Losing and finding things

My wife JoAnn and I  both recently celebrated our 80th birthday. As we get older, we frequently misplace things or forget where we put them. We have learned that a simple prayer to our Heavenly Father is often all that is needed to locate the item. Quite often, as soon as I finish praying, there comes into my mind the correct place to look – and there it is!

Funds miraculously provided to pay old debts

By Jon M. Taylor

After the death of my first wife, Janice, I was left with large debts from medical expenses and from borrowing to get through my MBA program. In a vain effort over a period of years to repay those debts, I started several businesses and worked long hours to get ahead financially. However, it seemed that the harder I worked, the more I fell behind financially.until I was deep in debt.

While all this was going on, I was having problems coping as a single parent. I went to a counselor for help. He heard me describe my herculean efforts to get on top financially while raising my children alone. Finally, he suggested I consider bankruptcy. He told me that my children needed not just my money but my time. I had been using babysitters and day care but had not given them as much personal attention as I gave to my business pursuits.

The idea of bailing out on my debts through bankruptcy was foreign to me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my counselor was right; my children really needed me. So I filed for bankruptcy, saving some money by filing myself without the help of an attorney. However, I kept a record of the names and addresses of all my creditors, hoping to some day pay them all back.

Ten years went by, then twenty, and finally thirty years passed without making enough progress to pay those old debts. Even though I was no longer legally obligated to pay them, I felt an obligation to do so as a matter of honor.

While reading in the Doctrine & Covenants one day, I came upon these verses:

And again, I say unto you concerning your debts — behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts.

And it is my will that you shall humble yourselves before me, and obtain this blessing by your diligence and humility and the prayer of faith.  (Doctrine & Covenants 104:78-79)

I took this literally and began fasting and praying every Sunday for this blessing. After only a few weeks, I was hired as an expert witness by the legal firm of an entity made up of top Amway distributors who were trying to break away from Amway to work for a competitor.  Amway was suing them for breach of a contract that included a non-competition clause restricting their working for a competing company for an extended period of time. Millions of dollars were at stake on both sides, and they were willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to expert witnesses to help them build their case.

As I fulfilled my contract as a consultant and expert witness, payments for my consulting services came flowing in at a pace I had not seen before in all my entrepreneurial pursuits. It was almost unbelievable – a miraculous fulfillment of the scripture cited above in the Doctrine & Covenants.

So I pulled out from my files the list of about thirty companies and individuals I had left unpaid as creditors when I filed for bankruptcy thirty years earlier. I started at the top of the list, picked up the phone, and called the creditor.

“Hi, this is Jon Taylor. Remember me?”

There would be a brief period of silence. They would then say something iike, “Oh yeah. You’re the guy who left me holding the bag for $5,000.”

“Well I was just wondering if you’d like your money back.”

Silence again. They could not believe that I would be getting back to them and offering to repay them after 30 years.

I would then write them a check and send it to them.

I called each former creditor on this list and did the same for them.

However, there were a few former debtors that no longer could be found or who had been sold or merged until no one could be found who could appropriately receive the money. One respondent said, “After all this time, I don’t even know where I would put the money. Why don’t you give it to the poor?”

I discussed this with my bishop, who responded that I had done everything I could to repay loans that I was not even legally obligated to pay after th4e bankruptcy. He suggested that since the Lord provided the funds, I might give the balance to the poor. Since some members of my family and members of the ward were then unemployed and struggling financially, I followed the bishop’s advice and gave the remainder of the money to those in need.

As happened to me so often before, the promises of the Lord were miraculously fulfilled.

A testimony of tithing

By Jon M. Taylor

From my youth, I have always paid my tithing out of obedience to the law of the Lord, not with any expectation of reward. However, JoAnn and I had an experience recently that confirmed my faith in the principle of tithing.

