Latter-day Saint Voices

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I Needed a Blessing

It was the rainy season in the Philippines and had been raining all day. Rain often brought unwanted creatures into our house—usually spiders, rats, and such.

As my companion and I arrived home after a day of proselyting, we noticed a light on at our neighbors’ house and we thought we would visit them. We decided to stop at our house and pick up some photographs of our families to show them.

We kept the pictures on the bottom shelf of a book shelf between our beds. As I reached for mine, I suddenly felt a pain in my right hand. Looking down, I saw that a snake had just bitten me.

I called to my companion, Elder Regis, and he ran to see what the problem was. I showed him the blood on my hand and said I’d been bitten by a snake.

A neighbor ran in because of the commotion and helped us look for the snake. We found it when it struck from under the bed at a board Elder Regis was holding. The neighbor cried out, “That’s a Philippine cobra!”

Elder Regis killed the snake. I realized I was getting dizzy, so we rushed to Bishop Rotor’s house because he had some experience treating snakebites. He hurriedly began to do what he could to help me.

My chest was becoming heavy, and it was hard to breathe. A darkness seemed to cloud my thoughts, and I began to lose consciousness. Then I had a distinct impression that if I wanted to finish my mission on earth, I needed a blessing.

I stayed conscious long enough to say, “Will you give me a blessing?”

The bishop answered, “Yes, just let me finish this first.” It was hard for me to stay alert, but the impression came again, extremely strong, that I needed a blessing now. I could not wait. This time I said in a commanding voice, “Give me a blessing!”

I don’t remember the words of the blessing my companion and Bishop Rotor gave me. But I put all my trust in the Lord and His priesthood. During the prayer I began to come to my senses, and I vomited repeatedly. As I heard the final words of the blessing, the vomiting stopped. I was aware of my surroundings and felt a warm feeling of comfort and love fill my body. I knew my Father in Heaven loved me and that I would be OK.

My zone leader, Elder Howarth, brought to the bishop’s home a doctor who was investigating the Church. By this time about two hours had passed. We left for a hospital located about an hour away from where I was serving.

On the way the doctor asked me to tell him what happened. Elder Howarth said, “Doctor, shouldn’t we speed up?” The doctor’s answer was, “Why? He should already be dead. He is a lucky man.” The Philippine cobra is the deadliest snake in the Philippines.

If people say God is not a God of miracles anymore, they don’t understand this gospel or His love for us, His children. I know my life was spared and I suffered no lasting effects because of the power of God’s word: “And by the power of his word did they cause prisons to tumble to the earth,” wrote Moroni, “yea, even the fiery furnace could not harm them, neither wild beasts nor poisonous serpents, because of the power of his word” (Morm. 8:24).

Brandon J. Miller is a member of the Iona Second Ward, Iona Idaho Stake.

New Dreams for Old

After finishing my studies in technical administration, I worked with a young executive who later became my husband. What a marvelous time of my life it was! But it was not to last. One month after our wedding, my husband and I were traveling from Bogotá, Colombia, where we lived, to Duitama, where my parents lived, when we were involved in a serious automobile accident. The accident took my husband’s life and left me with amnesia. I couldn’t remember anything of the past six years, couldn’t walk, and couldn’t move my left arm.

After months of physical therapy, I was finally able to walk again and move my arm somewhat. Gradually, my memory returned to the point that six years after the accident I could recall the events of my life except for two years: the one preceding the accident and the one following it. Still, my previous capabilities were much diminished. I had trouble converting my thoughts into words, and I found it difficult to repeat something after hearing it. Because I easily forgot details, some people took advantage of my lapses.

Eventually, the doctors felt they had done all they could. I tried to appear happy and enthusiastic, but I often felt frustrated and angry. What was I to do with my life?

When I was at my lowest point, I read in the scriptures where the Lord promises that we will not be tried above that which we are able to bear (see 1 Cor. 10:13; D&C 64:20). I prayed that this promise would be true for me too.

I finally returned to the company where I had worked before the accident. Since I was incapable of handling my old job, I worked at filing and similar jobs, but even these tasks proved difficult. Nevertheless, I didn’t give up. I fought to complete my six-month contract. As I did, a marvelous feeling of hope illuminated my spirit, inspiring me to keep trying to improve my capabilities.

By staying close to the Lord, I reestablished confidence in myself and could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life. This influence soon led me to consider serving a mission. I know some people thought my desire foolish, but when I spoke with the branch president, he gave me the courage I needed to continue. To prepare myself, I decided I needed to read the Book of Mormon in its entirety—something I had not yet accomplished in my 12 years as a member.

However, my poor memory posed a real challenge. After starting 1 Nephi at least 10 times and not being able to remember a thing I had read, I knew I needed a different approach. I prayed to find a solution, and soon a method entered my mind: I would write a synopsis of each chapter as I read it.

I bought a notebook and read the first chapter of 1 Nephi. Since I had only a vague idea of what I had just read, I had to read the chapter again. Only then was I able to summarize in my notebook the main ideas in that chapter.

Prayerfully, I moved on. After completing 1 Nephi, I found I no longer had to read each chapter twice; once was enough to write a good synopsis. I read the entire Book of Mormon this way. When I finished, I was left with a strong spiritual witness that the book is true, and I could also testify that the Lord strengthens us if we turn to Him.

I next completed the missionary health form, answering each question honestly, even though the answers could frustrate my desire to be a missionary. How great was my joy when I received a call to serve in the Colombia Cali Mission! There I discovered the truth of another of the Lord’s promises, found in 1 Nephi 3:7 [1 Ne. 3:7]: “The Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

After I returned from my mission, I came to live with my parents on a farm where we grow products to sell. I have also developed a talent for knitting, which allows me to earn money and leaves me time for spiritual growth. I live a happy and productive life.

