How Could I Sustain Him?
I had been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints only a short while, and I was very happy. I arose early every Sunday to attend church with my young daughter, and I knew I was being well fed spiritually. Then one Sunday I had a disturbing experience.
It was ward conference, and when our stake president spoke, his words were very special to me. Then he said, “Brothers and sisters, I would like you to raise your right hand to show that you sustain President Gordon B. Hinckley as our prophet and President of the Church.” All 50 or so members of my ward raised their hands—except me. The stake president then asked that we sustain the other General Authorities. Once again I did not raise my hand. Finally he asked us to sustain our local leaders. “Now I can raise my hand,” I thought. “I know these leaders, so I can sustain them.”
No one asked me why I had not raised my hand to sustain the prophet and the General Authorities—probably because they knew I was a new member of the Church. But the experience continued to disturb me. “How can I sustain President Hinckley when I do not know him?” I wondered. “And how can I possibly know him when I live in Brazil and he lives in the United States? To sustain him, I need to know him and see him face-to-face.”
Then the Spirit began to speak to me: “You never saw Jesus Christ face-to-face, but you sustain Him.”
“Yes, but I know Him through the scriptures, which testify of Him.”
“You can also know the prophet, even without seeing him face-to-face.”
“By reading and pondering his words. Pray for guidance from Heavenly Father, and He will help you to understand how to sustain the prophet.”
And that is what I did. During the following days I read several of President Hinckley’s talks. I watched him and listened to him speak on videos, observing every detail I could about him and his teachings. And I prayed for understanding.
Then one day as I was reading an article in the Liahona, President Hinckley’s words penetrated my soul deeply: “It is never too late to learn. I believe this with all my heart” (“A Conversation with Single Adults,” Liahona, Nov. 1997, 22; Ensign, Mar. 1997, 62). I also believed with all my heart and felt that it was not too late for me to learn.
For a long time I looked at the picture of the prophet printed beside his article. Suddenly I felt as though I were right in front of him. I looked at his eyes—eyes that seemed to speak of eternity. I looked at his face—which radiated peace. I had studied his teachings and felt the Spirit testify of them. For the first time I knew that I knew President Hinckley and that I could trust him and sustain him.
Profound well-being enveloped me, and I felt a desire to raise my right hand, not only in front of the members of my ward, but in front of the entire world. Through the witness of the Spirit, I could declare with complete conviction, “I too sustain the prophet.”
Encircled by Her Love
It was a bright, clear morning, and I was preparing to give a bridal shower. I love giving parties—any kind, any time, any number of people. Why, then, couldn’t I shake this black heaviness that kept threatening to reduce me to tears? A recent family problem had brought my husband and me many sleepless nights and much despair, and we had been pleading with the Lord for help.
Although I had offered silent prayers all morning, I could not suppress my anguish. Past experience had taught me that a kind Heavenly Father could lift me from the depths when I was sufficiently in tune. But there was little time left before I would need to have pulled myself together to look after my guests.
Only an hour before the party, I looked up to see the Relief Society compassionate service leader coming up the path. She looked at me for a long moment and said, “I felt I needed to come see you this morning.” My first thought was that there must be some problem. I was the Relief Society president, and I knew I must take whatever time was needed.
Then Norma’s arms were around me. She held me and told me how much she loved me. This dear woman had been quietly putting her arms around sisters in need for a long time. Many had recounted their joy at having her appear miraculously when they needed her most.
Now I was encircled by her love when I needed it most. The tears I had been fighting all morning ran freely. But what had been tears of desperation and pain now turned to the sweet release that cleanses the soul and brightens the outlook.
Ten minutes later she was off down the walk, and I knew that an angel had ministered to my needs that day.
Protect Me on My Way
“Please don’t panic, ma’am, but your son was hit by a car on the way to school.”
The young woman’s words fell on my ears with the intensity of a bomb. Without stopping to think, I threw down the phone, snatched my sleeping little girl, and ran toward the school. I wept and prayed.
Within minutes I was at the school. There was five-year-old Abraham, sitting in his classroom, looking completely healthy, and telling me that he had been hit by a car. I looked him over, and although I could see no apparent harm from the accident, we took him to the hospital.
When we got to the emergency room, we saw a man with his head down, sobbing. Someone must have pointed me out to him, because while the doctors examined my son, the distraught man nervously approached me and said, “I am the one responsible for hitting your son. I will take care of the expenses for anything that has to be done.”
