Maggie’s Peaches

(Based on experiences of the author’s ancestors)
The prayers of the faithful shall be heard (2 Ne. 26:15).

A hot, dry wind blew through Maggie’s open window, bringing in dust and the smell of sagebrush. Summer weekends were lonely—Maggie’s father was seeing to business outside Rush Valley, and her older brothers were away rounding up the cattle and hauling ore for the mines nearby. Only Mother and Aunt Laura were there to keep her company in the big adobe house. And since it was the Sabbath, Maggie couldn’t play outside with her colt or her new kittens or run around the yard looking for tiny wildflowers.

Even worse, Mother was sick. She had hardly eaten for days, and worry hung over the house. Maggie wanted more than anything to see Mother well and happy. “Maybe I’ll go see if she’s well enough to eat today,” Maggie thought. She tiptoed across the hall to Mother’s room and peeked inside.

“Mother, you’re awake!” Maggie said, relieved, as she approached Mother’s big bed. “What would you like to eat?”

“Well, dear,” Mother answered, “I don’t have much choice. I’ll have to settle for what we have on hand.”

The nearest store was 10 miles away. With the boys away and Mother sick, no one had gone for groceries in weeks, and there was nothing in the cellar but canned tomatoes. Maggie hesitated to remind her mother of this—she knew Mother found the idea of eating more tomatoes even less appetizing than she did herself.

“Don’t worry, Maggie. I know there’s nothing but tomatoes.” Mother smiled. “If I could have what I really want most, it would be some good, cold peaches fresh from the cellar. But I guess I’ll just imagine the tomatoes are peaches instead!” She laughed, which made Maggie feel better.

Maggie started heading for the cellar, but stopped to kneel and say a quick prayer before going downstairs.

“Heavenly Father,” she said. “I can’t stand to see Mother so sick and sad. I want to bring her peaches for dinner. Please help me find some. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

When Maggie stood up, her heart felt lighter. She knew Heavenly Father had heard her prayer. She walked into the cool, dark cellar and lit a candle so she could see. Two identical cases of tomatoes were stacked one on top of the other. The top case was open. Maggie walked around the cellar with her candle, peering in the corners, but there were no peaches to be seen. Other than the tomatoes, the cellar was completely empty.

Maggie lifted up the heavy box of tomatoes and set it on the floor. She took a hammer from the table beside her and pried one board loose from the second case of tomatoes. Out came one can, which Maggie set down on the table. Then she lifted another can out from the bottom layer. That was the one! The picture label was of bright red tomatoes, but Maggie knew there was something else inside.

She ran as fast as she could back up to her mother’s room. “Mother!” she cried, “I’ve got your peaches!”

“Looks very much like tomatoes to me, Maggie,” Aunt Laura said.

“I don’t care what the label says,” Maggie insisted. “These are peaches.”

“Bless your heart,” Mother said kindly. “We’ll imagine they are peaches and eat them anyway.”

Maggie rushed to get the can opener from the kitchen, and ran back to the bedroom at top speed. As her mother jabbed the opener into the can, golden peach juice oozed out. Maggie dipped her finger in and tasted the sweet juice.

“Oh, Mother, the Lord heard my prayer!” Maggie exclaimed. “They are peaches!”

A few minutes later, Mother sat holding a big dish of beautiful orange peaches on a tray. Tears filled her eyes. “Oh, my Maggie,” she whispered, “how did you do it?” Maggie told her about her prayer and how she knew exactly where to look.

“Well,” Aunt Laura said, “They just made a mistake when they labeled the cans. Isn’t that a strange coincidence?”

Mother looked at Aunt Laura. “All my life I’ve never found peaches in tomato cans, and yet there they were for Maggie when she prayed. I know the Lord answered her prayers and guided her hand to that one can, so don’t try to tell me it was just a coincidence.”

She kissed Maggie on the cheek. “Go along now, dear. I think I’ll get some good rest today.”

Maggie walked back to her room and knelt beside the bed to thank Heavenly Father for His guidance. She knew that answers to prayer were real, and she would never forget it.

[Believe in Prayer]

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Believe in prayer. … The Lord will hear the prayers of faithful people. … I believe that with all my heart.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Latter-day Counsel: Selections from Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Apr. 2002, 73.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brad Teare

Ana Nelson Shaw is a member of the Merced First Ward, Merced California Stake.