Episode 10. April 2, 2016. I have experienced many miracles in my own life as I am sure you have. I have also been the witness of even more miracles through the ministry of others. Today I want to tred on very sacred ground as I share 3 of these wonderful experiences with you. Let me clear, I only share these with the intent and hope of glorifying God for it is he who is the source of these miraculous events.
The first miracle I want to share occurred in 2014 when the Klein Texas Stake hosted a youth conference based on the Book of Mormon. The concept was the reenactment of scenes from the Book of Mormon so that the youth felt like they were experiencing these events for themselves. Some of the vignettes included King Benjamin, the Tree of Life, Abinadi’s martyrdom and the ultimate vignette, the appearance of Christ in the America’s following his death and resurrection.
In preparation for the Christ scene, a talented member of our stake, Krystal Brown painted the backdrop mural where the actor portraying Christ would appear. After the conference was over, I sent her a picture of the scene with the actors in their places, somewhat similar to the renowned picture by John Scott titled “Jesus Christ visits the Americas”.
I was able to later visit with her and thank her for all her beautiful mural painting work, she told me with tears streaming down her face that when I sent her the picture of the final Christ scene, she couldn’t believe her eyes. When she painted the pieces, she did it from separate pictures taken from the internet. The main backdrop had the light coming from the left. The other pieces had the light coming in from the right side of Christ, or opposite from the main piece. She had not been to the location of the conference, so did not know which direction the sun would be coming from, so she had to make a decision on where to source the light, and she chose the left. This meant she had to ‘flip’ the light source on the other pieces to match the main one. She said it wasn’t her, or any of us painting it – it was all God who directed that – she saw the picture and just the Lord’s hand in it, because it so perfectly matches – The light is shining right onto Jesus in perfect harmony with all of the surroundings which she had painted. It was a testimony that indeed God is in the details of our lives!
The second miracle occurred in 1977. I had been out on my mission in Germany for a little over a year. I was working in Bamberg and my companion was Elder Freeman. I was serving as District Leader and we had two sisters also in the District, Sister Davidson and Sister Gelder. The four of us worked together in the small branch there with Pres. Herbert Arndt, the branch president. On a trip to Germany, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin who had
served a German speaking mission and was then serving as a
member of the First Quorum of Seventy stopped into a small grocery store and picked up some snacks on his way to a conference. The man behind the counter in that store was a guy by the name of Herr Froehling. He was an older man, married to a younger wife and they had one small child, a daughter. Herr Froehling had immediately been impressed with Elder Wirthlin, in fact he later reported that he could see what appeared to be a light around him and it made him very curious. They began to talk and before he left, Elder Wirthlin got his phone number and address and said he would send missionaries to his home. This was late in the year of 1977. They lived about 12 kilometers outside of Bamberg where we were serving. The sisters had already met with Herr Froehling and reported that while he was definitely interested, his wife was very cool to the missionaries. This made it almost impossible to get another appointment. We finally managed to arrange another meeting in mid December where our plan was to ride out to their home and share a special Christmas program with them. The only way to get there was on oI remember it being bitterly cold. What was worse, I had been suffering from bronchitis for over a week. It hurt to breathe and I had a nasty cough. My chest felt as tight as a drum. I remember having district meeting the day we were to go to the Froehlings and talking about the program. Everyone knew I was sick, but we had to go. We felt like this was an important opportunity to have his wife feel the spirit. We felt an obligation back to Elder Wirthlin to make sure we were doing everything in our power to share the gospel with this wonderful man and his family. We knew if we missed this appointment we may not get another chance. I insisted that I would be fine, although privately I was worried. At the end of the meeting, I asked Sister Davidson to close with prayer. We knelt down and Sister Davidson poured out her soul to Heavenly Father in the most sincere, pleading prayer I had ever heard. She specifically asked that I be healed so that we could go out and see the Froehlings that night. In that exact moment, the pleadings of this virtuous, faith filled sister missionary were heard and answered. I could feel the tightening in my chest loosen. I began to breathe easier and could feel new strength as a result. That night we rode our bicycles the 24 kilometers round trip and shared a special Christmas message with the family. Though the spirit testified to them of the truthfulness of the Gospel, we were never able to get another appointment with them. Herr Froehlings wife threatened to leave him if he joined the church. He felt he had no choice. The good news is that were able to report back thru our Mission President to Elder Wirthlin everything that had happened and our dedicated follow thru to teach them the gospel. From that day forward my health got better and better until I completely recovered. I often marvel at that miracle that day. It wasn’t a priesthood blessing, it was the simple, sincere prayer of a righteous, dedicated sister missionary.
