When Ben Hilden - a 72-year-old stalwart member of the Church - was diagnosed as having terminal brain cancer, he received many treatments and lost his vision, but not his testimony. Last fall, in the last stages of his ailment he requested that the ward, the Pajaro Valley 1st Ward in Aptos, Calif., help his family in harvesting four acres of walnuts (116 trees). We had only one Saturday to complete the project before the walnut processing mills would be closed for the 1990 season.
David Mitchell, the family's home teacher, met with quorum leaders, the ward activities committee chairman and the bishopric to plan the harvest. The plan was to call everyone in the ward and invite them to help with the harvest. Teams were organized and food assignments were given to feed the workers. Less-active members, non-members and the missionaries were also invited by the bishopric to help in the project.When the time came to harvest the walnuts, only five people were present when the prayer was offered at 8:30 a.m. In the prayer we dedicated our time and efforts to the Lord in assisting the Hilden family. The task looked awesome to such a few. But within 30 minutes, the group increased to 30 people, then 50, and by 10 a.m. more than 25 cars had arrived and nearly 70 people were working in the orchards or preparing food. I gave a silent prayer to Heavenly Father to thank Him for the miracle number of eager workers.
Working together, teams placed large tarps under trees and either shook the tree limbs or took long poles to knock the walnuts out of the trees. Others would pick up walnuts that missed the tarp. Buckets and tubs were filled over and over and were then emptied into 50-gallon barrels. A tractor was used to carry the barrels to a bin on a truck. People worked non-stop, taking only water breaks. The harvest yielded twice the production compared to the year before, a harvest that took the hired crew several days to complete. Our group worked with a purpose and with love for the Hildens and completed the job in 51/2 hours. Another hour was taken to feed the workers and to socialize.
Afterward, ward members remarked to me that they had not only had a great sharing time, but also a spiritual experience. We couldn't help but recall the scripture in Mosiah, "When you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17) - Bishop Dean P. Barton, Pajaro Valley 1st Ward, Santa Cruz California Stake
(Another in a series of "Shining Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)