Friend to Friend

“Friend to Friend,” Friend, June 1991, 6

Friend to Friend

Elder W. Eugene Hansen

When I was about six or seven years old, our family went to Kanab, Utah, to visit my aunt, who was married to a forest ranger. My uncle was in charge of the Kaibab Forest, one of the largest national forests in the United States. We arrived there late at night and went right to bed at their home.

The next morning I was awakened by my cousins, who were younger than I. They said, “There’re some deer out there. Come and look.” I jumped out of bed and got dressed and ran to the back door. Sure enough, within twenty yards of the house was a doe with her two little fawns. After we watched for a few minutes, I wanted to get closer and try to touch them.

My three cousins and I started walking toward them, but just as we got close to them, they moved away. They kept doing that, and we kept following them. All of a sudden, the mother deer decided that she’d had enough and bounded away, her little ones behind her.

My cousins and I turned around to go back to the house and realized that we were lost. In our minds it seemed easy to just turn around and go back, but we had gone much farther than we thought we had.

I had never been in a forest before. My cousins kept saying, “Let’s go this way.” “No, let’s go this way.” So we just wandered around, and pretty soon we started hearing sounds that we imagined were bears and cougars.

We called and whistled for our families to answer, but we didn’t hear a thing. We wandered around in the tall trees for maybe an hour and a half. Then the thought came to me that we should pray to Heavenly Father. We knelt in a circle, and I said a simple prayer. As we got up, I had the distinct impression that we should walk in a certain direction, which we did. We walked that way for another thirty minutes or so. The little ones were tired, and I had to carry the smallest one on my back.

When we heard a motor in the distance, we knew enough to walk toward the sound. All of a sudden, we broke into a clearing. We could see a road, and the motor we’d heard was in a road grader. We were really tired and upset, but we knew that we had to get over to the road grader before it went by the clearing, so we ran as fast as we could. When we got close enough, we waved, and the road-grader operator saw us and stopped. He put us in the cab and took us down to the forest rangers’ headquarters. By that time, my parents and aunt and uncle had all the forest rangers out looking for us, so they were glad to see us. That experience was a testimony to me that Heavenly Father does hear and answer our prayers.

I remember bearing my first testimony at age nine. We hadn’t been in our new chapel in East Garland, Utah, very long. President Heber J. Grant had dedicated it. One Sunday when we were in fast meeting, I felt the Spirit and had a feeling come over me that I should stand and bear my testimony. I stood up and had a difficult time emotionally, but I said that I knew that the Church was true. I still remember that the man who was conducting the meeting, Brother Edwin Isaacson, thanked everyone, including me, for bearing our testimonies. I knew then that the Church was true, and I know it now. I remember the feelings I had when I received my patriarchal blessing at age eleven. The patriarch in our stake, Joseph Kirkham, traveled to the various wards to give blessings. When it was announced that he would be in our ward area on a certain day, I wanted to get mine. I talked with my parents about it, then got my recommend. My patriarchal blessing meant a lot to me and has continued to do so. I’ve always taken it seriously, and throughout my life I have tried very carefully to follow the counsel that I received in it.

Early in my youth, I was counseled in a blessing to stay close to my mother and to keep her advice near me, and I would be safe. I have always remembered that, but I often wondered about it because it was my father who seemed to give most of the advice. Then one winter when I was in the seventh grade, I had blood poisoning and became quite ill. My father was traveling at the time—in the summer he farmed, and in the winter he traveled, selling livestock feed. It was during this period that mother gave me some important counsel. It concerned moral cleanliness, and I’ll always be grateful for that advice. It helped me to set some personal standards early in my life.

Children, develop a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray, and Heavenly Father will send you the help you need. Listen to and obey your parents, who only want what is best for you. And when the time is right for you, get your patriarchal blessing and heed its counsel too.

1. Elder Hansen, age 5

2. Junior in high school, age 16

3. As an exchange student to England, after World War II

4. On the onion farm in East Garland