(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
In the summer of 1976 I spent two months in the Soviet Union with 150 other American students studying Russian. When the program ended late in July, we were given a week free to travel at our own expense anywhere in Europe before catching a charter flight from Paris back to the United States. I spent that week on a shoestring budget visiting friends and converts in the Düsseldorf Germany Mission, where I had earlier served.
Unfortunately, after booking a second-class train ticket from Düsseldorf to Paris, I realized I was down to the equivalent of only $38 in cash. I had no traveler’s checks or credit cards. As the train sped toward Paris, I began to worry about how I would find a place to spend the night with so little money.
Arriving at the main train station in Paris, I got off the train with my luggage and looked around. I didn’t know anyone in France, and I didn’t speak the language. The sun was just setting, and I knew it would soon be dark. Suddenly I felt very lonely and somewhat anxious. I offered a simple, heartfelt prayer to the Lord: “Heavenly Father, please help me find a safe place to spend the night.”
An impression came to me as plain and clear as any I have ever felt: Walk two blocks forward and turn left, and there will be a hotel where you can spend the night. With a deep feeling of peace I walked the two blocks forward and turned left. About a hundred feet in front of me was a small sign: Hotel. I knew this was where the Lord had led me to spend the night. Entering the hotel lobby, I stepped forward to the front desk where a man was sitting. “One single room, please,” I said. The man hardly looked up.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “Every room is booked. We have no vacancies.” He proceeded to ignore me.
I asked, “Are you sure that you have no rooms? Perhaps there’s been a change or a cancellation?”
He looked up at me and said firmly, “Young man, we have no rooms. It is the peak of the tourist season, and we have been booked solid for weeks. Every hotel around has been booked for weeks. You will not find a room anywhere in Paris.”
What could I do? I began to leave the hotel, but as I reached the door onto the street, I thought, I can’t just leave. The Lord led me here. I went back to the desk and said, “Sir, could you please at least look in your book and verify for sure that you have no rooms available this evening?”
Somewhat miffed, the clerk stood up, almost slammed his reservation book on the desk, and began flipping the pages quickly. “You see,” he said, “there is nothing. We have no rooms, we have no rooms, we have no . . .”
Suddenly he stopped and stared at the page in puzzlement for a long time. Then he became very businesslike and said, “Well, it appears after all that we do have one single room vacant. That will be $35.”
I do not remember much of that night, only that I felt safe and very blessed. The next morning I learned that the bus to Charles de Gaulle Airport stopped right in front of the hotel. To my great relief the fare was only $3. I arrived at the airport in time to catch my flight to JFK Airport, where, with only a few small coins left in my pocket, I was met by my beloved fiancée, Susan.
A couple of years ago, in Texas, a young man drove his motorcycle across the Mexican border. He was going up and down the sand dunes. There was a dune with about a twenty-foot drop, and he went sailing off into space. In the accident the top part of the skull was crushed and almost torn from his head, leaving his brain exposed. It was thirteen hours before help came to him. A helicopter took him to a Houston hospital, and the doctors said he could never live. If the accident didn’t kill him, the exposure and infection would.
They notified the family. He had a younger sister, twenty-five, who was married and had a four-year-old son. This little guy loved his Uncle Dennis. He thought the sun came up, went around his Uncle Dennis, went back down, and that was the day. He thought he was terrific. Uncle Dennis had taken time to take him for rides and play with him and do all the things that are done.
When the child heard about the accident, that his Uncle Dennis wasn’t going to live, he said, “Mom, can we have a prayer?” She answered that they were going to their grandmother’s house and the whole family was fasting and going to have a prayer. He said, “I mean, can you and I have a prayer?”
She said, “Well, I guess so. Sure.” They went into the bedroom and she was about to say the prayer when he asked, “Mom, can I say the prayer?” She told him to go ahead. He said this prayer: “Heavenly Father, Uncle Dennis has been in a terrible accident, and no one expects him to live. But he is my favorite uncle, and I love him. Please don’t let him die. Let him live. Okay? In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Well, his mother was really concerned. It sounded like her brother was going to die, so she tried to prepare her son by saying, “Son, if your Uncle Dennis dies, you have to have faith and understand what that is all about.”
He replied, “Mom, Uncle Dennis is going to live.”
“Well, we hope he does, but if he dies you must not lose faith in prayer or in the Lord.”
“Uncle Dennis is going to live.” She didn’t know what else to say. She went into the kitchen and he followed her in. She was still trying to reason with him when he said, “Mom, do you know that Heavenly Father has a deep, soft, quiet voice?”
She asked, “How do you know that?”
He said, “Because when I said, ‘Heavenly Father, he’s my favorite uncle. Let him live. Okay?’ he said, ‘Okay.’”
Uncle Dennis walked into my office not too long ago. I could see where they had sewn him back together. He had a cane in one hand and walked with a slight limp, but his mind was good, and he is going to the University of Utah. He plays golf and the piano. No one would have known that except for the faith of a young man.
