The nightmare began with a phone call. A tender voice on the line informed me that our 15-year-old son was involved with drugs and alcohol—and had been for quite some time. Shock gripped me.
We took our son to the county health department and had him tested for drug use. His drug levels broke their record for that substance. By the end of the week, we had admitted him to a local rehabilitation program. Six weeks later he was discharged, and I thought the nightmare was over. But it was only just beginning. Two months later he was arrested at school for sale and possession of marijuana. Months became years, and a pattern of drug abuses and arrests developed. In one year alone he was arrested 10 times. Finally he was sentenced to six months in jail.
After visiting our son in jail each Sunday, we would drive to the temple being built in our city at the time and sit there and weep. How could this have happened?
I prayed often for my son. I kept his name on the prayer rolls of the temple. I fasted for him every Sunday, not just on fast days. When he was out of jail and living elsewhere, I invited him to dinner every Monday evening and to every family function we had.
I felt impressed to pray that someone he respected would come into his life. The name of one of his former Primary teachers came to mind, a peace officer whom I saw soon after at stake conference. I told him about my son and the impression I’d had. He said without hesitation that he would go and see him.
Two days later I was sitting at the sewing machine when I saw in my mind the officer standing in a room embracing my son. Tears were flowing down both of their faces. I looked at the clock. It was 2:15 P.M. When he called later that evening, I told him I knew he had been to see my son at 2:15 that afternoon. He confirmed that he had gone where I could not go and be welcomed. My heart overflowed with gratitude.
From that time on, I felt powerful spiritual confidence infuse me. I realized that my prayers were being heard and that deeply spiritual blessings could result if I would continue to be faithful and diligent in my efforts.
One Monday morning as I prayed, I had a strong impression to ask Heavenly Father to give my son a special dream, for it was only when he slept that he was still enough to listen. The specific words to say came gently to my mind. I was startled. I doubted that I had understood the impression correctly. Could I do such a thing? However, after receiving the same prompting two more times, I obeyed. As I knelt in prayer, I was moved to ask specifically for my son to have a bright recollection of all his guilt and to feel the burden of his sins, but also to know immediately that the Savior loved him and wanted him back.
Time passed. Then late one summer night my son came to the house. He stood in the doorway, unsure of his welcome. He told us he had been to visit with the bishop and that he wanted to go on a mission! I ran to him and threw my arms around him, and we both wept. For about two hours he described the pain of what he’d been going through and begged for our forgiveness.
My husband, who had been deeply hurt, was skeptical at first. After many hours of talking, our son reached over and put his hands on his dad’s knees and asked him if he would give him a father’s blessing. I witnessed a second miracle that night as tears came to my husband’s eyes and his heart was immediately softened.
Some time later, my son was asked to speak at a leadership meeting about his return to Church activity. At the meeting he stood and said, “One night I had a dream, and in the dream I had a bright recollection of all my guilt. I felt the burden of my sins but knew immediately that the Savior loved me and wanted me back.”
I was overcome with emotion. I knew then as never before that Heavenly Father had not only responded to my heartfelt fasting and prayer but had also, in his merciful wisdom, graciously taught me what to pray for.
Eighteen months later my son was called to serve a mission. There were nearly 500 people in attendance at sacrament meeting! Friends from Hawaii arrived, bringing with them a braided green lei, which they presented to our son just before the meeting began. This particular lei, they explained, was one villagers placed on triumphant warriors when they returned victorious from battle. They asked him to wear it when he gave his talk.
However, when our son stood to talk, he didn’t have on the lei. I worried that our friends would be hurt. Then, near the end of his talk, he took out the lei and explained the tradition associated with it. He said he felt like a warrior going to battle for the truth but that there was someone else here who was the real warrior, someone who had waged a difficult war and won. He then turned to me and reached for my hand, led me to his side, and lovingly placed the lei around my neck.
I surely know that as parents in Zion we have great power to reach out and bring back our lost children with help from our Father in Heaven. “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24).