Tell Dad!

Hide Footnotes


“Tell Dad!” New Era, Nov. 2012, 24–26

Tell Dad!

A gentle prompting kept me from being stranded in the woods on a dark night.

four wheeler and boat

Illustrations by David Malan

My family spent part of every summer with another family using set-netting to catch salmon near Bristol Bay, Alaska. Where we stayed, there were no roads, no trees, no electricity, and no other people for about 100 miles in any direction—just tundra. We could get there only by boat or a bush plane that landed on the beach. Our cabin was on a narrow strip of land, with ocean on the outside and a lagoon on the inside.

At the end of one summer when I was 15 or 16, I was with my father and our friend Ken to close up our operation for the year. We needed to get our small fishing skiffs to a location several miles away, and we had to move them when the tide was high enough to guarantee we’d make it.

As we approached high tide late in the day, Dad and Ken started driving the outboard-motor fishing skiff up the river through the lagoon. I was supposed to give them a head start of a couple of hours, drive our four-wheeler to pick them up at the old village, and then drive them the 10 miles back to our cabin to spend the night. It was a big responsibility, so I was feeling pretty proud. They reminded me to fill the gas tank on the four-wheeler before I left. In addition to wearing heavy chest waders and gloves, we generally took a pistol to scare away bears. My dad gave me his pistol just in case I needed it.

Later that day, I was almost to the meeting point when I glanced down at the four-wheeler gas gauge and was horrified to realize I was almost out of gas. My heart dropped—I had forgotten to fill the gas tank before I left. I started frantically running through options in my mind. Option one: go to the meeting place—if I even had enough gas to get there—and be stranded there with Dad and Ken since we wouldn’t have enough gas to get back to our cabin. We’d then walk the whole 10 miles (in deep sand) back to camp the next day. Or option two: start immediately heading back to camp in the four-wheeler and get as far as I could with the gas I had. That way I could walk the last 4–6 miles back to camp alone and get the other four-wheeler to pick up Dad and Ken. After weighing my decisions, I decided this second idea was the best option.

Just before turning around to return to the cabin, it occurred to me that I should say a prayer first. I said a short prayer asking what I should do. Right after I finished my prayer, I felt two words urging me, “Tell Dad!” I obeyed. I waddled in my bulky chest waders up to a high grassy sand dune to see if I could see Dad and Ken in the boat. I saw them, drove closer to where they were, about a half-mile out in the lagoon, shouted to them, and finally got their attention by firing the pistol into the air.

When my dad heard me fire the pistol, he hollered, “What is the matter?”

I shouted my reply with utter shame: “I forgot to fill the gas tank.”

He paused only for a second before shouting back, “We’ll just fill it with our extra outboard gas when we get to the end.”

I had forgotten that the outboard motors used the same gas that the four-wheelers did, and we had several extra cans in the skiff they were driving. But Heavenly Father knew, and He answered my prayer.