The ground began to tremble, and a shout went up from the members of the wagon train. “The buffalo are coming!”
Eight-year-old Emily held tightly to her mother’s hand as her father jumped to the ground, skillfully guiding their team of oxen into a circle formation with the other wagons. As 40 wagons and three carriages jammed together, Emily looked around for her older sister, Wilhelmina—“Willie” for short. Willie was traveling in the covered wagon ahead of theirs, riding on the spring seat with the driver.
Suddenly, a great herd of buffalo thundered over the hill behind them. Emily cried out and hid her face in her mother’s skirts as the fearsome beasts stampeded over the prairie and around the huddled wagon train.
When the dust cleared, Emily heard the wagonmaster calling for help and saw him carrying someone in his arms.
“Willie!” Emily cried. She ran toward her motionless sister and reached for her hand.
Mother spread a quilt on the ground, and the wagonmaster gently lowered Willie onto it. “She’s been badly injured,” he said. “It looks like she was thrown from the wagon.”
Emily stared in horror at the black stripe from a wagon wheel crossing Willie’s left shoulder to her right hip. The right side of her face was terribly cut and bruised, where either an ox or a buffalo had stomped on her.
Emily was so frightened that she started to cry. Mother put her arms around Emily as they knelt by Willie’s side.
Because Emily and Willie’s father was not a member of the Church, other priesthood holders, including their brothers and uncles, gave Willie a blessing. When they were finished, Willie stirred. Mother put her hand over Willie’s face and said, “Don’t open your eyes, dear.”
“Will she be all right?” Emily whispered.
Mother squeezed her hand while blinking back tears. “If it is Heavenly Father’s will.”
Suddenly, Emily remembered being taught by the missionaries back home in Delaware. They had said that if she had faith and believed in Heavenly Father, He would hear and answer her prayers.
Running toward a large rock, Emily dropped to her knees and prayed harder than she ever had before. “Please, Heavenly Father,” she said, “make Willie better.” A warm, peaceful feeling filled her heart, and she knew Heavenly Father was listening.
By the time Emily rejoined Willie, the company was setting up camp. Since Willie was unable to travel, the whole company would remain near Buffalo Creek for a time. “We will trust in the Lord that the weather and our supplies will hold out until Willie gets better,” Mother said.
As the wagon train waited for the smallest sign of improvement in Willie’s condition, they fasted and prayed, and the elders continued to pray for her and bless her.
Emily did what she could to help. She gave Willie water when she was thirsty. She read scriptures to Willie and told her stories. She gathered dried buffalo chips to be used as fuel for fire. Sometimes she helped the doctor gather herbs and roots from the prairie, preparing poultices [medicine] to help treat Willie. And every day, Emily prayed and prayed.
Three weeks later, Emily’s prayers were answered. Willie was well enough to travel! The company continued its westward journey.
“Oh, Willie,” Emily said as she sat in the back of the wagon with her sister. “I’m so glad Heavenly Father heard my prayers.”
Willie smiled. “I know that faith and prayers made me whole. What would I have done without you?”
Gingerly touching Willie’s brow, Emily said, “Your cuts are healing. Pretty soon you won’t be able to see them at all.” Emily snuggled close to her sister. “You’re a miracle, Willie.”
“So are you, Emily,” Willie said as she kissed her little sister on the cheek. “So are you.”
“Jesus of Nazareth healed the sick among whom He moved. His … power is with us today to be invoked through His holy priesthood.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Healing Power of Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 59.