Our son John is an ER doctor serving his final six months in the Air Force. The Air Force paid for three years of his medical school education at USC and for that he owed them three years of full-time service. He was deployed to Afghanistan for about five months a while back and is now serving his final six-month deployment at a large air base and hospital in southern Germany near the French border. His home base for the past three years has been Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. He has been trained as a critical care doctor and heads a team that consists of an RN and a respiratory therapist.
His team has a very interesting and vital mission. Every Sunday they fly from Germany to Maryland with wounded troops that are checked into Walter Reed Hospital in the Washington, DC area where they receive specialized care. John's team's mission is to keep these soldiers and Marines alive during the long flight from Germany to Maryland. They fly in a huge cargo plane that has been converted into a flying ICU. The thing that impressed me and touched my heart was when I asked John how many wounded troops were on the plane from Germany to the United States. He told me that on the two trips he has taken thus far there has only been one critically wounded soldier on the entire airplane which he says is like flying in a massive warehouse. I believe on the first flight he and his team were responsible for keeping alive a young man who had been severely injured in an explosion in Iraq. He was being flown to Walter Reed in an attempt to save his leg. He also said there were several, what he called, "walkie-talkies"; wounded troops who were injured but not in imminent danger of dying. I was so impressed at the money expended and the care given, especially to this one critically injured young man. It made me feel good inside to know how concerned we are for this one critically wounded soldier and what we are willing to do to save this single precious life. I don't know where you are at politically, but what John is doing along with his team made me feel proud to be an American.
How important is a single life? No price can be placed on it of course! I couldn't help think of the Savior and his concern for the "one" as exemplified in his mortal ministry. Oh, he fed the 5,000 and spoke to multitudes on occasion, but most of his ministry was spent ministering to individuals. He healed the man born blind, raised Lazarus from the dead, as well as the daughter of Jairus, and the only son of a widow in the little village of Nain. He healed the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda, as well as countless other individuals. Individual people were important to Jesus, and still are today. I believe we only see the tip of the iceberg in terms of the individual healing and teaching Christ was involved in during his earthly ministry. Think of the amount of time he must have spent with his 12 apostles on an extended camping trip that lasted three years. He loved them as individuals as he loves us as well. He knows us by name and is intimately acquainted with our innermost thoughts and feelings. He knows of our infinite potential, and though his love is infinite and eternal for all mankind, it is also extremely individualized and personalized.
One of my favorite stories from church history which illustrates how we are known as individuals to the Lord is the incident Joseph Millett recorded in his journal. Many of you have heard this story, but it is one that must never be forgotten. Joseph Millett, an early pioneer, was struggling through a difficult winter in Utah with his large family and recorded the following in his Journal:
“One of my children came in and said that Brother Newton Hall’s folks was out of bread, had none that day.
“I divided our flour in a sack to send up to Brother Hall. Just then Brother Hall came.
“Says I, ‘Brother Hall, are you out of flour?’
“ ‘Brother Millett, we have none.’
“ ‘Well, Brother Hall, there is some in that sack. I have divided and was going to send it to you. Your children told mine that you was out.’
“Brother Hall began to cry. He said he had tried others, but could not get any. He went to the cedars and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord told him to go to Joseph Millett.
“ ‘Well Brother Hall, you needn’t bring this back. If the Lord sent you for it you don’t owe me for it.’ ”
That night Joseph Millett recorded a remarkable sentence in his journal:
“You can’t tell me how good it made me feel to know that the Lord knew there was such a person as Joseph Millett” (Diary of Joseph Millett, holograph, Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City).
Joseph Millett was an ordinary member of the Church. I don't know that he ever held a high ecclesiastical position. As a young teenager he had served a mission in Canada by himself and did a great work. He was a man of faith and what a joy it must have been to him to know that the Lord knew who Joseph Millett was. I believe the same could be said of all of us. The Lord knows who we are. He loves us as individuals. I believe one of our great challenges in life is to love other individuals as we are loved by the Savior. How precious is each individual soul? No price tag can be attached!