Note: I want to submit this article I wrote to the Ensign. Feedback is welcomed.

When most people think of dung, the ideas and images are not pleasant. When I think of dung however, I smile and am filled with hope. I will tell you the story of how this came to be…

It was a cold fall day in Chicago, Illinois. I had been a missionary for about 7 months and I was training a new greenie. It was going through an emotional rough patch and this chilly day was no exception. I remember going into my bedroom and kneeling on the floor, sobbing into my pillow. After a few minutes of this, I decided that now was as good a time as any to pray, but I didn’t know what to pray for! I didn’t even know where to begin. I couldn’t muster the words. At last the words “HELP ME” escaped my lips. I repeated this again and again. “Help me, please!” After some time of crying and heart wrenching prayer, which seemed like an eternity, I started to calm down. Finally, I thought I heard the words, “Patience, patience.” This was not the answer I wanted, nor was it the answer I was seeking. However, I realized it was time for our next appointment. I had to “buck up” and get going.

My companion and I had been doing some work with the members in the area. We had been encouraging them to do missionary work. Several had provided us with wonderful referrals to friends, family and less-active members. However, this day we had offered to do some service for one of the faithful members. We were going to go help her in her garden, and “put it to bed” for the winter. I felt a bit ill after all the crying I had done, but I wanted to keep our commitment with her. We arrived in our work clothes and I soon felt better as we sat in the dirt pulling weeds and placing straw and fertilizer around the plants for protection against the bitter Mid-West winters. I actually started having fun, talking and joking.

As we worked, I couldn’t help pondering the earlier events of the day. I felt better, but my heart still hurt and I was struggling to find peace. Then something happened that I will always remember. The member, began taking about dung! Yes, dung. She talked about how dung (fertilizer) created heat that helped the fruits and vegetable trees to grow. Dung was a necessary part of the growth process. It was the dung that made the fruits bigger and sweeter. What she said hit me hard! I began to see that there were so many symbolisms behind this story.  I could “liken” dung the trials we go through in life! This analogy had specific application to MY life. I realized how necessary the dung was to the growth of the plants made, and the results in their fruits.

In the same way, when we have “dung” (read trials) in our lives, it may not be pleasant, it may downright stink (pun intended), but it is good for us… it was good for ME! I was truly impacted by those few words and told the member later how much what she said meant to me and how grateful I was for this lesson that I learned.

Now, fast forward a couple of years…

One Fall afternoon, I was going through a tough time again, this time wondering about my life and the challenges that lay ahead. It seems like everywhere I looked there were marriages and families falling apart. It made me fearful and downright scared about my future and possibilities especially regarding marriage and family. It seemed the longer I was single the more afraid I became.  I was quite emotional thinking about this. I sat down on a swing outside my apartment and had a moment where I couldn’t do anything but cry.  I needed to talk to someone, and at that moment, I needed to talk to someone who I knew had a good marriage, had a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, but who also had gone through challenges and had overcome them. I called up the dear sister from my mission, the sister who taught me about DUNG! And I asked her if we could talk about dung again! We talked about the hard things in life, and just as the dung had a  role in the garden, making the fruits even sweeter and greater, so it would be with life and the trials that came my way! After my talk with here, I was filled with hope! I knew that Heavenly Father loved me, but I realized that I was allowing FEAR to drown out my FAITH and TRUST! But he loved me, weaknesses and all, and as I learned to trust him and recognize the challenges, struggles, and heat created by the trails – the dung was there to help me grow and appreciate the sweet fruits of my endurance and the blessing of mortality. As I trusted him, I would come to know his hand in my life in a greater way than I could ever imagine!

So today as I write this, I know that as I keep the faith and trust the Lord, He will strengthen me through my trials and the dung that come my way! And as I learn to appreciate these hard things and my challenges and to be grateful for them, I will find joy even in the hard times. I know that God loves me and answers my prayers even if the answer is “PATIENCE”, I hope to have the courage to wait for the spring will come again and the fruits will again be seen!

~Ruby (aka Jacqueline)

“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (Doctrine and Covenants 122: 7)