I would have preferred not to have had the accident, but I recognize the tremendous growth I’ve experienced because of it. I’ve learned that we may lose our dreams and hopes, even our loved ones, and our talents, riches, and strength might disappear, but the Lord will always support us. He gives us new dreams to replace those we have lost. In spite of all the difficulties we encounter, the Lord can help us move forward. He compensates—and He always keeps His promises.

María Patricia Rojas V. is a member of the Barbosa Branch, Duitama Colombia District.

A Tough Arizona Cowboy

Everyone knew that Dallas Stock, a rodeo cowboy, was tough. What they didn’t know was how that toughness would be tested.

For some years Dallas had not been active in the Church, but through the loving influence of his patient wife, Ginny, and their five children, along with the inspired efforts of ward leaders and friends, Dallas eventually had a change of heart. As his bishop, I rejoiced to see him progress to the point that he wanted to take Ginny and their children to the temple. He took the steps necessary to prepare himself, and they set a date to go to the house of the Lord and be sealed as a family.

One week before that date, Dallas was working on the stake welfare ranch, loading bulls into trucks for transportation to market. A temperamental bull was not cooperating, and to protect himself Dallas jumped behind a gate he thought was locked properly. Instead, as the bull hit the gate, it swung around, and the bull smashed Dallas between the gate and a fence three times in a matter of seconds. His arm and several ribs were broken, and he was badly bruised.

The accident was reported to me that evening, so I went to visit Dallas. He was sitting in his chair in severe pain, with his arm in a cast and his ribs taped. As we talked I suggested that perhaps his trip to the temple should be postponed. His response was, “Bishop, I am going to the temple next Wednesday.”

A few days later it was Sunday, and no one expected to see Dallas at church. But he was there, conducting Sunday School as a member of the Sunday School presidency. It was a painful ordeal for him, but his devotion was an inspiration to ward members.

Wednesday came, and Dallas, Ginny, their family, and many ward members attended the temple as planned. With a son on one side and a son-in-law on the other, Dallas went through the endowment session. Each time he moved, the ward members in the room could almost sense the pain Dallas must have been feeling.

After Ginny and Dallas were sealed to each other and to their children in the sealing room, the ward members, with tears in their eyes, lined up to congratulate them. I started to hug Dallas but then said, “Oh, I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Bishop,” Dallas replied, “I don’t hurt at all. I can tell you I haven’t hurt all day.”

“Surely that can’t be,” I said. “It looked so painful.”

“It was hard to get up and down,” he explained, “but it didn’t hurt. It hasn’t hurt at all.”

As I left the temple that day I was overcome by everything that had taken place. How grateful I was that Dallas had been blessed as he made every effort to get to the temple with his family. That day we witnessed not only the strength of an Arizona cowboy but also the emergence of a spiritual giant.

Allan L. Noble is a member of the Garden Lakes Ward, Phoenix Arizona West Maricopa Stake.

Just Spencer and Me

As a single mother of a toddler, I had little motivation to hold family home evening. It seemed like a great deal of work to plan a home evening for just Spencer and me.

One Sunday the lesson in Relief Society was about preparing our children to serve missions. Being a convert, I wanted nothing more than to have Spencer someday go on a mission. Even though he was only 18 months old, I knew if he was going to serve a mission when he was older, I should lay the foundation for his service now.

So I left Relief Society that day determined to begin holding family home evening with my little son. It would be a lot of work and require ingenuity, but I had hope for great rewards down the road.

As I moved forward, I felt that Heavenly Father blessed me. I was amazed and grateful to find that ideas popped into my head at the oddest moments. While removing mascara with a cotton ball, I realized cotton balls would make a nice little sheep to go along with a lesson about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. While pouring juice into a tall paper cup, it occurred to me that the cup could be a great stand for paper figures of Joseph and his many-colored coat that Spencer and I would be painting during family home evening.

Because I have little musical talent, for our opening and closing songs I turned to tapes of Church music. Spencer became the person in charge of our music, which meant that he selected one of the tapes and loaded it into the tape player.

By the second week Spencer was excited about family home evening. He would eagerly run for the Church music tapes. He looked forward to our simple stories and art projects. He loved helping Mommy prepare the treats.

Rewards I thought were many years down the road began to come immediately. Each Monday evening, no matter how hectic and horrible the day had been, the sweetest spirit entered our home. Spencer anticipated family home evening with an eagerness I never thought possible for one so young. He also seemed to fall asleep more quickly and contentedly on these nights than on others. My prayers were filled with gratitude for the help I received in finding ideas suitable for my little son.

Several months later, we started to visit a young girl from our ward named Shelah who had muscular dystrophy and was on an extended hospital stay. One week as I planned family home evening, I thought it would be a good idea to visit Shelah and hold family night in her room so she could join in. Shelah’s parents had divorced, and I thought she might enjoy participating with us.

The first Monday we held family home evening in Shelah’s hospital room a group from the ward stopped by to visit and joined in the lesson. It was an enjoyable experience, and we returned the following week and held family night in the common area of the hospital. Several patients became curious about what we were doing. We let others join us, and our group grew.

Blessings continued to come as we diligently held family home evening. Spencer became familiar with scripture stories, latter-day prophets, and the blessings of prayer. He also became sensitive to people who were sick or lonely.

When I began to hold regular family home evenings, I thought only of the blessings that would come later in life. Now I realize that following the counsel of latter-day prophets regarding family night opened the portals of heaven, allowing sweet blessings to fall upon my family right from the start.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brian Call

Bonnie Sprinkel Bell is a member of the Manassas Second Ward, Centreville Virginia Stake.