Updated: May 19, 2022
by David L. Orr
And [Christ] said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you. (emphasis added, 3 Nep.17:6-8)
As I ponder upon my earliest insights concerning the life of Jesus Christ, I find myself resting upon His apparent love for all – for the innocent child, for the ministering woman, for men who followed Him in faith, for the weak, the lame, the blind, the sick – even for those who took His life. That love was manifest in healing the innumerable, in forgiveness extended to even the most undeserving, in an ultimate sacrifice blessing all humanity with hope of peace in this life and in the life to come. I believe He continues such ministry in our day. Just as Holy Writ bears witness of Him, these “testaments” of Christ which forever preserve the past as the present, I too feel to record, and leave for generations to come, my witness of but one of Christ’s modern “miracles” to which I was privy. Such miracles bestow upon the faithful continued assurance of His incomparable love and compassion for those afflicted “in any manner”. It was my privilege and blessing to witness the faith of a body of Saints “sufficient” that Christ could heal in our day just as in days past. Sufficiency of faith in Christ does not dictate a desired outcome, but rather presents a worthy offering of trust in the Lord and His designs. This offering He bids us to make.
A “miracle”? What is that? Is it merely that which at present has no logical explanation, that which is out of the ordinary such that it befuddles man with his puny understanding of the universe? Surely there was a day when the unlearned observed a light bulb and thought it miraculous. A miracle must be more than mere marvel due to lack of understanding. Christ’s dear friend Lazarus, lay dead in the tomb a full four days to the point where his sister Martha advised that by this time he “stinketh”, and yet the corpse arose and came forth when Christ bid him come. (see John 11:39) Even the most learned of our day cannot explain away such an occurrence. In fact, our present knowledge of physical limitations compounds the miraculousness of the event. He who raised the dead, also rose from the dead. First, it was His sweet Mary who beheld the Risen Lord, then so very many more saw Him, touched Him, and thereafter testified, even to the death, that the Christ was risen from the tomb. Christ not only performed miracles while in mortality, but the fulfilment of His mortal mission culminating in His resurrection was the greatest of miracles. True miracles manifest to the faithful divine authority and power. Although I am a man of faith and believe in a God of miracles, I am slow to mark something as such. But on this day, like witnesses of old, I too must bear testimony that mine was the privilege to witness a miracle.
The miracle of which I speak is the restoration of health, even the life, of President Eric Wilde, stake president of the Lethbridge Alberta Young Single Adult Stake. When set apart by Elder James E. Evanson as First Counselor in our presidency, I remember that I was blessed to be a witness of the miracles that would occur in our presidency and that I was to share that witness with others along with my testimony of the Savior.
In keeping with this blessing and admonition, to the many witnesses who also observed, I add my sincere witness of our miracle and my testimony of Christ who has the power to heal. I was there. I saw. I felt. I experienced the reality. I bear solemn testimony.
I have but my experience, my perspective, and the whisperings of the Spirit to guide my writing. Each who have experienced this miracle will have their own memory. I pray mine will add to theirs, and together we can unite in gratitude for the blessing given. We read that, “Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power.” (p. 732, BD) A “miracle” bears witness of the divine, and the written word preserves the reality of that witness when the passage of time invites doubt, and questioning, and forgetfulness. The great challenge of mortality is to remember the divine and hold to truth revealed.
On February 24th, 2019, President Clayton Leavitt (Second Counselor in the Lethbridge YSA Stake Presidency) and I (David Orr, First Counselor) arrived as planned to attend the 7am bishopric meeting with the Westbridge Ward. Today was their ward conference to be presided over by our stake president, Eric Wilde. It was a bitterly cold morning and only the faithful would be out on such a day, at such a time! Gladly we meet in priesthood service. We waited a few minutes past the hour for President Wilde to arrive, but eventually made the decision to begin trusting that he would join us. President Wilde (Dr. Wilde) is a pulmonologist and is often on call at the hospital. He has slipped in and out of meetings before to attend to medical emergencies, and perhaps this was just another one of those occasions. Our meetings continued and now it was close to 9 am. Sacrament meeting was about to begin and he was still not here. Texts went out with no response, but with the agenda of the day in full swing, we carried on in his absence. Taking on the responsibility of presiding at the conference, filling in on his speaking assignment, carrying out our responsibilities in the subsequent meetings, then going straight into interviews following the block of meetings brought us to just before noon, and he was a still a “no show”. As our paths crossed during the meetings, President Leavitt and I were both becoming more concerned about his absence and that he had not been in touch.