Having recovered from surgery to remove a large pituitary tumor behind my right eye, JoAnn drove me to the University Hospital for a follow-up exam. On the way back, she was watching for signs to determine where we were and missed seeing a stop light turn red. A Subaru Ouback hit us broadside, causing the car to spin around and stop near a curb. Our ’99 Accura was severely damaged, but no one was hurt. We managed to drive the car home, and I immediately went to a trusted dealer to get a replacement vehicle.

We settled on a 2006 Hyundai Sonata, for which the salesman wanted $7,700. I bargained with him until he dropped the price to $6,300. It would be a strain on our finances. but we needed the car. So we wrote a check to the dealer and told him to hold it so we could transfer some funds. We drove home with the car.

Within 48 hours I got a call from an investment broker who was handling some of our retirement. He asked, “You remember that municipal bond you bought several years ago? Well, it’s been called, so you have some money in your account.”

“How much,” I asked.

“$6,300.”

I about fell off my chair. This may have been just a coincidence, but not likely. I like to believe this was the Lord looking out for us as faithful tithe payers.

 

My personal revelation prior to introduction of Family Home Evening

By Jon M. Taylor

             A few years after my mission, I learned an important lesson in obedience and sacrifice.  From 1961 to 1963 I was a full-time 9th grade seminary teacher in Holladay.  The young people were a challenge, full of energy and mischief.  About this time I developed a concern about a policy of the church.

In 1915, almost Fifty years earlier, President Joseph F. Smith was advising church members to hold a weekly home evening.  In fact, I had in my possession an old old manual of suggestions on how this was to be done.  However, it was not made an official program of the Church, and few families were regularly practicing it in 1963 when I was teaching seminary. But I observed in my teaching experience that those students who were taught and who practiced the gospel in their homes were more solid Latter-day Saints than those whose parents left it to the seminaries and auxiliaries to teach and train their children in the gospel.

I became convinced that a more formal family home evening program could have a great impact on the youth of the Church.  I had gone so far as to conceptualize a set of books that could be used to help parents conduct these home evenings.  I wondered if I should prepare or organize a firm to publish them – or seek additional training so that I could be qualified as an expert on topics central to this project.  The question of how I should proceed was one that I could not seem to resolve.  I even corresponded with church leaders to share my concern, but did not get an encouraging response.  This concern ate away at me until I felt I needed an answer directly from my Father in Heaven to put my mind at rest.

A talk recently given by Elder Marion G. Romney of the Council of the Twelve gave me hope.  He had said, “I know that God can hear prayers; he has heard mine on many occasions.  I have received direct revelations from him.  I have had problems which it seemed to me that I could not solve.  I have suffered in facing those problems until it seemed that I could not go forward without a solution to them.  Through faith, and on many occasions fasting for a day each week over long periods of time, I have had answers to those problems revealed to my mind in finished sentences.  I have heard the voice of God and I know his words . . .”

Elder Romney indicated that we could follow the same procedure if we needed an answer to prayer.  I knew also from the promises of the scripture that if a person purified himself and did the Lord’s will he could pray as directed by the Spirit, with the assurance that his prayers would be answered:

“And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus, and it shall be done.

“But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask . . .”(D&C 52:29-30)

Also:  “He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God;  wherefore it is done even as he asketh.” (D&C 46:30)

Here the principles of sacrifice and obedience come together, in this case to yield the faith necessary to have our prayers answered.  So I decide to work on getting my life in order, making sure that I repented of whatever in my life might be offensive to the Lord.  I began fasting one day a week and praying to have my question answered.  And I resolved to do whatever service or sacrifice the Lord would require of me.

One day I was fasting and had completed a rough day of teaching these restless teenagers.  That evening was mutual, and I was teaching a group of (what was then called) Explorers, many of whom I had taught in seminary.  They were tired of me, and the feeling was mutual.  They were literally climbing the walls of our classroom, some pretending they were going to jump out the window.  A lot of teasing and sarcastic things were said, making it impossible for me to give a spiritual lesson.  But I hung in there and kept my cool until class time was over.

