1989
We Knew the Plane Would Come
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“We Knew the Plane Would Come,” Ensign, Oct. 1989, 43

We Knew the Plane Would Come

My husband’s work with the state of Alaska had brought us, with our two children, to Bethel, a remote Eskimo village about four hundred miles west of Anchorage.

During the summer months when the tundra was ablaze with wildflowers, barges could make their way upriver to the village after the ice had broken up and floated out to sea. But during the long, dark winter months when there was nothing but a vast wilderness of ice and snow, our village was accessible only by air.

It was during one of these winters that I experienced one of the saddest and most sacred events in my life. One evening about midnight, a state trooper brought the tragic news that my father, who lived in Utah, had died unexpectedly from a heart attack.

I called home and talked to one of my sisters, who said the family was in a state of shock and my mother was taking the news very badly. Come home right away, she pleaded.

My husband and I spent the rest of the night packing and getting me ready to leave on the plane in the morning. There was only one flight each day, when the weather permitted. Because the weather had been extremely bad for several days with gale-force winds and whiteout conditions, I was worried that there might not be a flight.

About 6:00 A.M., my husband called the airport to arrange my flight. Because of the weather the plane had not come in for two days, the clerk said, and no flights were expected that day. But we could check back in a couple of hours. We called back every hour throughout the day, but with the same disappointing response.

Grief and despair had overtaken me. I told my husband I just had to get to my grieving mother. “It’s all right, sweetheart. You’ll make it,” he replied. With that, he knelt down in the middle of our living room floor and invoked the power of the priesthood, praying that the plane would come. The simplicity and power of his prayer left me no doubt that his prayer would be answered.

He then got my coat and loaded my suitcase into the back of our old army jeep. I suppose I had expected the storm to be completely stilled when we opened the door, but it was still raging. We could only see a few feet in front of us as we broke a trail all the way to the airport. I told my husband I would probably be the only one on the plane because we were the only ones who knew it was coming.

When we arrived at the little log-cabin terminal, airline employees would not sell me a ticket because they were sure the plane would not be coming that day. But we sat down to wait for the plane that we knew would surely come.

An hour later, there was a flurry of excitement at the ticket counter. They had received word that the plane had just left Anchorage and would arrive in less than an hour. The weather was still extremely bad, but just a few minutes before the plane came, the storm suddenly ceased. In its place came a hush and a few gently falling snowflakes.

The plane landed. I got on it with a few other passengers who had called in that last hour. The plane took off and couldn’t come in again for four more days.

Illustrated by John Johnson