As my wife Nony and I were driving away from the Jerry Potts building on the west side of Lethbridge, we were expressing our concerns about Eric, wondering why he had not arrived or been in touch. As we talked, and were about a block from the building, I pulled over. The impression was clear – we needed to go to his house to check on him. I turned around and headed to the Southside to Eric and Stacy’s home. Unbeknownst to us, as President Leavitt was leaving the church just after we had left, he had the same impression. While on Scenic Drive making our way to their house, Stacy, who was in the airport in Arizona just about to return home, responded to a text from Nony asking her if Eric had been in touch with her. She responded immediately now very concerned because he had not returned her texts from the previous evening. She armed us with the security code to their house, and I promptly picked up my speed (I hope the person that I cut off switching lanes was able to get over it!).
We arrived at the Wilde home just as Jesse Wilde, Eric’s brother, arrived as well. Stacy had texted him after being in touch with us and implored him to go over. Within minutes of our arrival, Clay also arrived. Jesse, Nony and I, entered a quiet home. We were calling his name as we went through the kitchen, then upstairs to his bedroom. I split from Jesse with the impression to check the attached garage. As soon as I opened the door, there he was – laying on the floor. I immediately yelled to the others, “I found him! He’s here in the garage! Call 911!
The three-car garage was empty of vehicles and the floor still had traces of water on it. It was spotless clean. I knelt by Eric’s side, my hand on his head, and one on his chest. His eyes were vacant, he was breathing, but it was very labored. His head and face were exceptionally red, and his lips were bluish. There was some frothing out of the corner of his mouth. He was unresponsive to me. I placed my coat under his head for comfort. While the others scrambled to connect with 911 and provide them with an address, I was there with my friend, with our president, alone.
I remember giving him two immediate assurances, “Eric we are here.” and “You did it, you held on long enough for help to come!” Knowing that he must have been there on the floor for many hours (later we calculated it to be very close to 18 hours!), I had this immediate sense that he felt relief, that his faith had got him to this point where he could now rely upon the help of others. I know of the faith of this man; I know of his love for is family and his Stake. If he was to survive, I knew he had the faith necessary for such a miracle to occur. Humbled beyond measure to act by the authority of the priesthood that I bear, and in the name of Jesus Christ, I placed my hands upon his head and blessed him invoking the powers of heaven to be upon him. Of the very few words spoken in that blessing were these that he would survive at least long enough for the medical professionals to provide all the care they could give him. Looking back, this specific blessing – an interim, survival blessing if you will – was honored until medical intervention could be administered. Kneeling by his side – most surprisingly – I felt no despair. Whether he would live, or be taken home, all would be well. The sustaining and reassuring blessing of Gospel truth is real. It is so much more than just wishful thinking. There is assurance to be had in the very moment of crisis; a knowledge of truth really does make one free. This I experienced!
We did not know the cause of Eric’s collapse. Two lawyers, a businessman, and a librarian/office assistant is not a great medical emergency response team! I must share an impression I had relating to when I was relaying answers to questions posed by the 911 operator. I was still at Eric’s side with a hand on his head and one on his chest. The operator was asking questions first about a stroke, then about a heart attack. As she was asking these questions, Eric’s breathing became more agitated. Once she moved past these questions, he seemed to return to his previous strained, but steady breathing. As I have thought about it, I imagined the doctor in him, unable to speak, frustrated and saying to himself, “No, I did not have a stroke, nor did I have a heart attack! I’ve done something stupid and have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning! Get me out of here!” His matter-of-fact way in which he would deal with this medical emergency was not lost on me.
Emergency responders arrived in very short order. When we opened the garage door, their carbon monoxide monitors immediately sounded the alarm. They told us to exit the garage. I looked back as one firefighter grabbed him under each arm and pulled him out onto the cold frozen driveway to get him into fresh air. Eric was in just a t-shirt and jeans – and there he lay. It was but seconds before they had him on the stretcher and in the ambulance. Our role as rescuers was over. It was now in the hands of his colleagues to do what they could to save him. Of course, our faith was in God for a miracle, if that was His will for Eric.
After careful investigation, we concluded that he must have been using his gas-powered pressure washer to spray the floor of his garage. Following Eric’s recovery, he confirmed this conclusion. He remembers having one of the three garage doors open for ventilation. The frigid cold must have minimized circulation through the open door. Eric recounts that upon completing the task and after just finishing putting his sprayer away, he felt himself woozy and light-headed. He sat down on the garage stairs leading into the house, then felt himself losing all strength so he laid down on the floor. That is all he remembers until a couple of days later. After Eric was in the ambulance, as Jesse and I stood in the garage where Eric had laid, just beginning to try to process what had happened, Jesse said under his breath kind of to himself slowly shaking his head, “Oh Eric” as if to say, “What a dumb mistake you made my little brother.” Who among us has not been victim to similar poor judgment?
