I grew up in a small farming town in southern Utah called Santa Clara. When I was a boy, my chores were to feed the chickens and gather their eggs, to feed and milk the cows, and to feed the pigs. I had one little pig I raised from birth, feeding her out of a bottle. I named her Lolly. When I called Lolly’s name, she’d come running to me. I also had a gray pony named Smokey and, when I was a little older, a black horse named Lucky that I loved to ride.
While growing up, I liked to hunt and fish. When I was about 10, I received a bow and arrow set for Christmas. A few days later, I asked my mom if I could go hunting with my bow and arrows in the red sand hills behind our house. She said OK, but to be home before dark. A rabbit soon jumped out in front of me. I shot one of my arrows at it, but missed. My bow and arrow set came with only five arrows, so I really wanted to find the one I had shot. I looked and looked, but couldn’t find it.
By then the sun was getting low, and I knew I had to get home soon. So I decided to do what I’d been taught to do if I needed help. I knelt down in the sand and asked Heavenly Father to help me find that arrow. When I opened my eyes, there it was, caught in a bush right in front of me. That was the first experience I can remember in which I really had a clear answer to my prayers. It was a strong beginning for my faith in the Lord and in the power of prayer.
Heavenly Father has answered my prayers many times since then. When one of my own sons was about 10, Heavenly Father saved our lives. I had my pilot’s license and was flying some friends from St. George, Utah, to Grand Junction, Colorado, so they could visit their family. I invited my son Michael to come along for the ride.
To get to Grand Junction, we needed to fly over some very high mountains. We were flying 15,500 feet in the air in a twin-engine plane. We were a little more than halfway there when the propeller of my left engine started racing out of control, so I had to shut it down and boost maximum power to the other engine. But even after that we started losing altitude, heading downward at about 200 feet per minute, and we still had one last mountain range to fly over.
As we got closer, I could see that the plane was sinking below the top of the mountain, and that we weren’t going to make it over. In my heart I was praying that Heavenly Father would guide me through this. I started to look around for a place to make an emergency landing, but there was nowhere to land the plane safely.
Right then, words came into my mind that told me to start the damaged engine. At first I ignored them, because I was afraid that if I turned the engine on, it would race out of control again and maybe even blow apart. But the words kept coming back to me: “Start the engine!” I then realized that if I turned the engine on just a tiny bit, the wind would be able to easily pass through the propeller and not drag the plane down as much. The minute I turned on the engine, the plane started to climb. We cleared that last mountain pass with less than 50 feet between us and the treetops. We finally landed safely at the airport. That taught me a real lesson in life—to pay attention to what Heavenly Father is trying to tell you through the promptings of the Spirit.
Children, Heavenly Father will guide and protect you, too, if you ask for His help. One of my favorite scriptures is from Doctrine and Covenants 84:88: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” I’ve always found a lot of comfort in that scripture. I know it is true.