Our Prayer Was Answered in the Want Ads
It wasn’t long after our marriage in the Seattle Temple that my wife and I began to shop for the piano that we had decided was a must for our household. It would bring our family closer together as we sang hymns and other songs, especially during family home evenings.
We knew our income could not support a new piano, or even a good used one, so we considered renting. Even that seemed more than we wanted to spend. As we sat down to discuss our finances, I volunteered to sell an item or two out of my workshop. For several years, I had been building cabinets in my spare time, but I had found that lately I had little time for woodworking. I thought if we could sell my radial arm saw, we could use that money, plus a little extra, to buy an old upright piano.
As time passed, I was unable to sell my saw; and we had no luck locating a piano for sale. We found nothing in the local paper or in the weekly advertising circulars.
One evening I picked up an ad circular and read through its twenty pages of personal ads for every imaginable item. My wife went through it again after I had looked at it, then we both checked our local newspaper.
“Nothing again this week,” I said. “I sure wish we could find one.”
That night as we knelt together in prayer, I asked that we might find a piano soon so we could have music in our home.
While at work the next day I received a call from my wife, who was very excited. She explained that she had felt drawn to the ad circular that morning while doing the housework. Finally, unable to think of anything else, she had thumbed through it one more time.
Almost immediately she had seen the ad we both had somehow overlooked the night before:
FOR SALE: Upright piano. Excellent condition. Will trade for radial-arm saw or ?. Call …
We decided she should go see the piano that afternoon, and when I got home from work that night she said, “The piano is just fine, and the people who have it will look at your saw this evening.”
Never before has a trade worked out so perfectly for us. We now have a beautiful old piano, worth much more than we could have paid for it. With that grand old instrument, a beautiful spirit came into our home.
That first night, tears of joy and gratitude came to my eyes as the sounds of beautiful music filled our home.
Isolated, but Not Alone
I had been working in the Hayden, Arizona, telephone office in 1920 when I heard that my father, who lived alone in the Animas Valley of New Mexico, was not very well. My sister Cora and I decided to go there to help him.
We had been with him for more than a year when his arthritis got so bad he couldn’t get out of bed. He had twenty cows and ten horses, but no windmill to draw water for them from a twenty-five-foot well. After he became bedridden, my sister and I watered the animals by hand, chopped mesquite wood, and took milk to town twice a week.
We were living in his two-room lumber house, which was hard to keep warm in the winter and spring. It was anything but pleasant to stand out in the wind to draw water for the animals. To make matters worse, Cora and I both contracted influenza. I was the only one who was able to keep going, and it was very hard for me to take care of my father and sister and the animals.
One day Cora couldn’t breathe very well and asked me to help her outside. As I did, she fell to the ground in a faint. I revived her by rubbing her arms and neck, then helped her back to the door. As I let go of her to open it, she fainted again. I finally got her back in bed, but the situation was getting desperate. There were only a few ranches in the valley, and no one had been by in a long while. We had no telephone—no way to let anyone know we needed help. We had a car, but I was not able to crank it up to start it. I was afraid to leave my father and sister alone anyway, so I pleaded with the Lord to send some of the neighbors by the help us.
That afternoon I looked out and saw a car coming from the east. I knew it was not any of the neighbors. I guessed it was some stranger crossing the valley who could not be any help to me. But when the car got to our gate, it turned into the yard and stopped. My father’s sister and her brother-in-law got out of the car and came into the house. I was puzzled to see them and afraid they were bringing more bad news of some kind.
When they discovered how sick we were, Aunt Edith, who had come prepared to stay, went back out to the car and got her clothes. I asked her how she had known we needed help. She told me that my mother, who had been dead for more than fifteen years, had come to her three times the night before. She had looked so worried that Aunt Edith had known we needed help. Because Aunt Edith didn’t have a car, she had called her brother-in-law and had asked him to bring her the more than fifty miles to our place.
Aunt Edith was a good nurse and a good cook, and she soon had us going again. Ten days later we were able to take her back home to Franklin, Arizona.
A Smile Retrieved
The dazzling sunstruck beach stretched down into the gradual swell of the ocean. I couldn’t believe that we were at last on the beautiful island of Kauai, a lifetime dream come true. For only a moment I stood taking in the splendor of the ocean; then I splashed into its coolness, not stopping until I was waist-deep in the rolling surf.
My husband, Fred, my sister Delna, and my brother-in-law Dee were still standing at the water’s edge taking in the beauty of the ocean. Looking back toward them, I waved for them to join me in the water.
“Come on …” I started to yell, but an unseen wave crashed over me, cutting the sentence short and knocking me down. Sputtering and swallowing, I struggled to right myself.
