While I was on a trip to Brazil with two colleagues from Brigham Young University–Idaho, we had the opportunity to spend several days in the Amazon Jungle on the Rio Negro. The river is enormous beyond imagination, and the vegetation in the jungle is thick. One could easily lose his way if he were to venture into it without a guide. Our guide, Moreno, was a native of Italy. He knew the jungle and the river well. Now in his late 30s, he had realized his childhood dream of living in the Amazon Jungle.
Our small group boarded a canoe docked at our floating hotel and departed for the starting point of our hike. We were fascinated by what we saw and impressed by Moreno’s deep knowledge and his ability to lead us through the thick and imposing jungle. As we walked he would explain the various plants, animals, insects, and vegetation that surrounded us. He taught us about plants and insects that could be harmful if we were not careful. He also pointed out various plants that Amazon Indians had used for medicinal or other useful purposes. Deeper into the jungle we went. We truly had no idea where we were going. We merely followed Moreno and trusted that he would get us safely back to our canoe and eventually our hotel.
At one point, Moreno stopped the group, and we all gathered around him. “This jungle is hot and humid,” he said. “We are at least a mile from the river, and a person cannot live here without water. You would die quickly. There is water right here, right now, where we are. Can any of you see it?”
We could not. All we saw were trees, vines, and shrubs. The mosquitoes seemed to be everywhere. None of us had any idea where there might be water nearby.
With a smile on his face, Moreno said, “Let me show you.” He grabbed his machete and walked to a vine, lightly covered with green velvet moss. After two quick swings, he was holding a piece of the vine in his hand. We still didn’t understand.
“Water is right here,” he said, “right in my hand.” Just then he lifted the vine vertically and clear, cool water came dripping out! We were all amazed. As we looked around, we could now see similar vines everywhere. Some were large, others small. But once we were taught by one who knew, we saw that in this jungle there was an abundance of water. We each took turns drinking from the vine. As we hiked back to our canoe, we continued to see that water was everywhere. Now we knew where to look.
I have since thought about this experience in relationship to the true vine, living water, and following one who knows. In John 15:1, Jesus teaches us that He is the true vine and His Father is the husbandman. In 1 Nephi 15:15, we read Nephi’s prophetic teachings to his unbelieving brethren regarding the remnant of Lehi’s seed: “Yea, at that day, will they not receive the strength and nourishment from the true vine?” In John 4:14, the Savior teaches a woman of Samaria that He is the one who gives living water: “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” As we read about what Nephi saw in vision in 1 Nephi 11:25, we also learn of the “fountain of living waters, … which waters are a representation of the love of God.”
Just as Moreno guided our group through the jungles of the Amazon, modern-day prophets can lead us through the jungles of life. If we trust them, they will point us to the true vine and living water.
“Living prophets are leading this church today. The greatest security of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes from learning to listen to and obey the words and commandments that the Lord has given through living prophets. I would hope that the world would understand the importance of having a living prophet on earth today.”
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Hear the Prophet’s Voice and Obey,” Ensign, May 1995, 17.