My husband and I recently had our carpets cleaned by a gentleman from Peru who moved to the United States when he was eighteen. After he finished cleaning the carpets, we engaged in what I thought was simple small talk. I asked him about his family, his background, and his transition to the United States. He told me that when he first moved to Utah, he really struggled. There were so many temptations in the United States that did not exist in Peru, he related. “If it were not for the teachings of my mom, I would never would have made it, physically or spiritually.” I asked what his mother did that made such an impact on his life. He responded with a story.
When he was thirteen, living in Peru, his single mother began feeling that the animals in their neighborhood, especially the dogs, were being treated poorly, like garbage. In fact, she knew that people were literally throwing their dogs away in the garbage cans right before the garbage was being picked up. To resolve this concern, his mother took him and his younger brother to look through garbage cans around the city on the days the garbage was picked up. He called it the “dog rescuing mission.” Over a six-month period, they rescued more than thirty dogs.
“What did you do with the dogs?” I asked.
“My mother loved animals,” was his candid reply. “We kept every one of them.”
One day, his mother decided that rather than going through garbage cans, it would be more effective if she and her two young sons went to the landfill where the garbage was dumped to rescue these dogs. He explained that the landfill in their city was massive and disgusting beyond imagination. The stench was almost unbearable, and there was absolutely nothing of value there. He remembered it being so dark in the landfill that at night he couldn’t even see the stars in the sky. He knew his mother cared for dogs, but this seemed a bit drastic, in his young mind. Because of his great love and respect for his mother, however, and knowing of her pure motivation, he agreed to search for these unwanted dogs.
While he was walking through the landfill with his mom and brother, one particular sound caught their attention. They split up, trying to locate the place from where the sound originated. “The landfill was so large and it was so dark, the task was almost impossible,” he explained. After searching for a long time, they realized the sound was near them, but muffled. They began digging through the trash and found, rather than another dog, tiny twin baby girls, only days old, buried in the landfill. “They were near dead,” he explained, “starving and filthy. My mom immediately picked up the girls, cradled them in her arms, and wrapped them in her own clothes.”
Engrossed in this incredible story, I inquired, “What happened to them? What did you do with them?”
“We brought them home, of course! You think my mom would bring home thirty dogs and give up these girls? They are my sisters!” He then explained, “For months, my mom thought she was being inspired to rescue dogs, but really, the Lord used her love for animals to put her in a position to find the rest of our family.” Although they had little money, “my mother and the Lord somehow made it work.” He then explained, “My mom and sisters are an inspiration to me. My mom lived every day to learn and act upon God’s will, and my twin sisters live every day to the fullest knowing that their lives are a gift from God. My mom stayed true to the Lord and His Church throughout her life. All of my siblings are active in the Church. My mom taught us to listen to the Spirit and act. Her love, example, and teachings saved my life.”
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In The Priesthood Power of Women, author Barbara Morgan Gardner explores teachings of the living prophets and scriptures to increase our understanding of God's power as it operates in the temple, the Church, and the family. Her well-documented research demonstrates that women have more authority and power in all those settings than they may have previously supposed.