Latter-day Saint Voices

Latter-day Saint Voices

By Keith Porter


No Swearing Allowed

In 1962, 11 of my high school classmates from Preston, Idaho, and I joined the National Guard. Basic training was like a vacation until we got to Fort Ord, in California.

We needed one another in order to survive our new military surroundings and the onslaught of the other recruits, many of whom used reprehensible language and seemed to have no morals. I sought every opportunity to be with my Latter-day Saint buddies for support from the harassment of our fellow recruits.

After basic training, a couple of my school classmates and I stayed on at Fort Ord to continue training in field communications. Soon, two of the tough, stout recruits in our training class began having a contest to see which one could say the most detestable and vulgar things. Each morning when they arose, they would shout vulgarities so everyone in the barracks could hear their filthy language.

One morning I found myself in front of them and, longing for relief, demanded that they stop. Embarrassed, they turned their ugliness on me, calling me several names. Then they warned me that they had better not catch me alone.

Later that morning, as I was picking up trash, I found myself alone between barracks. Suddenly I saw someone coming my way. It was one of the recruits who had threatened me.

I prepared for the worst as he approached me. But he began telling me how much he respected me and wished that he had the courage to live as I lived. He admitted that his parents would be disappointed if they knew how he was living. He said he would never again use vulgar language in my presence. Then he turned and left.

As I passed the next barracks, I saw the second fellow coming my way. He approached me and apologized for the way he had been acting. He also told me how much he respected me, saying he hoped that someday he could live as he had been taught.

One weekend when my Latter-day Saint buddies were on leave, these two young men invited me to go to a movie with them and their group. As we walked together, someone swore. The two stout recruits told the group that there would be no swearing while I was with them.

After the movie, when the group decided to go to a club for some drinking, my friends excused themselves, explaining that they were going to spend the evening with me. Once we were alone, they asked me about my family and the kind of church I belonged to that would help young men develop the standards by which our Latter-day Saint group lived. I answered their questions and told them about the Church.

I learned that heaven sustains courage and blesses those who stand up for what is right.

Suddenly I saw someone coming my way. It was one of the recruits who had threatened me.

Stay Here!

Spending time with my family is always a cherished experience for me. Because I work as a railroad engineer, my schedule is unpredictable. Occasionally I am transferred to distant locations and become temporarily separated from my wife and children. During these times, I see them only a few days each week—and only after a lengthy drive home.

Once, my wife, Scarlett, and our sons traveled to visit me during one of my breaks. Our sons enjoyed sleeping in a motel room and eating at restaurants. This trip became a vacation for them. This refreshing reunion passed quickly, and before too long we were hugging and saying good-bye. Glancing in my rearview mirror, I saw Scarlett’s car disappear from view as we got on opposite on-ramps to the freeway. I was traveling back to the railroad, and Scarlett was taking our children home.

I smiled as I thought about my family and decided to call Scarlett to thank her again for coming to visit me. I reached for my cell phone in my coat pocket, but it was not there. After an unsuccessful search, I realized that the phone must have been put in Scarlett’s car by accident.

I used my cell phone to keep in touch with my family, but it was also necessary for my work. My wife and I had been driving in separate directions for 10 minutes, but I knew I had to retrieve my phone. I decided I would dash up to the next overpass, turn back in the opposite direction, and try to catch her. As I prepared to turn around, I seemed to hear a voice say, “Stop!”

I began slowing down, even though each passing moment was making it more difficult to recover my phone.

A second thought came: “Stay here!”

This strong feeling swept over me. Defying logic and reason, I pulled over and turned off the car. I did not know why, but I sensed that I should stay put. As I yielded to what I felt was a prompting from the Holy Ghost, I felt panic being replaced by peace. I offered a humble prayer, grateful for Heavenly Father’s direction and guidance.

Shortly thereafter I caught sight of Scarlett driving toward me. When she saw me, she quickly brought the vehicle to a halt and came over to me with the cell phone in hand.

“How did you know to stop and wait?” she asked.

Joyful tears filled our eyes as I related my experience receiving promptings from the Holy Ghost.

That incident has stayed with me, and I can never deny the divine help I received that day. It strengthened our testimonies that Heavenly Father is aware of the seemingly minute details of our lives. I strive to remain worthy of that same guidance I received many years ago.

I did not know why, but I sensed that I should stay put.

