Watch: What an onion patch taught President Eyring about the powers of heaven

When President Henry B. Eyring’s father, Henry Eyring, was nearly 80 years old and pained by bone cancer, he assigned himself to weed a field of onions in a Church welfare farm. 

As the senior high councilor in his stake with the responsibility for the welfare farm, senior Henry Eyring wanted to do his duty. President Eyring said his father never told him how hard it was, but he met several people who were with him that day. 

“The pain was so great that Dad was pulling himself along on his stomach with his elbows. He couldn’t kneel,” said President Eyring, then a member of the Presiding Bishopric, as he recounted the story during his BYU devotional address “Waiting upon the Lord” on Sept. 30, 1990. An illustrated video clip of the story was released by BYU Speeches on Oct. 29. 

Those who were with senior Henry Eyring that day remarked how he smiled, laughed and talked happily with them as they worked in that field of onions, President Eyring said. 

At the end of the day, when all the work was finished, someone said, “Henry, good heavens! You didn’t pull those weeds, did you? Those weeds were sprayed two days ago, and they were going to die anyway.”

“Dad just roared,” President Eyring remembered. “He thought that was the funniest thing. He thought it was a great joke on himself. He had worked through the day in the wrong weeds. They had been sprayed and would have died anyway.”

When his father told him this story, President Eyring asked how he could make a joke out of such an experience. 

“Hal, I wasn’t there for the weeds,” his father responded. 

Continuing his devotional message to BYU faculty and students, President Eyring said, “Now, you’ll be in an onion patch much of your life. So will I. It will be hard to see the powers of heaven magnifying us or our efforts. It may even be hard to see our work being of any value at all. And sometimes our work won’t go well.

“But you didn’t come for the weeds. You came for the Savior. And if you pray, and if you choose to be clean, and if you choose to follow God’s servants, you will be able to work and wait long enough to bring down the powers of heaven.”

Read President Eyring’s full address given in September 1990 at speeches.byu.edu.