning while my husband and I were missionaries in the Liberty Jail Visitors’ Center in Missouri, I drove to the beauty salon for an appointment. While under the hair dryer, I contemplated with mixed feelings the reality that our mission would be over in less than three months.

On my way home, I was waiting to turn left in a busy intersection when I heard honking and saw a large dump truck broadside a nearby car. Then, in horror, I watched the truck hit a concrete median and overturn on top of my little car, spilling dirt everywhere.

As the truck crushed my car, I was gripped in helpless panic. I cried to the Lord to save me. Thoughts flashed through my mind: I’m not afraid to die. In a few seconds I’ll be through the veil. But then I thought: No, I will not die. I will finish my mission. At the start of our mission, we had been given a blessing that we would have the health and strength to finish our mission.

The truck finished settling its massive weight, and I realized I would live. I had leaned the upper part of my body over the passenger seat, thus avoiding any head injuries. But the pain in my legs was indescribable as the dashboard pressed down on them. The steering shaft was pinning my legs into an awkward position, and the fingers of my right hand were jammed between the steering wheel and my thigh. The window knob on the left door was piercing my left hip. I could not see outside because of the dirt and shattered windshield.

Though I felt a frightening tenseness, I did not give in to hysterics or tears. Instead I sought strength through prayer. After what seemed like several minutes someone finally called, “Are you there?”

“Yes,” I answered. “My legs are crushed. Please help me.”

As men shoveled dirt from the truck to lessen its weight, I smelled gasoline fumes. I petitioned the Lord to protect me from asphyxiation, and a cool breeze wafted through the car. Possibly 30 minutes passed. My legs were numb, and the pain was excruciating. I prayed my legs would not be paralyzed.

The rescue crew could not agree on the best method to lift the truck without it falling back down and crushing me. In the meantime, they moved another car away from mine and cut off the right door of my car. I asked if they could take out the passenger seat, but it was holding up the top of the car.

“Wriggle your toes,” said a doctor. I did so, and he said, “Good.” I was given a shot of morphine, but it did not seem to relieve the pain. Then I heard someone say, “Tell her she’ll have to wait another 20 minutes until the big crane arrives from Kansas City.”

I whispered to myself, “I can’t endure.” But I knew I had to.

More than an hour had passed, and I know I received spiritual strength to endure. During the entire ordeal, I was enveloped by a lovely, soft sense of the sweetness of the Spirit of the Lord.

Finally the truck was removed from my car, and workers cut away the top of the car and lifted the dash and steering wheel enough to free me. Kind hands lifted me into a waiting ambulance, and at the hospital I learned that my most serious injury was a broken leg.

Still wrapped in the sweetness of the Spirit, I recognized that my personal prayers had been answered and that a priesthood blessing had been fulfilled. Not until then did tears come as I thanked Father in Heaven for saving my life.

Mazie Cundick is a member of the Bountiful 26th Ward, Bountiful Utah Stake.

Was I Addicted?

Like many new converts, I struggled to live the Word of Wisdom and the law of tithing. Tithing was for me the most difficult. How could I possibly take something away from the little that was just barely enough? The Lord helped me understand how I could do just that by teaching me a wonderful lesson.

As I began to pay tithing, I realized I would have to put my finances in order. I immediately began to budget my money better. I made a list of all my monthly expenses, starting with tithing. I compared the list to my monthly income. To my astonishment, there was enough to live on and even a small amount for savings. I was also surprised to see how much money I had previously spent on alcohol and coffee. The Lord blessed me financially and spiritually as I worked to live His law.

After I joined the Church in Germany, I had cried a little for the glass of wine I would miss at parties and also for my dearly loved cup of coffee. But it really didn’t matter, I told myself, because I was not addicted. But four weeks after I banned alcohol and coffee from my life, I woke up with excruciating pains in my legs. I ignored them and went to work. But within two hours, my whole body ached and each movement hurt more and more. I went to a doctor. He gave me some pills, ordered 14 days of rest, and said with a laugh, “Drink a nice, strong cup of coffee when you get home. That can’t hurt you.”

I suddenly realized that my pains were withdrawal symptoms. My body was reacting to the loss of caffeine. How easy it would have been to follow my doctor’s advice. How difficult it seemed in my weakened condition to listen to the Lord. Fortunately, the Lord strengthened me, and I did not give in to temptation. With His help, I overcame this condition and continued to obey the Word of Wisdom, which has been a blessing for me.

Evelin Korndörfer is a member of the Mittweida Branch, Dresden Germany Stake.