The Savior Had Not Forgotten Me

When I was young, my mother taught me how to pray, and I would attend church with her every Sunday. My sister and brother were members of the choir at the local parish church in Hertfordshire, England, and it seemed natural to follow their example and attend.

Because I was only eight years old, I wasn’t required to attend communion service early on Sunday mornings. I would sleep in but eventually would get up and cycle to the main morning service.

In the middle of the winter of 1952, with a foot of fresh snow on the ground outside and frost on the inside of my bedroom windows, I snuggled down in bed, determined not to go to church that Sunday.

My mother called for me to get up, but I pretended to be asleep. Then I could hear her footsteps as she started to climb the stairs. I called out, “It’s all right. I’m getting up.”

But then I said under my breath, “What’s the point? There is no such person named Jesus Christ anyway.” Immediately a voice came into my head and said to me, “There is, and you will serve me one day.” The voice seemed so natural, as if a friend were talking to me. The years went by, however, and I forgot about the experience.

I grew up, joined the Royal Navy, and after nine years began working for a fire-protection company. One evening after work, I heard a knock at the door. When I opened it, two sister missionaries introduced themselves. I was tired, dirty, and hungry, so I suggested that they come back later in the evening or some other time.

To my surprise they returned an hour later. I invited them in. As soon as they started talking, I knew there was something special about their message. My home felt different, and I knew it emanated from these two sisters.

They gave me the first discussion that night and the second discussion the following night. Two elders then came every night until I had received all the discussions. I began reading the Book of Mormon and praying. Getting down on my knees to pray for the first time in 20 years was the most spiritual experience I had had in my life.

I made the commitment to be baptized a week after finishing the discussions. After my baptism, Elder Ross and Elder Fullerger laid their hands on my head to give me the gift of the Holy Ghost. As soon as their hands touched my head, my experience with the Spirit 20 years before came back to me. Something precious that had been preserved within me—but had been suppressed by all the mistakes I had made in life—was spiritually reunited with my memory. I was overwhelmed to think that I meant so much to the Savior that He had not forgotten me.

I’m grateful to the missionaries who taught me the gospel and to the members of my first ward who nourished me. Most of all, I’m grateful to my Savior, whose existence I had once doubted but whom I now gratefully serve.

A voice came into my head and said, “There is a person named Jesus Christ.”

The Lord Has Provided

After I married, one of my greatest desires was to have a large family. One night I had a dream and saw four girls and three boys who would become part of our family. As I started to have these children, the Lord helped my husband and me care for them. Anytime there was an illness or problem, priesthood blessings and miracles brought happy endings.

But then my husband passed away. Besides dealing with grief, I was pregnant and worried about how I would provide for my children. Yet I knew the Lord would continue to help me.

One of the ways He helped was to comfort me. While in the temple, I came to know that my husband was fine, that there was a reason he had to leave the earth, and that he would be helping us from the other side of the veil. I also felt strongly that I needed to return to the temple soon. I wanted very much to return in three months, but I knew that finding both time and money to return would be difficult. I attend the Bern Switzerland Temple, which is a long way from my home in Italy.

As I was walking out of the hostel near the temple, a member of the Church stopped me. He handed me an envelope and said, “This is for you.”

I opened the envelope and found money inside. “I can’t take this,” I said.

“Please take it,” he told me. “While I was in the temple, I felt the Spirit prompting me to give this to you.”

When I counted the money, I found that it was what I needed to cover the cost of driving from Italy to the temple and back. Three months later I returned to the temple.

The Lord also provided for me by helping me get a job at a doctor’s office. Soon I had an opportunity to certify to work in emergency care. I took the certification class, but the exam fell just two weeks after my baby was born. I had studied and attended class all through the course, but during those two weeks when I needed to study the most, I also needed to take care of my new daughter. I was overwhelmed. Without study time, I wasn’t sure I could pass the exam.

I was about to give up and not take the test, but then I realized that the Lord had blessed me with this opportunity. When I prayed, the Spirit assured me that I had done my part and I would receive the Lord’s help.

Trusting that the Lord would help me, I took the exam. I was relieved to find that it focused on material I knew best. I passed, and the increased opportunities that the emergency certification gave me were exactly what my family needed. I was able to spend more time with my children and earn more money to care for them.

I know Heavenly Father listens to my prayers and helps me when I ask obediently in faith. I know that He has helped me provide for my children and that I will be with them and my husband for eternity.

A member of the Church handed me an envelope and said, “This is for you.”

Illustrations by Jerry Harston