When I was a boy in Primary, I believed, without questioning, whatever my Primary teacher told me. One summer day she taught us about prayer: “Remember, if you need Heavenly Father’s help, just ask Him. He’ll always answer.” I skipped home thinking of nothing more than playing baseball with my brothers. I didn’t know that the next day I would test my teacher’s words.
The following morning began, as mornings so often do in St. George, Utah, with the sun scorching the sandstone cliffs and lava rock hills that circle the town. Into the warmth of that perfect day my friend Cindy and I started off on one of our adventures. Clutching an arsenal of small, sharp hooks, two spools of thread, peanut-butter sandwiches, and cupcakes, we scurried toward the fishing hole. The distance wasn’t far, but to our small feet it seemed a long way.
Finally we reached the pond, the clear water reflecting the unspotted sky on its shimmering surface. Tall, tangled trees, each trying to reach the light, surrounded it, and a small island clung close to one side. We imagined that Peter Pan lived there, hiding from Captain Hook, whose ship lay harbored somewhere in the maze of trees and reeds.
Each adventurous step we took through the bushes sent a crowd of colored insects into flight. At last we came to the cement-encased headgate covered with brown and orange rust. We paused there and looked at the pond and the willows surrounding it, feeling as though the Amazon lay before us and that we had come to bury stolen treasure.
We sat down, slipped off our shoes, and dangled our dusty feet lazily in the cool water. Tying our thread to the hooks, we anticipated the prize fish that we would catch. Then we realized that we had brought nothing to use for bait! It was unthinkable to use any part of our lunches, so the homemade lines just hung loosely in the water, our excitement sinking as rapidly as the bare hooks.
The fishing having been frustrating, we soon found something new to occupy the morning. Close to the pond, and right next to a red sandstone mesa, was a sand hill. One side of the hill slanted smoothly upward, but the other side stopped partway down, forming a cliff as high as a house. At the base of the cliff was a rubble of rough sandstone. Off we ran, the world’s greatest mountain climbers, courageously tackling the tallest mountain.
As we reached the hill, we could see an old cedar post on top, peeled of its bark by years of service as part of an extinct fence.
“Race you to the post on the top!” I shouted.
Up the hill we scampered, sinking at times into the soft, warm sand. Small avalanches trailed behind us and could be heard falling on the rocks beneath the cliff. Soon I was on all fours, rushing toward the fence post like a dog chasing a stick—but unaware that I was ascending alone. I reached the top, exhilarated by my victory, and whirled around with a grin to face my opponent. But she wasn’t right behind me! She had run into deep sand and, unable to lift her feet, had panicked and started flailing around—sliding backward toward the edge of the cliff.
Her soiled face was a picture of fear, and her eyes could open no wider. Clean, tear-washed streaks streamed down her sunburned cheeks. I yelled at her to turn around and go down the hill the other way. Her only response was a sobbing “Help me!” But we both knew that if I went straight down to her, the sand moving before me would push her over the edge. Desperate, she cried out again, “Help me!”
I remembered my Primary teacher’s words from the day before, and I prayed fervently. Miraculously, Cindy stopped sliding. Something beneath her small feet stopped her. I went down a different way, inched cautiously to where she was, and helped her turn around. When she was on safe footing, I reached down to where she had stopped sliding and picked up a rock no larger than the whetstone my father used to sharpen my Cub Scout knife! Somehow that bit of stone had prevented a tragedy. I slipped it into my pocket, and we headed home. We had had enough adventure for one day.
Later I placed the rock on a shelf in my room to remind me of my wise Primary teacher’s words: “If you need Heavenly Father’s help, just ask Him. He’ll always answer.”
Now, years later, I still find courage in that saving scrap of sandstone.