Sunday, June 8, 2014


My family lives on a small farm. We raise hay, cows and goats, but we also try to raise a garden. I say try because over the years I’ve learned that animals and gardens don’t necessarily mix. Take my strawberry “patch” for instance. Strawberries are among my favorite fruits, so every year I try to grow them. Before we became farmers, I was successful at growing them, but when adversity—i.e., goats—entered my life, I discovered that they, too, like to eat strawberries. Not a good thing.

Because goats are so prone to finding ways out of their pens and then making a beeline for the garden, every year for the past several years, I’ve tried to outsmart them by planting new strawberry plants in hidden or remote areas of our yard. But without fail, and no matter how hard we try to maintain their pens, the animals manage to break out, find my strawberries, and eat them either before or just after the plants have begun to bear fruit. Two years ago I finally, dejectedly, gave up my quest to grow strawberries.  

And then a new spring arrived. While I was weeding the flower garden and preparing it for a new year, I found a single strawberry plant growing amid the other perennials. I was SOOO excited. It had survived not only the goats but also my neglect--I hadn’t even  known it was there.

At first, I considered digging it up and moving it, yet again, to a new location, but I eventually decided to leave it where it was. I also told my husband about it, and he, knowing the struggles I’d had, directly put up a metal panel fence around the flower bed. I wasn’t sure it would be enough protection, but I hoped, and nourished, and watched. After a few months, it began to bear a few berries. I thought they were among the most delicious berries I’d tasted, but before the season had ended . . , yup! You guessed it. The goats escaped, went straight for the flower garden, and ripped the top right off the strawberry plant.

Again summer, fall, and winter passed into a new spring—this spring--and I began to prepare the flower garden for the coming season. To my delight, I found I not only had one living strawberry plant, but FIVE! Strawberries are prolific, and such growth is not uncommon, but after all the adversity I’d had with them, I felt those five were the most miraculous plants in the world.

One righteous person has the same thriving, fruit-bearing power. Over the course of time, the world has faced innumerable hardships and conflicts, but in spite of them, righteous men and women have stepped forward and changed the course of man’s downward spiral. While the scriptures overflow with powerful examples of such people, like David fighting Goliath, Esther saving the Jews, and Captain Moroni raising his coat of freedom and leading others against a wicked king, these righteous people are not the only ones who’ve stood—or now stand—for righteousness and make a difference in this struggling world.
In fact, if we are watching, we’ll see that in spite of the world’s growing degradation and perniciousness, modern LDS youth and adults have increased their devotion to temple attendance, scripture study, and kindness.The trouble is, they don't always see the results of their efforts. However, in the July, 1985 Ensign, Gail Argetsinger, costume director for the Manti pageant, did see the results of one good man living his religion:

When I decided to make the armor for the pageant’s “Moroni and the Title of Liberty” scene out of leather, I visited several dealers in New York City. One place, in a rough section of Manhattan, had exactly what I was looking for.

The store was run by a blunt but friendly man who introduced himself as “Sam.” My husband, Jerry, and I explained what we were looking for and that we represented the Hill Cumorah Pageant, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sam lit up like a candle. “The Mormons! Well, come right in, make yourselves at home.”

Jerry and I looked at each other. Usually our introduction drew no response except, “So? You got cash?” This leather dealer was actually glad to see us!

He gave us advice on selecting hides and how to cut them to best advantage. Then, as we worked, Sam began to talk about his experience with Latter-day Saints.

When he had joined the United States Air Force at the outbreak of World War II, his basic training had been at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. It was his first time out of New York City. Like many good Jewish boys, he had been raised in fear of the gentiles. He had never seen a Latter-day Saint. But as he got to know the many LDS airmen in his group, he learned to love them. “I don’t believe I’ve ever been treated better by anyone,” he said. “But the reason I’ll always love the Mormons is for something that happened later in the war.”

In 1942 Sam was flying bombing missions over North Africa. His commanding officer, Major Hawkins, was a Latter-day Saint from Salt Lake City.

As Passover approached, Sam and the other Jews in camp discussed how they would celebrate it under combat conditions. To start with, there was no unleavened bread. They thought they would have to use soda crackers.

On the night before the Passover celebration, when Major Hawkins returned from a combat mission about midnight, he went to Sam’s tent and awakened him. “Sam,” he whispered, “I just heard you boys have no unleavened bread for Passover.”

“That’s right,” Sam told him.

“Well, come on,” said the major, pulling Sam to his feet. “There’s still time. I’ll fly you to Tel Aviv to get some.” So Sam and the major squeezed piggyback into the cockpit of a small plane and flew all the way to Palestine.

“I still can’t believe it,” Sam told us. “I asked myself what kind of a man would understand the importance of our sacred rituals. This was the middle of a war, and we didn’t exactly own the skies at that point. He risked his life to get us that unleavened bread. The Mormons are something special, all right!”

Sam gave us a good price break on the leather. And it was all because forty years before a righteous man had lived the teachings of the gospel.

When we went back to his store the next year, Sam was unable to give us the same price break on his leather. I told him it was quite all right. We greatly appreciated his generosity the first time, but to expect such a deal the second time would be taking advantage of him. We expected to pay a fair price.

He smiled. “A Mormon would understand that.” Then he told us the whole sto
ry of his war experience again. “The Latter-day Saints are something special,” he kept repeating. “I really love them.”

Thank you, Major Hawkins, wherever you are!

I agree. Thank you to Major Hawkins and to everyone else who lives the principles of the gospel. Like a strawberry plant, righteousness has the power to spread and grow good fruit that leads ourselves, our families, and our nations back to Christ. Remember Joseph from the Old Testament? After being sold into slavery, taken far from his family, and imprisoned through false accusations, his faithful obedience eventually spread so far and bore enough good fruit that he saved himself, his family, and his people from starvation. Not only that, but he also restored peace and goodness to his family. Isn’t that what we all want?

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