Cameron watched from his home as the flames grew closer. An out-of-control forest fire had been burning for six days. Cameron and his dad used hoses to wet down the sides of their house. Smoke clogged the air, its thick haze stinging their eyes.
The next morning, they listened to the news on the radio. Cameron’s parents exchanged worried looks.
“We have to evacuate,” Dad said to Cameron and Mom. “Take what you can.”
They went through the house, gathering up family pictures, scriptures, and genealogy records. Cameron looked out the window and saw a line of trucks and cars coming toward their house. “Mom, I think I see the bishop’s truck,” he said.
His mother came to stand beside him. “You’re right.”
“How did they know we needed help?” he asked.
“They’re our friends,” she said, her eyes shiny with tears. “They must have been listening to the radio too.”
The bishop and others helped Cameron’s family carry out the boxes they had packed.
Their family stayed with friends that night. In the morning when it was safe, they returned to their home and gathered up more of their belongings. With the help of their friends from the Church, Cameron’s family stored their furniture in different homes and garages all over town.
Within the next few days, the temperature dropped and the wind died down. Cameron’s home remained untouched by the fire.
“I think the worst is over,” his dad said.
With the danger of the fire past, Cameron and his parents returned to their home. It was smoky inside, and a thick layer of soot covered everything. Cameron’s mother knelt down and motioned for him and Dad to do the same. “The first thing we need to do is offer a prayer of thanks,” she said.
Mom said the prayer, and all three remained on their knees for a few minutes afterward. Cameron quietly wondered why Heavenly Father hadn’t stopped the fire before it nearly ruined their house.
Mom rolled up her sleeves. “We’ve got work to do.”
Once more, their friends returned, this time with mops and buckets, soap and rags. They scrubbed walls, mopped floors, wiped down counters, and washed linens. Men carried in the furniture and arranged it in the rooms. Cameron worked alongside his dad and the other men, all the while watching and listening.
The workers took a break only once, when Cameron’s mother and some of her friends served lunch picnic-style on the floor.
“We don’t know how to thank you,” his dad said to their friends at the end of the day.
The bishop smiled. “You’ve already done it.”
“That’s right,” one of the other men added. “You would have been there if we needed you.”
For the first time in a week, Cameron and his parents sat down to dinner in their own home. After the blessing on the food, Cameron couldn’t keep his question to himself anymore. “Why didn’t Heavenly Father stop the fire before it got so close to our home and made everything so dirty?”
“Heavenly Father did stop the fire,” Mom said. “He also sent friends to help us. That’s how He works—through His servants.”
Cameron thought about how hard everyone had worked to help his family. He smiled. Though many years passed, he never forgot the example of service and friendship his Church family had shown him.
“God does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs.”
President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985), “Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, Dec. 1974, 5.