“Blessing the Brick Kiln,” Friend, Aug. 2004, 29
Making adobe bricks was hard work for young James Nielsen and his family. They lived on a large farm in Fairview, Utah, and some of their ground had perfect clay for making bricks. During the summer of 1912, James, his father, brothers, and other relatives worked long hours mixing mud, molding bricks, and hauling them to the large kiln where they would later be baked.
Now, at summer’s end, 75,000 bricks were placed carefully inside the kiln. James’s eyes gleamed at the sight of so many! They represented the Nielsens’ hard work all summer long. Happily, James’s father started the fire in the kiln, which needed to burn for three weeks straight in order to properly bake the bricks. The temperature had to be kept just right. Cedar wood had been hauled and stacked nearby to fuel the large oven, and James’s brother-in-law, “Uncle George,” watched the fire night and day. James and his brothers took turns cutting wood to keep the fire burning. Everything was going just fine.
But then it started to rain. It poured nonstop for more than a week. The Nielsens soon ran out of the wood they had gathered, and they couldn’t take their horses and wagons into the hills to find more because the ground was too muddy. They burned everything they could spare on the farm—fence posts, corral rails, even the outhouse.
James would never forget how discouraged Uncle George looked as he put the last stick of wood in the oven. “The bricks will be nothing but a pile of smoked mud.” He frowned.
James’s father folded his arms. “I don’t know much about making bricks. I’ve never done it before. But I know Heavenly Father can help us.” He told Uncle George to seal up the kiln as if the process were finished, and suggested that everyone go home and get some rest.
The next morning, James and Uncle George sat together moping. Surely the bricks were ruined. “We all worked so hard,” James said. George nodded. “And for so long.”
James noticed that his father was missing, so he went to look for him. As he rounded the kiln, he found his father kneeling on the soggy ground. James stopped in his tracks. His father was praying aloud, asking the Lord to bless the brick kiln. James heard his father tell the Lord how hard they had all worked and how they had done everything possible to make sure the bricks turned out all right. With great faith and humility, James’s father asked the Lord to help, then ended his prayer. James quickly backed away without his father seeing him.
When it was finally time to open the kiln, most of the family didn’t dare even look at the bricks. But James’s father was calm and confident as he opened up the top of the kiln. James held his breath as his father lifted out two bricks. They were beautiful! They rang like a bell when clicked together, and their color was just right. People came from all over Sanpete County to buy them. People even bought the broken pieces. Not one brick was left.
Remembering this miracle, James later wrote, “We children know that it was done by the priesthood Father held and the power of prayer.”
“Miracles are obviously worked through the power of the priesthood, but the prayer of faith is also at work.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Spiritual Gifts,” Ensign, Sep. 1986, 70.