Spiritual Promptings and an Emergency Backpack

The elementary school was presenting their annual end-of-year dance festival, which was to start about an hour-and-a-half after school began. I saw that there was just a little bit of time that I could answer a few email messages for work before leaving.

Glorajean surprised me by saying we needed to leave much earlier than I was anticipating. I could have sent her alone and I traveled separately, but a tugging thought told me to set aside the email and go with her now.

I took the driver’s seat and we traveled the well-known road. I typically drop off the kids each morning, and I have a route that I take. It travels down Center Street, and turns right at the last possible street, taking a three block straight-shot to the front of the school. In fact, Glorajean doesn’t like my route because that turn off of Center Street is quick and sharp. But this day, for whatever reason, I felt to turn off Center Street about three blocks early. Maybe it was because the light ahead was red, and I knew that by turning early and taking the residential street I could avoid waiting – which didn’t make sense because we had left very early. Nevertheless, I varied from my usual routine guided by the thought to take this different route.

We eventually came to the intersection where I now would turn right, travel the last block, and arrive at the school. Approaching the intersection, I saw a young girl waiting to cross the street.

I stopped to wait.

She didn’t move.

Her body was pointed toward the school. It looked like she wanted to cross the street in front of me. But her feet stayed planted at the corner. She had a look on her face that was equal parts determination and uncertainty.

I waited.

She stood still.

The longer I waited and watched this young one, the more I realized that this little girl was too young to attend school. The backpack she was wearing was almost as tall as she was. This road was not particularly busy at the moment, but I began to fear that if she stepped out into the road and any cars did come, she might not be seen. In fact, if I had traveled my usual way, I might have missed because of the cars that were parked along the side of the road leading up to the corner where she now stood.

Glorajean had noticed this also. There was no parent around, and it seemed very strange that this youngster was walking to school alone, almost an hour late to school.

Our standoff continued for about 30 seconds, and then I suggested to Glorajean that she jump out and talk to her while I continued to the school and parked the van. The confusion and tension had been building in her mind too, and at this suggestion she relaxed and immediately exited the vehicle and walked toward the girl.

She started a conversation, asking what her name was and where she was going. The little girl told her name and spoke with clear determination that she had to go to preschool. With a responsible adult now able to assist her, she had no qualms in crossing the street and continuing her journey. All Glorajean could do now was walk beside her, because now this girl would not be deterred!

Glorajean saw a message written on her backpack. It read “[Last Name] Family Emergency Bag.” So this was not her school bag, but a bag she had picked up at the house. The bag was empty, but obviously necessary for a young lady to have in order to properly attend preschool!

The little girl was determined to continue, so Glorajean walked with her, thinking about the last name. Our daughter had a friend last year with that same last name and who lived in this general area, though she wasn’t certain exactly how far away. Then Glorajean remembered that she had Facebook friended that friend’s mother. She searched for her on her phone and sent a message, asking if she had a little girl named (name) and if she was missing?

They caught up to me at the school rather quickly – this young student was wasting no time in her march! Just as they walked onto the school property, a reply came. Yes, the mom had been feeding a baby and noticed that the front door was open. A feeling of dread and panic was just beginning when she received the message. We arranged to wait safely at the flagpole for the busy mom to arrive.

While waiting, an older sister of this adventurous learner came walking by with her class, carrying their chairs to take their places for the festival on the lawn. The sisters saw each other, and the older sister left the formation momentarily to give her a hug and say hi, then quickly picked up her chair again and rejoined her class. The older sister seemingly didn’t even notice that her sibling was in the care of a complete stranger.

Mom arrived soon, her new baby in one arm. She explained that they were going to come to watch the dance festival. Her older daughters, students at the school, had tried to helpfully get their younger sibling excited by telling her that she would get to go to the school today, just a like a real preschooler! This was all the motivation that the little one needed. She took matters into her own hands to find a backpack and head out into the world. The bag she had grabbed had been designated to fill with emergency supplies, but the family had not gotten around to doing so yet. Earlier in the morning the mom had found it curious when her daughter had mentioned the bag and insisted that it was her backpack, but the mom didn’t fully understand her reasoning then.

With the situation resolved, we took our places to watch the show.

I couldn’t help but think of what had happened, and how perfectly timed everything was.

  • Why did we leave so early, and at that moment?
  • Why did I set aside my work so that Glorajean and I could travel together?
  • Why did I drive a different way than normal?
  • Why had the family written their last name on the bag, even though they were not ready yet to stock it with supplies?
  • Why had these two moms become social media friends over a year earlier?
  • And the scariest thought: What would have happened if Glorajean and I had not been there? How differently would this story have turned out?

I am convinced that today I unknowingly followed spiritual promptings that allowed me to be part of a miracle. If we are willing, God can and does use us to answer the prayers of other people. To quote Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “God is among us—and is personally involved in our lives and actively guiding His children.”

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