While serving as missionaries a number of years ago, a young married couple had been sent with a young elder to New Orleans by the president of the Central States Mission. They took with them their tiny eighteen-month-old daughter.
Upon returning, it was necessary for them to cross the Atchafalaya River, a wide and deep stream. They drove their car onto the raftlike ferry that was to be pushed across the river by a small tugboat. It was placed about two feet from the edge of the ferry with only a light cable across the front.
The flat ferry could accommodate just four cars at a time, and the automobile in which the missionaries were riding was the third to be driven on. The fourth automobile was to be placed immediately behind the missionaries’ car.
Looking back through the small rear window of the crowded car, the young elder saw a rather large car on the top of the high levee. It was waiting to approach the ferry. At a signal from the ferryman, it started down.
“My goodness!” he exclaimed. “That car is coming too fast! It’ll crash right into us!”
Faster and faster it came, gaining speed as it approached the ferry. There was no time for the missionaries to leave their car. The brief and terrifying thoughts of being pushed into the river raced through their minds. The driver, uttering a brief but fervent prayer, set his foot against the brakes—hard!
A woman in the onrushing car screamed. Onto the ferry it hurtled, out of control. Then, miraculously, one of the wheels struck the edge of a raised plank on the floor of the ferry, and the car turned abruptly away from the one in which the missionaries sat. With its right wheel on the very edge of the platform, the runaway car came to a halt within inches of their car. A period of complete silence followed.
“Poor brakes,” gasped the frightened driver as he climbed out of his car.
Neither he nor the stunned onlookers could explain why the runaway car had stopped where it did rather than bumping the missionaries’ car over the edge of the ferry and into the river. Undoubtedly, many silent prayers were given by both the frightened passengers and the onlookers.
“You must all be good praying folks!” the ferryman said in wonderment, shaking his head slowly.
The missionaries knew that only the watchful care provided by our kind Heavenly Father had prevented a disaster. Before leaving that morning the missionaries had not forgotten to ask their Heavenly Father for special protection in their journey. Their prayers had been answered!
NOTE: I know that this incident is true because I was the driver of the small car. Others involved were Sister Christiansen, our daughter, Frances Jean, and a fine elder. Although Frances Jean was too small to realize what had taken place, the scene has never been blotted from the minds of the rest of us.