“A Storm and a Prayer,” Ensign, Feb. 1983, 30–31
In Sevier Valley, central Utah, are located three red knolls, or mounds of earth (hence the name of my hometown, Redmond). Twenty feet below the surface of these knolls are mountains of salt. The local miners used to remove the dirt from the top of the knolls in areas about two hundred feet square, leaving a runway where wagons could be loaded with salt after it had been blasted into chunks of fifty to one hundred pounds. This supplied all the cows, horses, and sheep in the area with salt, but most of it was shipped out. My father transported it to nearby towns.
One day, my father’s brother wrote a letter, requesting that my father bring a load of salt to Ephraim, some fifty miles south of Redmond, since my uncle was too busy harvesting to come and get it himself. My father was also harvesting, so he asked me if I thought I could make the trip alone. I was a gangly lad of twelve at the time, and newly ordained a deacon. I told him that if he felt I was capable, I could surely do it. My lonely experience in hauling that load of salt would become a lifelong memory.
The next morning at sunrise I was on my way, driving a prancing team of horses, pulling my father’s wagon. It was a long journey, and it was almost sundown when I reached my uncle’s place. My two cousins helped me unload the salt, while their mother prepared one of her excellent suppers. I did justice to every bite before we retired for the night.
The next morning I helped my cousins milk the cows, and then we played about the farm until nearly ten A.M. Kindly Uncle Pete reminded me that if I expected to be back home before dark I had better make haste; the weather threatened a storm. Reluctantly I harnessed the team, accepted the lunch Aunt Lena had prepared for me, and started for home.
I had traveled about twenty miles when a terrible blizzard came up. Before long it was almost impossible for the horses to endure the storm. Frightened and very cold, I thought perhaps I was freezing. Then I remembered the teachings of my Sunday School teacher: “If you ever need the Lord, he is only a prayer away.”
I turned the horses toward the fence that bordered the road, secured the reins, and crept behind the spring seat of the wagon, covering myself with canvas. There I tearfully poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father. I told him how awfully cold and lonely I was, and asked him to guide me safely home.
After the prayer I felt a little better, so I dried my tears, untied the horses, and climbed back on the wagon seat, determined to brave the storm.
Miraculously, about two miles down the road the storm began to subside; and six miles farther on, I decided to stop to feed the horses and eat my lunch. Imagine my surprise when I found a campfire burning there! Not a soul in sight—just that inviting warmth. Young lad that I was, it seemed to me that an angel must have left the fire to warm me. I sat on a nearby log, enjoying the heat and choking down my lunch, with tears of relief and gratitude streaming down my face.
The snow ceased completely during the remainder of the journey, and a worried mother and father met me as I turned the team into the lane of our homestead.
Father went with me to feed and water the horses, with never a chastising word. When I related my experience to him and how the teachings of my Sunday School teacher had prompted me to pray for deliverance from the storm, he put his strong arms around me and said, “After supper, Conrad, I want you to tell the entire family of your experience.”
I did, and it was indeed an emotional, memorable time. Father admonished me always to remember this experience as a deacon and to trust my Heavenly Father in all things.
Now, some seventy-eight years later, having just passed my ninetieth birthday, my encounter with the storm is still a vivid memory that I relate to my great-grandchildren.