Question 10th Day Christmas Past: What story did Harold B. Lee share that happened in Star Valley, Wyoming?
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Many years ago, President Harold B. Lee recounted to me an experience of a President Ballantyne who grew up in Star Valley, Wyoming. This is harsh country. The summers are short and fleeting, while the winters linger and chill. President Ballantyne told of a special Christmas season from his boyhood days. He said:
“Father had a large family; and sometimes after we had our harvest, there was not very much left after expenses were paid. So Father would have to go away and hire out to some of the big ranchers for maybe a dollar a day, a little more than to take care of himself and very little to send home to Mother and the children. Things began to get pretty skimpy for us.
“We had our family prayers around the table. On one such night when Father was gone, we gathered together, and Mother poured out of a pitcher, into the glass of each one, milk divided among the children—but none for herself. I, sensing that the milk in the pitcher was all that we had, pushed mine over to Mother and said, ‘Here, Mother. You drink mine.’
“‘No. Mother is not hungry tonight.'” Mothers are never hungry in cases like that.
So he said, “It worried me. We drank our milk and went to bed. I could not sleep. I got up and tiptoed down the stairs, and there was Mother, out in the middle of the floor kneeling in prayer. She did not hear me as I came down in my bare feet, and I dropped to my knees and heard her say, ‘Heavenly Father, there is no food in our house. Please, Father, touch the heart of somebody so that my children will not be hungry in the morning.’
“When she finished her prayer, she looked around and saw that I had heard; and she said to me, somewhat embarrassed, ‘Now, you run along, Son. Everything will be all right.’
“I went to bed, assured by Mother’s faith. The next morning, I was awakened by the sounds of pots and pans being used in the kitchen and the smell of cooking food. I went down to the kitchen, and I said, ‘Mother, I thought you said there was no food.’
“All she said to me was, ‘Well, my boy, didn’t you think the Lord would answer my prayer?’ I received no further explanation than that.
“Years passed, and I went away to college. I got married, and I returned to see the old folks. Bishop Gardner, now reaching up to a ripe age, said to me, ‘My son, let me tell you of a Christmas experience that I had with your family. I had finished my chores, and we had had supper. I was sitting by the fireplace reading the newspaper. Suddenly I heard a voice that said, “Sister Ballantyne doesn’t have any food in her house.” I thought it was my wife speaking and said, “What did you say, Mother?” She came in wiping her hands on her apron and said, “Did you call me, Father?”
“‘”No, I didn’t say anything to you, but I heard a voice speak to me.”
“‘”What did it say?” she asked.
“‘”It said that Sister Ballantyne didn’t have any food in her house.”
“‘”Well, then,” said Mother, “you had better put on your shoes and your coat and take some food to Sister Ballantyne.” In the dark of that winter’s night, I harnessed the team and placed in the wagon bed a sack of flour, a quarter section of beef, some bottled fruit, and loaves of newly baked bread. The weather was cold, but a warm glow filled my soul as your mother welcomed me and I presented her with the food. God had heard a mother’s prayer.'”
Heavenly Father is ever mindful of those who need, who seek, who trust, who pray, and who listen when He speaks. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God’s gift becomes our blessing. May every heart open wide and welcome Him—Christmas day and always.