“Joe Smith! I saw that name on the Internet last night. Who is he?” Elijah asked.
“Who was he's more like it. Joseph Smith was the first prophet of the church I go to. Lived back in the early 1800’s. He had a vision too, kinda like you and the others. You mean you’ve never heard of Joseph Smith?”
“Not that I can remember,” Elijah answered. “What church?”
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Mark replied, astonished that there were still people that hadn’t heard about the church he had known all his life. “You know, the Mormons!”
“I’ve heard of Mormons. Don’t know much about them though. Aren’t they the guys with the white shirts and ties that go from door to door?” Elijah questioned.
“Yeah, the missionaries,” Mark laughed. “That’s where Paul and Tim have been. Paul’s in California and Tim’s in Peru. Paul’s due back in October, Tim – not till next summer. There are missionaries all around the world teaching people about the church.”
Elijah instantly determined that he had to learn more about this boy and church. Mark’s words that there were missionaries to teach people about the church still rung in his ears. Excitedly he asked, “Are there missionaries ‘round here? My being here to see that picture can’t be a coincidence. I just know the Lord has led me here to see that picture and learn more about the boy and your church.”
“Sure there are, but I don’t know how to reach them. Mom’s a counselor in the Relief Society; I’d bet she could get in touch with them. From the smell of spaghetti sauce, I’m thinking she’s in the kitchen,” Mark said walking across the living room.
Before Mark made it into the adjoining room his mother met him at the archway. Elijah hadn’t seen Mary Roche in years. She always had a motherly look to her, but time had added a few lines around the eyes and a touch of grey to her black hair making her appear even more so now. Something about her reminded Elijah of his own mother. The sudden memory made him wish she was still alive.
“Mark, who are you talking to?” Mrs. Roche asked looking up from the mail she was sorting through. Her face lit up with instant recognition.
“Elijah,” she smiled “look at how you’ve grown!”
“Hello, Mrs. Roche,” Elijah replied.
“How are you doing? I mean with the excitement and all,” Mrs. Roche asked. She placed the mail on an end table and walked over to him.
“Well,” Elijah smiled “it seems things just keep getting more exciting. Your picture of Joseph Smith on the wall looks just like the boy I saw in my vision. I know it’s got to be more than a coincidence that brought me here to find it.”
“You say the boy looks like Joseph Smith?” Mrs. Roche said in amazement.
“Yes, I knew I’d seen him before somewhere. As soon as I saw the picture I remembered it from when I was a kid. Mark says you might be able to help me get in touch with the missionaries so I can learn more about him,” Elijah questioned.
“Of course, I have the ward directory in the kitchen by the phone.”
Mrs. Roche walked quickly back through the archway into the kitchen. Elijah was astonished by the way the Lord had laid the path before him. It was comforting to know that God was paving the way. He only hoped this was a sign that things were going to start going more smoothly. Now he just had to meet with the missionaries, find out about Joseph Smith and the Mormons, and then tell everyone about it. That must be the message behind the vision, to help others find the church prepared for the last days. This was too exciting!
“Told ya mom would know,” Mark said, waking Elijah out of his trance.
“Thanks again, Mark.”
“No problem. That’s what friends are for.”
They could hear Mark’s mom talking in the other room. Elijah strained to listen. It didn’t sound like she was talking to anyone, more like she was leaving a message. He could feel his heart sink a little. He needed to talk to the missionaries right now.
“Sorry guys, the missionaries aren’t around. They’re usually out during the day. Probably won’t be home till late,” Mrs. Roche said as she reentered the room. “I left a message for them to call me as soon as they get in.”
“Thanks for trying,” Elijah replied sounding dejected.
“I’m sure your anxious, Elijah. I’ll bet I can have them over here tomorrow night if you like. I’ll make dinner. There’s not a missionary out in the field that would turn down a dinner appointment at Sister Roche’s. Why not have your Gram and sister come too?”
Elijah was a little embarrassed at the offer. “Oh, you don’t have to do that, Mrs. Roche.”
“Nonsense! Just make sure it’s alright with your grandmother and I’ll take care of the rest,” Mrs. Roche smiled.
The sun drew long shadows across the alley. The sky above was turning a deep blue, preparing to go black for the night. Stars were starting making their appearance now that they were no longer washed out by the sun. Elijah walked quickly, anxious to get home to tell Gram all about his day. What a day! He still couldn’t believe how perfectly every event had led him to find the boy from the vision.
He was still a little let down that the missionaries hadn’t been around. If they had, he’d be talking to them right now. Mark and his mom told him a little more about the Mormons before Gram called and said she had finally made it back from the grocery store. They asked Elijah to stay for dinner, but he wanted to get home and tell Gram everything that had happened. Mark offered to drive him, but Elijah figured that there would be more press than usual waiting in front of the house, thanks to Meatplow’s telephone tip-off. Ducking down a couple alleys and across a few backyards seemed like the most inconspicuous way to get home.
Elijah promised to recount the vision the next night when the missionaries were there. That is as long as Gram agreed to have dinner at the Roche’s. He quickened his pace; Gram said he could tell her all about the day over chow mien. He really didn’t feel much like eating right now though. After all that had happened today his stomach seemed too tied up in knots from the excitement.
Elijah cut into a yard a block up the street. That would give him a straight shot at the back door. No way any reporters could see him from this angle. He took the back porch steps two at a time, as he always did. Gram was still in the kitchen putting away the last of the groceries. As he burst through the screen door, she stopped what she was doing and gave him a stern look.
