Chapter 25

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother…” Matthew 10:34-35

As with so many of his days lately, this one had been filled with highs and lows, Elijah thought as he sat in his room. He only had a few math problems for homework, so he had decided to get it done before the discussion, freeing up the rest of the weekend. Now he was staring out the window at the darkening sky. It was a beautiful night. Deep purple clouds hung in a pink sky. ‘Pink sky at night is a sailor’s delight’, Gram always says. As the clouds floated by, his thoughts turned to the missionary lessons. Last night Jonathan had joined him in believing in the LDS church, as the missionaries called it. Tonight Ben, Debbie, and several members of the prayer group had planned on coming to the discussion. Even Becca’s friend Marty said she’d make it.

Most of the other group members seemed really antagonistic towards the LDS church. Now they were also stand off-ish towards Elijah and those that stayed behind at this morning’s meeting. Jonathan suggested that the group sit together at lunch and those that had the same lunch period had joined them. As they ate, David and the others that left the meeting early walked right by their table, purposely ignoring them, and sat on the other side of the cafeteria.

Elijah tried not to think about them. Tonight would be the third meeting with the missionaries, but with all the new people coming from the group, the Elders would probably go over the first discussion again. Having more people learning about the church was, of course, what Elijah wanted. After all, that’s what the vision was all about, spreading the message. But still, being stuck on the first discussion was a little frustrating. He was anxious to move forward and learn what the other lessons held. Although, Elijah didn’t mind making the sacrifice and going through it one more time for Debbie.

He moved from the windows and over to his computer. The screensaver flashed little white dots around the black screen to simulate flying through space. Despite his love of desktop eye-candy, there was something about the overly simple look of flying through a star field. It often made him wish he really were speeding through the galaxy. Moving the mouse, he switched off the screensaver and sat down. There was still about thirty minutes before anyone started to show up. Time enough to check up on the “Young Prophets” web site.

NoVoices’ question about the identity of the boy in the visions had now generated a huge number of posts. Elijah found his own from the previous night and started reading from there. The comments showed a division among the members regarding the Mormons. Many who had a vision continued to find that the boy was indeed Joseph Smith. Other posts showed a growing number of non-visionaries were posting very negative comments about him in an attempt to “save” the Young Prophets. A number of posts by visionaries stated that they couldn’t accept the Mormon Church, despite the vision and were trying to explain other possibilities.

Elijah continued to read down through the list until he came across a new one by NoVoice. “There has certainly been a lot of traffic over this post. I have to admit that I was hoping there would be more unity though. Perhaps I’m a little naive, but I thought that the vision would bring us all together. Instead it has widened the gap between many of us. Sad really, but now that I’ve taken some time to think about it I guess it should be expected. Jesus himself said, ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother...’ (Matthew 10:34-35)

“So that leads my thoughts to the next (increasingly misnamed) question of the week. I’ll post it as a new topic, but here it is: If this is where God has led us, where do we go from here? What do you think? Can’t wait to hear your replies. – Peace – NoVoice”

“Man, that’s a tough one,” Elijah pondered. As he sat contemplating and starring at the screen, once again Grams voice called from downstairs and broke Elijah’s thoughts. Looking at the clock on the computer he saw there was only ten minutes left until the meeting. Grabbing his Book of Mormon, Elijah left the website where it was and headed downstairs. Across the hall he could hear Becca and Marty talking. Marty had come over straight from school with Becca and they too had been “working” on their homework. To Elijah, it just sounded like they were just yakin’ about boys.

About halfway down the stairs the front doorbell rang. “I got it,” Elijah called into the kitchen, where Dad was reading the mail and Gram was putting the icing on her famous “red” cake that she promised to serve for dessert. Red cake was his favorite. Jonathan had joked at lunch about cafeteria food being the opposite of manna. Unsure, Elijah asked him what manna was. “Food from Heaven,” Jonathan said. Elijah was sure that manna must be red cake.

Elijah pulled the door open and was surprised to find Debbie standing on the other side. He looked around the porch, but she was alone. The sight of her instantly made his ears start to turn red.

“Hey, Elijah!” Debbie greeted him. “Am I early?”

“Only a couple of minutes.” Elijah returned. “Please, come in.”

Elijah opened the screen door; stepping forward and holding it open for her. As Debbie walked past him he could smell the scent of her hair. “Flowers,” he thought dreamily. He suddenly found himself wishing everyone else would be late.

“I guess it’s just me for tonight.” Debbie said turning towards him. “Apparently once word got out that we were meeting with the Mormons, the other parents were leery about letting any of my friends come.”

“Oh, that’s O.K.” Elijah replied quickly realizing that he must sound dreamy and awestruck. “I mean, uh, hopefully they’ll loosen up and let them come next time,” he rebounded.

The two stood for a moment in silence. Elijah’s mind raced as he tried to think about what to say next. This was the first time he’d ever been alone with Debbie and he wanted to come off looking cool. “Who am I kidding?” he thought. “I don’t have a cool bone in my body.” Before he had time for anything to come to mind, the doorbell rang again.

Elijah felt his heart sink a little as his moment alone with Debbie slipped away. Trying not to show his disappointment, he put on a fake smile and said “I better get that. Please, make yourself at home.”

“Make yourself at home?” he cringed at the thought of how his words must have sound. “I’m such a dork!”

This time it was Ben on the other side of the door with a big smile on his face. Elijah was glad to see Ben had made it and even looked excited about meeting with the missionaries. He definitely wanted his best friend to be here, he just wished Ben had shown up looking excited a few minutes later.

“Hey, E! S’up!” Ben shouted.