The third miracle occurred in 1976 while I was yet a new missionary in Germany, I was sent on an exchange with one of my missionary companions from the MTC (well, it was called LTM for Language Training Mission back in the day). His name was Elder Brett Holley. Elder Holley and I were both still wet behind the ears in the Germany Munich Mission, and neither of us had great language skills. We made the exchange early in the morning on Tuesday and as we started out Elder Holley gave me a rundown of the day (we were in his area), and then nonchalantly mentioned that we would be giving a blessing that night. At the time I thought he was kidding. You see, I had never given a blessing before. I had been a member of the church about 16 months and while I had seen a blessing given, and had even stood in on one, I had never personally participated in saying the words. I had created in my own mind that before I would give my first blessing I wanted to fast and pray for a day, to make sure that I was spiritually prepared. I was confident in Heavenly Father’s power, I just wanted to make sure I was prepared. So in the back of my head, I said to myself, surely he is just kidding because I would not have time to prepare, and I let it pass. For lunch that day, we went to a University cafeteria (it was cheap) and just as we were returning our trays, Elder Holley again said, we need to give Frau Wright a blessing tonight. She was an investigator and had some problem for which she was going to have surgery the next day. I panicked. How could I do this? We had gotten up late that morning and had to run to catch the train into Munich and I hadn’t even had my morning prayers, let alone have an opportunity to fast. And I had just eaten lunch. My stomach began to church with fear that I would not be worthy to give this blessing. I immediately began the most fervent silent prayer of my life that lasted the next 5 hours. When we got back to the apartment, Elder Holley asked me which part of the blessing I wanted to give. I had been thinking about it and figured that sealing the blessing would be easiest, because then I would not need to worry about dealing with the oil. I was looking for the path of least resistance at that point.
At the appointed time we went to Frau Wright’s house and presented a discussion on the Plan of Salvation. While neither of us was that great with the German language, that night the words just flowed. It was a powerful experience. We probably spent about 2 hours with her and it was getting late. Just as we finished the discussion, Frau Wright asked Elder Holley if he remembered that she wanted a blessing. Turned out she had a serious gum infection and she was to have oral surgery the next morning. She was fearful and wanted some help. I told her not to worry because we would give her a blessing and then she wouldn’t need the operation. Elder Holley immediately said something like, “you can’t say that Elder because we don’t know”. Again my anxiety level rose and I think my faith faltered. Still seeking for divine help, I asked if we could pray. She said yes, and Elder Holley offered a prayer. Elder Holley then took the oil and anointed her. I think it was then that it dawned on me that he had probably just done the easy part of the blessing. Too late now. I wondered what had I gotten myself into. As I laid my hands on her head, I addressed Heavenly Father, only realizing later that I was supposed to call her by name. As soon as I sealed the anointing, I heard the words in my head, “tell her she won’t need the operation”. I then began talking to myself with Elder Holley’s words echoing in my ears “I can’t promise that, that must be just me”. As soon as I thought that, the words came with even more power and force. “Tell her she will not need the operation”. So I said the words and closed the blessing. We then picked up our scriptures and left. As soon as we closed the door behind us, I told Elder Holley I knew she would be healed. I don’t think he was convinced and to be honest, I think he was a little perturbed with me.
The next day was Wednesday and just a normal missionary day. I don’t remember anything about it because I spent most of the day thinking about Frau Wright. I was dying to know what had happened with her doctor visit. Unfortunately, our next appointment was not until Thursday night so I had to work hard to keep my mind in the moment. Finally Thursday evening came and we returned to her home.
We rang her doorbell and as soon as she answered it we could tell she was in great spirits. She invited us in and closed the door behind us and said: “I have to tell you what happened”.
As soon as the two of you left on Tuesday night, I went to bed and began reading the Book of Mormon. The pain I have had in my mouth went away as I read. For the first time in three months I was able to sleep without any pain. The next morning, I got up and went to the Doctor and when he examined me he told me that the infection was almost completely gone and that I would not need the operation!” I think both Elder Holley and I were first relieved and then just grateful to have been a part of this miracle.
To my knowledge Frau Wright never did join the church, despite this indisputable witness of the love and power of God in her life. In fact, I think eventually she ended up having to have the operation after all. I concluded it was because she did not follow thru with acting on what she had come to know was true.
Today I have highlighted three different ways that we can see the miraculous hand of God in our lives. Let me recap them. The first is just simply listening for the promptings of the still small voice. The second is the power of a sincere and earnest prayer, and third is the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood as evidenced through the laying on of hands. Like you, I have been witness to many miracles. It is the natural consequence of striving to be obedient the gospel. LaDawn and I recently went to the movie theater and watched “Miracles from Heaven”. What a beautiful and well-produced movie it is! While the story of the movie is built on one significant miracle, the beauty of the message was that the mom, who had been struggling with her own faith because of her daughter’s illness, began to recognize all of the little miracles that Heavenly Father had blessed them with throughout the entire ordeal with their daughter. And so it is with us, as we look for the miracles in our lives, whether big or small, surely we will find them.