“Bill, Stop! Don’t Run!” Ensign, Oct. 1996, 55–56
One of the many rewards of being a visiting teacher is learning wonderful lessons from those I am assigned to visit. One valiant sister, Gertrude Major, related an experience that taught me the importance of spiritual sensitivity.
In 1951 her eldest son, Bill, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps to fight in Korea along with many of his high school buddies. When he entered boot camp, Gertrude’s concern mounted. She was proud of Bill’s patriotic zeal but reluctant to have him leave and be exposed to danger. Gertrude fervently prayed for his welfare and protection during his tour of duty.
One morning as she was doing the laundry, her thoughts suddenly focused on Bill and she abruptly cried out, “Bill, stop! Don’t run—stay where you are, don’t move!” Startled, her 12-year-old daughter, Jeannie, came running to see what was wrong. Gertrude was alarmed at her own words and wondered at their meaning. She strongly sensed imminent peril. The rest of the day she was greatly troubled by the experience and was concerned for her son’s safety.
The next day at church, the bishop invited Gertrude into his office to set her apart as a Primary teacher. The bishop asked a visiting member of the stake presidency to officiate. He agreed, and after setting her apart he proceeded to give her a blessing but immediately began having difficulty. He could not seem to articulate what he thought should be said. After several attempts, he stopped and asked Gertrude if anyone close to her was away from home and in danger. She related her anxiety, and this faithful priesthood bearer was impressed to inform her that her son was well. He would be protected and eventually would be returned safely to her.
Gertrude later received a letter from Bill describing how his clothing had ignited while he was standing near a large barrel in which he and other soldiers had built a fire to warm themselves in the bitter cold. Panic-stricken, Bill began running as fire engulfed his uniform. Instantly, he heard his mother calling out to him, “Bill, stop! Don’t run—stay where you are, don’t move!” Her voice was so distinct that he immediately stopped running and dropped to his knees. The other soldiers quickly grabbed him and rolled him in the snow until the flames were extinguished.
Gertrude’s love for her son and her abiding faith in the Lord’s protective care spanned thousands of miles and surely helped preserve her son’s life. Her sterling example has taught me numerous invaluable lessons in faith, love, and service.