President Ezra Taft Benson biography (pages 9-10):
Louisa Ballif Benson, a woman of great faith, served for many years as president of the Oneida Stake Relief Society, a stake that extended as far north as Baker, Oregon, and south to the Utah line. Her calling demanded that she make frequent visits—by horse and buggy to neighbors and via train for longer trips.
On one occasion as she was returning from Oregon by train and walking down the aisle, she heard a voice say, "Sister Benson, sit down and take hold of the seat." She glanced over her shoulder but saw no one. After walking a few steps further, she heard the voice again. Quickly she sat down and took hold of the seat arms. Almost immediately the train jumped the tracks and wrecked. Many were injured but she was unharmed. She removed her white petticoat, made bandages, and administered relief to the injured. The Union Pacific Railroad awarded her a citation for bravery and compassionate service.
Elder Melvin J. Ballard’s mother Margaret McNeil Ballard:
Elder Melvin J. Ballard was born in 1873. Because his mother, Margaret McNeil Ballard, had lost other children and was in poor health while she carried him, she begged the Lord for his blessing on her unborn son, and promised him to the Lord if he would bless them. After pouring her heart out in prayer, she received an answer: “Be of good cheer. Your life is acceptable, and you will bear a son who will become an apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Elder Robert C. Gay talking about Amanda Barnes Smith:
Amanda Barnes Smith; her husband, Warren; and their five children were new converts to the Church when they traveled to Missouri. They joined the Saints at Haun’s Mill just a few days before a mob came and slaughtered many there. Amanda’s husband and 10-year-old son were among those killed. Another of her young sons was gravely injured. Amanda received a powerful revelation on how to save her wounded son. During that time of great distress, she wrote the following:
“In our utter desolation, what could we women do but pray? Prayer was our only source of comfort; our Heavenly Father our only helper. None but he could save and deliver us.
“One day a mobber came from the mill with the captain’s fiat. [Cursing, he bellowed]: ‘The captain says if you women don’t stop your … praying he will send down a posse and kill every … one of you!’
“And he might as well have done it, as to stop us poor women from praying in that hour of our great calamity.
“Our prayers were hushed in terror. We dared not let our voices be heard in the house in supplication. I could pray in bed or in silence, but I could not live thus long. The godless silence was more intolerable than had been that night of the massacre.
“I could bear it no longer. I pined to hear once more my own voice in petition to my Heavenly Father.
“I stole down into a corn-field and crawled into a [stack] of corn. It was as the temple of the Lord to me at that moment. I prayed aloud and most fervently.
“When I emerged from the corn a voice spoke to me. It was a voice as plain as I have ever heard one. It was no silent, strong impression of the spirit, but a voice, repeating a verse of [our] hymn:
That soul who on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I cannot, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!3
“From that moment I had no more fear. I felt that nothing could hurt me.”
I would like to conclude with an experience we had in March 2000. Sister Andersen and I were invited to attend the temple dedication in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I knew that I would be asked to speak and that my remarks should be brief.
We entered the celestial room dressed in white. President Hinckley sat in the middle chair with a member of the Twelve on his right and with me on his left. As we reverently awaited the first session, I felt a distinct and specific impression that I should adjust the remarks I had prepared. The impression came: “Speak of the keys. Speak of the keys.”
I quickly turned to the scriptures to locate the passages that explain the keys of the priesthood being returned to the earth. Then—and I can remember it as if it were yesterday—a powerful spiritual feeling came into my mind and heart. The feeling that burned within me was this: “He who sits next to you holds all the priesthood keys upon the earth. He who sits next to you holds all the priesthood keys upon the earth.”
I took a deep breath. I looked over at President Hinckley. I could not deny the powerful manifestation of the Spirit.
This poem [Elias, An Epic of the Ages] was begun in the spring of 1900, not long after the death of my wife Zina, and while I was prostrate upon a bed of pain [grief]. The inspiration was timely. I needed something of the kind to occupy my thoughts and dispel my gloomy feelings. While pondering upon the situation, and wondering whether my life’s work was drawing to a close, I heard or seemed to hear a Voice—inaudible to the outward ear, yet plain to the inward understanding—the same Voice that had spoken to me on former occasions in hours of distress or deep anxiety. It now said:
“Do you really wish to go?”
“No,” I replied; “I must not go until I have finished my work.”
“What would you like to do?”
“Something that would live when I am dead, and go on teaching the Truth after my mortal tongue is still.”
“And what might that be?”
I reflected, and my thoughts took this form: I would like to write a poem embodying all that I have learned, thought or felt respecting the divine plan known as “The Everlasting Gospel.” I would love to tell in heroic verse the sublime Story of God. “Mormonism,” historically, doctrinally, prophetically—be that my theme, my task, with whatsoever else the Lord has for me to do.
No sooner had I come to this conclusion, than the first lines of the poem formed in my mind, and weak as I was I sat up and wrote them down. Thus the work began.
