“I Can Walk!”


Grant was only six weeks old when his father, H. Grant Heaton, was called to preside over the Southern Far East Mission. Unlike most children in the United States, Grant spoke his first words in Chinese. His little sister, Lisa Lee, who was born a year and a half after the family moved to Hong Kong, also learned Chinese first.

The mission home was filled with happiness until March 1958, when Grant was three years old. One day his neck became stiff, and there was pain in his chest. Soon he could not walk on his legs. President and Sister Heaton asked the missionaries to fast and pray for their son, but still his condition grew worse.

Grant’s father gave him a special blessing before taking him to the hospital. After tests, the illness was diagnosed as paralytic polio. The doctors said Grant would soon need an iron lung to help him breathe. Polio is not common among the Chinese, however, and the only iron lung in the country was being used by a British sailor.

By the end of a week in the hospital, Grant was completely paralyzed. Only his eyes moved, and the little body that had seemed healthy just a week before was quickly wasting away.

One morning Sister Heaton was with Grant. It was so hard for him to breathe that she thought surely he would soon return to our Heavenly Father. Two men came to the hospital that morning. They represented the Chinese Saints who had held a special fast and a prayer meeting the day before.

Both men had been members of the Church less than a year and neither held the priesthood, but they wanted to help. They asked permission to pray for Grant. Sister Heaton readily agreed and bowed her head to join them. She felt the faith of these humble Chinese men as they knelt beside Grant’s bed and prayed that this little boy’s health might be restored.

As they rose to their feet and left the room, Grant’s mother followed them down the hall. She thanked them and then went to the refrigerator where special food for Grant was stored.

Just as she opened the door, a familiar little voice called from down the hall and she turned around quickly to see Grant coming toward her.

“Look, Mommy,” he exclaimed with a happy smile. “I can walk!”

The doctors were amazed, but when the polio symptoms did not return, they let Grant go home. President and Sister Heaton and the missionaries gratefully acknowledged the power of the Lord and the faith of the Chinese Saints in behalf of their son.

Grant is now eighteen and lives with his family in Salt Lake City, Utah. He doesn’t remember his illness in China. His strong legs that helped him make the football team and wrestle for his high school don’t remember either!

Not long after the Church was organized in 1830, the General Authorities thought of sending missionaries to China. It was not until October 1852, however, that three elders left Salt Lake and arrived in Hong Kong on April 27, 1853. They had many problems and were not successful in converting anyone. Before long they returned to Utah.

In January 1921 David O. McKay, who was then an apostle, and Elder Hugh J. Cannon visited China. It was at this time that Elder McKay dedicated all of China for the preaching of the gospel. Now there are three missions for the Chinese people: Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Although the first missionaries were very discouraged, later ones have had thrilling experiences in China. “I Can Walk!” is one of them that took place in Hong Kong.

[illustration] Illustrated by Dale Kilbourn