Water in the Desert

“Water in the Desert,” Friend, July 2006, 4–6

Water in the Desert

(Based on a true story)

Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered (Joel 2:32).

“I’m thirsty, Father!”

Theodore Farley looked down from the wagon seat at his five-year-old son, Lesley. “We all are,” he said kindly. “We’re trying to find you some water.”

“I’m sure there will be some at the next spring,” 14-year-old Lydia added reassuringly.

“But that’s what you said at the last three,” 11-year-old Carl pointed out. “And they were all dried up. We’ve been searching for hours.”

Mother and Father exchanged a worried glance. “I haven’t traveled this road in August before,” Father said. “I’ve never seen it so dry.”

Adleen looked up at the blazing sun. It was 1895, and her family was moving from Snowflake, Arizona, to Provo, Utah. Before they left home, Father had filled all their barrels with water for both people and horses. He planned to refill them at springs along the way, but now the barrels were empty, and everyone was suffering. Adleen shook her head. How would they ever find water in this barren, sandy desert?

“Theodore!” Mother clutched baby Louie to her and cried out as the horses stumbled and stopped.

Father jumped down and gently urged them forward. They refused to move. “We’ll rest here,” he said with a sigh. He unhitched the horses, which huddled in the shade of a scrubby tree. Father and 15-year-old Dick set off to find the spring that lay some distance off the road.

Mother gathered her children beneath the wagon. “Let’s stay in the shade,” she said. “And trust in the Lord.”

“They’re back!” someone yelled. Adleen reluctantly shook off her dream of eating ripe, juicy watermelons and looked up. She saw Father and Dick, sweat-stained and covered with dust.

Father sat down by them, removing his hat and wiping his brow. “The spring is dried up,” he said, “and no earthly help is anywhere near.”

“Then we must rely on divine aid,” Mother said firmly, rising to her knees. Father joined her, motioning for the children to do the same. Adleen shut her eyes tight and tried hard to have faith.

“We have done all we can,” Father prayed. “If it be Thy will that we should live, please send us water.”

After the prayer, as the family sat and waited calmly, their fear changed to peace.

“What will happen now?” asked Lesley.

Mother smiled. “I don’t know. Wait and see.”

“Look!” Adleen was on her feet, pointing at the horizon and dancing with excitement.

“What is it?” Father shaded his eyes and squinted into the sun.

“There in the sky,” Mother said. “A little cloud.”

They watched as the cloud grew larger and got closer. Soon it overshadowed them, and rain poured down.

“Quick!” Father called. “The wagon cover.” Father, Dick, Carl, and Lydia snatched up the corners of the cloth and caught the rain, which they tipped into the barrels, filling them to overflowing. Adleen laughed and twirled in the rain, her mouth open to the sky.

By the time the rain stopped, both animals and people had quenched their thirst. Father and Dick strapped the full water barrels to the wagon and hitched up the horses. They all continued on their journey.

They hadn’t gone far before desert dust was clinging to their wet clothing.

“Father, look!” Lydia said in awe. “It didn’t rain a drop out here.”

“No, it didn’t,” Father answered reverently. “It rained only where our wagon stood. We have been part of a miracle.”

None of them ever forgot the day Heavenly Father sent water in the desert.


Elder Henry B. Eyring

“The first, the middle, and the last thing to do is to pray.”
Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “In the Strength of the Lord,” Ensign, May 2004, 17.

Illustrated by Adam Koford