The Crying Child
April 1992

“The Crying Child,” Ensign, Apr. 1992, 52

The Crying Child

Several years ago, I found myself a patient in the Auckland Public Hospital following orthopedic surgery to correct a deformed knee. During my eighth week there, I was able to move around on crutches. At this same time, a child moved into the room adjacent to mine. He cried continually both day and night—making it almost impossible for other patients to get any sleep. After the second day, tempers began rising a bit.

One morning I was saying my usual prayer during the privacy of my wash time when something moved me to feel that, as a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, I should try to visit with the child and offer any comfort that I could. After breakfast, I slowly made my way to the door of the child’s room, only to see several members of the nursing staff attempting to comfort him. I became afraid. All those nurses might complain at my interference and order me back to bed where I belonged. I hobbled back to bed for a few minutes of rest.

While sitting on the side of my bed, I was given renewed courage to go back to the room. Something kept me going all the way to the room and then past the nurses who were trying to comfort him, right up to the bed. The young boy was about seven or eight years old. He looked as though he had a circular steel band screwed into his head. Steel rods were affixed to the band on his head and were connected to contraptions screwed into his shoulders and chest.

A woman kneeling at the head of the bed kissed the child and whispered into his ear. I assumed that she was the child’s mother and started talking to her. She told me that her son had been playing on a revolving clothesline when he had slipped, caught his head between the crossbars, and broken his neck. We continued talking for a while. I tried to comfort her and told her that I held the priesthood in my church. If she would like, I said, I could arrange to give her child a blessing.

She then told me that she was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that she wanted priesthood holders from her church to give her son a blessing. However, since her husband was no longer an active member, she doubted that anyone in their ward knew them well enough to come and offer a blessing. When I told her that I belonged to the same church, held the same priesthood, and had a friend in the hospital who could assist me in a priesthood ordinance, she immediately agreed to the blessing.

It took a while to get my friend out of bed and into a wheelchair, then to position him beside the child’s bed where he could assist me in giving a blessing. Getting myself positioned at the head of the bed while on crutches was no easy task either, but even though my legs were tired from standing for so long, something pressed me on.

Although the boy was still crying, I asked him if he wanted a priesthood blessing and informed him that I belonged to the same church that he did. When I told him that a special messenger had sent me to him, he finally stopped crying, smiled a weak smile, and said, “Yes, please.” He appeared to understand as I explained that giving the blessing might be a little difficult. My friend was sick and in a wheelchair, I only had one leg to hold me up, and we couldn’t put any pressure on the child’s head because of his injury. But we proceeded with a brief blessing, after which the boy became quiet and showed signs of sleeping.

The nurses all wanted to know what it was that had quieted the boy. I was not a good missionary at the time and didn’t tell them that it was the power of God acting through the priesthood. I got my companion back in bed and then rested my leg. But later, I felt that I should visit the hospital dayroom, where I found the relieved boy’s mother sitting with her husband.

The mother asked if I might also give them a blessing of comfort. This I did in the form of a prayer. I remember asking that the father might have help in overcoming his Word of Wisdom problem and returning to church with his family.

To my astonishment and extreme delight, I later learned that the young boy was making an excellent recovery and was allowed to go home about four days later with only a soft, firm collar around his neck. About six weeks later, I learned that the boy’s father, mother, and the rest of the family were regularly attending church in the stake in which they reside.

I had been a member of the Church for about two and a half years when this incident occurred. It has given me a testimony that, even now, years later, I cannot deny. My testimony is as strong as ever.

  • Allan R. Doughty, a member of the Chartwell Ward, Hamilton New Zealand Stake, serves as a temple worker.

Illustrated by Doug Fryer