I am truly honored to be married to Susan. She has been blessed with some amazing spiritual experiences, and I have been blessed to learn about them. I have asked her repeatedly to write down some of her experiences for the sake of posterity, and, although she has done some of that, she’s reluctant, partly because writing is difficult for her, and partly because writing forces her to re-live some very difficult and traumatic experiences.
She has long struggled with spelling and sentence structure, dating back to her youth when her family moved from country to country, and language to language. Her first language was Spanish, but before she could master it, her family moved to an English-speaking country, and before she could master that, they moved again. It caused some major problems for her in school. In fact she wasn’t able to read and write with any degree of proficiency until she was in college.
As I mentioned, she has written a few things so I will start there. A few years ago, as part of the BYU Pathway program she had an assignment to write about a spiritual experience. She titled it “I believe in Guardian Angels” (click the link to find it). It’s a story of a dark time in her life when the Lord sent a robin to cheer her up. When her BYU professor read it, he was so impressed that he advised her to send it to the church’s Ensign Magazine for publishing.
I Believe in Guardian Angels
I believe in guardian angels. I know this may sound foolish and perhaps even childish, as many place guardian angels in the same category as Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, and the Tooth Fairy. I believe that guardian angels come in many forms. Such as a stranger that stops to help someone change a flat tire, or a neighbor who noticed a need and is quick in coming to the rescue. While guardian angels are usually ordinary people following promptings from the Lord, my guardian angel really did have wings.
Many years ago, when I was a young mother with three little ones in tow. The Lord sent me a guardian angel that saved my life. At the time my life was falling apart around me. I was working sixteen hour days, seven days a week, which made it impossible for me to care for the needs of my children. I was feeling like a failure in the most important areas of my life.
My youthful expectations of marriage, family, and life style dreams had all been shattered by reality. My life was nowhere near what I had hoped it would be. Although I thought I had made a wise choice in whom I married, I found myself in a relationship filled with distrust, poor communication, and unrighteous behaviors. I felt there was no way out of the dark tunnel I had wandered into.
How could I face Mother’s Day with these feeling of failure weighing so heavily on my heart? I could hear the children in the kitchen with my husband preparing breakfast for me. Breakfast in bed is a wonderful Mother’s Day tradition, which I highly recommend! I should have felt loved and joyful in hearing such happy sounds dancing up the staircase, but instead, my heart was heavy and so full of sorrow that it overflowed into uncontrollable tears that washed over my face and soaked the bedding.
As I rehearsed in my mind all my options I felt even more trapped by my circumstances. Then an option I had not thought of popped into my head. Was this the answer? Would ending my life be best for everyone concerned? How could I do this without emotionally harming the children? These dark thoughts swarmed in my mind forming a heavy black cloud that blocked brightness of the sun streaming through the open window. Somehow I uttered, “Oh God, please help me!”
For several months I had felt that my prayers weren’t strong enough to penetrate the ceiling, but at that moment the bright sun pierced through the darkness as my eyes searched for the source of the tapping sound coming from my second story bedroom window?! I wiped the tears from my face, and was stunned as a scrawny robin came into focus. I watched it tap, tap, tapping its beak on the closed side of the window. It appeared that winter had not been kind to him. He was so skinny, and his dishevelled dull colored feathers had a bald spot on the left side of what should have been a bright red chest. All in all, he looked like life had beaten him up really bad.
As I watched him, he hopped to the open side and peeked in, as if to say, hello! Then flew to the power line that extended across the back yard. He continued repeating this routine even after my noisy little brewed came bouncing on the bed with their version of breakfast. This little bird was fearless and undeterred.
The distraction lightened my spirits and I was able to enjoy and appreciate my children and the effort my spouse had made in my behalf. It also drew the attention of my family, so they never noticed my swollen tear stained face. The darkness was replaced with light, love, and laughter. I knew my Father in Heaven had hear my plea for help. I felt His loving embrace and knew I was not alone.
Until we moved three months later, my little friend visited me, on a daily basis with a good morning tap on my bedroom window. If I didn’t acknowledge him, he would tap on the living room window until I would say, “good morning”. It was as if his mission was to start my day out with a smile and a reminder that the Lord was mindful of me. The children and I enjoyed his company when we were outside working or playing in the yard. It was so comforting to know my special guardian angel was close by.
His presences did not resolve the issues that weighed so heavy on my heart, and while I had no idea what I could do to resolve them, I felt that the Lord would guide me in finding the answers I needed. I had the reassurance that I was not alone, my prayers were being heard. Through the Lord’s tender mercy he intervened in my behalf by sending me a guardian angel in the form of brave little robin, who bore the scars of unseen dangers and survived life’s perils. Through his visits I came to understand that hope is the rejuvenating power that gives us strength to move forward to learn, grow, and succeed, just as Spring is the rejuvenating power that awakens all nature and encourages new life to come forth.
