Ruth and Lee Hall first met in 1998 at an institute choral group activity. Eight months later, in December of the same year, they married.
But after less than a year, Ruth Hall became ill with symptoms that dozens of doctor visits and tests could not solve. Finally, in 2001, she was diagnosed with a terminal condition called gastroparesis, or a paralyzed stomach.
The Halls’ lives changed dramatically. Due to the lack of food caused by her condition, Ruth Hall has become bedridden, has a compromised immune system, and is unable to bear children. And Lee Hall has become their caretaker while serving in Church callings such as bishop and later stake president.
Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, a General Authority Seventy, met and stayed with the couple when they were assigned to their Utah stake in 2018. Sharing their story during a BYU Hawaii devotional on Tuesday, September 20, he explained how the Halls “have been a personal witness of the tender mercies of the Lord. …
“Lee and Ruth feel like they could not have received some of their blessings in any other way had it not been for this sickness of recognizing the tender mercies along the way of never feeling alone, trusting and knowing that God has a plan,” he said. “They rely on the Lord all the time because they can’t do it on their own.”
The Halls had recognized and understood that the Lord would strengthen them and that they were “always in the heart of the Good Shepherd.”
In his devotional, Elder Wakolo pointed out that those present may be suffering from many other similar and difficult trials.
“Today I may be speaking to someone who has lost a child or experienced a miscarriage or perhaps never has a child of their own in this lifetime, someone who may be in an estranged relationship or lost a loved one, someone who has conceived one Dear John letter, or who is struggling with a calling, mental or physical health issues, or struggling with how to use their time wisely, learn effectively, or begin to ask the Lord, “Why me?” . … Life throws curveballs all the time. But we shouldn’t get distracted by focusing on them too much.”
Elder Wakolo then shared three doctrinal truths and principles that will help anyone in such a situation.
1. “Remember who you are”
“We are . . . children of God; He is the father of our spirit; we are his descendants,” said Elder Wakolo. “As a child of God, you are always dear to the heart of the Good Shepherd. I know it’s true.”
He then quoted President Russell M. Nelson’s May 15 address to young adults entitled “Choices for Eternity”: “[No] Identifier should supersede, supersede, or take precedence over these three permanent designations: ‘Child of God’, ‘Child of the Covenant’, and ‘Disciple of Jesus Christ’.”
Remembering these identifying marks will help everyone keep the commandments out of love for God rather than fear of the consequences of not doing so, Elder Wakolo said.
2. “Remember your name and the family you represent”
Noting the financial struggles faced by many students’ families, Elder Wakolo urged them to work hard and “successfully graduate from this BYU-Hawaii campus and set a standard for your siblings, cousins, and future generations.” , which they will always remember”.
He asked listeners to think about what their individual responses would be if their family asked them what they did with their family names.
3. “Always have an eternal perspective”
Elder Wakolo explained that mortal experiences should be viewed as education for exaltation, quoting Alma 34:32: “For behold, this life is the time to prepare to meet God; yea, behold, the day of this life is the day that I do their work.”
He related the life of the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni, whose father was killed and “was left alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of his people who were gone.” Moroni no longer had any living friends or relatives.
“Even with the burden of discouragement, lack of resources, fear, and heartache, Moroni understood his purpose and what he needed to accomplish,” said Elder Wakolo. “He and his father Mormon saw far beyond their generations.” Thanks to the efforts of Mormon and Moroni, the Book of Mormon exists to bless God’s children in the latter days.
Though one’s trials mean little by comparison, “the important lesson is that we look to experiences as learning opportunities for exaltation,” Elder Wakolo said.
search for revelation
After Sister Anita Wakolo introduced her husband at the beginning of the devotional, she shared a family story.
As a General Authority Seventy, Elder Wakolo was assigned to serve in the Philippines. In December 2020, Elder and Sister Wakolo and their daughter were traveling
to Hawaii to spend Christmas and New Year’s vacation there.
A few days before checking out of their hotel, they learned that the Philippine government banned travelers from 19 countries from entering the country due to the increased risk of COVID-19. “We were glad the United States was not included on the list,” Sister Wakolo said.
But Elder Wakolo soon had a strong feeling that the United States would soon be added to that list. “He shared his feelings with me and of course we knelt in prayer,” Sister Wakolo said. “We have prayed and it has been made very clear to us to leave immediately and return to the beautiful Philippines.”
This was not an easy decision for the Wakolos as they still had nine days before they had to return to the Philippines according to their schedule. Her daughter suggested that she and her mother stay in Hawaii for the rest of the days while Elder Wakolo went to the Philippines. They felt at peace with that idea and then brought it back to the Lord in prayer.
After the prayer, her daughter said, “Dad and mom, I want to support you both, and if the answer is for us to go, let’s do it.”
They soon changed their flights and departed Hawaii on December 30, arrived in Manila on December 31, and that night read an announcement that the list of countries banned from entering the Philippines now includes the United States as of January 1, 2021 includes 1 p.m
Sister Wakolo shared some of the lessons she and her family learned from this experience:
“1. When you receive promptings and revelations, act on them, even if it doesn’t suit you.
“2. When the Holy Spirit calls you to action, just do it.
“3. When the Lord intervenes, it is not a disturbance but a confirmation that He cares about us.”