“Yo, B!” Elijah said quietly enough that he hoped Debbie couldn’t pick it up.

“Looks like I’m early,” said the other. “Anyone else make it?”

“Debbie’s here,” Elijah said back. “And your timing is impeccable,” he added with a whisper behind the door where she couldn’t hear.

Ben’s big smile turned to a cheesy grin as he burst through the door into the living room. A wave of dread shot through Elijah’s body, unsure of what Ben’s grin meant. A very unchrist-like thought passed through him over what he’d do if Ben said anything stupid. Before Elijah could follow his friend and monitor the situation, the Roches and the missionaries pulled into the driveway.

Despite wanting to stay in earshot of what Ben might be saying to Debbie, Elijah stepped out onto the porch to welcome the new arrivals. It was almost time for the meeting and so far Becca’s friend Marty and Debbie were the only two newcomers. He had hoped for more, but he was still glad to have them. “And where is Jonathan?” he thought to himself. David was right at morning prayer group, it was most likely that Pastor Mike would not be happy knowing that Jonathan was meeting with the Mormons.

Elijah felt a slight twinge in his stomach. Hopefully Jonathan was just running late and not in trouble with his dad. Perhaps Pastor Mike would come with him? After all, he believed in the visions, too. Now that more and more of the other visionaries were finding the church, maybe he would change his mind about the Mormons. It may be wishful thinking, but at least he could hope.

********

“So, no Jonathan tonight?” Elder Horsewood asked as he entered the kitchen where Elijah, Ben, and Mark were helping themselves to a second piece of red cake.

“Hopefully he’s just running a little late,” Elijah said, unconvinced of his reply. “He said he’d be here.”

“O.K.! We can give him a few more minutes,” said the Elder. “Since we have two newcomers it will give us some time to catch them up.”

“That sounds good,” Elijah answered looking at the others already congregating in the living room. Becca, Marty, and Debbie were talking to Elder Poulson and Mr. and Mrs. Roche. The living room appeared small with all the people crowded in it. Gram offered the Roche’s the smaller sofa; while she, Debbie, Becca, and Marty took the bigger one. Dad had brought out some dining room chairs for the Elders, Elijah, Ben, and himself.

As everyone got settled, Elder Poulson spoke first. “Marty and Debbie, we’re glad you could make it tonight. This is actually our third meeting. As missionaries, we have five lessons we teach as an introduction to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the first meeting we talked about some of the basic beliefs of the church. Have either of you heard of the church before?”

“I have,” Debbie answered brightly. “My uncle is a member, so I know a little bit about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.”

Elijah had never found Marty to be shy, but she took a moment before she spoke. “Becca told me about the first lesson you had. Um, it like sounded interesting. I mean I was raised knowing about the Bible, but I like never really got into it. It all seemed kinda ancient, like God did some great things a long time ago, then just stopped. Like he forgot about us.”

“Man, I didn’t think it was possible, but Marty uses ‘like’ even more than Becca does,” Elijah thought.

“Yeah, Marty and I never talked much about religious kind of stuff,” Becca added. “But after Elijah had the vision, it started coming up more. Marty and I both felt the same way about things. So, after the first lesson I like called her and told her all about it.”

“That’s awesome,” Elder Horsewood said. “Do either of you have any questions about what you’ve heard so far?” Both girls shook their heads negatively. “Great, I would still like to go over Joseph Smith’s first vision before we move on to tonight’s lesson, but we should start with an opening prayer. Mr. Abbot, would you like to offer the prayer?”

Much to Elijah’s surprise, his father actually agreed. It wasn’t often that he had ever heard his father pray. The prayer was short and simple, but Elijah was happy to hear Dad say it. Elder Horsewood then went into recounting Joseph Smith’s vision. Elijah thought of Joseph in his own vision and wondered how he must have felt.

As he was thinking, the sound of footsteps came from the front porch. The doorbell rang and Elijah jumped up to get it. It just had to be Jonathan. Thankfully, he’d made it.

It was indeed Jonathan. Darkness was closing in making it hard to see clearly, but Elijah could sense that something was wrong. It was clear in Jonathan’s voice when he said hello that he was upset. Upon entering the room, it was even more clear on his face. Several seconds passed before Elijah realized that Jonathan was carrying a suitcase along with his book bag.

He stood at the doorway, bags in hand. Despite the evidence of tears in his eyes, Jonathan stood tall and firm. Everyone watched him in silence, already knowing in their hearts what had happened, but not sure what to say. Jonathan finally spoke, “Hello, everyone. Sorry I’m late.”

Gram stood and moved beside him and placed her hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright, dear?”

“I’m fine,” Jonathan said with a smile that looked out of place on his tear-strewn cheeks. “I told my parents I was coming to speak to the Mormon missionaries tonight. When you come to believe in something as strongly as I believe in the Book of Mormon, it just doesn’t seem right to hide it.” Elijah couldn’t help but agree with Jonathan, but knowing how devout his father, Pastor Mike, was, he wondered if he himself would have had the courage to do the same thing. “Besides, now that everyone in the prayer group knows, it would get back to them sooner or later anyways. It’s better they hear it from me.”

“What can we do for you, hon?” Gram asked holding him a little tighter.

“I thought about what I should do the whole way over here. I have given up everything to follow the Lord’s call. The only thing I want right now is to hear the next lesson and maybe have a place to stay tonight.”

Gram hugged him as tears began to stream down her face. “Of course, dear.”

“Sarah,” came Mrs. Roche’s voice from the other side of the living room. All eyes turned to her as she rose from the couch. “Mark’s the only one left at our house now. We have four empty beds. It would be a blessing to have Jonathan stay with us.”

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