Crash Off Robinson Crusoe Island
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“Crash Off Robinson Crusoe Island,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 66–67

Crash Off 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 eighteenth-century novel in which a sailor is marooned on an unknown island for many long years. Actually, the island is home to some five hundred people, about sixty of whom are members of a branch of the Church.

Reaching the island requires a three-hour airplane flight or a boat voyage of two days or more. Islanders depend upon the boats for food and other needs.

My older brother, Adrian, needed surgery. The island’s medical facilities are limited, so it was necessary for him to fly to the mainland. He resisted the trip fearing the problems that occasionally develop in the small planes that often fly to the mainland. But in the end he had to go. He was asked to carry the tithing from our branch to Church leaders on the mainland.

Adrian and two television reporters climbed aboard the small plane.

As I heard the plane fly overhead, I sent my thoughts with my brother: Have no fear, Adrian. Heavenly Father will watch over you.

Suddenly 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.”

Realizing the plane was going to crash, the pilot ordered the passengers 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 in the ocean. The pilot gave some final instructions, and they all buckled their seat belts.

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 had wives and small children at home. He pleaded for another chance.

When he finished the prayer, he began to sing, “The Lord is my light; then why should I fear?” (Hymns, 1985, no. 89). The television reporters aboard the plane joined in even without knowing the hymn. The music and prayer gave all of them hope.

The plane hit the water and started to sink. They had only seconds to escape, but those few seconds were enough. They got the door open, inflated a raft, and were rescued by some people in a fishing boat. After the boat picked them up, someone spotted a floating suitcase. It was Adrian’s. Inside was the tithing. Besides the passengers, the suitcase was the only other thing that was saved.

The entire island population was waiting for the survivors when they returned to the dock. We applauded with relief and joy and shed many tears of gratitude.

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.

  • Patricia Covarrubias Solar serves as Relief Society president in the Isla Juan Fernandez Branch, Chile Santiago North Mission.

Illustrated by Gregg Thorkelsen

Illustration by Dilleen Marsh