Sara’s Surprise

I was a stranger, and ye took me in (Matt. 25:35).

Sara’s Surprise

“Girls, we have a challenge,” Sister Reed said as she rushed into the living room, where Kendyl, Marie, and the rest of the eleven-year-old girls were waiting to start their Achievement Day activity.

“What’s wrong, Sister Reed?” Kendyl could tell that their leader was worried.

“A family just moved into the ward, and they have an eleven-year-old daughter named Sara.”

The girls cheered. “But that’s good news,” Marie said.

“Yes, it is good news, but Sara’s mother just told me on the phone that Sara’s having a hard time with this move. She misses her friends back in their old ward, and she hasn’t left the house since they moved in.”

“I remember when I moved here last year,” Morgan said. “It was really hard at first. I feel bad for Sara. I wish we could make her feel better.”

“I do, too,” Sister Reed said. “And there’s one more thing I haven’t told you yet. Today is Sara’s birthday.”

“Let’s have a party for her,” Rebecca suggested. “That would help her feel better.”

“Yes, a surprise party!” Cindy exclaimed. “Let’s hurry and plan it.”

Half an hour later they were ringing Sara’s doorbell.

A pretty lady with her blond hair in a ponytail, answered the door. “Hi. Can I help you?”

“We’re on a scavenger hunt,” Marie answered. “We wondered if you had any of the things on this list.”

The woman looked doubtful. “We just moved in, so everything’s in boxes.”

Marie handed her the list, “Would you mind looking, please. It’s important that we find all these things.”

The lady smiled. “OK, I’ll look.” She read down the list, and when she got to the bottom, she started to laugh. “Well, well, I guess I do have one thing on your list. I just happen to have a ‘girl named Sara.’”

The girls giggled and looked knowingly at each other.

“Just a minute, I’ll go get her.”

A few moments later, the lady reappeared with a girl who had blond hair and who was holding a brown puppy.

Sara was a little shy at first, but her mother suggested she show the girls her new bedroom. It was decorated in blue checked wallpaper with bright sunflowers. Her bed had a fluffy down comforter on it, and she had her very own curio cabinet full of porcelain dolls.

The girls asked her all kinds of questions about the new puppy, where she used to live, who her best friend was back in her old ward, and if she was excited to start school the next day.

By the time Sara answered their questions and told them about her doll collection, she felt comfortable with the girls and was excited when her mother gave her permission to go with them on their scavenger hunt.

Sara’s mom smiled happily as she told the girls good-bye.

They went from house to house in Sister Reed’s neighborhood, gathering the rest of the items on their list, which included flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate chips. “What are we doing with all this stuff, anyway?” Sara asked. “I’ve never been on a scavenger hunt that had cooking ingredients on the list.”

The girls looked at each other and smiled secretly. “You’ll see,” Rebecca said. “We have just one last stop to make.”

Sister Reed was watching out the window when the girls walked up the driveway. She gave them a thumbs-up signal that everything was ready. They knocked on the door, and she invited them inside.

“Wow!” Sara said, noticing the balloons and streamers, “Are you getting ready for a party?”

“Surprise!” they yelled. “Happy birthday, Sara.”

“For me?” Sara gasped!

The girls laughed and hugged her, and so did Sister Reed. “Welcome to our ward, Sara. I’m your Achievement Day leader.”

“I can’t believe it,” Sara said. “How did you know?”

“We talked to your mom, silly,” Kendyl said. “Now, come on—let’s go make those cookies we scavenged for. I’m starving.”

While some of them stirred and baked, the others folded newspaper hats and decorated them with curly ribbons and glitter. Sara asked them for suggestions on what she should name her new puppy. Cindy said, “Name him Brownie,” as she licked a gooey beater. Morgan suggested naming him Chocolate Chip and calling him “Chip” for short.

“Chip,” Sara said thoughtfully. “Chip. Hey, I like it!”

“OK, girls, it’s time to give Sara your presents,” Sister Reed said.

“You didn’t have to get me presents. The party was more than I ever dreamed of.”

“These are special presents,” Sister Reed said, “the kind you can’t buy from a store or wrap with fancy paper. Rebecca, why don’t you start.”

“OK,” Rebecca said. “Since I live right around the corner from you, I’m going to pick you up for school so we can walk together.”

“Thanks, Rebecca, I’d really like that.” Sara sounded relieved.

Morgan offered, “I’ll go with you to school lunch. I know which line is the fastest and which servers give you the most dessert.”

“That would be great! Thanks.”

“And I’d like to play with you at recess,” Cindy said. “Do you know how to play four-square?”

“Kind of, but I’m not very good.”

“I’ll teach you, OK?”

“OK,” Sara smiled.

“For my gift,” Marie said, “I’d like to take you for ice cream sometime. Have you tried pistachio-almond with hot fudge?”

Sara shook her head. “No, but it sounds really delicious.”

“And my gift,” Kendyl said, “Is to have a scrapbook party. I called my mom, and she said I could invite all of you.”

The girls screamed with excitement. Sister Reed took the last batch of cookies out of the oven, while they jabbered about their plans for the scrapbook party and all the different snacks they would bring.

The girls crowned Sara with a glittery, sparkly birthday hat they had made especially for her. She smiled proudly as they sang “Happy Birthday.” When she blew out the candle, she realized that she didn’t even need to make a wish. Her wish had already come true. Her prayers had been answered.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Julie F. Young