Eager to give her the update, it took him a second to realize why he was getting the stare down. He had forgotten all about the afternoon’s trip to the principal’s office. But now he knew why it had happened. He only hoped Gram would see it as the Lord’s guidance too.
“Gram, before you say anything, there was a reason why things worked out the way they did today.”
“A reason! Oh, this I gotta hear. You’ve been to the principal’s office constantly since the vision,” Gram exclaimed sharply. “Now you’re buddy-buddy with a kid that’s done nothing but cause you trouble...”
“Just give me a chance to explain,” Elijah interrupted knowing that if he didn’t it would be several minutes before Gram stopped her ranting. “It’s the boy from the vision. I know who he is now.”
Gram’s expression changed instantly from anger to surprise, “You do? Well, who is he?”
“Remember I said I’d seen him before somewhere. He was in a picture on the Roche’s wall. As soon as I saw his face it came back to me. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church.”
“What?” Gram’s expression changed again, this time to disbelief. “Are you sure?”
“Why, what are you lookin’ at me like that for?” Elijah asked, puzzled by Gram’s new expression.
“I just don’t know, Elijah. I always heard that the Mormons were a cult. Something about that Smith fella seeing God.”
“I know! He had a vision too! Mark and his mom told me about it. Mrs. Roche said that through him, Jesus started to restore the church, just like in the scripture in Acts you quoted the other day about there being a restitution before Christ comes again. And she said that Jesus needed a prophet to get things going again. Something about some guy named Amos saying that God only reveals things through prophets. It’s all been building up to this Gram, I just know it.”
Elijah related the events of the day. Everything from Ben standing up for him and Jonathan in class to his hiding out in the boy’s room, where he ran into Mark. “It’s like it was meant to be,” he concluded.
Gram thought for a minute. “Well, I’m still not sure. My old pastor never had anything good to say about the Mormons, like they worshiped Joseph Smith. Still, it does seem like more than a coincidence. If you’re sure about this then I guess we can hear what they have to say.”
“Great! I’ll let Mark know we’re coming tomorrow morning at prayer group. He said I could catch a ride with him. That way you can let your poor old rust bucket rest up,” Elijah teased.
“Watch yourself, buster! That old cars gotten me around for a lotta years.”
“Can I call Dad? I want to tell him the news.”
Gram looked at the clock above the stove. “He should be done with work by now. Go ahead while I get dinner started.”
“It’s not ‘chicken’ chow mien, is it?”
“You’d best get going before I have you making dinner.”
Gram swatted at his rear with a dishtowel as he leapt from the room. He set his backpack down and headed for the phone. Dad wouldn’t be able to make it to the missionary meeting, but Mark had said there were missionaries all over the world. If there were missionaries in the small town where he was, surely there would be some close to Dad in the city, too.
Tom’s cell phone had caller ID, so he knew before answering it was a call from home. Calls outside of the usual Wednesday and Saturday night ones always made him a little nervous that something had happened. Since Elijah’s vision the nervousness was always double.
Elijah’s tone sounded happy excited, not an urgent excited, which put Dad at ease.
“Hey, buddy! What’s up?”
“Big news! I found out who the boy from the vision is today! He’s Joseph Smith from the Mormon Church. The whole thing was a miracle, Dad.”
“Hold on a minute buddy! Did you say Mormons?”
“Yeah! You sound like Gram when I told her, but you gotta hear how the whole day went first. I’m telling ya Dad, it was meant to be.”
“Let me think for a second. I don’t want to say anything without thinking about it like the last time you called with a bomb to drop.” Dad paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. “Are you sure about this?”
Elijah recounted the day’s events to his father. The occasional “uh-huh” through the phone let him know Dad was listening.
“Well, it does sound pretty miraculous, buddy. I’ve just heard a lot of strange things about the Mormons though. Having lots of wives and giving all your money to the church and stuff.”
“I don’t know anything about that. Gram, Becca, and I are going to meet with the missionaries tomorrow night. Maybe they’ll say something about it.”
“If they don’t, you should ask them. I don’t want you getting mixed up in some kinda cult.”
“There’s that word again. Sheez! Don’t worry so much, Dad! Gram will be there to make sure they don’t drag me off and shave my head or anything.”
“You could ask them, too! The Roche’s said there’s missionaries all over the world. There’s got to be some near you.”
“We’ll see. You and Gram call me tomorrow night after your meeting and let me know how it goes. I’d like to hear both of your opinions.”
“Will do, Dad! Talk to you tomorrow.”
Elijah hung up the phone and returned to the kitchen. Gram was setting out two plates at the kitchen table. He filled her in on the phone call as he helped put out the silverware. If Gram had any further thoughts on the Mormons, she kept them to herself. As they ate, Elijah was undeterred that Gram and Dad lacked his enthusiasm.
As he stuffed an over-sized fork full of chow mien in his mouth, Elijah suddenly found himself wishing that Becca were there. That felt a little strange to him. He had never felt really close to his sister before the vision, but now he really wanted to share his findings with her. Seeing the picture of Joseph Smith was as exciting for him as having the vision in the first place. The vision had built a bond between he and Becca and he knew this would continue to strengthen it. One thing was for sure; she would never believe him about Mark.[Home] [Chapter 17] [Chapter 19]