A Living Testimony

It would be an understatement to say that my husband and I were surprised to learn that, at age 40, I was expecting a baby. Complications in the pregnancy soon prompted the doctors to order complete bed rest for me. My husband gave me a priesthood blessing in which I was promised that if I would do as I was instructed by the doctors, all would be well.

But bed rest proved to be a difficult challenge as I tried to meet the needs of our two young children and keep myself occupied.

When the ward members realized I would be “confined for the duration,” dinners began arriving with regularity. My three-year-old son was often picked up to spend the day with friends. And when my six-year-old son got home from school, someone always seemed to drop in to check on him. Sisters came frequently to clean the house and do the laundry, often ending up sitting on my bed to visit.

More than two months before the baby was due, I went into early labor and our tiny, frail son was born. He was so ill that the doctors told us we should set our affairs in order and prepare for a funeral. We went in to see our tiny son, covered with wires and tubes, in a warming crib. With tears flowing freely, my husband and two other brethren anointed and blessed our little baby, John. John responded by beginning to fight for his life.

While my husband and I spent many days and nights at the hospital, our ward members continued their many acts of service and love for our family. More than once during the pregnancy and at least twice after the baby was born, the entire ward fasted and prayed for us.

On one occasion when we were permitted to take John to church even though he was still on oxygen, a mother approached us with her eight-year-old son. She quietly, almost reverently, asked if her son could see the baby. She explained that her son had caught the vision of serving and loving others by fasting and praying. He wanted to see how his faith and prayers had been answered. He looked at the baby and wept. He told his mother he was glad he could fast and pray. “After all,” he said, “look what Heavenly Father did.”

Today John is a vibrant, energetic, loving 17-year-old. He is a living testimony to the members of that generous ward and their commitment to faith and charity. Words cannot express the gratitude we feel toward them and our Heavenly Father.

Helen Sturdevant is a member of the Parkwood Ward, Austin Texas Oak Hills Stake.

Bearing His Name

One day while serving in the Texas Fort Worth Mission, my companion and I finished visiting some investigators and then realized we didn’t have a dinner appointment. We decided to stop at one of the many nearby fast-food restaurants.

When I stepped to the cash register, an employee took my order and asked me my name so she could call me over the loudspeaker when my meal was ready. “Elder García,” I replied.

The woman did not seem to understand my English. Again she asked me my name. To avoid any further misunderstanding, I pointed to my name tag, which bore my name and the name of the Church in Spanish.

As I turned to sit with my companion and wait for my order, I happened to notice the name she had written. Instead of writing my name, she had written, “Jesucristo.” Maybe she made the mistake because the Savior’s name stands out on the Church’s logo. Or maybe she just wasn’t paying attention.

Each time I remember this simple experience, I feel a firm desire to have people think of Jesus Christ when they see me—not because of a name tag but because I am bearing His name by doing the things He taught us to do.

Raúl García is a member of the Pomona Third (Spanish) Ward, Covina California (Spanish) Stake.

Everyday People

A few years ago my husband and I were returning home to Italy from the Frankfurt Germany Temple. With us in the car were another couple and a young man about to leave on a full-time mission. We had spent a wonderful week attending the temple, but as we journeyed home, my heart was agitated and I could not figure out why.

While we were still in Germany, I noted that Angelo, my husband, took a wrong turn. But trying not to worry the other passengers, I didn’t say anything. Suddenly a huge truck coming from the opposite direction ran into us. The force of the blow sent our car spinning out of control. Angelo was powerless; all we could do was pray.

Our car finally stopped when it smashed against a tree. All the windows broke out, and glass was everywhere. Even my eyeglasses were broken into pieces. I soon learned that six other cars were involved and some of the victims were in serious condition.

The paramedics arrived right away and took my husband, the couple traveling with us, and some of the other victims to the hospital. The young, soon-to-be missionary and I were left at the accident scene. I felt confused and lost since I was in a foreign country without my husband and without any information about what was happening. And so I continued to turn my heart to Heavenly Father in prayer. His answer came almost immediately.

A man approached me. He was German, but he spoke to me in English. Even though I don’t speak either English or German, I was able to understand when he offered to take us to the hospital. Since he was on a bicycle, he said he would return home to get his car.

We were alone again. But in a few minutes another man approached. He spoke Italian! I was so happy that I hugged him and started to cry. He also wanted to help us, but he too had to get his car.

Both men soon returned. They loaded our suitcases in their cars and took us to the hospital. The second man left, but the first stayed with me the entire day, helping me find my husband, buy new glasses, and locate a hotel room for the night. Above all, he gave me encouragement and moral support.

When he came back the next day, I couldn’t help but think of the parable of the good Samaritan. This man, although he didn’t know my husband or me, helped us through a very difficult time.

That day I located and contacted some local Church members. Almost immediately the mission president and the bishop arrived. They were strangers to us, but in their faces I saw the pure love of Jesus Christ. While my husband and our traveling companions recovered, the Church members helped us. Each time they came to visit, they brought their love.

The most important blessing we received during this time of adversity was the reminder of the great love God has for His children. Now I know from experience that if we trust in Him, He will never leave us alone but will be at our side through everyday people.

Maria Mabilia is a member of the Como Branch, Como Italy District.

Russian Duet

After a busy week of serving as a worker in the Stockholm Sweden Temple, I went to the guesthouse laundry room to wash some clothing. As I loaded the washer, I absentmindedly whistled one of my favorite hymns, “High on the Mountain Top” (Hymns, number 5). This hymn and its reference to people “in distant lands” hearing the gospel and serving the Lord has always resonated with me. I have always felt that I am one of those the hymn refers to because I was born in Denmark, where I was converted to the gospel, and moved to Utah with my family at age 14.

As I was going about my chores, a Russian brother who was attending the temple that week walked in. As he did, I ceased whistling. He immediately started whistling the same hymn I had been whistling. When he stopped, he pointed to me. I whistled from where he had left off.

He then started at the beginning of the hymn once more, pointed to me, and stopped whistling. Neither of us could speak the other’s language, hence all the pointing. But I managed to understand what he wanted, and I started at the beginning as he had done. He whistled a beautiful harmony to my melody.

There we stood—a Russian and an American—face to face, whistling in two-part harmony one of the most beautiful hymns of the Restoration. We did not get all the way through it before tears filled our eyes. Finally, we could not go on. We embraced and he uttered the only English words I heard him speak: “Russian duet.”

I think we both felt an overwhelming gratitude for the gospel of Jesus Christ, which breaks down cultural and geographic barriers. Our beliefs and our commitment made it possible that we, both from different “distant lands,” could stand as brothers in the gospel in yet another land and share a moment of joy, proclaiming together as the hymn says, “High on the mountain top / A banner is unfurled. / Ye nations, now look up; / It waves to all the world.”

Illustrations by Brian Call

Swen Nielsen and his wife, Shirlene, returned from their mission to the Stockholm Sweden Temple in June 2001 and are members of the Slate Canyon Fourth Ward, Provo Utah Stake.