“These Things Shall Be for Thy Good,” Ensign, Apr. 1985, 64–65
Spring came to our ranch in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains with green fields and wild flowers and the tremendous rush of work to be done. Calving, shearing, branding, and lambing had kept my husband, Von, away from home long hours. We all loved to go with him when we could, and it sounded good one warm day to go to Spruce Mountain to see the sheep and take supplies to the herders. David and Danny went with Von to help load the camp supplies, and the five girls and I ran for the punch jug, the lunch box, and the big Dutch ovens. We soon had everything loaded into the station wagon and were on our way.
The camp was near the top of the mountain at an altitude of about 8,000 feet. The air was crisp and cool, and we pulled our coats around us when we got out of the car. Von unloaded the cheese, garlic, and big loaves of bread for the herders while the children and I watched the squirrels and the fat lambs.
We chose a favorite spot near some big rocks to prepare our meal, and the children went in every direction to explore and to call back, “See, Mom!” and “Look here, Dad!”
Suddenly there came another call—a scream: “Dad! Kris fell off the rock!”
We dropped everything and ran to the foot of a ledge where the children had gathered. We found that Kirsten, climbing over the boulders, had stepped too close to the edge and had fallen fifteen feet to the rocks below. Her leg was badly broken, and I couldn’t help crying out when I saw that the bones had pierced the skin in two places just above her knee.
Von gently carried her to the car, placed her on the seat, and covered her with blankets. Our first concern was the terrible pain she was suffering. Von placed his hands on her head and gave her a blessing. I shall never forget the words he spoke: “I bless you through the power of the holy Melchizedek Priesthood that the pain will not be more than you can bear, that you will not suffer too much, and that the miles will be easy for you. I bless you that the doctors will know and do what is necessary for you to be completely healed and walk again.”
Then we started the torturous drive down the mountain, covering the distance as fast as the rough road would permit.
Perhaps we never really know others until we have seen their trials and entered into suffering with them. I know I had sometimes felt that I had not come to know this little blond girl in the almost nine years she had been with us. Kirsten and Laurel are twins, and I think we had too often been guilty of thinking of them as one instead of as two individuals. But I surely learned to know her in those two hours as we sped over bumpy dirt roads on the way to the hospital. I knelt on the floor beside her and held her head in my hands and bore a testimony which had never before seemed so strong. With tears streaming down my face I told her that her daddy had blessed her by the same power used by Jesus in healing the lame and blind, the same priesthood with which the worlds were created and by which we were sealed together as a family. I told her of our Heavenly Father’s love for all of us and of our great love for her. I told her of the gifts of the Spirit, and that one of those gifts was the gift of faith.
I saw the blessing of this gift of faith in our child as she listened calmly, often nodding in response to my words. Tears sometimes came to her eyes when we hit a bump, and occasionally she would breathe rapidly and moan. But almost immediately she would be calm again; and once she said, “I’m trying so hard to keep control of myself.”
It was well past midnight when Kirsten was wheeled from the operating room with a pin through her leg and traction to hold the bones in place. Through all the X rays, the shots, and the moving there were few tears and often a smile in response to some jest from the doctors. Her faith served her well.
As she recovered in the days following, I realized that we had learned another lesson from this experience. As I knelt beside her in the car, I was overcome with pain and sorrow for the pain she was suffering. Again and again the question revolved in my thoughts: “Why did it have to happen?” But then another impression began to form in my mind, bringing more tears to my eyes. I felt our Heavenly Father’s compassion for us in our earthly trials. I seemed to sense his tears when the cup could not be removed from his Only Begotten Son. And I remembered the Lord’s words to a sorrowing Joseph Smith: “If fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and … if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (D&C 122:7.)
Kirsten’s leg did heal, and now she has grown up and is a mother with a child of her own. As I reflect on this experience, I realize how much my faith grew as I came to understand the testimony of the Spirit to me that in our earthly experience we must know the bitter to savor the sweet. Recognizing the vulnerability that is a necessary part of this existence made my children more dear to me. And my love for my husband increased as I saw his tender concern for our child. I appreciated more than ever his worthiness to use his priesthood to comfort and bless.