By Cordell and Janice Vail
15 June 2003
A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail
Today is Fathers Day. As a part of that Father's Day I have though a great deal about my responsibility to our family and the things that I hope to be able to share with all the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail before I die. One of the things that I promised that I would do there at the Family Reunion when this idea of the Sunday Sermons was conceived was to share some of the spiritual experiences that Janice and I have had over the years. I have had the desire to do that for some time as a part of our witness to the family of the truthfulness of the Gospel and the powers of the priesthood in our lives. So for today's Sunday Sermon I would like to share one of those experiences that I had with our family.
Today I went out side to my car with out my shoes on. My feet are very very tender. When I walked across the gravel to my car I could hardly stand to walk. Every time I do that I am reminded of something that happened to me many years ago that is such a miracle to me even to this day.
Many years ago when we lived in Salt lake, Nathan was a cub scout and the scouts were going on a big Saturday hike. If you live in the Salt Lake Valley, if you will look east at the mountains and see the very tallest one in the range east of South Salt Lake you will know which mountain I am talking about that they decided to hike up over. It normally has snow on it year round. I do not know the name of that mountain now.
Ron Matheson was the cub master. The plan was for his wife Mary Ann to drop all of us off up the canyon at the base of the mountain early in the morning and then pick us up on the other side in the evening. I had no idea how far it was or I would not have ever believed that we could have made it.
We got up really early and arrived at the base of the mountain just as it was getting light. That was about 5 a.m. There were about 5 or 6 cub scouts, 3 male cub leaders and 3 or 4 female mothers or cub leaders. We started up the mountain. Being early in the morning it was nice and cool and the path was very soft because we were on the North side of the mountain where it was mostly shady all the time so there was soft soil on the path. The climb was pretty steep but easier than I thought it would be for the boys. It was the mothers who were struggling not the boys.
It was a nice hike and by noon we were at the top sitting in the snow just as Ron had planned. The boys were all having a great time having snow ball fights in the snow as the adults sat down on the snow banks by the trail to rest. Then we all had a pretty big shock. One of the mothers took off one of her boots and poured blood out of it on to the snow bank. She had bought a brand new pair of boots to come on the hike with and had never broken them in. The boots had wore blisters on her feet and then kept rubbing and rubbing as she continued to hike until all of them were bleeding on both feet. Then she told us that her feet hurt so bad she just did not think she could walk down the mountain.
As we stood there looking at that horrifying sight of her feet the impression came to me that if we did not do something we would end up having to either carry her out or call in a helicopter to fly her out. As I sat there looking at her I started to pray to know what to do. Then another very distinct impression came into my mind. I heard the voice of the Lord talking to me. He said to me, "Take off your boots and let her wear them". You know me. My next question was, "How am I going to get down then?" That feeling in my mind then said to me, "Just giver her your boots or she will not make it off the mountain. I will help you get down." So I took off my army boots and handed them to her and told her to put them on. She asked me what I was going to wear and I said I could make it down with just my socks.
After the boys were threw playing and we had lunch we started on down the other side of the mountain. They leaders asked me if I would sure be OK. I said I would and told them I would come last to make sure none of the boys got behind and got lost. They agreed to that. They did not know that I asked to be last because I knew that I could not keep up with them bear foot and wanted to be able to take my time. The other thing that I did not realize when I handed her my boots was what we were facing going down the South side of the mountain. The path all the way up to the top had been nice soft dirt in the shade of the trees on the North side of the mountain. The South side of the mountain had very few trees and trail was shale gravel rock. When I saw that I was so grateful that I had asked to come along last. I just did not know how I was going to do it when my feet are so tender.
As the leaders and the boys started down the mountain with me in my stocking feet trailing along last, I was surprised that it was not hard at all to keep up. My feet did not hurt at all. So we just walked down the mountain with me in my stocking feet and her boots around my neck. She was able to keep up just fine with my boots because they were so much too big for her that they did not rub her blisters much.
We got to the bottom of the mountain by sunset and Mary Ann Matheson was there in the camp ground waiting for us over by the road. The mother went and sat down on the tail gate of the truck and took my boots off and handed them to me and thanked me. I sat on the tail gate and pulled my socks up before putting my boots back on. To my surprise there were no bottoms in my socks it had wore the socks right off my feet. It was then I began to realize what had happened. At first I just thought it was funny. I stood up and called to everyone to come see my socks and have a laugh with me. But when I stood up behind the truck there in the gravel by the road was when I actually realized then what the Lord had done from me. My feet were just as tender as they normally were and I could hardly walk away from the truck across the gravel back to the dirt in the camp ground. I had just walked across that same gravel to get my boots from her and it was not different than the trail. But once I saw the socks and realized what the Lord had done to protect me, then the protection was removed and my feet felt just as they always do walking on rocks.
The next day at church I asked Betty Ann Bear where Ralph was. She said his feet were too sore from the hike and he had stayed home. I asked RayAnn Fishbeck where Rod was. She said that Rods feet were so sore that he stayed home from church. I went and Found Mary Ann Matheson and asked where Ron was. She said his feet were so blistered from the hike he had to stay home. Then ...... then is when I realized the power of what had happened to me the day before. All the other adults male leaders on the hike had stayed home because their feet hurt so bad from walking down over that gravel path. I was standing there with out even one sore on my feet. When she said that to me, I was just stunned. Every time I think about it I am again amazed at the goodness of the Lord and His power to protect us just as Samuel the Lamanite of Old if we will just do what he tells us to do.