When they transported Eric to the hospital, my wife Nony and I made our way there as well. I dropped Nony off at the hospital entrance, then went to park the car. Our YSA Stake Center is kitty-corner from the hospital and I parked on the street just across from our building. I paused there in the car alone for just a moment to try to collect myself – to be still. What I now recognize as a divine impression – the thought came to me to immediately enlist the faith of our stalwart YSA members in their president’s behalf. Knowing that London Road and Victoria Park ward members were still in our Stake Center, I ran across the street to the building and interrupted each of Bishop Darcy Willett and Bishop Cory Bevans who were in interviews and told them what had happened. I asked them to assemble their ward members, inform them of the accident, and to unite their faith in prayer for President Wilde. As I left the building, knowing that Eric was in good hands, I raced to our Lakeview Ward meeting at the East Stake Center. They were just starting their Priesthood and Relief Society meetings. I found Bishop David Baines, informed him of the accident, and ask that he reassemble his ward in the chapel. As it turned out, Elder James Evanson, our Area Seventy, was in attendance at the ward and I was able to inform him as well. I later learned this led to prayers being offered by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in their regular Thursday meeting in the Salt Lake Temple later in the week. Once gathered in the chapel, I informed the ward membership of what had happened, asked that they pray and exercise their faith on President Wilde’s behalf, then I invited Bishop Baines to lead us in collective prayer. How I immediately felt of the strength of the membership of our Stake. I excused myself, and they continued in sharing one with another. As I drove back to the hospital, I contacted by phone the three Westside bishops: Bishop Todd Olsen, Bishop David Malmberg, and Bishop Grant Pitcher. To my surprise, I made contact with each on my first try! I took a call from President Leavitt. Before I could speak, he said we needed to let the Stake know what had happened and enlist the faith of our members. I told him what I had just done. The Lord was sure to get His message through to our Stake – He told both of us the same thing! President Leavitt completed the notice and request for faith and prayers to our Stake by calling Bishop Gregory Quinton in Cardston.
I entered the Emergency ward at the hospital, and as I approached the room Eric was in, I could see a hive of activity. I looked through the glass wall and there were about eight individuals attending to Eric, and it was clear that everyone on duty in the department was aware and had great concern for their friend and colleague. I asked my wife if a blessing had been given (no one was yet aware of the blessing I had given, and a proper anointing, sealing, and more full blessing was needed). She answered, “not yet” as the intensive care being administered had not allowed a moment for this. The air ambulance was on its way to take him to Edmonton to have treatment in a hyperbaric chamber. Dr. Aaron Low, married to a niece of President Wilde, had learned of the accident and came immediately to the hospital to oversee Eric’s care. In time, it was possible to give the blessing. I entered the room, the doctors and nurses continued to administer care, but there was just enough access to Eric’s head to give the blessing. Jesse, and Dennis Toth, a faithful friend of Eric’s and his Stake executive secretary, had been tucked in a corner of the room observing the care being given. I joined them to anoint and to bless. How I wish I could capture in words a true description of the Spirit in the room. Squeezed between the medical devices monitoring and keeping Eric alive, we three priesthood brothers anointed, and blessed our Eric. Jesse spoke with clarity and assurance invoking blessings from heaven. I felt of God’s love, and that Eric was safely in the Savior’s hands, whatever the outcome of this accident. If his life was to be preserved – it would be – and if not, as the pioneer Saints sang should death come, “Happy day! All is well.” (Come, Come, Ye Saints, Hymn # 30) There was such an air of reverence in the room by all even as they continued with their lifesaving care. I was later told that during the blessing nurses and others stood just outside the room, the glass wall being the only separation, with heads respectfully bowed.
Shortly, Eric was airlifted to Edmonton – and the waiting began. He was alive, but carbon monoxide poisoning, over that long of a period of time, made survival, let alone full recovery, an extreme medical improbability. But yet – there was this faith in Christ Who is able to heal, Who can raise from the dead. I knew of the faith of our YSA members, and just as Christ saw in the Nephites who longed for Him to tarry with them a little longer, I knew, like them, that our faith was “sufficient” to heal. If it was not yet Eric’s time to pass from mortality, he could be returned to us, and his family.
