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It’s Friday. That means we want to share with you a story of strength and courage.  This story came from Whitney Clayton as shared in this talk.

Last January, seven-year-old Sailor Gutzler and her family were flying from Florida to Illinois in a private airplane. Sailor’s father was at the controls. Just after nightfall, the aircraft developed mechanical problems and crashed in the pitch-dark hills of Kentucky, upside down in very rough terrain. Everyone but Sailor died in the accident. Her wrist was broken in the crash. She suffered cuts and scrapes and had lost her shoes. The temperature was 38 degrees Fahrenheit (or 3 degrees Celsius)—it was a cold, rainy Kentucky winter’s night—and Sailor was wearing only shorts, a T-shirt, and one sock.

She cried out for her mother and father, but no one answered. Summoning every ounce of courage, she set off barefoot across the countryside in search of help, wading through creeks, crossing ditches, and braving blackberry briars. From the top of one small hill, Sailor spotted a light in the distance, about a mile away. Stumbling through the darkness and brush toward that light, she eventually arrived at the home of a kind man she had never met before who sprang to her care. Sailor was safe. She would soon be taken to a hospital and helped on her way to recovery.

Sailor survived because she saw a light in the distance and fought her way to it—notwithstanding the wild countryside, the depth of the tragedy she faced, and the injuries she had sustained. It is hard to imagine how Sailor managed to do what she did that night. But what we do know is that she recognized in the light of that distant house a chance for rescue. There was hope. She took courage in the fact that no matter how bad things were, her rescue would be found in that light.

After the crash, Sailor had a choice. She could have chosen to stay by the airplane in the dark, alone and afraid. But there was a long night ahead, and it was just going to get colder. She chose another way. Sailor climbed up a hill, and there she saw a light on the horizon.

Gradually, as she made her way through the night toward the light, it grew brighter. Still, there must have been times when she could not see it. Perhaps it went out of view when she was in a ravine or behind trees or bushes, but she pressed on. Whenever she could see the light, Sailor had evidence that she was on the right path. She did not yet know precisely what that light was, but she kept walking toward it based on what she knew, trusting and hoping that she would see it again if she kept moving in the right direction. By so doing, she may have saved her life.

I feel for this little girl, but I’m also very impressed with her strength.  It would have surely been easier to curl up by her deceased parents, waiting to see if someone would find her. She could have given in to despair. But she chose to go find a way herself.

We can relate this to our lives. When tragedy strikes our lives, and it does sometimes, will we choose to give in to despair, just accepting the darkness that comes with difficulty? Or will we look for the light, and fight to recover, for ourselves and the ones that love us.

Always remember that you have a choice when life looks hopeless. There is hope in Christ. There are people who care. And you are stronger than you realize. It may be hard work, but in the end it is always worth it.  — Laura

1 Comment

  1. Arnold Miller

    I truly loved this story when our old friend from Irvine, Elder L. Whitney Clayton, recounted it it conference. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of persevering and never giving up as we walk toward the light.

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