1982
Set the Table, God Will Provide
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“Set the Table, God Will Provide,” Ensign, June 1982, 55

“Set the Table, God Will Provide”

I was six months old when my father died, leaving mother with five children and no money. The oldest in our family was Gary, fifteen.

For many years we lived in a rented house with enough land to raise vegetables, some fruit trees, a few chickens, and a pig. Nothing was wasted; we canned our winter food supply, and the pig was slaughtered and preserved. Any surplus vegetables and fruit we sold.

We lived in a small town in upper New York state, a summer resort on Lake Ontario. Mother worked as a cook or a maid, or on the small farms helping with sowing or harvesting. My brothers all worked at whatever small jobs came along. They stayed in school through the eighth grade. Gary bought a small truck and transported luggage for the summer tourists.

Having done everything she could to meet our family’s expenses, mother never worried when unexpected bills came along. She always said, “God will provide.” There was always some way to earn the money needed, or a forgotten wage check would arrive. Sometimes, to meet expenses, she sold all the fruit we had.

I was baptized when I was eight years old, and I believed in God. But it often worried me that I did not have mother’s faith. When I talked to her about it, she was reassuring. “You will grow in faith,” she said. “You will come to believe the truth that God lives and that he provides. If you ask, you will receive.” Now, as a grown woman, I look back and recall an incident that proved my mother’s faith.

I was ten years old, and we were spring cleaning when mother called me to the kitchen. She was washing windows; I had been cleaning pictures in the living room. Mother handed me a stack of plates and said, “Please set the table. It’s almost supper time.”

I hesitated, then blurted out, “But there’s no food in the house.”

She said, “Remember, if you believe and ask in faith, you will receive.”

I walked around the table, setting the six places. Then I dashed back to cleaning pictures. We had found a picture of an Indian princess in a box of books we bought at an auction sale. I picked up this picture, and after cleaning the glass, turned it over. There was a bulge in the paper. I tugged at a lump of green paper. In my hand fell first a ten-dollar bill and then a five-dollar bill.

A little ten-year-old girl learned a lesson that day. When my mother talked to the Lord, she asked him to provide food to fill those empty plates. And her faith was rewarded.