“Ship 3527 to mission control. We’re entering launch codes. Stand by.” Nathan’s four-inch-tall stuffed monkey couldn’t really talk, and he wasn’t really the copilot in a brigade of intergalactic star fighters, but as Nathan sat on a swing outside his elementary school on a warm Saturday afternoon with the monkey perched in his lap, he couldn’t help letting his imagination get carried away. He pictured his miniature copilot typing in a flurry of complicated formulas, preparing their ship to launch.
Nathan gripped the swing ropes and shuffled backward, careful not to let the monkey slip from his lap. He was now in ready position.
“5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … we have ignition!” With an explosive whoosh, Nathan shot forward into motion. Pumping furiously, he propelled himself higher and higher, faster and faster, as he imagined the two of them soaring past the moon, past Mars, out of the solar system, out of the galaxy.
“Nathan! Come over here!” The voice of one of Nathan’s neighborhood pals brought him back to reality. “Look at this sand village I built! Do you want to help? We could make it huge!”
Nathan leaped from the swing and tossed his monkey onto a nearby bench so it wouldn’t get dirty. “OK,” he said. “I’ll start on the roads.”
The boys were just finishing the town when Nathan’s mom called out from a nearby bench, “Nathan, it’s time to go home.”
Nathan stood up, brushed the sand from his clothes, and headed toward Mom. They walked across the grass, down the street, around the corner, and into their front yard. Suddenly, Nathan gasped. “Oh no! My copilot!”
After a quick explanation to Mom, Nathan ran around the corner back to the school playground. Drawing close to the familiar bench, he was puzzled to find it bare. He checked under it, around it, and behind it, but there was no stuffed animal. Desperately, he scanned the area for any sign of his favorite toy, but all he could see were swings, slides, an abandoned city of sand, and a couple of kids playing catch with their dog. The monkey was gone.
Nathan carefully retraced his steps around the playground but couldn’t find the monkey anywhere. Losing hope, Nathan was about to give up the search when he remembered something his mom had told him about prayer: “If you ask the Lord for something that’s right, you’ll receive it.” He knelt on the ground and pleaded, “Heavenly Father, could you please help me find my monkey?” When the prayer was finished, he stood and thought for a moment. “I’ll just look one more time,” he decided.
He looked up and saw the children who had been playing with their dog walking by. He was about to walk right past them when a thought came to his mind: maybe they could help.
“Did either of you see a little stuffed monkey?” he asked them.
The kids looked at each other and laughed. “Yeah,” one of them said sheepishly. “We didn’t think it belonged to anyone, so we tossed it around and let our dog try to catch it.”
“I threw it too hard,” the other boy said, “and it landed on the roof of the school. I’m really sorry.”
Nathan couldn’t help grinning in relief. “It’s OK,” he said. “I’ll get it down. Thanks!”
Later, with the help of his parents, Nathan was able to get his monkey down from the roof. He realized how blessed he had been to meet those kids before they left, and how fortunate it was that he had thought to ask them about his toy. Without their help, the monkey would never have been found. He was grateful that his prayer had been answered.
Nathan tucked the monkey firmly into his pocket and radioed mission control. “This is ship 3527. Copilot recovered. We’re ready for launch once more.”
And with a nod from his parents, Nathan shot down the road toward home, happy to be back in the pilot’s seat with his favorite stuffed friend.
“The Lord has a way of pouring pure intelligence into our minds to prompt us, to guide us, to teach us, to warn us. You can know the things you need to know instantly! Learn to receive inspiration.”
President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Prayers and Answers,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 20.