My dad had said that we could go away for the weekend—just the two of us. We were going to a campground outside of town. Then Dad lost his job.
He had been working at a local warehouse, but it burned down last month. All the money that Dad had been saving was used up when my little sister, Elizabeth, was born. She was born the day after the fire. Then our car broke down, and we couldn’t afford to get it fixed right away.
We had a family council and talked about us not having enough money and about Dad’s not having found another job yet. Dad said that, if needed, the Church could help us with food for a while. Then he stopped talking, and got tears in his eyes. That had happened before, when he bore his testimony one fast Sunday.
I went and got the money that I’d been saving and gave it to Dad. It wasn’t very much—one dollar and seventy-six cents—but it was all that I had. I told him that I wanted to help.
Dad didn’t say anything. He just pulled me close to him and held me longer than I could ever remember. I think that he was crying again, because my cheek felt wet.
After supper that night Dad asked me if I wanted to sleep out in our backyard. It’s a lot smaller than any campground, but the sky looked just as big in the yard as it did at the camp. And there weren’t any more stars there than there were right here.
We lay in our sleeping bags and looked at the sky. We saw a falling star. It seemed to go by about as fast as summer did. And that was too fast.
We talked, too, about lots of things. We talked about how far dandelion seeds can fly and we talked about the dent in the blade of the old cavalry sword that was handed down to Dad from his great-great-great uncle.
Most of all we talked about something else that was on my mind. I told Dad that I had been praying all week for something to happen so that we could still go to the campground. But nothing had happened. And looking up into the night sky and seeing how really big space was and how really small I was, I started thinking that maybe I was too little for God to bother with.
Dad turned his head toward me, his lips turning up into a big smile. “God hears everyone’s prayers, Nathan,” he said. “And that includes children’s. Maybe especially children’s. And when a person prays with all his heart, he receives answers.”
“But I didn’t get an answer!”
Dad took a small crawly insect off my pillow and put it on the grass. I think that maybe he was giving me time to think. I looked over at Dad, looking more intently at them than I’d ever seen him look at anything before. Then he looked at me in a gentle way. “You are a child of God,” he said softly. “That means that you are very special. Heavenly Father loves you even more than I do—and I love you with all my heart and soul.
“The Lord created this whole world for you,” he continued. “Our Elder Brother Jesus gave His life for you—and for all of us. So don’t ever think that you are too small for God to bother with. Heavenly Father is happy when you’re happy. And so am I.”
Now that I think about it, I guess that it isn’t important where Dad and I spend time together. In fact, I’m glad that we camped out in our backyard. I liked it just as much as I would have at a campground. Maybe even more—because we talked about some very important things that night that we might not have discussed at the camp because things would have been different. I would have gotten a “yes” answer to my prayer and not wondered about things. But as it was, we had spent a special night together. Just me, my dad, and the stars.