I was twenty years old and almost 5,000 kilometers away from home attending college when my mother died unexpectedly. I had not seen her for two years, and this added to my shock at her sudden passing.
Two months later the missionaries came to my door. During the discussions I was surprised to learn that many of my mother’s personal beliefs were the same as those of the Church—beliefs she had constantly held despite criticism from the church I was raised in. I readily accepted the teachings of the gospel and was baptized three weeks later.
For me, baptism was a happy but sad experience. I was happy in a way I had never known before, yet I struggled with grief and disappointment because Mother had been so close to the truth and yet I had been robbed of sharing it with her by two short months. Despite all I now knew of eternal life, I could find no inner peace. I poured out my feelings in prayer, apologizing for my weakness in not being able to come to terms with her death.
Then one night I had a beautiful dream. My mother entered my room and sat on the edge of my bed. She was dressed all in white, and although she looked much the same as when I last saw her, she was yet more youthful, for no lines of worry or sadness creased her brow. She was smiling and radiant. When I awoke, I could only remember that in the dream she had spoken to me for some time, comforting me and reassuring me that all was well.
The following week I received a box in the mail. It had been among my mother’s things in storage and was labeled in her own handwriting “for Cindy.” I was stunned as I examined its contents. There were old family portraits, some of grandparents who had died before I was born. There were some of my school papers, childhood photos, my first letter to Santa Claus. I found a small white journal my mother had kept, personal letters, and a large chart, yellowed and tattered, with several generations of family genealogy carefully written by Mother and started by her mother long years before.
My eyes flooded with tears, and for what seemed a long time I rested my head on that old box and wept. My sobs seemed to wash away the doubts and grief, and the peace I had sought filled my being.
With that peace came a sudden realization: it was no coincidence that Mother’s beliefs were the same as many Church teachings—or that she had collected and preserved the box of family items. Her life and teachings prepared me to receive the fulness of the gospel; her faith and inspiration guided her to pave the way for me to compile a family history and complete genealogical and temple work that would unite our family forever.
I hadn’t needed to be a missionary to Mother—she had been a missionary to me!
A Priesthood Blessing
The blessings of the priesthood were never greater in my life than three years ago when my husband, Dave, lay critically ill in a hospital. Medical examinations had revealed a massive, cancerous tumor that could not be operated on. The doctors explained that modern methods could extend life perhaps many years; some people were even being totally cured of cancer. So we were full of hope, confident that Dave would be one of the lucky ones.
He was recovering well when he began to have severe chest pains. He had developed pneumonia and blood clots in his lungs. For the next three weeks our concern over the cancer became secondary as the doctors battled to save his lungs and life. Finally, he underwent major chest surgery and was once more on the road to recovery.
We breathed a sigh of relief. One problem at a time was enough for me. Now we could think about the cancer again. I was feeling optimistic when I asked the doctor about Dave’s outlook for the future. He answered that if the treatment of chemical injections worked, we might expect a slowing of the cancerous growth for as long as two years.
I was stunned. I thought he’d speak in terms of fifteen or twenty years; now he was telling me that it would be marvelous if my husband survived for two. I gave myself up to grief; it couldn’t have been worse if Dave had actually died. For three days and nights I thought I would perish myself from the anguish I suffered. On Sunday evening I attended sacrament meeting, and several people, including our bishop and home teachers, asked what they might do to help. I desperately needed a priesthood blessing, but was afraid that if I spoke I would lose all composure. So I nodded that everything was all right and left the building.
A few minutes later, on my way to the hospital, I was angry at myself for not letting them help me. I knew I couldn’t survive much longer in my present state. “What am I going to do now?” I asked myself. Then suddenly the answer came: “Dave has the priesthood. He could give me a blessing.”
It did seem a bit strange that he should do it; after all he was the one who had been receiving one blessing after another in efforts to save his own life. It would be like asking the “sick” to bless the “well.” But I had nowhere else to turn.
I’ll never forget how my husband looked standing before me that evening as I sat on his bed. Wearing a hospital robe, gaunt and pale with pain and so weak he could hardly stand, he finally lifted his left arm to my shoulder, and with his right hand on my head proceeded to give me a priesthood blessing.
Oh, the magnificence of the priesthood of God exercised by a righteous man! My husband spoke with strength, power, and authority, asking the Lord to remove the sorrow from my heart. Immediately I felt great relief from my pain; it was though the Lord had reached into my heart and removed the sadness.
My grief never returned, though many difficult days lay ahead.
Dave’s struggle against cancer has been painful and hard the past three years, but he lives—and his doctor tells us that he now has a good chance of total cure. We’re convinced the reason he is alive today is because of the power of the priesthood.
I have learned without reservation that, as the hymn says, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” (“Come, Ye Disconsolate,” Hymns, no. 18.) I thank our Father in heaven daily for the blessings I have received through the priesthood; but never had the priesthood been so dear to me as it was that night—filling a room with power under the hands of a courageous man in a hospital robe.