Later that Sunday evening, President Leavitt and I both felt prompted to invite our stake members to join in a stake-wide fast for President Wilde. Throughout this first day, and in the days that would follow, I repeatedly felt the power of our stake membership. I am reminded of Helaman, when he rejoiced in the faith and valiancy of his “stripling warriors”, young men undaunted in the face of impossible challenge. I felt of such collective faith from our stake members.
The three Westside wards had planned some time before the accident to have a combined FHE on Monday, the 25th. I received a text from one of our YSA members on Monday informing me that a grassroots movement was afoot to invite all of the YSA to attend the FHE where we would come together in faith, share with one another, sing, and pray together for President Wilde and his family. Would I be able to attend? How perfect was such a gathering, to come together and end our fast united in prayer. I wanted to be there; I needed to be there. Monday came. In Lethbridge for work, then back to Fort Macleod to attend one of the Town Council related meetings I could not miss, then excusing myself from the regular Town Council meeting, I returned to Lethbridge with Nony for the Stake FHE. President Leavitt was there, and as our faithful YSA gathered, we reviewed with the bishops their plans for the evening, added as the Spirit prompted, then began.
Our planning took us just a little beyond the intended start time. Our members just kept coming. By the time we began, the chapel and most of the connecting hall were full. As I sat on the rostrum looking out into the faces of those we love, seeing their concern, but also seeing their faith, I was at peace that this meeting was exactly where we all needed to be. Bishop Malmberg was asked to conduct. Those asked to assist with the music suggested we sing “I Need Thee Every Hour”. What inspiration! As we commenced to sing, our voices combined in the song of the heart, the Spirit washed over us. The humility expressed in the words of the hymn was ours. In song, we acknowledged our need for our Savior, in every hour, and especially in this hour. We needed Him to hear our prayer. I looked out at my fellow disciples of Christ. Like me, for many there were tears, but there was not a sadness in the room. Rather, there was a certain kind of humble power in our collective voice. There was not defeat, or discouragement, but a collective will, a strong humility. As Alma describes, perhaps this was our singing of “the song of redeeming love”. (Alma 5:26) As I will explain later, the singing of this hymn plays significantly into the first conscious moments of Eric’s recovery.
Bishop Malmberg first addressed us as he had planned sharing keen insight into the power of God to heal, to bring about miracles, and that ours is the privilege through faith to seek these miracles. He also shared with us scriptures and wisdom born of experience to help us understand and remember that it is not always God’s will that life will be spared, that the wounded will be made whole. He reminded that as Christ prayed in Gethsemane that the cup of suffering that was upon Him might be removed, He submitted: “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) Ours is to exercise the faith to be healed, then to leave the matter in God’s tender hands.
I then took opportunity to share details of the accident, how he was found, the care provided, blessings given, and his then current condition. They needed to know, they deserved to know, all that had transpired. I shared of the most distinct impression both President Leavitt and I felt to call upon the faith of our members, and how we felt an immediate sustaining power through our collective faith for President Wilde and his family. I shared words of comfort and testimony, words of faith and assurance. As I spoke, I felt the blessings of heaven upon us. There was a sense of peace – all would be well whatever the outcome.
We then called upon President Leavitt to lead us in prayer. Surely there were angels among us as our hearts were knit together in unity of faith bridging heaven and earth. Prayer is such a simple act, but says so much about who we are and what we believe. In the calm that followed, Brother Corey Wight, as planned by the YSA, distributed sheets of paper and invited us to write notes of well-wishing to President Wilde and his family along with a giant get-well card. These were compiled and I later had the privilege of delivering these to Eric and his family. We lingered together for the better part of an hour, talking, sharing thoughts and feelings one-on-one, and in small groups. There were many tender moments. Smoothies were served as many of us broke our fast together. I was touched by the love shared and felt among us and for President Wilde and his family. This was an evening never to be forgotten. The blessings and assurances of the Spirit were felt in abundance. I left in awe of the faith of the rising generation – they can, and will meet the challenges of their day!
