“Hold onto my basket,” Mother told Elizabeth as they left the bakery. “And take Charlotte’s hand.” Mother stopped suddenly. She had forgotten for a moment that Charlotte had died. “Hold on tight,” she said, her voice quavering. “I don’t want to lose you too.” Mother shifted baby Ellen on her hip and set off down the sidewalk.
Elizabeth followed, dutifully holding the basket’s handle. Usually she would have helped herself to a piece of warm bread, but today she wasn’t hungry.
On a street corner a man was holding up a book and talking loudly. “What’s he saying?” Elizabeth asked. “He has a strange way of speaking.”
“He’s not from England. I think he’s from America. He says that the elders of his church have authority to bless the sick and that those who are not appointed unto death will be healed.” Mother sighed. “If only we had known.”
Elizabeth wasn’t sure what all this meant. All she knew was that she was cold and tired and wanted to go home.
Later that night, Elizabeth’s father looked at her across the dinner table. “You haven’t said a word,” he said. “Are you feeling sad about Charlotte?”
Mother studied her daughter a moment and then jumped up in alarm. “Oh please, no!” she exclaimed, putting her hand on Elizabeth’s sweaty forehead. “It’s not sadness,” she told her husband. “It’s a fever. Run for the doctor. Quick!”
By the time the doctor arrived, Elizabeth was unconscious. He examined her and then turned sadly to her parents. “It’s scarlet fever,” he said.
“Can’t you do anything?” Mother pleaded. “We lost our daughter Charlotte to the fever already.”
The doctor pulled a small bottle of medicine from his bag. “Give her a dose if she awakens. But I won’t lie to you—she is already near death and will not regain consciousness. I’ll come back tomorrow.”
After the doctor left, Father pounded his fist on the table. “Why would a loving God take our children? I can’t believe they have already lived out their appointed times.”
Mother grabbed his arm. “Francis, go for the Mormon elders at once and ask them to come pray for our little girl.” Father hesitated, but Mother insisted. “I believe their words, Francis. If they bless her she will get well.”
Father found the elders and brought them home. One of them anointed Elizabeth’s head with oil. Both laid their hands on her head and the other one solemnly pronounced a blessing, promising Elizabeth that she would get well. He also promised that she would become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that she would go to Utah, and that she would live to become a mother in Israel. The fever immediately left Elizabeth’s body, and she fell into a peaceful sleep.
The next morning the doctor came with a death certificate. “Sorry to intrude,” he apologized, “but I need to fill this out on Elizabeth.”
“Please come in and join us,” Mother said happily. “We were just having bread and butter for breakfast. At Elizabeth’s request.”
The doctor could scarcely believe his eyes. There was Elizabeth, sitting up and eating. “That medicine worked wonders!” he declared. “This is a miracle!”
Father handed him the unopened medicine bottle. “A miracle, yes,” he said. “But not from the medicine. The Mormon elders blessed her.”
“Well,” the doctor said, “I don’t know anything about the Mormons, but I know that she was certainly dying last night. Good day to you all.”
When the doctor was gone, Elizabeth set down her bread. “What is a mother in Israel?” she asked.
Mother looked at her in surprise. “Did you hear the blessing?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth replied. “I couldn’t open my eyes or speak, but as soon as I felt hands on my head, I could hear every word.”
“Those were promises from God,” Father said.
“Promises to me?” Elizabeth asked, wide-eyed. “Will they really happen?”
“Yes,” Father said, looking at Mother. “I believe they really will.”
Coming up in next month’s Friend, read about the second promise from Elizabeth’s blessing in “Part 2: Elizabeth’s Decision.”
“[The] power to heal the sick is still among us. It is the power of the priesthood of God. It is the authority held by the elders of this Church.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Healing Power of Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 54.