Grabbing the Strong Roots

    “Grabbing the Strong Roots,” Ensign, Oct. 2009, 72–73

    Grabbing the Strong Roots

    Melsida Hakobyan, Armenia

    When I was a schoolgirl in Russia, I read a scary story about two boys who encountered a bear in a forest. Years later, after I had become a teacher, some friends asked me to join them on a trip to collect mushrooms. The forest still scared me, but I agreed to go with them.

    Entering the forest, I grabbed a wooden stick so I could defend myself in case I ran into a bear. My friends soon found the brown mushrooms they were looking for. I, on the other hand, was looking for mushrooms with bright red tops, so I started off in a different direction. Before I knew it, I was alone.

    While I was searching, I slipped and fell. My mushroom basket flew into the air, but I held tight to my stick. When I tried to get up, I noticed that the ground was muddy and sticky. To my horror, I realized that I had wandered into a swamp! My rubber boots quickly filled with water, and I began to sink. I tried to move my legs, but instead of freeing myself, I was pulled deeper. When the mud reached my waist, deep fear engulfed me.

    I cried out to my friends, but the only answer I heard came from buzzing dragonflies and croaking frogs. As I began to weep, I suddenly remembered my mother. Whenever she was in a bad situation, she prayed. She often invited me to pray, but I always refused, answering, “There is no God.”

    But in my watery soon-to-be grave, there was nothing else I could do but pray and call upon God for help. “If You live, please help me!” I cried.

    Almost immediately I heard a kind voice tell me, “Believe and be not afraid. Grab the strong tree root.”

    As I looked around, I saw a big tree root behind me. Using my stick, I was able to latch onto it. Something then gave me the power to pull myself out of the swamp.

    Covered with mud, I fell to the ground and thanked God for answering my prayer. I now believed that He lived. I had felt His presence and heard His voice, and He had given me power to pull myself free.

    A short time later, when the full-time missionaries taught me that the Prophet Joseph Smith had received an answer to his prayer in the Sacred Grove, I believed them. After all, God had answered my prayer in a forest. I latched onto the strong roots of the gospel, was baptized soon thereafter, and serve today in the Gyumri Branch in Armenia.

    I know Heavenly Father loves all of His children, and I’m grateful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m also grateful for the many other blessings I have received from Heavenly Father, especially for His answer to an atheist’s prayer in the forest many years ago.