It took years to complete it, for I could not, of course, give all my time to poetry. I was still a Ward Bishop and an Assistant Church Historian. But I worked upon the great theme whenever I could, and found much delight in so doing. It burned like fire in my brain, and I felt that I must get it out or it would consume me. Day after day—sometimes twelve hours or more at a stretch—month after month, and year after year, I toiled on in the intervals of office work and outside engagements, till the poem, if not finished, was ready for a trial reading. This was toward the close of 1902.
Mission President Oscar W. McConkie Sr.:
My son James was near death in Minneapolis. I flew there to be with him and spent many days in fasting and prayer in his behalf. His wife and many people did likewise. Apostle Henry D. Moyle said that his spirit was in the spirit world for three hours, and President McKay, President J. Reuben Clark, and President Joseph Fielding Smith said they concurred.
I was at the hospital, and God verified to me that my son was dead. I was waiting to see what God would have me do. James’ spirit was in consultation with spirit world authorities to determine whether James should stay there or return to mortality. He was told by them that he had the choice since men on earth had promised him that he might live.
As I walked in the hall, [pacing] backward and forward, the voice of the Lord came to me, asking that I go quickly and bless my son. The nurse told me that she had not been able to find his pulse for three hours.
I obeyed. As I was preparing to enter his room, the Lord spoke again, saying, “He never disobeyed you in life, and he will not do it now.”
Thus, you see the relationship between a father and his son after one has gone through [the veil to] the spirit world and the other remains in mortality. I spoke as the Lord commanded on earth, and my son in the spirit world heard my voice and obeyed. He came back from the dead. As man might say, “pursuant to the direction of God.” It was for a special purpose.
After a day or two, he returned to the spirit world, the purpose of the restoration of his life having been accomplished. His spirit literally gave life to his flesh after the flesh was dead because both father and son had right reason and because each had a right spirit.
My son had searched for the fountain from which truth springs, and he had found it. Oh how great are the mysteries of Godliness.
Joseph Fielding McConkie:
It was Oscar McConkie's custom to relax with the newspaper each evening in his living room. One evening as he did so, a still small voice whispered in his ear, “Get up and run!” Surprised, he was not sure what to do. The voice repeated, “Get up and run!” Upon hearing the voice the second time, he immediately responded. Throwing the paper aside, he ran through the kitchen and out the back door, past his bewildered wife, who wondered what had overcome him. As he dashed out of the house, the first thing he saw was a large black stallion without a rider racing across the backyard. Without time for thought, he ran alongside the horse and grabbed its reins, pulling it to a halt. It was only after calming the horse down for a few moments that he looked on the other side and discovered his eldest son, Bruce, with his foot caught in the stirrup. He had been riding the horse when he was knocked off by a limb, catching his foot in the stirrup. Had his father failed to heed the promptings of the Spirit, Bruce could well have been dragged to death.
Oscar W. McConkie Jr.:
I am going to start with the account of Emma Sommerville McConkie, my own grandmother, . . . My grandmother lived in Moab, Utah. . . .
One of the [Mormon] girls in the . . . community fell in love with one of the gentile [nonmember] boys and, against counsel, married him. She left the fellowship of the Saints and joined the [non-Latter-day Saints]. When she had a child she found herself an invalid and her husband left her. There was no one to care for her.
My grandmother was the president of the [ward] Relief Society. The Relief Society made assignments for compassionate service. When the assignments were made nobody in the Society would take the assignment of taking care of this . . . girl. Grandmother was left with that responsibility. Grandmother (who had spent her strength as a pioneer and was sick) was left with that responsibility. Every day grandmother McConkie would go over to this girl’s house; would wash her down; would change the bedding; would wash her child; put new linen in the crib; and then would struggle to get home before she collapsed.
One day grandmother didn’t think she had the strength to do it; but she whipped herself in line, and did what had to be done. She just barely got home. She collapsed in an old overstuffed chair in her front room and fell into a deep sleep. As she slept she saw herself, and as she saw herself she saw that she was bathing a child. The Spirit said to her in the dream that this was not the child she had been caring for and tending. It said that she was caring for the Christ child. The marrow in her bones almost melted, she wrote afterwards. She was awakened because of this witness of the Spirit.
After she was awakened, Grandmother McConkie heard a voice, and the voice said to her, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” . . .
Some years ago I read this account in my father’s journal. I wanted to get it just right so I awakened my Dad and rehearsed it to the end. I said, “And my grandmother seemed to hear a voice.” My father raised up off the bed and said, “She didn’t seem to hear a voice, She heard a voice.”
 Quotation from item about Elder Melvin J. Ballard as found in Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1949), 23. From this work by Bryant Hinckley it becomes apparent that Melvin’s mother received impressions on more than one occasion that he would eventually become a great leader in the Church. His patriarchal blessing also so stated.
 “Pres. Oscar W. McConkie,” unpublished address given to California missionaries, October 1964, 2.
 The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son, chapter “Boyhood in Monticello 1915 to 1926.”
 Oscar W. McConkie Jr., President of the University 2nd Stake, [University of Utah] Institute of Religion Devotional, October 29, 1971, 5-6.