During the singing of the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour”, Nony, who was sitting on the front pew acted upon a prompting. She took out her phone, held it up to take in this grand gathering of the Faithful, and recorded the singing of the hymn. Later, additional pictures were taken as we mingled. These were then shared with the Wilde’s as they were with their husband and dad at the hospital in Edmonton. During our meeting, Eric was recovering from his third three-hour treatment in the hyperbaric chamber. Stacy recounted how earlier in the day, with Eric’s skin literally turning black due to the poisoning, the attending physician pulled her aside and told her in essence that Eric was not going to survive. In a later meeting, Stacy recounted how although her dear husband was “cold and stiff” and his skin was turning black due to oxygen deficiency, to her mind came the story of King Lamoni and his wife who said of her husband who some thought was dead “...but as for myself, to me he doth not stink.” (Alma 19:5) Nursed by the faith of Lamoni’s wife, Stacy secluded herself in prayer, and relying upon the specific blessings expressed in temple ordinances, found herself praying for each of the body parts of her husband. Thankfully, through divine intervention, treatment continued, the attending physician’s assessment notwithstanding. It was after the third treatment that the family received the video and pictures from our prayer meeting with the YSA. This was the text I received, that evening, then passed on to our stake members:
“Hey this is Dan, David (Eric and Stacy’s sons) and Stacy. We wanted to let everyone know how grateful we are for the combined faith of all of our dear stake members. As we looked at the pictures of the gathering tonight and listened to the hymns sung, the Spirit filled the hospital room and our hearts and we are overcome by the outpouring of love. We have been sustained by your fasting and prayers. Please continue to pray for our beloved President Wilde, we love you all.”
Days later, President Wilde himself was able to comment on the impact of that video upon him. After the third hyperbaric chamber treatment, there came a time where he was aware of his surroundings; he could hear and comprehend all, but was still unable to communicate. His family did not know how alert his mind was. He recounts how they were at his bedside and played the recorded singing of “I Need Thee Every Hour”. He heard it, he felt of the faith of his stake, the love from his friends. Although he could not yet speak, tears formed and streamed from his eyes. That response to angelic voices revealed to all present that he was “there”, that the worse feared brain damage was not to be, that he was “coming back.”
From this point on, his improvement occurred at breakneck pace. Jesse, his brother, who had literally been his “brother’s keeper”, by his side throughout, shared with me at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, February 26 the following:
“Miracles continue. They took the breathing tube out an hour ago, and took Eric off the sedation. As they did so, he became more and more responsive to questions, answering first with nods and thumbs up, then with whispers. When Stacy entered his room, he whispered to her “Hi Sweetheart”! Incredible! They are considering his transfer back to the Lethbridge ICU this afternoon.”
In the early morning of February 27th, President Wilde was flown back to Lethbridge and admitted to ICU. He was weak, but he was back! I visited the hospital in late morning. They had him sitting in a chair next to his bed. One could see his weakness. He looked absolutely spent. I got closer to him, said hello, to which he raised his eyes and immediately responded, “Hi David,” then returned to the task of breathing. Those words were, as they say, music to my ears. He knew me, and I knew he had so much more in his heart that he wanted to say, but it would have to wait until he was stronger. I left the book of letters, the nurse posted the big get-well card on the wall, and I was off.
Later that afternoon I returned for a visit. Eric was dozing in and out of sleep. I sat with Stacy and in conversation laden with unspeakable gratitude she shared of her experience through this ordeal. What faith! The faith to be healed, the faith to let him go. What example of enduring hope in Christ and His healing power! Since delivering it earlier in the day, Stacy had read all of the letters of faith and well-wishing from our stake members. I could see in her eyes the inexpressible gratitude and love for the saving faith of our YSA. Our visit was sacred time. Towards the end of our visit, Eric and Stacy’s children – Daniel, David, Amy, and Paige, joined us. What a roller coaster of emotions they had experienced. How impressed I was seeing them together having weathered a great test of mortality. I could see their strength in unity and faith. Their deep and apparent love of God, and for each other, affirmed the validity of the “great commandments” and the power therein. (Matt. 22:36-40). We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we rejoiced in the many blessings received.
I visited again the following day. Eric’s strength was returning remarkably fast. I went to his bedside. His eyes opened and he looked at me. He greeted me clearly much stronger and more at ease than just the day previously. We embraced. Immediately there were tears of gratitude as the reality of the miracle we had experienced further distilled upon us. He was our Lazarus – back from the dead, returned through faith in Christ. At one point, I chided him with the comment, “There are easier ways to strengthen the faith of our members.” We both just smiled. Again, I reflect upon council given me when set apart as a counselor to President Wilde that I should always be at his side. I knelt by his side as he lay on the floor of his garage unconscious, a hand on his head and one on his heart. Just days later, I was at his bedside, our hands clasped, without words my love communicated, and the love and support from his beloved YSA. God takes care of His children; he sustains those called according to His designs. At different times, and in different ways, we all are called upon to be instruments in His hands to minister to His children.