After mutual, a ward choir practice was held, and I had been asked, actually given a calling by the Bishop to join the choir, as male voices were needed.  Now I had sung in good university choruses and knew what a good choir sounded like.  This ward choir did not sound at all like that.  But I had resolved to do whatever the asked of me, so I joined in the choir practice.

As we got into it, the choir reminded me of the admonition repeated often in the Psalms to “Sing a joyful noise unto the Lord.”  This was a noisy choir all right, but it was a joyful noise, and we seemed to feel a good spirit in the music.

After choir practice, a group of the brethren were gathered around the drinking fountain, complaining about decisions that had been made regarding the renovation of the ward building.  They were griping and rehearsing their displeasure about the direction of the remodeling underway.

I had made a covenant that I would do anything the Lord required of me, and I felt someone had to stand up for the local priesthood leadership.  So I told these men that since we had voted to sustain our ward and stake leaders in their callings and in these very decisions, it was not appropriate to now be second-guessing their decisions.  Whether we agreed or not, it was now our responsibility to support them and stand behind them in this building program.

Well, I did not make any friends that evening, but I felt I had done everything the Lord required of me.  During my walk home, a distance of about half a mile, a feeling came over me that I shall never forget.  I had the absolute confidence that whatever I prayed for would be given me.  All I had to do was ask.

I could have prayed for a lot of things.  We did not have much money, and we were driving an old car.  But these things seemed insignificant to me at that time.   The one thing that was retarding my progress was my unanswered question.

On arriving home,  I knelt to pray, seeking an answer for what I should do about this project.  Before I could even get the words out of my mouth, the answer to my question came in a finished sentence, just as Elder Romney had promised – and as the Lord told the Saints in 1831:  “He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh.”  (D&C 46:30)

The answer that was given of the Lord was as follows:

“The Lord can do his own work through the humble servants he chooses.” 

Though this was somewhat of a rebuke to me, it was tremendously comforting to know that the Lord cared enough to respond. So I dropped the project and waited to see what would develop.

The answer was soon confirmed, when in January 1965, the 50-year practice was given renewed emphasis under the administration of President David O. McKay. That year, a family home evening lesson manual was published with families throughout the Church admonished to hold weekly family home evenings, including lessons and fun activities. Church leaders announced that Mondays ware to be set aside for weekly family home evenings throughout the CFamily Home Evening manualhurch. No church meetings or activities were to be held that would interfere with this important family event. And a manual was provided to help families develop lessons and activities for this special weekly family home evening.

 

The anniversary – and the camera

By Jon M. Taylor

While serving in Milwaukee on my mission, we taught Mr. and Mrs. Fouts, a young couple with a new baby who were receptive to our message, and we enjoyed a friendly relationship.. One evening when we came over to teach a lesson, the Fouts was very frustrated. They had set aside $70 (a lot of money at the time) for their first anniversary which was coming right up, and the money could nowhere be found.

We expressed our sympathy and tried to proceed with the lesson. However, their sadness was so overwhelming that they could think of nothing else. So we struggled with what to do. Soon I came up with what I thought was an idea that would provide some comfort for them.

I said, “I’ll tell you what we can do that might make your anniversary special. I have a nice camera with some film in it, and we will come over and take pictures of you for your anniversary.”camera

“We won’t be needing that,” said Mrs. Fouts. “We have our own camera.”

Silence. Then I came up with another bright idea: “Just last week I bought several rolls of film at a special quantity price. I would be happy to give some film to your that you can use with your camera.”

“We have our own film,” she replied firmly.

More silence. I could think of nothing more to offer that might comfort them. The only thing I could come up with were more suggestions regarding their camera, such as how we could help them take pictures of them with their new baby with their camera that would be very special.

Mrs. Founts became very agitated at these repeated suggestions regarding the camera. She got up and went to get her camera and said, “ Look, I told you we have a camera and film, and to prove it to you –“ She opened up her camera to expose the film, and out fell the $70!

