As I said, this is the story that our Stake President shared in Sacrament meeting today.
It was one of those from generation-to-generation types, so try to keep up and not get lost. I'm only paraphrasing his paraphrasing...so if it gets too complicated, I'll might just scrap it up until this point.
He started telling of a couple the William Somethings who were converts to the Church, just as it was getting started. There's record of them in Kirtland and Nauvoo, and then they crossed the plains into Utah. They had many children.
The president then asked us, "Do you think God knows us, even when we do really dumb things?"
Because one of William's children decided that he was going to take off, and so he went as far north as he could, into Canada seeking his fortune. There he had several children, after which one of them ran off and did exactly as he had done. She took off, decided to marry and had seven children of her own.
"Do you think God knows us, even when are doing really, really dumb things?"
The girl's husband was a drunk and abusive. He didn't provide for them, and just after delivering her seventh child, he kicked her out of the house and set it up with a new, younger mistress. This mother of seven, that the president referred to as a "small, cute little thing," went as far north as she could with her children and limited possessions packed into a pick up truck until it broke down. She then traded it for a cow and set off 17 miles into the woods where she discovered a trapper's cabin and made it their home. Miraculously, they survived the winter. But the cow went dry and they were starving, so she left her seven babies and headed back to town to find work where she had to trade in her cow for the rental of a team of horses and she helped dig a road. Payment never came. They kept putting her off, a month more and then two weeks and then two weeks more. Finally, the work was finished, and they told her that they were not legally allowed to pay women.
Upset, heartbroken and angry, she left the office storming and bumped into N Eldon Tanner, this was before he was "Elder Tanner", who went into the office, asked what the problem was and after they told him, he said, "How do you know she is a woman?" "Because her name is Annie," they said. "It's not. This is my friend Arthur. Now write the check out to A. Something, and let her be on her way." They did. And this "Cute little thing, that was as wide as she was tall, and more cubed than anything - in fact, if you shaved off the corners, she'd be a perfect little ball," took her money and went back to her children to see how many were left.
Meanwhile, the children were alive. The president goes onto a side story of how the youngest baby who had just learned to walk found herself down by the stream. When one of the older sisters looked and saw where she had ended up, she saw that a mama bear was on one side of her, and there were two little cubs on the other side. "Not a very good place for a small, fat, edible thing... well, not quite fat, because she was likely starving." The older sister knew that she would never reach the baby in time, and even though she had never been taught to pray, she did was she could and talked to God. Not soon after, a giant, wild dog attacked the mama bear, distracting her and the older sister was able to rescue the baby.
When Annie returned home, she disassembled the cabin log by log, built a raft and placed all seven children, who had survived her absence, and floated down the river closer to civilization where she reconstructed the cabin.
"Does God know us, even when we are in the boonies of Canada? He does. But maybe he doesn't admit it."
The baby that had been rescued from the bear left home at 15. She moved into a dingy, gross apartment and decided to marry a 32 year old man. Only, she didn't know how to get married, so she asked the land lady who directed her to N. Eldon Tanner. He didn't know who the girl was, but not only did he marry them, he also baptized her. She never went to church again. Her husband was a drunk, and after a while, she took her baby girl and left him.
The two were living on their own, and this is where the details get fuzzy. And I don't remember how they met up with the missionaries, but they did. Both were baptized and then they never went to church.
However, the young girl was later sought out. She was on the records of the church, and when she was found and retaught those things, she began attending church and never looked back.
She is the wife of our stake president.
"Does God know us?"
Our president's answer was a resounding yes. All of those experiences, all of the lives that were saved so that his wife could be the woman that she is, and the blessing that she is to him, seem to be the careful watching of God. It's a chain of events that could only be divinely controlled.
This is where the president began talking about their son, who wasn't supposed to be born. She had been told that after five children, she would have no more. Still, she got pregnant with their youngest, and when he was born, he was crippled. After several surgeries and a year in casts, he was walking. By three (THREE!) he had memorized the prophets of the church and all of the Articles of Faith. He survived a fever, a time when he stopped breathing, and various other broken legs, broken bones. He survived riding his four wheeler up a tree! And then racing said four wheeler, crashing and losing an ear.
"Does God know us? Does he answer prayers? Even when we do dumb things?" Yes.
He keeps an eye on us. He loves us and he is waiting to bless us. And by doing so, he is blessing the generations and generations and generations that will come after us.