I Had Faith but No Money
At the end of 1988 I was enjoying my calling as second counselor in the bishopric in Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela, but I had a pressing concern. I had been a member of the Church for over a year, but I had not yet received my temple blessings.
One day a friend from the nearby city of Maracaibo came to visit. Before long we had struck up a conversation about spiritual matters.
Suddenly my friend was prompted to say, “Brother Troconiz, I believe that Heavenly Father wants you to go to the temple and receive the eternal blessings He has promised His children.”
“I cannot go,” I replied. “There is no temple here in Venezuela, and a trip out of the country is very expensive. I don’t have the money.”
He thought this over for a moment and then said, “If you really want to go to the temple, Heavenly Father will provide a way for you to go.”
I replied, “If Heavenly Father will provide that kind of help, I will go!”
From that moment on I was filled with faith and hope that I would be able to go to the temple. The next day I called the stake leaders and was told that a trip had been scheduled to the Lima Peru Temple, the closest temple at the time, in January. The trip would cost 16,500 bolivares and would cover the plane ticket, food, and lodging.
The days went by, and the deadline for turning in the money was fast approaching. I tried to earn the money, but I was no closer to having what I needed. My faith never faltered, however. I was that sure that Heavenly Father would provide a way.
Not long before the deadline, I received a telephone call from a former employer. The person calling addressed me by name and said, “You were employed by this petroleum company five years ago. When you left, your benefits were not calculated correctly. Please come in and pick up the check we have issued in your name.”
I went to get the check the next day. When I looked at the amount, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The check had been issued for exactly 16,500 bolivares!
On January 17, 1989, I entered the Lima Peru Temple and received my temple endowment. My friend was right. Heavenly Father had provided a way for me to go to the temple. As Nephi declared, “The Lord is able to do all things … for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him” (1 Nephi 7:12).
Everything Will Be Fine
My eyes filled with tears as I drove to the hospital for more testing. I had been diagnosed with cancer after the birth of my daughter two years earlier. I had undergone surgery and received treatment, and I was about to find out if the treatments had worked. “Heavenly Father, I have learned a lot from this experience. Please take this trial from me. I want to raise my daughter and one day serve a mission with my husband. Please heal me.”
The tears rolled down my face. Suddenly my prayer changed to the words of the song “A Child’s Prayer.” 1 Something compelled me to speak out loud.
An overwhelming feeling of love came over me. I felt that Heavenly Father knew me and was concerned about me and was listening to me. I felt that everything would be OK.
I received the results the next day. The tests showed no signs of cancer. I felt a huge burden lifted from me. The following day, however, my doctor called and explained that although the earlier results were clean, the blood test showed I still had significant cancer activity. “How could that be?” I questioned. If this was really what was going on, why had I felt that Heavenly Father had answered my prayer?
I tried to put my doubts aside as I returned for more testing. These results showed not only that I still had cancer but also that the cancer had spread. I couldn’t help but wonder about my experience in the car. I couldn’t deny what I had felt, yet I started to doubt my interpretation.
The new information was overwhelming and caused serious reflection. I felt that I still needed to learn something from this trial. As I pondered, I realized that I had been going through all the motions of an active Latter-day Saint, yet I often did things out of habit rather than sincerity. I was not at the spiritual level where I wanted to be. I needed to return to the basics, so I began focusing on areas that would bring me closer to Jesus Christ. I needed His strength to make it through my trials.
As I put more effort into spiritual matters, my faith in Jesus Christ and His plan for me increased. I realized that my experience while driving to the hospital really was an answer to prayer. As I acknowledge and accept that answer (that everything will be fine), I recognize that Heavenly Father does not always specify when everything will be taken care of. I may never be completely healed physically, but I am learning to accept His will. My life is truly in His hands.
Seven years have passed since I was diagnosed with cancer. I have had numerous surgeries and treatments, yet I still have cancer. Life, however, goes on, and I’m grateful for that. With my trials have come blessings, including a second daughter. Most important, the Lord’s answer that “everything will be fine” still comforts me.
