Led to a Sandwich Shop
Several years ago we were returning home to the East Coast of the United States from a summer trip to Utah. Our family van started to “hiccup” somewhere in Missouri, and it got worse as we drove into Tennessee. Finally, climbing the hill leaving Chattanooga late that night, the motor died.
As we sat in the dark, wondering what we could do, it occurred to me that this was a great time for our entire family to unite in a prayer of faith. My wife and I calmed our four children and invited them to exercise their faith as we prayed.
Immediately after the prayer, the van started and we continued up the hill. But within a mile it started running badly again. We took the first exit, thinking we would find a motel room for the night. But despite checking with four different motels, we couldn’t find a vacancy.
We returned to the freeway and soon came to an exit that didn’t look like it would have any motels, but something whispered to me to take that exit. I did, but I could see nothing that I thought would help solve our problem. The exit led to a four-lane highway, and we quickly came to a stoplight. I was desperately wondering what I could do for my family in our predicament.
Suddenly my wife pointed out a sandwich shop that was still open on a side road and suggested we stop and get the kids something to eat. I pulled up to the shop, gave our oldest son some money, and sent the other children in with him while my wife and I sat and pondered.
We were tired. We had been traveling since 5:00 that morning, and it was now close to 9:00 p.m. I started asking questions in my heart about why our prayer hadn’t worked and why all our efforts to live the gospel didn’t seem to be having an effect for us in our time of need, when suddenly it came to me that something just wasn’t right.
I looked up and realized that the sandwich shop’s outside light wasn’t turned on. “How did you spot this shop?” I asked my wife. “Was there a sign out by the highway?” She said no, that she had had a sudden impulse to turn her head to the right, and there it was.
I nodded, my mind racing, and quickly summed up. We were trying to live the gospel, raise our children right, be faithful in our callings; we had prayed in faith, followed a prompting, and here we were. It came to me then that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. We just hadn’t figured out what the Lord had for us here.
And then I knew. Somebody must be here who could help us. I looked into the sandwich shop, and in the first booth was a young family. From my seat in the van I could tell that the father had grease stains on his hands.
I got out of the car, walked into the shop, and approached the family. “Are you an auto mechanic?” I asked.
Surprised, he answered, “Yes.”
I explained my problem, and his wife turned to him and said, “That’s just what my car did last week!” He told me what to do to get my car running well enough to reach Atlanta that night. There we had the car repaired and then made it home no worse for wear.
Our children learned that night—and I did too—that faithful prayer does work, but often you have to trust in the Spirit to help you understand the answer.
I Chose Sunday School
I had been going over an extensive reading list for the comprehensive exam I needed to pass to obtain my master’s degree in English. I hoped my preparation was adequate, but I worried that it was not. I had gone back to school at age 35, and remembering concepts often seemed more difficult than it had been when I was younger.
The test was to occur on Monday, and when Sunday morning came, I began to rationalize that my time would be better spent studying rather than attending Sunday School and Relief Society. I had almost decided to attend just sacrament meeting, but in the end I felt too guilty. I wondered what sort of example I would be setting for my young children. So I went to Sunday School and Relief Society.
The Gospel Doctrine lesson covered the book of Job, and the instructor, Brother Clayton Smith, was an eloquent and humble teacher who delivered a powerful, spiritual message. I held the scriptures open on my lap during the lesson and found my eyes drawn to a few particular verses that I read over and over again.
The next day I arrived at the room where the test was to be administered, and the proctor handed out the exam. It consisted of three essay questions, and I had three hours to complete them. Imagine my surprise when I read one of the questions: “Discuss the concept of suffering as illustrated by at least three literary works from the reading list.” The book of Job was one of the works on the list.
I was truly amazed at how easily I answered that question, my response highlighted with direct quotes from the verses I had read the previous day in Sunday School. Breezing through that essay allowed me extra time to complete the other two questions.
At the conclusion of the test I felt very grateful for my “extra” preparation. I also felt that, having participated in Brother Smith’s lesson, I had gained a spiritual perspective on Job that allowed me to answer the question with greater depth, fervor, and understanding than would otherwise have been possible.