Clinging to Faith in Intensive Care

When I arrived for my night shift as a nurse, the smell of ammonia and other cleansers filled the air from the freshly mopped hospital floors. Tonight the eight-bed intensive care unit was filled to capacity.

While I was reviewing my patients’ charts, an alarm sounded and I saw the call light flashing above room 205. I walked into the room, turned off the call light, and went to the bedside. The patient was a salt-and-pepper-haired woman in her late 50s. Hospital equipment crowded around her, and a cluster of bottles hung over her. She was on life support because of a chronic lung disease.

The ventilator tube in her mouth prevented her from speaking, so I picked up a pad of paper and a pencil and handed them to her. But she brushed my hand aside. “Are you in pain?” I asked. She shook her head no, but her anxiety caused the ventilator alarm to light up and ring.

Wanting to calm her down so the alarm would stop, I asked, “Would you like to turn on your side?” Again she gave a firm shake of her head. Then she started waving a white, folded piece of paper in front of her face. “Are you hot?” I questioned. She shook her head once more.

She became more and more agitated as she waved the paper. “Do you want me to read what is on the paper?” I finally asked. She nodded with relief. Her body relaxed, and the ventilator alarm silenced. As I unfolded the paper, I saw the words patriarchal blessing in bold print. The blessing was dated two weeks before her admission to the hospital.

She grabbed my hand, and I sat on the edge of her bed. As I read aloud, I glanced at her face. Her eyes were closed, but I knew she was listening to every word. I wondered about some of the blessings promised to her. It seemed that a temple marriage was not something a critically ill person with a nonmember husband could ever hope for. She was not expected to live more than a few weeks, and I thought she had received her blessing too late.

When I finished reading, I noticed how quiet and peaceful the room was. I broke the silence to ask if she wanted me to read her patriarchal blessing again. She nodded. After the second reading, I told her how beautiful her blessing was and placed it back in her hand. She clenched it tightly as if it were a life preserver.

As I returned to the nurses’ station, I wondered where my own patriarchal blessing was. On occasion I had stumbled upon it, scanned its pages, and then tucked it away in a secure place, usually in my book of remembrance on the top shelf of the bedroom closet.

Weeks went by, and the woman unexpectedly improved. Her vital signs stabilized, and she was taken off the ventilator and given an oxygen mask. She left the intensive care unit, and for all I know she may have lived to see some of the promises in her blessing fulfilled during her earthly life. I know that some day, in this life or the next, every blessing I read to her that day will come to her if she is faithful.

I will never forget what that patient did for me. She impressed me to go home and read my own blessing and cherish it as she did hers. Ever since that time, I have kept my patriarchal blessing next to my bed, where I read it frequently.

Paula T. Weed is a member of the Cottonwood Heights Seventh Ward, Salt Lake Cottonwood Heights Stake.

I Had to Speak Up

I was the only Latter-day Saint in my writers’ group, which met regularly to share and critique each other’s manuscripts. On an earlier occasion I had blurted out corrections when a woman made misstatements about Latter-day Saint history, and I had resolved to keep my cool in the future. But then another challenge arose when a gifted writer showed us her manuscript that portrayed adultery in a positive light.

I struggled about what to do. In the creative arts, it seems disrespectful to say anything that might stifle another’s creativity or hamper freedom of expression. But what should a Latter-day Saint do when artistic expression applauds standards that we as members of the Church cannot accept?

I believed the woman was an honest writer who would not write about such matters merely for sensational purposes. And I could not fault her skills, which included a strong sense of mood and deft handling of symbolism. But her fictional story told of a young mother and homemaker whose childhood had been influenced by overly restrictive moral codes, who was neglected by her busy husband, and who had chosen to have an affair with her next-door neighbor.

The workshop participants applauded the beauty and artistry of the piece. One person said, “It sounds almost religious.” Another said, “Now she can live!”

Gathering my courage, I decided to voice my opinion in the midst of this praise. I asked, “Wouldn’t her problem be resolved in a truer sense if she found a way to express herself within the family unit, keeping the best of both worlds? I feel sorry for the husband, for the wife, and even for the man next door. It is an easy, lazy solution.”

I then looked at the author and said, “I challenge you to use your creative imagination to bring forth new life out of an old setting, full and complete.”

The people in the workshop began to whisper, and some said words of affirmation. And the author? She gave me a beautiful smile and raised her hands in applause. And I felt glad that I had spoken out for higher standards.