Reflecting further upon poignant blessings given through priesthood authority, Eric’s son Daniel, highlighted in a later meeting, words of his dad’s setting apart that sustained Daniel when he first learned of the accident. Daniel was in Utah and faced the challenge of not losing hope during the long trip from there to Edmonton to be by his father’s side. These words were of particular note to Daniel given that his dad had recovered from prostate cancer just a few years earlier. The words as Daniel recalls were that his dad’s “health would be preserved” so that he could “serve as President of the YSA stake”. Initially, he linked these words to his dad’s previous cancer, but now his hope hung on these words in this immediate crisis of health. This blessing would not allow his hope to die. Without hope, there can be no faith; hope sets our course, faith fuels the journey. This blessing was fulfilled, Eric’s health was preserved. Again, there was faith “sufficient”, and in this circumstance, it was God’s will that Eric Wilde would have opportunity to continue to serve his stake.
And the miracle of his recovery continued to roll out. On the evening of February 28th, I sent out to the Stake the following update:
February 28, 2019, evening
It’s late – so I’ll keep this short. I received a text from Jesse this morning who had been in to visit his brother. He said, “We talked and laughed together,” that he was “tired, but alert.” He went on to say that President Wilde recounted many of the details leading up to the accident and then Jesse closed with the words “the miracle continues”.
Then I get home at about 10pm tonight and I find that Sister Orr was invited to take a visit with Sister Wilde this evening. The man she described was so improved even from this morning! She said he gave her a big hug, boasted about how he has made the loop in the ICU with a walker, and that he regaled the visiting family with funny family stories of the past. Stacy told Nony that he was even correcting an attending doctor on some medical calculation. I’m astounded! To say that he is exceeding all imaginable expectations would still be an understatement. He has even matter-of-factly stated that he still plans on getting to Italy in a couple of weeks, just as he’s planned, in order to serve in the newly dedicated Italy temple!! Needless to say, he’s about put me out of a job as far as these updates go (I will be happy to be pushed into retirement!!).
(My reference here to him getting to Italy in “a couple of weeks” reveals that I was unclear of just when he had planned to depart. The previously planned departure was actually exactly, just one week away!)
As it turned out, on this particular weekend, there were two General Authorities in the area assigned to preside at separate stake conferences. Having learned of President Wilde’s accident, Elder S. Gifford Nielson accompanied by President Alan Poytress of the Fort Macleod Stake paid him a visit at the hospital. (On a side note, Elder Nielson is a retired NFL quarterback having played his entire career with the Houston Oilers. President Wilde is an avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys, the Oilers State rivals. A Cowboys blanket that had been brought from home and was on President Wilde’s hospital bed made for some light ribbing when the two of them met!) During the visit, it came up that President Wilde had long ago planned and arrangements were in place to leave the following week to attend the Rome, Italy temple dedication. Given the accident, such a trip was now very much in question. Before leaving, Elder Nielson offered to give a priesthood blessing. President Wilde’s heart leapt for joy when words were spoken blessing him to receive health and strength sufficient so that he could attend the temple dedication in Rome. Later when his family came for a visit, he stated so matter-of-factly, “We’re going!” In his present state, it still seemed such a long shot – but again – there was this matter of faith in Jesus Christ and His power to heal.
Elder L Whitney Clayton also took the time to visit President Wilde to extend encouragement and assurance of the faith and prayers on his behalf among the leading councils of the Church.
On Sunday, March 3rd, one week after the accident, our stake members gathered in our various wards united in fasting, a fast of gratitude, for the blessing bestowed upon our President, upon his family, and upon us. Just the day before, I received from the Wilde family a heartfelt letter of appreciation and testimony to be shared with the members of our stake (See Below). Direction was given for this letter to be read in Sacrament meeting in each of our wards at the beginning of the sharing of testimonies. I went from ward to ward taking in as many testimony meetings as the schedule would allow. In one, a dear sister, Erica Takahashi, shared a most insightful assessment: “This last week our stake took a walk with the Lord.” No truer words could be spoken. The Master Healer had reminded us all of his love and power. “Bring them hither, and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.” (3 Nep. 17:7) This invitation made centuries ago still stands.
On March 4th, President Wilde was discharged from ICU to home. Can you believe it?! Just nine days following the accident! The next evening, I was with him in his home. He was dressed in his suit and on his feet as he welcomed Peter and Margaret Joosten into his home. I watched with awe and admiration as the presiding High Priest of our stake – restored to function in this capacity – extended a call to serve as bishop.