Apparently, she had hidden the money inside the camera and forgotten it.

When I shared this experience with my mission president, he said the Holy Ghost can not only bring things to our mind, but can also block out new thoughts so that we are preoccupied with one overriding thought.

 

Ministers and Measles

By Jon M. Taylor

Before my mission, I had many questions about the Church even though I had attended seminary and read all four of the standard works. Then while attending our local university, I studied philosophy from a professor who loved to make fun of religion. Also, my anthropology teacher was big on evolution, and I went to his lab to see the skulls of ancient apes from which we had supposedly descended. What I had learned in seminary and in the scriptures certainly did not square with what I was learning at the university.

My faith in God and the Church was shattered. I confided this to a woman in the ward who I trusted. She wisely urged me to continue my search for the truth and not just accept what I was learning at the university.

So I made a study of world religions, especially the major Christian denominations – and compared them with our church doctrine for doctrine. I even organized a group of friends to visit other churches to see what they believed and how they worshipped. When I accepted a call to serve a mission, I did not yet have a testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the only true church. But in my opinion, none were better. I still had to study and pray a lot on my mission to gain a more spiritual witness.

My first assignment was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For some reason, we encountered several ministers and Jesuit priests in training. We discussed our differences, and I was well prepared because of my study of different religions. But arguing points of doctrine did not make converts. As time went on, I became more dependent on the Spirit and experienced the joy of teaching and baptizing some wonderful converts.

However, all during my mission, I had a fantasy that kept coming back to me. That was to preach to a whole group of ministers – and to invite them to involve the members of their congregations to study the restored gospel with them. Why not? My great-grandfather, John Taylor, and other early missionaries preached to whole congregations and saw thousands come into the Church.

The opportunity to fulfill my dream came towards the end of my mission. While in Waterloo, Iowa, we were invited to speak at a luncheon of the Waterloo Ministerial Association, made up of over 100 ministers in Northern Iowa. They wanted us to explain why we were proselyting members of their congregation – since they were already Christians.

I was so excited for this wonderful opportunity that I studied night and day for three days before the appointed gathering. I prepared an airtight sermon from their own Bible to prove that there would be a general apostasy from the truth and eventually a restoration of the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ by heavenly messengers, including the coming forth of the Book of Mormon – as prophesied. I would give chapter and verse to support each point.

When I awoke the morning of the meeting, I thought “Oh good, today is the day!” But when my companion, Elder Peterson, saw me, he said, “Elder Taylor, maybe you should look in the mirror.”

“Why,” I asked. “What’s wrong?”

He told me, “Just look in the mirror.”

I did – and saw bright red spots all over my face and hands. I had come down with the measles!

What to do? I thought of going anyway, but the spots were too obvious. And I didn’t think I could send my companion, as he had come from a farm in Central Utah only three months before, had no college, and knew little about other religions. I was sure they would make mincemeat of him.

So as district supervisor, I called another elder who was nearing the end of his mission and could probably handle the situation. I stayed back at the apartment with his companion, who had just recently arrived in our mission. So the senior elder went with my companion.

A couple of hours later they returned, excited and eager to tell of their experience. “What happened,” I asked.

This is what happened. The luncheon was to be followed by the missionaries addressing the group of ministers, and then there would be a question and answer period.

After lunch, the senior elder stood and told the story of the First Vision, the appearance of Moroni, and the miraculous translation of the golden plates. He then spoke of the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood by John the Baptist and of the Melchizedek priesthood by Peter, James and John. He spoke of the sealing power restored to earth that makes it possible for couples and families to be sealed together forever in his holy temples. He then bore his testimony and sat down.

Then my companion – the youngest and least educated person in the room – stood. As I recall from their account, this is what he said to the ministers:

“Ladies and gentlemen, you have heard what my companion had to say. Now let’s look squarely at the facts. Either a 14-year-old farm boy named Joseph Smith, saw and talked with God the Father and his son Jesus Christ in a grove of trees in upper New York state in 1820, or he did not.