She also wrote of this miraculous experience which she and her family had while in Argentina as they helped the local church members build a chapel during heavy rains. She titled it “Priesthood Power Parted the Clouds“:
Priesthood Power Parted the Clouds
I would like to share an experience I had when I was very young. My family was on a building mission in Argentina. A day had been designated for the members of the branch to help lay the foundation of the chapel. There had been many delays that made it critical to accomplish this task on that particular day or the whole project was in jeopardy of being scrapped. As we met on the project sight, it began to rain. Not a light sprinkle, but a torrential rain. Just a few weeks prior, we had experienced a similar storm that produced a flash flood that brought one to three meters of water into our homes. The members where rightfully concerned.
As we huddled together in the small shed, a prayer was offered. That through the power of the priesthood the rain would cease and allowing the work to proceed.
At the conclusion of the prayer it was announced that we had until 5 pm to accomplish the work, but it was still raining, after a short pause the branch president and my father lead the way out the shed and started working. Everyone else followed their example and within a few minutes the rain stopped. That is, it stopped raining on the one city block that was the site of the project. It continued to rain heavily all the way around us. Though, the members were concerned for their homes to my knowledge none of them left the site. We all worked as hard, and as fast as we possibly could. The rain around us was a constant reminder that our time was short.
5:00 pm came and so did the rain. I remember running to the shed with all the others; all but one missionary Elder Pendley and my father, who were still finishing up the final pouring of concrete. As they worked their clothes were moistened only by their sweat. The rain appeared to be bouncing off them as if it were repelled by their presence. But as soon as the work was done, so was their protection from the elements. There before us stood two very wet men, hugging and rejoicing in our Lord.
Susan has shared two particular experiences with me related to tithing.
The first occurred during her first marriage. Her husband was opposed to paying it at the time, and, even though she was working, her pay was being direct-deposited into a bank account that was under his control, so she was unable to pay even a portion of the tithing owed. As a consequence, they were both unworthy to attend the Temple, which really bothered Susan.
After much prayer, asking the Lord to help her find a way to pay tithing, she was blessed to receive an offer from her school to work as a Spanish translator. She was already employed at the school as a teacher’s assistant so this was an additional part-time job. Moreover, they agreed to pay her directly for this work instead of depositing the money directly into the bank.
Susan had mixed feelings about accepting the job. Yes, it meant that she might at last be able to pay tithing, but she was fearful that she wouldn’t be able to do the job well because her Spanish had grown rusty over the years through lack of use.
Nevertheless, she trusted in the Lord and accepted the position. That’s when she truly learned that he was helping her. She found that when she was “on the clock”, helping families communicate with school teachers and administrators, her Spanish was nearly flawless, but the moment she was “off the clock”, her Spanish skills seemed to fade and she had trouble carrying on simple conversations.
At length, she was indeed able to save enough money to pay tithing in full thus allowing her and her husband to once again attend the Temple again.
The second experience with tithing occurred several years later, after she separated from her husband. She was struggling mightily to support herself and her 4 teenage children. She realized that there was no way she could afford to support them and pay tithing. That’s when she learned of the experience of someone else in a similar situation who had decided to exhibit great faith by paying tithing, not based upon actual income, but upon the income needed to survive.
Susan decided to put it to the test. She determined in advance how much income she needed each month and then paid tithing (10%) first, trusting that the Lord would provide the other 90%. That’s when the miracles began to happen. She would receive money unexpectedly, including a refund for an overpayment from years earlier that she wasn’t aware of. One day she discovered that her cupboards and refrigerator were completely bare, and then received an expected visit from a dear friend who had been inspired to buy bags of groceries for her and her children.
Her family got through that period — not easily — but they never went hungry.
When Susan was serving in the Primary Presidency in her ward many years ago, she was given the task of finding a new Primary Chorister. This Primary Chorister taught the children songs during “Sharing Time” every Sunday. Many of the songs they learned were sung during the annual Primary Program held during a Sacrament meeting – usually in September or October, which was a much-anticipated event.
A number of well-qualified sisters came to Susan’s mind, but one after another, they were rejected as she submitted their names to the Bishop. Finally she was completely out of names and was beginning to feel desperate because they were running out of time to find someone who could prepare the children for the Primary Program.
In her frustration Susan felt prompted to go to the Temple to seek guidance from the Spirit. Once inside she began to pray and a name immediately flashed into her mind. Her first thought was to push the thought aside. She knew little about the sister and besides she had heard negative rumors about her.
Nevertheless, the thought persisted, and Susan finally realized that she was arguing with the Lord. With that realization, however, the decision became easy. She left the Temple and drove by the Bishop’s home to submit the name of this sister as the Primary Chorister. The Bishop nodded his approval and soon the sister was called, sustained, and set apart for her new calling.
Then a miracle happened. It turned out that the sister had an amazing talent for teaching the children to sing. On the day of the Primary Program, they performed beautifully and everyone was impressed.
Susan had learned a lesson she would never forget.