Grandma Emily’s Chicken

“Grandma Emily’s Chicken,” Friend, Mar. 2003, 47

Grandma Emily’s Chicken

Based on a true story

His people … are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light (Mosiah 18:8).

Rachel ran through the living room and rushed up the stairs to her bedroom. She and her best friend, Becca, were going to the park to try out Becca’s new rollerblades.

As Rachel was pulling her own rollerblades out from under her bed, Mom came into the room. “I’m going over to Sister Heaton’s for a few hours, and I need you to stay with David.”

“But Becca and I are going to the park right now!”

“I’m sorry to ruin your plans, Rachel, but Sister Heaton still isn’t feeling well after her operation, and I promised to help take care of her today. David will be up from his nap in about a half hour, and then you two can play for a while until Dad gets home.”

“But I don’t want to play with David—I want to go to the park!”

“I know you do, but today you need to stay home and take care of your little brother. You can go to the park tomorrow. I’m sorry, but Sister Heaton needs me, and I need you to help me.”

As Rachel watched Mom going down the street, she was so angry that she almost cried. Why did she have to take care of David? It wasn’t fair that she had to give up a trip to the park just so her mom could take care of somebody.

She called Becca to tell her the bad news, and as she hung up the phone, the doorbell rang. It was Aunt Pearl, her mom’s younger sister.

“Hi, Aunt Pearl. Mom’s not here.”

“That’s OK—I can’t stay. I just came to return your mom’s sewing machine. Mine is fixed now, so I don’t need hers anymore. And I thought that maybe I’d spend a few minutes with my favorite niece!”

Rachel gave her a weak smile and tried to seem happy, but Aunt Pearl noticed Rachel wasn’t really feeling happy.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh, I was going to go to the park with Becca, but Mom told me I had to stay and take care of David so she could help a woman in our ward.”

“That’s too bad. If it were any other day but today, I’d stay so you could be with your friend. But I have a doctor’s appointment, and I can’t reschedule it.”

“I guess I’ll be OK. It’s just that I really wanted to go to the park today.”

“You know, there might be something I could do.”


“Sit down with me, and I’ll tell you a story.”

Rachel wasn’t sure a story would fix things—a story couldn’t baby-sit for her. But Aunt Pearl usually knew what she was talking about, so Rachel followed her to the couch.

“When your great-great-grandmother Emily Burk left Nauvoo to come west, she had an old hen she wanted to bring with her. It had been doing something rather unusual—sitting on a nest of duck eggs—and Emily just couldn’t leave her behind. So she set up a box in the wagon for the nest. Soon the ducklings hatched, and every night when the wagon train stopped, Emily filled a washtub with water and let the little ducks swim. Everyone in camp came to watch them.

“You see, Rachel, part of being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is helping others. There’s even a scripture in the Book of Mormon that tells us how important it is to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ [Mosiah 18:8]. Heavenly Father wants us to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.”

“You mean, just like Emily took care of the chicken and like the chicken took care of the ducks?”

“And just like the Lord took care of the pioneers and how He still takes care of all of us. He wants us to be happy, so He watches over us.”

“Why doesn’t He take care of Sister Heaton instead of having Mom do it?”

“That’s how He is taking care of Sister Heaton—through your mother. Most of the time Heavenly Father answers our prayers through someone else.”

“So Mom is Heavenly Father’s answer to Sister Heaton’s prayers?”

“Probably. Your mother is helping Sister Heaton rest and get her mind off her troubles, sort of like those ducklings helped the tired pioneers find a little bit of enjoyment at the end of their long days.”

“But why do I have to baby-sit?”

“So your mom can help Sister Heaton. The ducks wouldn’t have been able to bring some enjoyment to the pioneers if the chicken hadn’t cared for them. Your mom wouldn’t be able to help Sister Heaton if she did not know you would take good care of your brother while she’s gone.”

“So, in a way, I’m helping Sister Heaton too?”

“In a very big way.”

“Then I guess I don’t feel so bad about waiting until tomorrow to go skating.”

“I’m glad you think so.”

As Aunt Pearl left, Rachel heard David waking up. On her way upstairs to get him, she thought more about what Aunt Pearl had said. Rachel was still a bit disappointed to miss out on the trip to the park, but it helped to know that taking care of David helped Heavenly Father take care of Sister Heaton.

[Reward for Service]

Elder Merrill J. Bateman

“As we keep the commandments and [serve], the Lord can ‘pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon [us]’ (Mosiah 18:10; see D&C 20:77). The reward for obedience and service is not only the gift of the Holy Ghost but also special gifts of the Spirit. Paul defines the fruits of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, and meekness (see Gal. 5:22–23). The Holy Spirit blesses us with Christlike attributes as we serve each other.”
Elder Merrill J. Bateman
Of the Seventy
(Ensign, Jan. 1999, 10.)

Illustrated by Beth Whittaker