As John started down the hill toward home, fog mixed with smoke rolled over him in smothering waves. The frightened ten-year-old boy sat down to try to light the lantern Mr. West had loaned him to use in just such an emergency, but the dampness blew out the flame of the matches. John stood up, pulled his oilskin coat tighter about him, and tried to see ahead through the fog and darkness of the late afternoon.
Earlier that day John’s mother had sent him with a basket of food to the home of an old shepherd who lived alone about three miles northeast of Milnthorpe, England, where John lived with his family. It was the first time Mother had ever let John go on this errand alone, and he was both proud and excited. But he had stayed at Mr. West’s home too long, and when a dark cloud blacked out the sun before a soft rain started, John jumped up quickly and said goodbye to his old friend.
Mr. West offered to walk back with the boy to Milnthorpe, but John shook his head. “This is my first trip alone,” he explained, “and my mother wouldn’t let me come alone again if you had to take me home.”
Now John wished that Mr. West were with him. He imagined all kinds of strange sounds and movements in the fog that closed in thick around him. He had no idea where he was. Suddenly he came to a big iron gate that marked the end of the road, and from beyond the gate came the frightening growl of a dog.
John was almost paralyzed with fright. Then he remembered that his mother had told him that God was always near, even though he might sometimes think that he was all alone.
John dropped down on his knees and asked for help. As he did so, all his fear left; and he was not surprised a few minutes later to hear a voice call out of the mist, “Johnny, I’ve come to take you home.” It was Mr. West!
The young boy was John Taylor, who became the third president of the Church. Although he lived to be eighty years old, he never forgot the quick answer to his prayer as a frightened boy on that lonesome foggy evening.
Nearly a hundred years later, August 26, 1923, in the dedicatory prayer for the Alberta, Canada, temple, young John was remembered in these words:
We thank thee that thy servant, President John Taylor, and many other residents of the Dominion of Canada, came to a knowledge of the gospel and remained steadfast to the end of their lives. We thank thee, our Father, and our God, for those now living who embraced the gospel in this choice land and others who have emigrated from the United States and other countries to Canada, and that they are now to have the privilege of entering into this holy house and laboring for the salvation of their ancestors.
As president of the Church, John Taylor directed a group of forty members to pioneer a settlement in western Canada. Charles O. Card was their leader, and the community was named Cardston in his honor. During a visit there, President Taylor promised, “This land will yet become a breadbasket to the world, and in this land a temple shall be reared to the worship of Almighty God.”
Many great spiritual experiences have taken place in the Alberta Temple. Among them was one that resulted from the fervent prayers of the parents of a young elder who was drowned while on his way to a mission in South America. His grieving father and mother could not be comforted.
One evening while the father was in the Alberta Temple, he heard his son’s voice, although he did not see him. The young elder told his father that the grieving of his parents was making it impossible for their son to fill the heavenly mission to which he had been called. Then the boy promised that as a witness to the importance of the work he had been called to do, the father would be asked to speak at a special meeting that day in the temple.
Unexpectedly that afternoon the temple president stopped the work of those in the temple and announced that there would be a testimony meeting and asked several people to participate. The father anxiously waited. When another man was announced as the concluding speaker, the sorrowing father left the meeting, fearful that the visit with his son had been only his imagination.
Before the man had left the building, however, the temple president arose and announced that he had heard a voice directing him to ask this man whose son had been drowned to speak to the group. Those in the room reported that the father had left. “Then go and find him,” the president urged.
When the father returned to the meeting, he told the group of his strange experience while tears of comfort and joy glistened in his peace-filled eyes.