Samantha turned her back to the cheerful view outside her window. She tried to tune out the happy sounds coming from downstairs, but it didn’t work. A tear escaped from her eye, and she hastily wiped it away—she did not want to be caught crying. They have been so nice! she thought.
Other families had not been. They hadn’t really been mean or anything, and her physical needs had always been met—but she’d never felt like she had a real home where she belonged. And after a few weeks or months, she would move on to a new house and a new family—which was fine because she didn’t really miss the previous one much.
But the McMillans were different. Samantha could tell they really cared for her. That’s why thinking about leaving some day made her so sad. It’s better not to become too close, she thought. Another tear trailed its way down her cheek. Why am I upset? I should be happy. This is a nice family, I feel at home here, even though I’ve been here only four days.
Suddenly footsteps galloped up the stairs. That has to be Amy, she thought, smiling.
The door flew open, and six-year-old Amy bounded in, her pigtails bouncing and a huge smile on her face. “Samantha! Samantha! Mom has our dessert downstairs! You’d better hurry, or Kevin will eat it all up!” The whipped cream smeared across her cheek made it obvious that Amy had eaten hers already. She stopped abruptly and looked closely at Samantha in the darkening room. “Are you sad?”
Samantha jumped up. “Oh, I’m just thinking. What did your mom make for dessert?” she replied, trying to change the subject.
“Pumpkin pie, of course. We always have pie on Saturday night. You can even put cream on it if you want!”
“I bet you had cream on yours!”
“How’d you know?”
“A good guess,” Samantha said as she wiped the cream from Amy’s cheek.
“Well, come on!” Amy grabbed at Samantha’s hand. “You need to hurry if you want any.”
As Amy bounded down the stairs, Samantha followed, unsure of herself and of where she fit in with this family.
The McMillans were sitting at the table, eating their pie. A place was set for her, and a piece of pie had been cut and put at her place. She sat down silently and looked around the table. Everyone smiled a greeting except Kevin, who was eyeing her piece of pie. She smiled and looked down at her hands shyly.
“We already blessed the pie, Samantha,” Mrs. McMillan said. “Won’t you have some with us?”
Samantha was relieved. She felt awkward when they said these prayers. She remembered her first meal with them. All of a sudden everyone had bowed their heads and were quiet, and she’d had no idea what they were doing. She had glanced around the table and tried to copy what she saw. No one had noticed because they all had their eyes closed. Suddenly remembering Mrs. McMillan’s question, she quickly said, “Kevin can have mine, I’m still full from dinner.”
“Yes!” Kevin shouted.
“Kevin! You’ve had two pieces already!” Mrs. McMillan said in disbelief. “And you ate more than anyone else at dinner!”
“I know, Mom, but I’m a growing boy!” Kevin replied, reaching for Samantha’s pie and giving her a great big smile of thanks.
Samantha giggled and looked at Amy, who giggled too.
“Well, it’s time for bed now,” Mr. McMillan said a few minutes later as he stood up and began to gather the dishes on the table. “I’ll help your mother with these while you kids run up and get your pajamas on. We’ll come up and tuck you in shortly.”
As she and Samantha climbed the stairs, Amy grumbled about having to go to bed so soon. Kevin ate his last bite of pie and fell in step behind them.
Samantha followed Amy into their room, and they began to change into their pajamas. Samantha was eager to wear the new pink ones Mrs. McMillan had bought for her. But when Amy knelt at the side of her bed to say her prayers, Samantha felt the awkward feeling seep into her chest again. Mr. and Mrs. McMillan had offered to help her pray, but they didn’t insist when she said maybe later, after she got more used to the family routines. Amy soon stood up and hopped under the covers. She glanced over at Samantha and asked, “Are you going to say your prayers tonight?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Samantha said, getting into bed. She turned out the lamp on the nightstand. Mr. and Mrs. McMillan came in and wished them good night and sweet dreams, then closed the door quietly. The moon shining through the trees cast shadows on the wall, and Samantha watched the shadows sway back and forth as the night breeze blew.
“Amy, why do you p-pray every night?” Samantha asked, feeling awkward even asking.
“Because I need to talk to Heavenly Father.”
“Why do you need to talk to Heavenly Father?”
“I need to thank Him for my mom, dad, and brother. And my friend Jesse is sick, so I need to ask Heavenly Father to bless her and help her get better. Oh, and I need to thank Him for the nice day we had—and for sending you to live with us.”
“And you’re praying to a person?”
“Sure, but not a person like us—God is our Heavenly Father and He’s perfect. Mom says He loves us and wants us to be happy. He answers our prayers, though sometimes not the way we want to have them answered.”
“Do you really believe that there is a Person who hears you when you pray?”
“Oh, yes, I’m sure. I always feel good inside when I pray.”
“Do you think He will listen and answer prayers for anyone—even for me?” Samantha had many feelings inside that she wanted to share with someone who loved her, especially someone like the Heavenly Father Amy had described.
“Of course!” Amy chirped reassuringly.
“How do you say a prayer? I mean, do you say it like your family does at dinner?”
“Yep! Do you want to pray now? I’ll help you!”
Without waiting for an answer, Amy scrambled over and knelt beside Samantha’s bed. Samantha knelt next to her and closed her eyes. Amy thanked Heavenly Father for the nice day and asked Him to bless the family, including the goldfish. As Samantha echoed Amy’s words, she began to feel good inside. They ended their prayer in the name of Jesus Christ and climbed into their beds.
“We can pray together again in the morning, and you can do the talking,” Amy said and then was soon asleep.
Samantha couldn’t sleep. All she could think about was how she felt and what Amy had said. In her heart she began to say another prayer, thanking Heavenly Father for the McMillans.