On March 7th, he and members of his family left for Rome to fulfil his life-long commitment to be in attendance at the dedication of the first temple in the mission of his youth. He would be welcomed by a counselor serving in the Florence Stake presidency, a man he baptized many years ago. Eric vowed days earlier that he was going to Italy to fulfill this dream even if he had to get around in a wheelchair. Such accommodation was arranged, but was soon abandoned once in Italy. I have acknowledged repeatedly the faith of our stake members, his immediate family exercised remarkable faith, I acknowledge the faith of the many beyond our stake boundaries, including the prayers of prophets and apostles, but I am in awe when I consider the faith of the man – Eric Wilde. I believe that somehow his faith sustained him for those many hours that he lay on the floor of his garage until inspired friends were sent to find him; it sustained him in those harrowing hours of early treatment; it drew upon the powers of heaven to begin the restorative process; it took him to the temple – in Rome; and it would yet restore him to full ministry in his stake, his mission as a physician, and to his role of husband and father and grandfather. I am awed by his remarkable example of faith in Jesus Christ and His promises.
The next two plus weeks spent in Italy were a blessed time of recovery for Eric and his family free from the responsibilities of home. The last Sunday in March had been designated some time earlier as our stake Fast Sunday given that General Conference was the following week. It was so very clear to the stake presidency that we needed to gather as a stake to hear from our stake president. This sacrament meeting was the perfect opportunity to do so, especially so because we would be partaking of the emblems of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – His atoning sacrifice – together as a stake.
A sacrament meeting is a sacred experience at any time. This one, where we would have opportunity to hear from President Wilde in person after his blessed restoration to health, would be particularly so. Our members came. It would be the largest gathering of our stake members to date. Leading up to the beginning of the meeting, in a private conversation with Stacy, I asked how Eric was doing this morning. I could only imagine the weight and responsibility that he might be feeling to stand before his stake to give thanks, to teach, and to testify. She shared that it was most definitely weighing upon him. Having considered such before, and now with Stacy’s confirmation, together with President Leavitt we entered President Wilde’s office about fifteen minutes before the meeting was to begin. We could see the strain upon him. We stated that we were going to give him a blessing – we did not ask. Without saying a word, he rose and took the chair in front of me. Again, priesthood power – divine power – was shared with man.
The meeting was all we trusted it would be. We opened with “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Hymn #136). Brother Dennis Toth opened with prayer. We prepared for the partaking of the sacrament by singing “I Stand All Amazed” (Hymn #193). Seeing four sacrament tables, all administered by worthy young priesthood bearers, then in YSA reverence seeing the emblems of the Savior’s sacrifice being passed to “the multitude”, I could not help but reflect upon the miracles of Christ feeding of thousands. His “bread of life” is truly extended to all; His atonement has no limitation.
It was my privilege to be invited to share a few thoughts and testimony to those I love. I reflected on the peculiarity that just 21 days prior to our President’s accident, I spoke in Stake Conference, the title of my talk being “Christ, Our Healer”. With this modern day miracle as our witness of Christ’s power to heal, I invited us all to “bring them hither”, all the YSA of our region, so that Christ could fulfill His promise to “heal them”. Daniel, Eric’s son and a member of our stake, spoke to his peers so honestly and with gratitude, sharing in his vulnerability during the experience, but also his faith in those words of blessing that his father’s “health would be preserved” so he could serve the members of his stake. Like his parents and siblings, Daniel’s foundation in life is rooted in his faith in Christ. Then Stacy addressed us. Just to stand, and to share, was such an example of the enabling power of faith in Christ. She recounted certain scriptures that prepared her for, and nurtured her during this ordeal. In the week preceding the accident, for no particular reason, she happened to study the experience of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego who with faith were prepared to enter the fiery furnace trusting that their God was “able to deliver” them, “But if not ...”, they were in perfect acceptance. (Daniel 3:17, 18) Their willingness to accept God’s will impressed upon her but days before she would stand before and feel the heat of her own “fiery furnace”. Other specific scriptures were highlighted all weaving together her testimony of the Savior and his power to heal. She implored us not to forget the miracle, even to remember as in Samuel’s day our own “stone of remembrance” (see 1 Samuel 7:12).
President Wilde then approached the pulpit. I had some sense of what this meant to him to be able to stand before those who had blessed his life with their faith and love. To look out into the faces of the congregation, our faithful YSA and friends, it was truly something to behold! He shared at the outset the impact of his first hearing our singing of “I Need Thee Every Hour”, how this bolstered his faith, how it assured him of our love for him and our faith in God’s power to heal. He taught his “brothers and sisters” (terms he explained which now have much greater meaning for him) that faith precedes the miracle, that miracles can “kick start us, but they cannot sustain us.” He shared perspective on what he would deem the “great miracle”: “no more disposition to do evil”. (Mosiah 5:3) In his words as I made note, “Whether I live another 10 or 20 years would matter little (he then wirily expressed heartfelt gratitude for the privilege of that prospect). If this (his miraculous recovery) changed your course, and keeps you on the path, if it changes your heart, that is the great miracle!”