Several weeks later, when the results of the test were posted, I discovered that I was the only student who had been awarded honors.
That was a Sunday School lesson I will never forget, particularly as it reinforced the concept of keeping the Sabbath day holy and never missing my meetings. I am grateful I was inspired to attend Gospel Doctrine that Sunday morning rather than cramming for my exam.
Your Wife Is in the Hospital!
One pleasant summer morning in 1986 when my wife, Siou Chin, was preparing to leave for a class, I felt an impression clearly telling me to give her a ride to the bus stop. She had been taking classes at a school for teachers, and the bus stop was seven miles (11 km) away. I didn’t pay much attention to the feeling. Having joined the Church not even one year earlier, I had little idea what the voice of the Holy Ghost felt like.
When Siou Chin was about to leave for the bus stop on her motorcycle, the same feeling came to me again, now more strongly than before, telling me that something would happen if I didn’t give her a ride. I made the terrible mistake of again ignoring the voice.
Ten minutes later, the phone rang. I was so scared I couldn’t answer it. It kept on ringing. Finally I picked it up, and the voice on the line said, “Your wife is in the hospital! Please come immediately.”
When I arrived at the hospital, I recalled the warning and deeply regretted that I hadn’t listened to the Holy Ghost. Siou Chin was in critical condition. She was unconscious. And on top of it all, she was nine months pregnant. A doctor recommended that I send her to a larger hospital in Kaohsiung that had better equipment. After weighing my options I had the impression that I should send her to that hospital without further delay. On the way to the hospital I pleaded with Heavenly Father not only for forgiveness but also that He would save my wife’s life.
An hour and 20 minutes later we arrived at the other hospital. The doctor in the emergency room ordered a CT scan, and after looking at the images, he told me Siou Chin had a skull fracture. I then found out there was no bed available in the hospital. All day long there was nothing I could do but pray for help. At 6:00 that evening I met the sister of a former classmate. She worked at the hospital, and with her help we were finally able to find an empty bed on the ninth floor. Siou Chin was still unconscious and in critical condition.
At 10:00 p.m. it dawned on me that I should ask the missionaries to give my wife a blessing. The missionaries in our branch called the elders in Kaohsiung, and 20 minutes later they arrived. But the doctor refused to allow them into my wife’s room because she had gone into labor, even though she was still in a coma. So I asked the elders to give me a blessing instead of my wife, which they did in a conference room where we would be undisturbed.
By 11:00 p.m. my wife still hadn’t delivered the baby, so the doctor decided to move her to the eighth floor for a cesarean section. Then a miracle happened. Ten minutes after they moved her, she delivered the baby. The delivery went smoothly, and when the nurse handed me the baby, I couldn’t believe my eyes. His features were exactly like the image I had seen in my prayers every night.
Seven days after our son’s birth, Siou Chin finally regained consciousness. But her mind wasn’t clear, and she suffered headaches. Her primary physician recommended that we transfer her to a university hospital for brain surgery. I was overwhelmed and prayed for guidance. After less than three minutes of pondering, I told the doctor I had decided to transfer her to another medical center, even though it meant we would have to pay all the expenses because that center was not eligible for medical coverage. This time I understood that I was being prompted by the Holy Ghost, and I was sure this decision was right.
We checked my wife into the medical center. A medical team that tours Taiwan to investigate unusual cases happened to be visiting this center. A brain surgeon who had just received special training in the United States was with the team that day. After looking at all the information, this doctor announced that my wife didn’t need surgery. He said her situation should improve within one week. I was so relieved to hear those words. I am grateful to the doctor, but most of all, I thank my Heavenly Father who directed me to make the right decision.
Just as the doctor predicted, Siou Chin was better in a week. Even the doctor marveled at how quick her recovery was. I know that with the doctors’ medical skill and with Heavenly Father’s blessings, my wife was able to miraculously survive and is now fully recovered. Our son is now serving full-time in the Taiwan Taichung Mission.
We all have our share of trials and hardships, but we must always keep our faith in Heavenly Father.