“The Day the Lamb Was Sold,” Ensign, Mar. 2005, 8–9
Our family moved to Logandale, Nevada, more than eight years ago, and we have been involved with the Clark County Fair ever since. It is held each year in April, near Easter. Children can show pigs, steers, or lambs they have raised. The animals are judged on Thursday, and the auction takes place on Saturday.
I always dread the auction. I worry that one of my children will have an animal that doesn’t sell. Most parents try to get someone to prebuy their child’s animal. But even if your child’s animal is presold, you still have to wait endlessly for his or her turn at the auction.
One of the most touching events I have ever witnessed took place at the auction three years ago. We had sat most of the day on aluminum bleachers, listening to the auctioneer’s bark, the crowd’s babble, and the animals’ bleating, mooing, and squealing. Suddenly we heard another sound—the wind pelting a freezing rain against the building.
Soon, in addition to parents and extended family attending the auction, we had many other people seeking shelter inside the metal livestock pavilion. They were quite surprised to find an auction taking place. Most were from the big city of Las Vegas and had never experienced a real animal auction before. They apparently found the auction entertaining, and a few even bid on animals. Of course, after the auctioneer explained that the price was per pound, the bidding slowed considerably.
Our boys’ pig came up for auction, and I remember feeling quite relieved when it was sold. All I could think of was getting home, away from the people, the noise, and the smell. It was still raining outside, so while I waited for my brother-in-law to get the car, I listened involuntarily to the auctioneer as he started the bidding on lambs.
A young girl brought out her lamb, and the bidding commenced. I don’t remember the exact amount, but I do remember thinking, “That’s a lot of money for a lamb.” Then a most amazing thing happened. The auctioneer explained that the person who had purchased the lamb was donating it back to the little girl to be resold. He went on to explain that this little girl’s father, who normally would have been there with her, was in the hospital. He had cancer, and the prognosis was not good. The family had no medical insurance, and the father was their sole support.
What happened next will burn in my mind and heart forever.
The bidding resumed, and again the lamb was sold for an unheard-of amount of money. Again the lamb was donated back to be resold. About that time my brother-in-law returned, wet and windblown, but I couldn’t move. I told him something remarkable was happening, and though I tried, I could not stop my tears.
That lamb was sold again and again, and all those people, many of them from the city, were bidding and giving donations for that local family.
As I stood there in amazement, I couldn’t help but think of another lamb—not one that was sold again and again to benefit just one family, but One who allowed Himself to be sacrificed for all of God’s children. It seemed fitting that Easter was just around the corner. The Spirit bore witness to me that day of the significance of sacrifice in behalf of others and the importance of community.
Regrettably, this little girl’s father did not survive. The family has since moved into our ward, and the wife of that good man bore her testimony in Relief Society one Sunday. She told us how she had been at the hospital with her dying husband when she heard of the auction. She didn’t know who or how many people had donated money, but she was moved to tears when expressing her gratitude for all who cared enough to help. She was amazed at the outpouring of love and support shown to her family that stormy day at the Clark County Fair—the day the lamb was sold.