I asked Father in Heaven to send the friend I needed, and he sent someone who needed me.

I have been blessed with many miracles in my life. One of the most delightful began as I was driving home alone after a scripture symposium in Sacramento, California. The evening had been spiritually invigorating, and I longed to share the insights I had gained with a friend who could also appreciate them.

Through many recent trials, I had grown accustomed to praying aloud, and on this occasion I decided to pray aloud as I drove.

“Father in Heaven,” I said, “I’m lonely! Every close friend I’ve ever had has moved far away, and I don’t have anyone I can call to share my feelings about how much my testimony has grown this night.” My husband, my parents, and one of my sons had all passed away, and I really did feel lonely.

“You know everyone who lives around here,” I told Heavenly Father. “Isn’t there anyone who would like to be my friend?” I told him how much I wanted a friend who enjoyed the things I did, who knew about trials and pain and who realized how important people are. I hoped that my friend would let me share my writing with her—and I would like it if she liked to write, too.

Hastily, thinking I might as well “think big,” I said, “By the way, it would be very nice if she had an eleven-year-old son who could be a friend of my youngest son. He’s lonely, too.”

The following Sunday evening, as I was coming out of our stake center after a Young Women program I had attended with my daughter, I noticed a woman sitting in a car in the parking lot. I had just learned that a Single Adult fireside scheduled for the stake center that evening was to be held in another building instead. I knocked on her car window. “Are you here for the fireside?” I asked.

“I guess so,” she replied hesitantly.

“It will be held in the Orangevale building,” I said.

“Never mind,” she said. “I’ll just go home.” She reached for the key in her car’s ignition.

“Please,” I prodded. “You can leave your car here and ride over with me. I would love to get to know you better.”

As we traveled up the road in my car, she told me that her name was Debby and that this was the first singles function she had ever attended. “I haven’t been very active,” she said. “I attended church this morning for the first time in several months and saw the announcement for this fireside. I was really nervous about attending, but something kept telling me I should.”

After the fireside, she asked me about the Church’s singles program policies. She and her husband were separated. “Just before I left the house tonight,” she told me, “my home teachers came by. When I told them where I was going, they said that I shouldn’t go to any singles functions until I am legally divorced. Is that true?”

I told her that that was my understanding, but I suggested that we ask a member of the stake presidency, who had been the speaker that evening, if she could attend before her divorce was final. President Carter explained the Church’s policy to her, and she agreed with his reasoning. Nevertheless, she said, “Something just kept telling me to come tonight. I don’t know why!”

As we drove back to her car, she told me about how alone she felt being separated after seventeen years of marriage. She told me about her thirteen-year-old daughter and her eleven-year-old son.

After we arrived back at the stake center’s parking lot, I parked next to her car and turned off the engine. We continued our conversation. It was evident that she needed a listening ear, and I was happy to comply.

She told me about a serious accident she had had two years after her marriage. It had been months before the doctors knew that she would survive, and she still experienced pain from her injuries.

“People told me how lucky I was to be alive, but I didn’t feel lucky,” she said. “I wasn’t really happy in my marriage, and I was in nearly constant pain. I wondered if I had anything to live for. My husband was not supportive of my activity in the Church, so I didn’t have that comfort in my life. But I did have a testimony of prayer.”

At that point in her life, she said, she had prayed that Heavenly Father would send her a redheaded baby girl. “I’m probably the only person in the world who ever prayed for such a thing, but for some reason I had my heart set on it,” she said.

I began smiling so broadly that she had to ask why. “I thought I was the only person who ever prayed for a redheaded baby,” I said. “My father had red hair, and I’m wild about redheads! I prayed for one six times, but the Lord must have decided not to give me one.”

Then she continued, “Two years later I gave birth to the baby of my dreams. I knew the minute I saw her red hair that Heavenly Father truly loved me and that he had heard my prayer.”

By now, I was getting really excited about getting to know my newfound friend better. When she told me that she had recently taken a creative writing class and loved to write, I could contain my enthusiasm no longer.

“Do you know why you felt you had to come tonight?” I asked, nearly hitting my head on the roof of the car in my eagerness to tell her. “I prayed you here!”

“You what?” she asked in disbelief.

“Just two nights ago I told Heavenly Father I needed a friend. I asked him to send one. And he did!”

We talked until midnight, and before she left I pulled two books I had written from the backseat of the car and told her that I would like her to have them.

The next evening, she telephoned me. “I’ve read both of your books, and I love them,” she said. “I read one of your stories in a magazine last year—about your son having leukemia. It was such a beautiful story! After I read it, I felt such a closeness to you that I wanted to meet you. I’ve been hoping that some day I would get to meet you, and I have!”

I invited Debby and her children to join us for family home evening the following Monday night. Since then, we have become close friends. We help bear one another’s burdens, and after each communication we both feel enriched.

Our sons have become best friends, too; they share their pain as well as their good times. Though at first my son wasn’t too sure that he wanted to meet Debby and her children, as they were leaving that first evening, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mom, you can pick my friends for me any time!”

I looked heavenward and said, “Amen.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Steve Moore

Marilyn J. Whipple serves as Relief Society president in the Winters Branch, Davis California Stake.