Summer Lambs


(Adapted from an October semiannual conference address. See Ensign, November 1989, pages 78–79.)
Feed my sheep (John 21:16).

One summer my father said that he had a big job for me and my brother, Clay, to do. Pointing to a nearby field with a bunch of lambs in it, Dad said that he’d share any money that we made from raising and selling them.

We were excited. There were about 350 lambs, and all we had to do was feed them. However, none of the lambs had mothers. To feed one or two baby lambs is easy, but to feed 350 of them was a real job. We made some long, V-shaped troughs out of boards, then got a tin washtub, ground up some grain, put it into the tub, and added milk to make a thin mash.

When we herded the lambs to the troughs, they just stood there looking at us. We tried pushing their noses down into the milky mash, and we tried wriggling our fingers in the mixture to get them to suck our fingers. Some of them would drink, but most of them ran away.

Many of the lambs were starving to death. The only way that we could be sure they were eating was to pick them up and feed them.

At night the coyotes would sit up on the hill and howl. The next morning we’d see the results of their night’s work, and we’d bury two or three more lambs.

Clay and I soon forgot about becoming rich. All we wanted to do was save our lambs. It really wasn’t too bad until I made a pet of one of the lambs and gave it a name. It was always under my feet, and it knew my voice. I loved that lamb. One morning it didn’t come when I called it. Later that day I found it under the willows by the creek. It was dead. With tears streaming down my face, I picked up my lamb and went to find my father. Looking up at Dad, I said, “Isn’t there someone who can help us feed our lambs?”

After a long moment he said, “Jayne, a long, time ago, Someone Else said almost those same words: ‘Feed my lambs. … Feed my sheep.’” (John 21:15–16.)

Many years later, while pondering Moses 1:39—“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of [all mankind]”—I remembered the summer of the lambs, and I sensed how the Savior must feel with so many lambs to feed, so many souls to save. And I knew in my heart that He needed my help.

[illustration] Illustrated by Dick Brown