We closed by again singing “I Need Thee Every Hour” (Hymn #98), but this time with President Wilde and his family. President Leavitt again led the stake in a humble prayer of gratitude for blessings received. The miracle began with fasting and prayer, and was now concluded with the same. God be thanked for precious moments of spiritual strengthening.
In a later presidency meeting, in casual conversation, Doctor Eric Wilde, after having taken opportunity to review all of his medical records, shared that with the degree of carbon monoxide poisoning that he experienced, he simply should have died. If there was any hope of survival, there was less than a 1% chance of a “functional” recovery, being alive but severely disabled. And yet, there he sat, alive, fully cognizant, carrying the mantel of responsibility that is his to carry.
I have long been fascinated by the repeated scriptural admonition to “remember”. King Benjamin concluded his last and masterful sermon to his people where he exhorted them unto Christ and righteous living with these words, “And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” (Mos. 4:30) So many other scriptural pleas echo these words. As a stake, we gathered as one to partake of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In so doing, we pledged anew, we bore witness to the world in a very tangible and open way, that we “do always remember Him”. And on that day, our pledge of remembrance of Christ and His power to heal was centered in the restoration of life given our President. It is not that God does not provide evidence of His existence, or of His plan of salvation centered in Christ, but rather that we simply forget, or fail to truly remember the many evidences that He gives us. There is a tendency to distort, to discount, to forget the whisperings of the Spirit that confirmed eternal truths – but our forgetting does not negate their reality. May we always remember.
I knelt by President Wilde’s side when he was as near to death as one can be, with no reasonable prospect of survival or recovery. Just a few short weeks later, I sat behind him as he stood in strength and bore testimony by his presence and in his words of the power and mercy of Jesus Christ to heal. I cannot but be a witness to this reality. I pray never to forget, and to be ever motivated to the exercise of faith in Jesus Christ, He whose power it is to heal every one.
And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears. (emphasis added, 3 Nep. 17:9)
David L. Orr
July 31, 2019
I enclose the letter from the Wilde’s read in our wards March 3, 2019:
To our dear members of the YSA stake:
On Sunday, February 24, President Wilde- our husband and father- was found unconscious in his garage suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Though still breathing when he was discovered, the overwhelming impression we received from the medical professionals tending to him was that we needed to prepare ourselves for life without our beloved father. Sitting in the hospital, we realized that there was nothing on this side of the veil to give us any semblance of hope that all would be well. Our father laid unconscious and unresponsive, the doctor’s prognosis remained bleak, and our quick studies of the odds of surviving an event like this nearly succeeded in tearing out the final portion of hope our family possessed. Yet, as we began fasting and praying to reconcile our will with the Lord’s, the spirit began whispering into our hearts to keep the faith. We recalled that when our Dad was set apart to be President of this stake, he was promised that his health would be preserved. Next, we learned that when Jesse Wilde laid his hands on our Dad’s head to give him a priesthood blessing, he received a distinct impression that we were about to witness a miracle. Finally, we received word that the YSA stake- our platoon of the youth battalion of the Lord- was assembling together to petition Heavenly Father for a miracle on President Wilde’s behalf.
After thousands of individual prayers, signs of life began to appear. A raise of the eyebrow, a slight turn of the head, or a faint opening of the eyes gave us hope that the man we love was still there. Each passing hour brought more signs of life, and his recovery to this point has been nothing short of a miracle. Mormon asked the question “has the day of miracles ceased?” We can now give our sacred witness that the days of miracles continue.
In the Old Testament, we read of the story when Samuel the prophet petitioned the Lord to deliver his people from the vastly superior Philistine army. After much fasting and prayer, God chose to honor Samuel’s petition, leading them to a seemingly impossible victory. After the battle, Samuel took a large stone-a stone of remembrance - and placed it on the battlefield for all the Israelites to see. If Samuel’s people ever began to lose faith that God had the power to work mighty miracles, he would point them to the stone so they would remember that at this very spot, they saw God’s hand bring forth a mighty miracle. May this experience be a stone of remembrance to all of us who participated in this great miracle- that if you ever find your personal testimony wavering, you can look back and remember the time when your fasting and prayers lifted our Father from the Dead. Thank you for your faith and prayers that sustained our family through the darkest of times.
With an eternal love for each one of you,
The Wilde Family