“Either the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph in 1823 and revealed the hiding place of the golden plates and provided a miraculous means for translate them into the Book of Mormon, or that didn’t happen. The same is true for the ordinations of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic priesthood by John the Baptist and to the Melchidezek priesthood by Peter, James, and John – either it happened or it did not.

“And either this is the true church of Jesus Christ – the greatest truth since the mission of Jesus Christ himself – or it is all a lie. And I challenge each of you to learn more about the Church, to read and study the Book of Mormon and pray directly to God to know if it is true – as I know it is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

 And he sat down.

 Silence. . . Just continued silence. Not one of those hundred ministers spoke – or raised a question. What was left to be said after such a simple, but powerful, testimony?

Finally, the leader of the group stood and dismissed the meeting and everyone went home.

At first, I felt cheated at missing the opportunity to give my great speech to those ministers. Then I realized that this experience was as much for me as for them. I was humbled, especially as I felt prompted to read from a revelation from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamities which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;

“And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets –

“The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh –

“That the fullness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.”  (Doctrine & Covenants 1:17-19,23)

 My measles was one of the great miracles of my mission.

All flesh is in thy hands – even this hornet.

By Jon M. Taylor

 

I once attended a sacrament meeting in North Salt Lake on a hot summer afternoon. The air conditioning was not working, so doors and windows were open to cool the chapel. During the sacrament, a hornet flew in and buzzed around the bishopric and speakers on the stand.hornet

I watched as the hornet tormented these hapless people. Some were cowering in fear, while others were swatting with their hands or hymn books. It soon became obvious to all those attending that this was a disturbance that would not go away.

When the bishop rose to open the meeting, the insect got into the act and buzzed around him over and over. He tried to act unperturbed and continued his announcements while trying with one hand to divert the hornet away from the stand.

Then the song conductor rose to lead the opening song.. The hornet went right after her, and she was swatting away at the hornet while waving the baton – a comical scene for such a sacred occasion.

When the bishop rose again to give some announcements, he was greatly flustered and ineffective in communicating because of this trespasser. A shared feeling of discomfort and frustration seemed to envelope the whole congregation.

As I sat near the back corner on one side of the chapel, I witnessed this scene at first with amusement. However, my feelings turned to anxiety as the hornet became  successful in driving the Spirit of the Lord from the meeting.

I began to feel indignant. Was not this the Lord’s work? What right did this hornet have to disrupt the spirit of this sacred meeting? Yet the hornet could not understand the consequences of what it was doing, so something had to be done to stop it. But the individuals on the stand had tried in vain to fend off the intruder.

As these thoughts went through my mind, I began to pray in my heart that something would be done to allow the meeting to go on undisturbed. Then this scripture flashed through my mind: “. . . all flesh is in mine hands.” (D&C 101:16) I also remembered Nephi’s teaching that “the Lord giveth no commandments to the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (INephi 3:7) We were attending sacrament meeting as commanded (D&C 59:9), so this hornet was literally interfering with our keeping a commandment of the Lord – at least with the proper spirit.

Another scripture came to mind. When Christ visited the Nephites after his resurrection, he promisted, “And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believeing ye shall recive, behold, it shall be given nto you.” (3Nephi 18:20). What could be more right than to get rid of this hornet which was interfering with our sacrament service?

I felt I had my answer. Through faithful obedience the Lord can give us the power to overcome all things. (D&C 50:35) That would have to include this menacing intruder, blatantly disturbing the Lord’s servants who were merely doing their duty. Again, since the Lord had said, “All flesh is in mine hands,” that would have to include this hornet.

So I said a silent prayer to the Lord for help. The request seemed appropriate, for we were met to worship the Lord, and this interference was surely displeasing to Him.

I removed a handkerchief from my pocket, and held it cupped in my open hand, facing the stand. Then I silently prayed, “Heavenly Father, all flesh is in thy hands. Send that hornet to me, and I will take care of it.”

