Staring at an outline for a message she planned to share, former Relief Society general president Linda K. Burton would sometimes feel it wasn't right.
Instead, she would feel prompted to share another story, one she knew well. And as she looked over the pulpit at the faces of women from around the world, she knew this story would help someone, somewhere.
After all, it had helped her.
The story is a personal one—a story that originates in Sister Burton's family history given by her great-great-grandfather Joseph.
Image: Copenhagen, Denmark, courtesy Sister Linda K. Burton
At the time of the story, Joseph was only 10 years old living in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1874. Times were hard; his father was in the hospital and out of his work. His mother was pregnant with their seventh child and charged with taking care of the children and struggling to stretch their thin resources thinner to help with their finances.
But it wasn't enough.
"They get to the point where the landlord says, 'Pay up or move out.'" Sister Burton shares in the podcast. "And as it always happens in sad stories, this is in the middle of the winter."
Not knowing what else to do, Joseph's mother gathered all of her children and offered a pleading, heartfelt prayer to God after the landlord left.
"She tells Heavenly Father she's done everything she can do," Sister Burton says. "She can't do any more at this point in her life. . . . She told Him that she couldn't think of anything else that she could so could He please, please help them."
Image: Linda K. Burton's family outside the apartment where Joseph lived. Photo courtesy Sister Linda K. Burton
As a young mother herself trying to make ends meet during the economic struggles of the early 1980s, Sister Burton says this part of the story resonated with her. As she read the words of her Danish great-great-grandfather written in broken English, she felt especially connected to the great-great-great-great-grandmother she had never met on this earth.
"The timing was quite significant because we had had quite a draught in our finances, so this resonated with me," Sister Burton says. "I could feel, to a degree, what [my great-great-great grandmother] must have been feeling, so I was grateful to have a story to hang my hat on."
As Sister Burton shares in the podcast, Joseph's mother remained on her knees a while after the end of that desperate prayer.
"She said, 'I have a feeling Heavenly Father is going to send someone to help us. I don't think He's going to let us suffer anymore,'" Sister Burton shares.
Image: Sister Linda K. Burton standing next to the headstone of the man who visited Joseph and his family. Photo courtesy Sister Linda K. Burton
The very next day, Joseph and his older brother were looking out the window of their two-story apartment, watching the snow fall, when they saw the thing they dreaded the most.
A man was walking toward there apartment—a well-dressed man who looked like a police officer sent to evict his entire family in the middle of winter.
Listen to the podcast below to hear what happens next and the sequel of this incredible story Sister Burton didn't share in her book.
Lead image from lds.org
Sometimes it's hard for kids—or even grown-ups—to understand the power of prayer. Through this sweet tale drawn straight from the family history of Sister Linda K. Burton, former Relief Society General President, you can help your children feel the Spirit and know of God's love and concern for them.
The year is 1874, and ten-year-old Joseph lives in a humble home in Copenhagen, Denmark, with his mother and four siblings. His father has been ill in the hospital for months, and though his mother works hard trying to provide for the family, she is unable to pay three months' rent. One night, Joseph overhears his mother pleading with the Lord for help. Joseph knows their situation is desperate and he wants to believe help will come—but how? How would they stay warm? Or would their prayer somehow, miraculously, be answered?
This true story and the charming illustrations that accompany it will transport you back in time, teaching your children that our Heavenly Father is always listening to each one of us and is always eager to help if we will ask in humble prayer.