This weekend is our Stake Conference. I really enjoyed the meeting tonight for the adults. Here are some of my favorite stories that were told by the speakers:
Our Stake President, Rick DeVries, was severely burned on the lower legs and feet at the end of May. This was our first conference with him since the accident. He told us some of the details of how he was burned. The doctors caring for him at the small local hospital where he was originally taken frankly admitted that they didn't have the expertise to properly care for his burns, and that he should be transferred to the UM Hospital Burn Unit. He was so grateful for their humility and willingness to admit their limitations. Shortly thereafter, a colleague whose son had been severely burned, called. Although President DeVries was on a lot of heavy medication and cannot remember very much clearly from that time, he remembers clearly that this man told him to follow with exactness the instructions of his doctors and nurses so that he would not get an infection and so that he would have the best possible chance to heal. President DeVries did that. His recovery has been miraculous. Not only is he walking without a limp, he is running again (the burns were on his feet and lower legs). He doesn't even have to wear compression stockings. He expressed his gratitude for the principle of obedience and how it can protect us.
He told us of one night after he was discharged from the hospital and was at home recovering. He was sleeping in his hospital bed in the den. It was the middle of the night and he spilled some kind of fluid all over himself. He was in agony. His pain was so severe that he couldn't move a muscle, couldn't raise his head, couldn't even call out. He whispered a prayer to God, asking if He could hear him. As he finished those words, the door to the den burst open and his wife Diana was there. She had been awakened from a deep sleep at 2 a.m. with a sense of urgency and had come running to his aid. He clung to her, sobbing. He described her as an angel sent by God in answer to his one-sentence, whispered prayer, "can you hear me?"
Another story I loved was told by our brand new Temple Matron, Sister Pulsipher. When their daughter Kristen was three years old, she had a beloved bean bag frog that she had received in Primary. She slept with it every night. One night it went missing. Her dad took her on his lap and asked her if Heavenly Father knew where her frog was, and she said, "of course he does!" Then they prayed for help to find the frog, and her father explained to her how God answers our prayers through thoughts, ideas, feelings, and that we also need to use our best abilities to solve the problem that we have prayed for help with. They looked everywhere for that frog, with no success. Then they called the rest of the family together, and an even more thorough search was conducted. Still no bean bag frog. Little Kristen went to bed heartbroken. Her mother couldn't sleep. She was worrying about her little daughter, wondering where that frog could be. Wondering too, I imagine, how to make this experience with prayer turn out all right for her. She finally fell asleep. In the middle of the night she woke up with a very specific image in her mind of that bean bag frog. She got a chair from the kitchen, dragged it into Kristen's room, got a box down from the top shelf of her closet, took off the lid, and there was the frog, inside the box, with a few other favorite toys. The three-year-old, Kristen, is a mother herself now, and the family refers to that incident as the Parable of the Bean Bag Frog.
President Pulsipher told a beautiful story that made me think of my mom. A tiny, frail 84-year old woman named Ida came to the temple for the first time. She was a convert of one year. She had been hospitalized recently and had not expected to live. While in the hospital she was given to know that her time on earth was not yet complete. A woman in her ward (a soul sister of my mom, I believe) helped Ida with her genealogy and then took her to the temple to do the work for her parents and grandparents. President Pulsipher said that Ida could not have weighed more than 90 pounds. They made a special place by the altar for her wheelchair so that she could be sealed to her parents. She told them that she had never expected in her life to feel the way she felt that day. I thought of my mom the whole time he was telling this story. Many, many times she has helped someone to find the names of their deceased family members and then helped them go to the temple to be sealed to them. It is one of countless acts of nearly invisible service that she renders, but I know she is a favorite in heaven to so many people whose lives have been blessed by her diligent work on their behalf. I was bursting with pride just thinking of my mom while listening to this story of Ida and the unnamed, unsung hero that made her trip to the temple possible.