Baskets and Boxes


(Based on an experience from the author’s family history)
As thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit (D&C 6:14).

March 1839 Lyma, Illinois

Five-year-old Mary turned the flour sack upside down. She was helping her mother make bread. They needed one last cup of flour, but the sack was empty.

“We’ll just have to make as many loaves as we can,” Mother said.

Mary knew why their family was out of flour. Since the night the mob had made them leave their home in Adam-ondi-Ahman, life had been hard. They had been forced to leave behind everything they owned. Mary’s father and brothers had returned to Adam-ondi-Ahman with other Saints to get their chairs, rugs, and food, but when they tried to cross the river in their wagons, the mob started shooting at them. Mary’s father and brothers had barely made it back to camp safely.

Since that night, Father had been coughing. For the last couple of months, it seemed as if he could hardly breathe. He was too sick to get out of bed. And because he was too sick to work, Mary’s family had no money to buy food.

Using a borrowed horse, Mary and her mother and her eight brothers and sisters had worked from sunrise to sunset clearing trees from their new land to farm. They used the trees to build a new house. They had finished planting the corn the day before, but it would not be ready to eat for months.

That night the family knelt in prayer and thanked Heavenly Father for their new land and house. They thanked Him for their safety from the mob. Then Father prayed that they might find a way to earn enough money to buy food.

The next morning, Father asked everyone to gather around his bed. “Last night I stayed up late praying,” he said. “I asked Heavenly Father to help me find a way for us to earn enough money for food, even though I am sick. When I fell asleep, I had a dream.”

He explained that in his dream, he had seen the family gathering bark and logs in the forest. When they came home, they used the bark to make baskets. They used the wood from the logs to make boxes. “Everyone in our family was working together,” Father said. “When we finished, we loaded the baskets and boxes into the wagon and took them into town to sell.” He got tears in his eyes. “This dream is Heavenly Father’s answer to our prayers,” he said.

That very morning, Mary and her family went into the forest near their home and found the trees Father had seen. When the bark was soaked in water overnight, it was perfect for weaving baskets.

Mary’s mother taught her how to make pretty round baskets with handles while Mary’s brothers split some of the logs into planks to make boxes. Within a few days, they had enough baskets and boxes to fill their wagon and take into town.

When they arrived at the general store, the shopkeeper looked over the baskets and boxes. “They are very well made,” he said. “I’ll take all of them.”

In return for the items, he gave them sacks of flour and potatoes, and even a bolt of cloth.

“I’d take some more baskets and boxes in two weeks, if you can make them,” he said.

Mother smiled. “We will bring another wagonful.”

That evening, the family knelt in prayer. Father wept as he thanked Heavenly Father for helping the family get enough food to last until the autumn harvest.

And the next morning, Mary helped her mother make bread again.

[Prayer]

President Boyd K. Packer

“You, through prayer, can solve your problems.” President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Self-Reliance,” Ensign, Aug. 1975, 89.

[illustrations] Illustrations by Gregg Thorkelson