My impression of each year in my life is linked to its events—the year I was married, the year my father died, the year we built the dairy barn … For me, 1977 is the year of the miracle.
I’m a farmer in Cache Valley, Utah. We live or die according to the weather, and 1977 was the year of the drought. It started in the fall of 1976 when the seasonal snows did not come. A dry fall seldom happens in our high mountain valley, and we took advantage of it to do the plowing, repair the sagging fences, level several fields, and even pick up rocks.
By the end of January, we still had no snow; even the mountains were bare and gray. It was so cold that the one light snowfall we had had was still on the ground; we knew we were in trouble.
During the month, the stake presidents in the Logan region met with Brother M. A. Kjar, our Regional Representative. A special fast was authorized. On Sunday, January 23, the members of the Hyrum Utah Stake met for the first time in their new building; Brother Kjar outlined the plans for the fast; our stake president, Garth Lee, announced that the fast would begin January 26 at 6 P.M. and that on the 27th we would hold a prayer service.
That was the beginning of the miracle. We fasted willingly. Over 50 per cent of the stake assembled for the prayer services—old people, men and women with their families, teenagers, college students. We sang. President Lee led our congregation in prayer, asking the Lord to send us the needed moisture in due time. It was uplifting; I was confident that the Lord had heard our prayers.
The moisture did not fall that night, nor did it come in the following weeks. February was warm, melting what light snow remained. I tried to work down the plowed ground, but it was in hard lumps. Obviously, the Lord’s answer was “not yet”, but in our impatience we sometimes found it difficult to hear him.
In mid-February, the governor declared Utah a disaster area. The whole economy was suffering. Many winter resorts had failed to open; others were operating at limited capacity. Tire stores featured snow tires in an ironic never-ending sale. Communities urged citizens to use water sparingly. Now the skeptics began to mock those who trusted in God; one skeptical person even wrote to the local paper asking if we did not know that nature, not God, controlled the weather.
What the skeptics did not know was that the prayers and fasting continued. Time and again, I turned to the promise: “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
“Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” (Lev. 26:3–4.)
In March our faith renewed. Several good snows came—“normal” for the month. The last week was clear and warm; the ground dried quickly; the plow turned the once hard clods into a good seed bed. On March 21–22, I planted 18 1/2 hectares of barley; a week later we finished planting the welfare farm’s grain.
The testing began again. April came and went, virtually dry. Stake quarterly conference came, and President Lee sent us home with the reassurance, “Plant your crops; the Lord has heard our prayers.”
By now, Porcupine Dam Reservoir (our main source of water) was barely half-full; runoff from the mountains had already stopped. March’s moisture had penetrated only 15 or 20 centimeters. Experts were predicting a total loss of dry-farm crops and less than 50 percent harvest on irrigated land. Local irrigation boards set up plans for summer water rationing. We continued to pray in public meetings and privately.
On May 5, the answer began. None of us could doubt it. It was as though the Lord had waited until the test of our faith was completed, and then accepted it fully. Day after day, the rain fell on our young crops. May became the wettest month in recorded history in our valley, and we cut one of the best hay crops the valley has ever seen.
Officially, the year is described as a drought. Statistically, it was. But those rains came as the manna fell for the ancient Israelites—exactly what was needed each day, with none left over. As each crop of alfalfa matured, we wondered if there would be enough moisture for another. Each cutting was average or better.
As the season of the sign drew to an end, our barns were full and running over. The stake welfare farm had its best year ever. So did my own. The barns and granaries were filled and my heart was overflowing.
Our stake met again on September 22 at the call of our stake president, this time to express appreciation and gratitude to the Lord for his mercies. Once again, approximately 50 percent of the stake gathered to share that prayer of thanksgiving. I left the meeting feeling peaceful. The test had strengthened my faith and testimony—I would never again doubt miracles. I understood deeply the meaning of a familiar scripture: “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.” (D&C 59:21.)
Driving home, I suddenly realized that rain was falling on the windshield.