It was then that I noticed the horrifying emptiness inside my mouth. I gave an agonizing scream: “My teeth! My denture! The sea has taken my teeth!” Two years ago, tuberculosis of the bone had required surgery and resulted in the loss of part of my jawbone and, finally, removal of my teeth. A denture had restored my dignity. Now it was gone.
Fred, along with Delna and Dee, raced to me. Helping me to my feet, Fred looked at me pityingly. My hand went over my mouth. I felt desolate, violated, repulsive.
Frantically, the search began. The four of us dived repeatedly, discarding handfuls of pebbles and shells as we searched in vain. At last, heartsick and discouraged, we abandoned the attempt and waded ashore.
What a sight I was! My hair was mud-streaked and dripping. My scrawny, spindly-legged body was dwarfed by the oversize swimsuit I had borrowed, which was now sagging with the weight of sand caught in it. My “Andy Gump” profile drooped in agonized sadness.
Only an hour ago, the four of us had arrived at Kauai with a tour group to begin the vacation of our dreams. Now I was thinking, “I almost wish I had drowned. Our vacation is ruined!”
Back at the cottage we were staying in, a melancholy feeling swept over us as we showered and dressed. What good was a vacation now? I didn’t care about not being able to eat; that wasn’t troubling me at all. I was troubled by the thought that I had spoiled the trip for the others. The ocean we had come to enjoy now seemed frightening.
I heard a knock at the door. My sister Delna was there, as she had always been when I needed a friend. “Let’s go talk to the tour guide; she may be able to help us,” she suggested.
In my humiliation and sorrow, I replied, “I can’t go out there and face the world like this. I can’t!”
“What are you going to do? Hide here and starve? Come on; you don’t think everyone is looking at you, do you?” She thrust a handkerchief into my hand and urged me toward the open door.
I covered my mouth with the handkerchief, and we left to find the tour guide. When we told her the story, she said she could see no way to solve my problem short of ordering a new denture. At her suggestion, we placed a notice on the bulletin board in the slight chance that someone might find my lost teeth. As we read it, we noted that the situation would have been comical but for the circumstances that made it so serious to us.
That evening, the four of us avoided the other members of the group by taking a taxi to dinner. While the other three dined, I mushed a bowl of soup and a glass of milk. Sightseeing and gaiety were out of the question, so we returned to our now-cheerless rooms and went to bed.
That night, as I listened to Fred’s deep breathing, I thought of the real happiness and joy, the complete love we had in our marriage. In a moment, I slipped out of bed and, kneeling on the cold, polished floor, began to pray, pouring out my innermost thoughts to my Heavenly Father.
I have prayed all my life, but never had I pleaded with the Lord as I did then. I felt I didn’t deserve his blessings, but I promised to live a better life. “Please, Heavenly Father, I have to have my teeth, so that the others’ vacation won’t be ruined,” I cried. I pleaded with the Lord all night long. When I got too cold, I would slip back into bed just long enough to get warm, then go quietly down on my knees again, continuing in repentance, promising, and pleading. I felt very close to Heavenly Father, as if he were right there beside me.
Toward morning, Fred stirred and moaned. I raised my head and saw the light of a new day entering the room. He yawned and stretched, climbed out of bed and asked, “What’re you doing on the floor?” He looked out the window. “You know, it was high tide when you lost your choppers,” he said. “Maybe it’s low tide now, and we can find them so all of us won’t have to eat soup the whole trip.” He smiled and looked at me in the innocent, childlike way he looked when he was teasing.
Quickly we pulled on our still-damp swimsuits and walked silently toward the empty beach. As far as we could see, the beautiful silver and blue ocean stretched before us. To locate my denture in an ocean this big would be nothing short of a miracle.
For half an hour we combed the edges and the waist-deep water where I had been the day before. Peering down into the clearness before the next wave broke, we made an all-embracing search. Nothing. Chilled and saddened, I thought, “It’s no use,” and I dragged my way back to the cottage in forlorn desolation.
A few minutes later, I heard someone pounding on the door. When I opened it, there stood Fred, thrusting his outstretched hand toward my surprised face.
“Try these on; see if they’re yours,” he said.
When he opened his hand, I couldn’t believe it. There were my teeth!
“How did you find them?” I asked.
He replied, “After you quit looking, the thought came to me that if the wave caught you where we were looking, the ocean’s current would have probably taken your teeth farther down the beach. I just waded in the direction of the waves about fifty yards and then saw something pink swirling around. I reached down under the water, and there they were. You know, God must really love you to have saved your teeth from the Pacific Ocean.”
I felt like going out and shouting to the whole world, “We have a Heavenly Father who listens to us and loves us!”