Led to a Sandwich Shop
February 2006

“Led to a Sandwich Shop,” Ensign, Feb. 2006, 66–67

Led to a Sandwich Shop

Several years ago we were returning home to the East Coast of the United States from a summer trip to Utah. Our family van started to “hiccup” somewhere in Missouri, and it got worse as we drove into Tennessee. Finally, climbing the hill leaving Chattanooga late that night, the motor died.

As we sat in the dark, wondering what we could do, it occurred to me that this was a great time for our entire family to unite in a prayer of faith. My wife and I calmed our four children and invited them to exercise their faith as we prayed.

Immediately after the prayer, the van started and we continued up the hill. But within a mile it started running badly again. We took the first exit, thinking we would find a motel room for the night. But despite checking with four different motels, we couldn’t find a vacancy.

We returned to the freeway and soon came to an exit that didn’t look like it would have any motels, but something whispered to me to take that exit. I did, but I could see nothing that I thought would help solve our problem. The exit led to a four-lane highway, and we quickly came to a stoplight. I was desperately wondering what I could do for my family in our predicament.

Suddenly my wife pointed out a sandwich shop that was still open on a side road and suggested we stop and get the kids something to eat. I pulled up to the shop, gave our oldest son some money, and sent the other children in with him while my wife and I sat and pondered.

We were tired. We had been traveling since 5:00 that morning, and it was now close to 9:00 p.m. I started asking questions in my heart about why our prayer hadn’t worked and why all our efforts to live the gospel didn’t seem to be having an effect for us in our time of need, when suddenly it came to me that something just wasn’t right.

I looked up and realized that the sandwich shop’s outside light wasn’t turned on. “How did you spot this shop?” I asked my wife. “Was there a sign out by the highway?” She said no, that she had had a sudden impulse to turn her head to the right, and there it was.

I nodded, my mind racing, and quickly summed up. We were trying to live the gospel, raise our children right, be faithful in our callings; we had prayed in faith, followed a prompting, and here we were. It came to me then that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. We just hadn’t figured out what the Lord had for us here.

And then I knew. Somebody must be here who could help us. I looked into the sandwich shop, and in the first booth was a young family. From my seat in the van I could tell that the father had grease stains on his hands.

I got out of the car, walked into the shop, and approached the family. “Are you an auto mechanic?” I asked.

Surprised, he answered, “Yes.”

I explained my problem, and his wife turned to him and said, “That’s just what my car did last week!” He told me what to do to get my car running well enough to reach Atlanta that night. There we had the car repaired and then made it home no worse for wear.

Our children learned that night—and I did too—that faithful prayer does work, but often you have to trust in the Spirit to help you understand the answer.

  • Chris L. Cooper is a member of the Charleston First Ward, Charleston South Carolina Stake.