Update: Sister Coston’s latest checkup, at eight years since diagnosis, showed no signs of cancer.
Children’s Songbook, 12–13.
My Remarkable Dream
In a highway accident many years ago, I sustained multiple injuries, the worst of which left me in a coma for three months. Priesthood blessings, along with the support of my family, enabled me to have what one of my doctors called “a remarkable recovery.”
But my head injuries weakened my short-term memory, and I can no longer remember my dreams. Often I awake and think, “Oh, I was dreaming,” but at that moment, the dream slips from my mind forever.
Seventeen years after that accident, I was called to be the bishop of my ward. During a subsequent ward council meeting, the Primary president proposed calling a particular couple to teach the CTR class. My counselors and I quickly traded surprised glances.
The sister attended church, though inconsistently, but her husband hadn’t attended for years. Nevertheless, we all felt they should have the opportunity to consider the calling.
The night before I spoke with the couple, I had a vivid dream. I awoke the next morning and remembered it completely. It was all about what to say at the interview so they would accept the call to serve. I felt shocked at remembering my first dream in 17 years, but more than that, the dream’s content thrilled and energized me.
That evening my counselor picked me up. As we drove to the appointment, he said, “Bishop, I’m going to let you do all the talking.” I remember smiling confidently because I felt the Lord had outlined my presentation for me.
During the interview I repeated the dream exactly, and the couple accepted the call. As we headed home for the night, my counselor said, “I feel like I’ve just been schooled by the master.” I smiled again because I knew it was true—both of us had been schooled by the Master.
The husband and wife carried out their Primary duties with dedication, and they both became active in the ward. A couple of years later they were sealed in the temple.
To this day, that particular dream is the only one I have remembered for the past 28 years. I feel certain that Heavenly Father knew the time was perfect for this couple. Consequently, He inspired the Primary president and, for one night, blessed my partly out-of-order memory to function perfectly. Once again, I realize that the Lord stands at the head of this Church and that “the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled” (Mormon 8:22).
Faith to Stop a Flood
It was a spring day in Helsinki, Finland. The sun was shining brightly, and the snow was melting fast. For hours I had been working with my boys, Juha, eight, and Hannu, six, to keep melting snow from flooding our cellar. The nearby drain that should have handled the pooling water was still frozen solid.
As my husband left for work that morning, he told us to make sure we kept the water out of the cellar. We worked hard until the afternoon, when it was time to leave for Primary. (At that time Primary was held on a weekday.) I told my boys, however, that they would have to miss Primary in order to help stop the water from getting into the cellar. Besides, my husband wasn’t a member of the Church, and he would not understand how important Primary was to our sons.
In unison, Juha and Hannu assured me that if we went to Primary, Heavenly Father would see to it that the water wouldn’t reach the cellar. I looked back and forth from the pooling water to the faith-filled faces of my sons. Part of me said, “You cannot go because no power can stop the water from flooding the cellar.” I appealed to Heavenly Father with a prayer in my heart. Then I made a difficult decision.
“We are going to Primary now!” I declared as I threw down the buckets. No matter what happened, I was not going to injure my children’s faith.
The boys had a wonderful time at Primary. But as we drove home afterward, the closer we got to our house, the more my fears grew. Reaching the yard, the boys ran quickly to the cellar door. Looking down, they cried out, “Mother, what did we tell you?” I hurried over. I will never forget the sight that greeted my eyes. The area was completely dry, as if it had been mopped. There were no signs of water anywhere. Even now, 40 years later, it is hard for me to believe what I saw.
The glow in my boys’ eyes reflected joy and trust in Heavenly Father. Joy—and gratitude—filled my heart too!
No power in the world can beat childlike faith. The scriptures say that if we believe and doubt not, we can move a mountain (see Matthew 17:20). That day the power of my children’s faith stopped a flood.
Illustrations by Daniel Lewis