That means that I am one of the four women that's in charge of helping the children's classes run smoothly. I am responsible for teaching all of the children once a month, and for helping them gain testimonies of their Savior.
It also means that when one of the teachers can't make it, sometimes I step into to teach a specific age group as well.
Last week I was asked to do that, and the lesson was on Christ's parable of the lost sheep. We talked about how our Savior loves each of us, and if one person is lost, he will do whatever it takes to find them. I had each of the children draw a picture of a lamb and then write their name on their page. Then, I would hide (or let them hide) their picture and everyone would look for it. I also shared the following story in a shortened version.
I hesitate to tell this story, because it is very sacred to me, but I feel like this is what I should write about today.
This story actually happened several years ago, when I was going to school to learn how to be a veterinarian. One of my favorite classes was called Sheep Production, and it was a very hands-on class. A couple of times a semester, we got to participate in what was called Lamb Watch. During this time, you would check on the ewes each hour, care for newborn lambs who were struggling, and sometimes help ewes deliver difficult lambs.
|A few of the lambs at Lamb Watch.|
One particular night, I had a young lamb in my care that was not doing well at all. The ram lamb was sprawled out in a very unhealthy position and his mouth was wet (a good sign of enterotoxemia). Almost as soon as we got inside, the ram lamb began to pant heavily, his tongue hanging out, and his breath coming out faster than I had ever heard a sheep pant before. Normally, they only pant when they are giving birth. I fed him a bit of colostrum, but the ram lamb continued to pant, almost at an increasing pace. The TA that was there took his temperature and it was 107.5. Normal for a lamb is 102. We became worried at that point that he was going to boil his brains.
I held that lamb in my arms. The TA proclaimed that the lamb was a goner. She had hope for its sister, which was walking around and curious, but the ram lamb wasn't doing well at all. The night was still, for it was very early in the morning and everyone else was asleep. The TA was frantically searching on the internet for some way to help the lamb, while I sat still, praying harder than I’d ever prayed in my life. All my concentration was focused on that tiny lamb, and though I knew that sometimes lambs die, I prayed that we would be able to find a way to save him. At that moment, that tiny soul seemed infinitely precious and I couldn't stand the idea of losing that lamb. I began to massage his swollen tummy, and it seemed after a while (though it might have been my imagination) that the swelling was going down. I continued to massage his stomach, and prayed harder. I don’t know how long I held the panting, dying lamb, before a thought came to my mind. Following the thought, I made the comment to the TA that “perhaps we could put him in cold water, to help the temperature go down.”
She said that she doubted that would help and I nodded, accepting that she was in charge and knew much more than I did, and continued holding the lamb. The lamb's mouth was now dry from his panting, and his stomach seemed less swollen, but he continued to run an alarmingly high temperature. I was also worried he was going to hyperventilate. The TA gave him a few shots of some different things to help him, but nothing seemed to relieve him.
After a long while, she asked me to go out and check on the other lambs. I knew she was trying to get rid of me for a minute and I went out, dreading what I would see on my return. All the lambs were fine, and no more ewes had given birth, so I returned.
As I walked inside the door, the TA was on the floor with the lamb. Next to her was an empty shot, and I knew at that moment she was decided whether or not to inject the lamb with a bubble of air and end its suffering. She examined it, her face twisted with the difficult problem that faced her, for she loved the lambs as much (or more) than I did. Then with a kind of shrug, she said, “What the heck (word changed).” Then she walked over to the sink and turned on the tap. I asked her if she was filling it with cold water, and she said, “No, lukewarm. We don’t want to cause to much of a shock to his system.” As the water filled the sink and we placed the lamb inside of the water, instantly he stopped panting and relaxed. His body was covered in the warm water and he seemed to be much more comfortable. We let him relax for several minutes, his panting at last silenced, and then we removed him from the water and wrapped him in a towel. The lamb remained calm and seemed to still be comfortable. She took his temperature, and it had dropped all the way to 105. “That,” she said, “we can deal with.” A little while later, he began to pant again, but it was at a much slower rate. We checked his temp again, and it had risen a mere .3 degrees. So, he had only gone back up to 105.5. My prayer for that lamb had been answered. I prayed a silent thank you, and from then until I left at 7, we continued to dip the lamb at intervals. He continued to improve. I left that morning with his chances at survival not certain, but greatly improved.
This is a very sacred experience for me. As that lamb hovered on the edge of death, there was a very special spirit in that place that has lingered with me when I remember this story. One of the most important things I learned from this is that Heavenly Father loves all of His creations. If He would help me to save a tiny ram lamb, how much more does He care about us, His children.
I told a shorter version of this to my six-year-olds, and then I concluded with, "Heavenly Father loves all of us, even more than our mothers do."
One little girl's mouth popped open and she asked, "Even more than my mom?" The thought was incomprehensible to her, but I assured her it was true.
I know that Heavenly Father helped us to save that lamb that night. I have seen his guiding hand save me when I have become lost or stumbled in my journey. I am still a foolish sheep who often gets lost, but I am comforted by the thought that Heavenly Father and his Son are constantly looking to help me stay on the path.
We are His sheep, and He is our shepherd. If we listen to His voice and follow Him, we will be led to safety and recover from the fevers of this world.
Concerting this matter, Christ said (Matthew 18: 3-5,10-14):
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.