Berniece Rabe is a member of the Denton Fourth Ward, Denton Texas Stake.

Bread, Milk, and Truth

Early in our marriage, my wife and I operated a small neighborhood shop (known as a dairy in New Zealand) while I studied architecture at Auckland University. Soon after we joined the Church, we decided to close our shop on Sundays and stop selling cigarettes, tobacco, coffee, and tea. We also decided to share our testimonies whenever we felt prompted by the Holy Ghost.

I found the evenings were the best time to share the gospel with customers. I would study my university assignments in a small room adjacent to the shop, and each time the bell rang I would seek the Spirit’s guidance about whether I should be friendly about religion with whoever had entered the shop.

On one occasion I felt prompted to speak to a young man who I later learned was from Fiji. I opened the conversation with generalities and then asked him which faith he belonged to, and he began to tell me about his Hindu religion. We had been talking for about 20 minutes when I invited him to sit with me in our little lounge behind the shop and have a cup of warm chocolate. I continued to ask him questions about his faith, and I felt a friendship growing between us.

The man began visiting regularly to enjoy a cup of warm chocolate and continue the conversation. One evening, after he had answered all my questions about his faith, family, and life, he suddenly asked me about my faith. I knew then that the Spirit had prompted me to be patient, and I felt a swell of gratitude as I bore my testimony and shared my love for the gospel. Now he was the one asking questions, and soon we reached a point where I recognized my limitations and suggested he listen to the missionaries, which he agreed to do.

Within a week of visiting with them, he read the Book of Mormon and committed to baptism. He was returning permanently to Fiji the next Saturday afternoon, so we arranged to hold his baptismal service on Saturday morning and then drive him to the airport. A week later he wrote us a letter about his new ward in Fiji, and 14 months later he wrote to say he was serving as first counselor in the bishopric.

We enjoyed the privilege of seeing many people come into the Church through contacts we made in our little corner shop. When we are willing to share the Lord’s gospel, He will open the way.

D. H. Viljoen is a member of the Paeroa Branch, Hamilton New Zealand Stake.

It Came to Be Called “Mormon Street”

When I arrived in the Peru Chiclayo Mission, my only desire was to be obedient and work with great fervor to find those who would accept the gospel. Each morning, my companion and I knelt to pray for help in finding those who were seeking the Savior. Our prayers were answered many times.

About 18 months into my mission, I was assigned to the Los Proceres Ward, Chiclayo Peru El Dorado Stake. One morning as my companion and I went out to work, we decided to collect some referrals from the members.

On our way to a member’s home we passed a certain street, and I felt strongly that the Lord wanted us to knock on the doors of the houses on that street. I told my companion what I was feeling, and he agreed.

We knocked on the first three doors on the block and were rejected at all three. This response discouraged my companion so much that he wanted to go back to our first plan of getting member referrals. Seeing how he felt, I agreed, but I could not deny the feeling I had.

Later that month, my companion was transferred, and Elder Meyhuay was assigned to work with me. I helped him get settled the first night, but the first thing the next day I took him to the street where I had received the impression. I told him about my feeling, and he agreed to help me knock on every door there.

As before, the people in the first few houses rejected us. But we were determined to endure to the end. Then we arrived at the house of the Quesada Zerita family. The woman who answered the door invited us in, and we taught her the first missionary discussion. She was very moved. We returned two days later to teach her husband. He also agreed to listen to us, and we taught another discussion. This time the whole family was there.

So began a beautiful experience. As time went by, many of the families on that street wanted to hear the discussions. To accommodate them all, we had to set up benches outside and project our filmstrips onto a wall from the street. As we spoke to the large number of people who gathered to hear our message, we felt like the Apostles in ancient times. All of this gave us great joy.

Going to church was exciting; we had to use four or five cars to get all the people to the meetinghouse, and the people from this street filled up four pews in the chapel. In the three months my companion and I worked together, we baptized about 50 people. Their names are written in my journal and in my heart.

I have since learned that the street, which we called “Mormon Street,” is now part of a new Church unit. The families we baptized are still active in the Church, and this especially fills me with joy.

Now that I have completed my mission and returned to my home in Ica, Peru, I still have challenges. But the experiences I had in the mission field give me strength. On my mission I learned to listen to the Lord. I learned that, like Nephi, when I seek to do the Lord’s will, I can be “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Ne. 4:6).

[illustrations] Illustrated by Richard Russell

Ronal Navarro Gutiérrez is a member of the Solidaridad Ward, Lima Peru Campoy Stake.