A traumatic episode, even early in life, can become a permanent brick in the foundation of testimony. Here is my story, still vivid after all these years.
It started out as one of those great days when our small-town, farm family went shopping to the big city. I was able to wear my favourite buckskin, fringed jacket for the big day. My recollection is that my Mom and Dad had all the family in tow. It was summer or early autumn.
A mainstay store for baby boomer families was Eaton’s, one-stop shopping for all ages, for any item, from clothing to kitchen to bedroom needs. Through the eyes of a four or five-year old little boy, it was a huge store with two levels. Best of all, you could ride the escalators.
My next older sister and I started playing a fun game on the escalators. We would race to see who could go up and down quicker and surprise the other at the top or bottom of the escalator. It was lots of fun, but she must have become tired of the game, or Mom called us to quit. I missed or disobeyed the directive, or just didn’t want the fun to end.
Suddenly I was not seeing my sister on the escalator anymore. After a few blank rides up and down my young mind thought that they must have all gone back out to the car. So, outside I went to find the car and my family. I thought I remembered where the car was parked but could not find it, so I kept walking, heading south.
So, in my buckskin, fringed jacket I just kept walking. I walked and walked and walked for hours. I began to realize that I was lost, alone, and scared in the big city with sundown approaching. I still remember the long shadows the trees were casting on the streets and was fighting a dread feeling that kept rising in my throat and ears.
Back at Eaton’s they had the staff search the entire store for a little boy in a buckskin, fringed jacket who might be hiding or could be asleep somewhere. After that, the police had the radio station broadcast that a little boy in a buckskin, fringed jacket was lost in Lethbridge. I had made the local news.
I had been taught to pray
In my upbringing, my Mother had taught me to pray and often said bedtime prayers with me. I attended Primary at church and lessons talked about prayer and how God knew me and would answer prayers. “For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8). As I walked, my mind caught hold of what my Mother and Primary teachers had taught me. PRAY! I found a hedge to hide behind, knelt down, and prayed for help. I don’t remember what I specifically said, but I know I felt better after praying. I did what I had been taught to do. “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22).
Very shortly after my prayer a lady in a house across the street called out to me. She said, “Little boy, are you lost?” I remember just hanging my head, staring at the ground, and not answering. She called again, “Little boy, are you lost?” but I could muster no response. She knew from the radio broadcast that I was the little, lost, farm boy wearing the buckskin jacket. She and her daughter were so incredibly nice, offering me cookies and milk, which I didn’t eat. I just sat with my head down looking at the linoleum flooring and wondering if I was ever going to see my family again.
Soon a blue police car with lights spinning arrived with two officers. Despite their questions and friendly banter, I did not respond to them either. I guess I had been stricken with the “Moses complex,” being slow of speech. Or maybe the parental advice of “don’t talk to strangers” had been taken a little too far.
My faith in prayer is simple and steadfast
It was dark outside when we pulled up to the police station. I have a vague recollection of happy tears at the reunion with my Dad and sisters. It has been reported that they had spent a fearful afternoon even as my parents had suppressed visions of railroad tracks, a nearby river, hundreds of motor vehicles, and worse. It had been a difficult, many hours.
I do recall the vivid feeling of comfort, safety, and love emanating from my Mom as she comforted and cuddled me all the way back home. How fortunate am I to still remember and enjoy that precious feeling of my Mother’s love.
Needless to say, this experience made prayer real to me. It became more than an observance or ritual. I believe that prayer from a little, lost, farm boy in a buckskin, fringed jacket, kneeling behind a hedge, was heard by a loving Heavenly Father, which resulted in my safe discovery.
My faith is that simple. My faith in prayer has always remained with me. If we open the door, the Lord will enter. Don’t forget to pray.
A few more considerations
My experience ended happily, for which I am so grateful. Here are a couple of observations to consider:
If you see or sense a lost soul, somehow be an answer to their prayer.
Pray for help at the start of a challenge, and at the end.
And of course, pray always.
“But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul” (2 Nephi 32:9).