Incident on Robinson Crusoe Island


My home is Robinson Crusoe Island, a small spot of land in the Pacific Ocean about 365 nautical miles west of Chile. It is named for an 18th-century novel in which a sailor is marooned on an unknown island for many long years. In real life, the island is the home of about 500 people. On this small island in the Pacific, we have a branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, consisting of about 60 members and two full-time missionaries.

Reaching the island requires a three-hour airplane flight or a boat voyage of two days or more. Although the island and sea are rich in natural resources, islanders have come to depend upon the boats for food. Many have also come to depend on the Lord. Experience has taught us that he loves his children and will answer our prayers.

One such experience occurred when my older brother, Adrian, needed surgery. Medical facilities here are limited, and it was necessary for him to leave his wife and children to fly to the mainland. He resisted the trip, fearing a problem with the small plane he would be taking. But in the end, he had to go. Boarding with him were the pilot and two television reporters.

As I heard the plane fly overhead, I sent my thoughts with my brother: Have no fear, Adrian. Heavenly Father will watch over you. Yet I felt prompted to go to my room and pray for his protection.

I was still on my knees when my husband came in. “I don’t know how to tell you this,” he began.

“Tell me what?”

“Adrian’s plane has crashed into the sea. We don’t know yet if there are any survivors.”

Thankfully, all four men lived. They were rescued by some people in a fishing boat and were soon back safe on the island. The entire population was waiting for them when they returned to the dock. We applauded with relief and joy and shed many tears of gratitude.

The next day the two reporters came to my place of work and gave me their version of what had happened. When the plane began to go down, the pilot ordered them to break the windows and throw out anything they could. Suitcases, cameras, shoes—everything was sacrificed to help the plane stay afloat as long as possible after crashing. The pilot gave some final instructions, and they buckled their seat belts.

Then Adrian began to pray aloud. He told the Lord that all of them felt they had a lot of living left to do. They were heads of families. They all had small children. He pleaded for another chance.

When he finished the prayer, he began to sing one of our hymns, “The Lord is my light; then why should I fear? …” (Hymns, 1985, number 89). The reporters said that without knowing the hymn, they began to sing with him. The music and his prayer gave them hope that they might be saved.

Within a few seconds of impact, the plane sank. But those few seconds were enough. They got the door open and inflated a raft. After the fishing boat picked them up, someone spotted a suitcase floating. It was Adrian’s. Inside was the tithing from our branch, which he was to deliver to Church leaders on the mainland. Other than the four men, the suitcase was the only thing that was saved.

Although we live in one of the most remote places of the earth, we know our Father in Heaven is mindful of us. We have felt his almighty hand, and he has answered our prayers.

[illustration] Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh