My father was a cattle rancher in Kanosh, Utah. One day, as he was stepping over a barbed-wire fence, he cut his little finger and it became infected. Streptococcus blood poisoning developed. Since antibiotics were unavailable then, applications of heat were all that the doctors could use on his hand. When the infection traveled up Dad’s arm, the doctor wanted to amputate the arm. The arm was saved; however, Dad lost the use of it and would never be able to farm or ranch again.
Dad was in a Salt Lake City hospital for about four months, and Mother was with him much of that time. I was only thirteen then, but because I was the oldest of four children, the family and ranch became mostly my responsibility. A drought and the Great Depression only added to our problems. We couldn’t raise feed for our cattle and had to sell them for little or no profit.
When Dad was in the hospital, the family garden had to be planted—that’s what we largely lived on. We had kind and concerned neighbors in our little community, and an elderly neighbor came by one spring morning and gave me direction and advice on how to plant the corn and other vegetables. My, how I appreciated that! I was so unknowledgeable about gardening.
I also remember learning at a young age the value of being able to talk to Heavenly Father. And I continued to need the support that comes through daily, even hourly, prayer.
I hired out to other farmers for twenty dollars a month, and in the fall of the year, I would take my pay in potatoes and cabbage so that we would have our winter’s supply of those items. We did have one cow and a few chickens besides our garden. In the fall of the year, my grandfather would go with me to gather firewood to keep us warm during the wintertime.
One year a friend and I bought and raised four thousand baby turkeys. I raised turkeys for several years while I was in high school. We herded turkeys as you would sheep; we practically lived with them!
I stammered and stuttered during my growing-up years. In school, I would never be involved in anything that required more than a minimum of speaking. My parents sent me to speech teachers and therapists, but they couldn’t correct my problem. However, just before my father became ill, I received my patriarchal blessing. It said, in part, “Lloyd, you have problems. Know this—the Lord loves you and wants you to be happy. I bless you that you shall go out into the world and preach the gospel with force to a waiting world.” Because of this blessing, I accepted a call to the Southern States Mission.
The first month of my mission was terrible. I had never administered the sacrament or given a talk. My companion had me talk to one lady at her door, and I stuttered and stammered terribly. After a month of not making any improvement, I prayed, “Lord, now is the time. If I don’t have relief from this affliction, the mission president will send me home. Lord, it has to be now!”
Gradually I was able to speak more fluently. After six months I went back to some elderly sisters that we had taught, and I really gave them and some others what I thought was my best talk. Afterward, with tears in their eyes, some of them came up to me and said, “The Lord has really blessed you.” After that experience, I learned about the real power of prayer.
Children, you will be happier when you are prayerful and know that Heavenly Father hears and answers your prayers. And always be obedient to your parents and to Heavenly Father’s commandments. Add hard work to that formula for lasting happiness, and set worthy goals in your life and never stop reaching for them.