It was a hot July day, Friday the 13th to be exact. Although I'm not a superstitious person, there was something ominous about the day. My husband and I had just returned from attending the funeral of one our friends, a young husband and father who died of cancer.

When the members of our LDS congregation first learned of the seriousness of his illness, we fasted and prayed for his recovery. But his condition worsened and in a matter of weeks he died. One of the members wisely commented, "He didn't have to suffer long."

At home following the funeral, we sat in the living room thinking about the events of the day and gazing out the living room window which overlooks our farm. The fields were green and beautiful. The fully headed grain would soon begin to ripen and the beans to bloom. The sugar beet leaves covered the rows, which was a good sign that the beets were growing beneath the ground. Our vegetable garden in the corner lot by the house was flourishing with corn, beans, peas and potatoes. Not only would it enhance our meals but also would provide for the fall and winter as I canned and stored the produce. As we surveyed our bounty, I thought of the years we had been together and the struggles we had overcome to get to where we were today.

When we bought the first 80 acres in northern Wyoming with only a four-room house on the premises, we were fresh out of college and had big plans for the future. How could we have known that a late spring and early fall would take most of our first bean crop? We didn't plan on three of our milk cows bloating or prices falling when our crops were the best they had been in years. But we had overcome these and other obstacles and finally got to the point where we had expanded our acreage and even built a new house.

Now as we stood looking out the window at this summer's crops, we could see storm clouds gathering. They didn't seem to be ordinary rain clouds, but whiter and lower. Suddenly the wind began to blow with tornado-like force. Just as suddenly, hail began to pound the roof. We stared in disbelief as it streaked across the fields in our view, stripping the leaves and stems off the beans and beets and mowing the ripening barley like a sickle. The hail began to pile up on the ground until it was three inches deep.

Our children crowded around the window with us watching the destruction and we all prayed vocally, "Please Heavenly Father, if it is possible, stop the hail! We have worked so hard for this crop."

The hail didn't stop immediately as we had hoped, and what seemed like hours were actually minutes. When the wind died down, we put on our boots and went outdoors to survey the damage. Just as we had feared, the crops were a total loss. Even the trees were leafless. The ditch banks, which were usually grassy, were bare. Our vegetable garden looked as though it had never been planted. It would take many years to recover our loss.

A few days later, as word of our misfortune spread, a knock came at our door. It was the newly widowed Bettina. She said she had heard about the hailstorm and was sorry abut our loss. Knowing that our vegetable garden was ruined, she wanted to share hers, presenting us with a large box of lovely, fresh vegetables.

As we hugged and thanked her for her offering, tears ran down our cheeks. Her loss was surely so much greater than ours, yet she felt the need to share and offer her sympathies. The Lord had blessed us after all. We could plant again next year and we still had each other.

Ruby Lynn Hopkin of Powell, Wyom., shares this experience from earlier in her life.