Every year my family spends Christmas at a beach near Matinhos in Paraná, Brazil. We begin preparing for the trip in November and survive the hot days of December only by anticipating the excitement of the Christmas holidays.
It is not just the chance to play in the ocean that makes the trip so exciting. It is also a reunion with my father’s family—all strong Latter-day Saints. My grandparents joined the Church long ago, and both my parents were born in the Church.
One year’s trip, the year I was 13, was particularly unforgettable.
It was 22 December 1994 when, after so many preparations, we finally arrived at the large beach house where we were met by my grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles.
“Hey, Isaac,” I heard my cousin Charles calling me. “Let’s go take a look at the waves.”
“Sure, let’s go,” I excitedly yelled back. After all, I did not want to lose one second of my long-awaited holiday.
As we made our way to the ocean, my mother counseled: “Do not go very far from the beach. Try to stay in the shallow water with your cousin.”
But after entering the water, we began pursuing the rolling waves and gradually moved farther out. Before we noticed it, we were far from the shore. Suddenly Charles said, “Isaac, the water is deep. It’s so deep I can’t put my foot down.”
“Let’s go back,” I answered. “I can’t touch the bottom either, and I don’t think we can swim against the tide.” Charles seemed to be more frightened than I, but I was also afraid, not knowing what was going to happen to us.
Some minutes passed as we tried to reach the shallow water, but it seemed the more we struggled, the farther out we went. We were a long way from the shore when I looked over the waves and saw many people running back and forth on the beach trying to see us. At that moment, I thought of my mother. She would be angry because I had disobeyed her, and she would be worrying that I wouldn’t return. I was glad my father was at work and hadn’t joined us at the beach yet. He would have been frantic. Oh, how I wanted to be safe on the beach with my family!
I kept struggling and telling my cousin not to quit as we tried to keep our heads above the water. He kept encouraging me also. When we saw a lifeguard coming to get us, he looked very small in that immense ocean. I yelled, “We’re saved!”
But my joy was short-lived as I saw how hard it was for the lifeguard to reach Charles and carry him back to the beach. Left alone, I was pulled by the current farther and farther away. I became so tired I could hardly breathe. At that moment, I remembered something I had learned from my parents: “All things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).
Trusting my parents and my Heavenly Father, I began to pray. I asked Heavenly Father to send dolphins to save me. When the dolphins appear, I will grab one of their fins, and I will be saved, I thought. I had no doubts about my request; I knew my prayer would be answered. I waited … and waited.
I soon became so exhausted that I held my nose, went deep under the water, then returned to the surface. Nevertheless, hope and patience did not abandon me, not even for a second. I kept fighting.
By then, Charles was safe on the beach, but he was in a very bad condition. People asked him about me. He could only cry. The people on the beach continued trying to spot me among the waves.
From the other side of the beach, which seemed an easier means of rescue, two lifeguards started toward me. As they approached, I realized in my very tired mind that my prayers had been answered. Two courageous men had not become discouraged by what seemed a hopeless situation. They were the dolphins I was waiting for! I remember they said to me, “Rest and everything will be all right.”
When we reached the shore, I was laid on a stretcher and taken to a first-aid station. People watching from the other side of the beach could see only my motionless body, and they thought I had drowned.
My mother quickly reached my side and found I was still breathing. How good it was to see her! How good it was to be alive!
“Well, young man, you are very lucky,” the surprised doctor remarked. “Not one drop of water entered your lungs. I have never seen an accident like this where someone has been so lucky.”
My mother looked at the doctor. “It wasn’t luck,” she said firmly. It was clear that she knew it was the Lord, not luck, who had saved me.
My parents have always taught me to have faith. They have taught me through their examples to look to my Heavenly Father in any difficulty. I realized that day that there are always consequences when we disobey—sometimes serious consequences. But I also learned that faith and prayer can give us the will to endure even in the worst difficulty. I know that when we ask in faith Heavenly Father answers our prayers—not necessarily with what we ask for, but with what we need most.