Immediately the hornet left the stand and flew directly towards me – clear across the chapel to where I was seated. I quickly grabbed the hornet in my handkerchief, squeezed it firmly in my right hand, and placed the handkerchief in my pocket. The meeting went on, undisturbed by the hornet, which was now dead in my pocket.

The meeting went on, and the spirit of the Lord returned. I sat there, stunned at how literally the Lord keeps his promises. And my faith in the Lord’s willingness to answer prayers – even for small but justified requests – was strengthened.

 

Other close calls

Saved from drowning

At about six years of age, I was playing at a beach on the ocean side of the San Francisco peninsula. Suddenly, a huge wave engulfed me, and I was swept out into the ocean by a powerful undercurrent. I recall that even at such a young age, my life flashed before me in seconds as I was certain that this was the end for me. Then, just as suddenly as the first wave that engulfed me, another wave caught me and washed me up on shore.

Hit by cars

At abut the age of seven, I tried to run across the street to escape friends who were chasing me. A car hit me and  flung me back onto the sidewalk. And while riding my bicycle to delivering newspapers as a teenager in Fresno, California, I was hit broadside at an intersection by a fast-moving car. Neither of these collisions caused any injuries.

Close call with a train

As newspaper carriers for the San Francisco Chronicle, we would wait for bundles of papers to be thrown from a train at the train depot in Burlingame, California. After unwrapping the newspapers, I loved to lay the old newspapers they were wrapped in on the tracks so that they would be scattered to the wind when the next train came by (no concern for the environment)..

One day as I was carefully laying out the papers on one of he tracks, people at the station yelling and screaming at me to get off the tracks. I could see a train coming straight towards me, but on a different set of tracks, so I was not worried and continued methodically laying out the papers.

A loud train  whistle alerted me to turn around and look behind me. The fast-moving Del Monte express train was heading straight toward me (in the other direction from the train I was watching) on the track on which I was standing, and it was only yards away from me. I am not a sprinter, but the speed at which I got off those tracks would have broken some kind of record. I was shaking so bad that I had to have another carrier fold my newspapers for me before delivering them.

Temporary foot paralysis prevented collision

Several years ago, while driving from the north towards our home in Bountiful, I took the 400 North exit off of the I-15 freeway.  Driving south on 500 West, I stopped at a red light at 400 North. When the light turned green, I tried to proceed through the intersection, but could not apply any pressure to the gas pedal. It was as though my foot was paralyzed.

Suddenly, a car came racing through the intersection in front of me, apparently trying to beat the red light. Had I driven forward as intended, I probably would have been hit broadside.

Driving over a cliff – and a miraculous result

During November of 1956 I arranged for a ride to California with a couple from the University in their Triumph sports car.  It was uncomfortable for three of us to find space in the tiny car, but we did it with me lying on an air mattress most of the time in a small compartment behind the seat. Eventually they let me set beside them of the front seat so I could enjoy the view. But with no radio, I soon fell asleep.

As we were driving over the Sierras through Echo Pass near Placerville, I suddenly awoke and looked up to see the driver’s wife asleep – and the driver dozing also.  I was alarmed to see that we were headed straight over a cliff.

I yelled, “Walt, hey, Walt!”  He grabbed and turned the wheel, and instead of going straight over a cliff, we hit a heavy road guard stake. It snapped like a twig, and we went over.

Instead of falling to almost certain death, we stopped rather abruptly on the side of the mountain.  We climbed out of the car very carefully to see what had kept us from going to the bottom of the ravine.  The stake that the car had snapped off as we left the highway had fallen ahead of us and had been pounded deep into the ground by the car’s falling upon it; and it had held the car on the side of the mountain and prevented us from falling further..

Car over cliff
Car held on side of cliff by a severed roadside stake.

The couple I was with (neither were LDS) felt this was truly a miracle.  We were able to get the car hauled to safer ground and then continue our journey.  I had a splendid visit with my family in California – and was grateful to be alive.