Anna sat up in bed. The room was still dark. She strained to hear sounds of Mama fixing breakfast in the kitchen. The only thing she heard was the chirping of crickets. She had been dreaming again—the same dream she had had every night for a week: She was walking out of darkness into a brilliant light. Seated in the center of the light was a man in a white robe, surrounded by children. As she neared him, he looked at her with the kindest eyes she had ever seen. He reached for her with large, strong hands and lifted her onto his lap. Then she woke up. But the feeling of loving hands holding her lingered.
The next day Anna had a hard time keeping her mind on what her teacher was saying. Anna thought, My teacher has promised to spend her whole life serving God. Surely she must know, if anyone does. Anna raised her hand.
“Why, Anna,” her teacher responded, “I didn’t think you were even listening this morning. Can you tell the class the answer?”
“I—I didn’t know that you had asked a question,” Anna stammered.
The children around her snickered. She felt a hot flush burn her cheeks.
“Then perhaps you have a question of your own?” the teacher inquired gently.
“Yes, I do have a question. Does God have hands?”
Again the children laughed. The teacher gave them one of her stern looks. “That’s not the sort of question I expected in the middle of mathematics,” she admitted. “However, class, there is never a wrong time to ask about God.” An orderly quiet returned to the room. Turning back to Anna, she said, “The Holy Bible tells us that God is a spirit. We might say that He is like the wind or the sunshine. We feel His power and love, but He cannot be seen. He does not have hands like you or I. We are His hands as we serve one another.”
Anna had always believed everything her teacher told her. She was very kind and wise. But every time Anna tried to think of God as a spirit without a body, she remembered the hands in her dream and their loving touch. It isn’t true, she whispered to herself. He does have hands. The dream made her feel so good that she knew that it must be true.
Her mother was in the garden when she arrived home from school. “Hello, Anna,” Mama greeted her. “I’ll be finished shortly.”
Anna sat on the warm earth near the flower bed and watched silently as Mama dug up the daffodil and tulip bulbs, separated the old ones from the new, and reburied them.
“My, but you’re the quiet one this afternoon,” Mama said as she finished the last bulb and sat on her heels to survey her work. “Usually it’s talk, talk, talk when you come home from school. Is there a test coming tomorrow that’s got your tongue?”
“No, Mama, there’s no test. I’m just thinking about a dream I keep having.”
“Do you want to tell me about it?” Mama asked, rising to her feet and reaching for Anna’s hand.
“There’s really not much to tell,” Anna said. “I’m in darkness. Then I see a light. As I go toward it, I see a kind man in white seated among some children. When I get close to him, he reaches out and picks me up. That’s when I wake up.”
“Who do you think this man is?”
“I think it’s God, Mama,” Anna answered. “But my teacher said that God is a spirit and doesn’t have hands.” Anna took one of her mother’s hands in both of hers. “When he picks me up, his hands are just as real as yours are right now, Mama.”
Her mother was silent for a few moments. Then she placed her free hand on top of Anna’s and looked lovingly into her face. “It’s a sweet dream,” Mama said slowly, “but I’m afraid that that’s all it is. Your teacher is right—a spirit has no hands.”
“It’s more than a dream,” Anna insisted. “I know it is.”
Mama patted Anna’s hands and smiled. “If it makes you happy to think of God in that way, I don’t see any harm in it. But I wouldn’t go talking about it at school anymore, all right?”
“All right,” Anna agreed. “I won’t.”
Anna stopped having the dream, and she stopped talking about it, but she never stopped thinking about it. Sometimes when she sat between Mama and Papa in their pew at church, she closed her eyes and thought of those loving hands holding her close.
Several years later two young Americans in dark suits came to Anna’s village. She felt a strange longing to talk to them. Sometimes she followed them a short distance. But when they turned to talk to her, she always ran away shyly.
One afternoon there was a knock on the door just as Anna and her mother sat down to eat. It was the Americans.
“We’re happy with our own church, thank you,” Mama replied quickly and began to shut the door.
Anna jumped up from her chair at the table. “Please, Mama, let them come in. Just this once,” she pleaded.
“All right, Anna. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt just once,” Mama said.
The taller one introduced himself as Elder Thomas, and his companion as Elder Johnson. Anna liked to listen to them talk.
“Anna,” Elder Thomas said now, smiling at her, “I’m glad we finally got a proper introduction. Every time we’ve tried before, you’ve run away.”
Anna blushed. “I see them on my way home from school sometimes, Mama,” she explained.
“So that’s why you wanted me to let them in.”
“I only wanted to ask them about America,” said Anna. “I thought it might help me with my studies.”
“I’m glad that you’re interested in America,” Elder Thomas told her with another smile. “That’s just what we’ve come to talk to you about. You see, something very exciting happened in America—something that isn’t even in the history books.” He paused, then asked her, “How old are you, Anna?”
“Fourteen, almost,” Anna answered.
“Fourteen. That’s how old a boy named Joseph Smith was when something very special happened to him.” Elder Thomas told Anna and her mother how Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees.
Excitement filled Anna’s heart as she listened. “You mean he actually saw God?” she asked when Elder Thomas finished.
“Yes, Anna,” he assured her. “He saw God just as plainly as you can see me at this moment.”
“Did God have hands?” she asked.
Elder Johnson started flipping through the book he carried with his Bible. “This book has what we call the Doctrine and Covenants in it,” he explained. “It contains revelations given to Joseph Smith. Listen to what it says in section 130, verse 22 [D&C 130:22]: ‘The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also.’ So he does have hands, Anna. ‘Tangible’ means that you can feel them.”
“I knew it, Mama!” Anna cried. “It’s just like my dream.”
“I had forgotten the dream,” Mama said softly.
As Anna told the missionaries of the dream, she felt as though the whole room was filling with love. “I know that God has a body, just as Joseph Smith said. And someday I will see Him, and He will hold me in His hands.”