The man began to tell me exactly what had happened. He had driven through an intersection with a traffic light that was out of order and didn’t see the boy crossing the street in front of the stopped bus. He noticed the child only after striking him with the car. He said the impact felt as if he had hit a brick wall. The collision destroyed his car and caused injury to his passengers. He told me he had shut his eyes and thought about the little child lying on the street.
In his despair at reliving the experience, the man did not even notice that my son was now running and jumping through the halls. Suddenly, he stopped his story, and his eyes began to follow the leaps and jumps of Abraham. He cried, “It’s him. It’s him! It’s a miracle!” He looked at me and said, “I don’t believe in God, but I’m going to tell you something. I hit something very hard and strong. If you believe in anything, be thankful, because a host of angels protected your little boy today.”
That was when I remembered the prayer Abraham had offered that morning. He had a habit of saying very long prayers, which included gratitude for everything from our distant relatives to the dishes on the table. But on this particular day he had been very brief and had said only, “Heavenly Father, protect me on my way to school.”
We later went to the site of the accident, and I saw with my own eyes the magnitude of the damage to the man’s car. A wheel was out of place, a door was dented in, and the bumper was destroyed. But my little Abraham had just a scratch on his elbow. Although I know all prayers are not answered so quickly or so dramatically, Abraham is a living witness of the love and power of God.
Late one evening shortly after I had been called as bishop, I received a telephone call from a distressed member. She told me her elderly husband was missing. He had left home to perform some errands and was long overdue. Tearfully, this sister explained that she had called all the hospitals in Southampton to check if he had been admitted following an accident of some sort. The police had also been alerted and were on the lookout throughout the city.
I said I would visit immediately to see if the ward members could help in any way and to give her a priesthood blessing if she wished. She gratefully agreed.
I quickly called the elders quorum president. By now it was after 10:30 P.M. I didn’t normally like to bother members late at night, but this was an exceptional situation and I knew I could rely on Brother Rosser to assist me.
When we arrived at the sister’s home, members of her family were there, and it soon became clear that all that could reasonably be done to help had been done. There was little to do other than to offer comfort and perform the priesthood blessing. We laid our hands upon this dear sister’s head and blessed her by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood. But when I reached the point when one usually adds comfort and insight as directed by the Spirit, my mind was completely blank. I found myself pleading with Heavenly Father for some words with which I might bless her, while simultaneously examining my life to see if some personal unworthiness was acting as an impediment to divine communication. After what seemed a lengthy silence, I was at last inspired to ask Heavenly Father to bless her with the Holy Ghost in His role as Comforter and then I closed the blessing.
After the blessing as Brother Rosser and I walked to the car, I expressed my concerns about feeling nothing other than to make the request concerning the Holy Ghost. The more I dwelt on the matter, the more my fear increased that something dreadful had happened to the missing husband.
It was now past midnight. As Brother Rosser and I drove away, I felt impressed to drive through a particular district of town rather than taking the direct route home. Brother Rosser agreed that we should follow the impression.
After a few minutes we were halted by a red traffic light where I intended to make a left turn. At that moment what seemed to be a loud and distinct voice instructed me to turn right. The light changed to green, and I turned right. As we drove over the junction, I saw a solitary figure seated on a bench in a deserted shopping precinct. I pulled over, and we got out of the car. As we approached the person huddled against the cold, we called out the name of the missing man. He looked up, and we recognized him. We had been sent directly to him!
This elderly brother had fallen and been knocked out earlier in the day. By the time we found him, he had regained consciousness but was in pain and suffering from exposure to the cold. We quickly called the police, summoned an ambulance, and informed his wife that he had been found.
After we had ensured that all was well, Brother Rosser and I started again for home. We reflected upon what had happened. We had been specifically guided by the Holy Ghost. Our tears flowed freely.
I learned a number of things that night. First, we should give only the blessings we are inspired to give, not those we think the recipient would like to hear. Second, a priesthood holder must always keep himself worthy to be called upon at a moment’s notice. Third, Heavenly Father makes known His will in His own time and way. Fourth, we need to recognize the many ways in which the Holy Ghost communicates to us and to act upon those promptings when we receive them. Finally, I learned that at times the Lord does intervene directly to help, and we can sometimes be the means through which His help comes. I am grateful for the many lessons of that cold, dark night.