Elijah met the Roches and Jonathan at the door. He was surprised at how nervous he felt over seeing his friend. After Jonathan showed up with his bags last night, and having a terrible night’s sleep from being woken up by dreams that he was the source of Jonathan’s troubles, Elijah feared that Jonathan must feel the same way. He had no idea what to say and certainly didn’t want to say anything that would make his friend feel worse than he must already. Not wanting to sound rehearsed, Elijah gave a casual greeting as Jonathan entered the doorway, “How ya doing?”
The words came out feeling very awkward. It felt like asking a person with a bad cold how they were feeling. Fortunately, Jonathan took it in stride. He actually looked calm, almost at peace.
“I’m doing better,” Jonathan assured him. “I read some more of the Book of Mormon when I got up this morning and it really helped me get my perspective back.”
“That’s good to hear,” Elijah smiled. “Come on in. Everyone’s hanging out in the back yard. Dad’s barbequing some chicken on the grill. We’re just waiting for Ben, the Elders, and Debbie.”
Elijah purposely said Debbie’s name last, even though she was now first on his mind. Seeing that Jonathan was doing all right freed his mind to think about other things, and Debbie was at the top of his favorite “other things” list. It was awesome that she showed up early for the lesson last night. Even though it was only a few minutes before Ben showed up, but each minute was amazing. He was only lost in the thought for a moment, but it was long enough for him to feel uncomfortable by the slight pause. He always got a little embarrassed thinking about her when anyone else was around, especially grown-ups. Gram caught him day dreaming about her over breakfast and he about choked on his cereal. Subconsciously his eyes turned to Mr. and Mrs. Roche.
“That sounds delicious,” Mrs. Roche said grabbing Mr. Roche by the arm. “Why don’t we go see how they’re doing?”
Mr. and Mrs. Roche headed through the kitchen and out the back door, while Elijah, Jonathan, and Mark hung out in the living room and waited for the others to arrive. Elijah was tired and just listened, trying to stay awake as Mark told Jonathan what he knew about being a missionary. Mostly he talked about Paul and Tim, where they were and the letters they sent home. Before long, Ben showed up, followed shortly by the missionaries.
The group of boys sat in the living room and waited for Dad to finish barbequing. The conversation began to drift around school. The missionaries seemed to be enjoying the conversation the most. Elijah hadn’t thought about it, but they did missionary work all day and probably didn’t get to hang out much, especially in a group of more than two people. Not to mention, they weren’t that long out of high school themselves.
Elder Poulson had grown up with several brothers and was into sports. He and Mark talked a little about football. Elder Horsewood was more into music, so he and Ben talked about their favorite bands. Elijah and Jonathan sat and tried to follow both conversations. After Debbie’s arrival and quick exit to the backyard to be with Becca and Marty, the conversation even turned to talking about girls. It wasn’t long before Elijah had forgotten that they were missionaries at all.
After a few more minutes of talking the back door opened and the warm breeze carried the scent of barbecued chicken into the living room. It didn’t take long for the group of young men to gather around the dining room table. It didn’t take much longer for the chicken to be devoured. With full bellies everyone gathered into the living room for the afternoon’s lesson.
Elijah was amazed at how quickly the missionaries changed from just a couple of guys hanging out, back into representatives of the Lord. As the subject changed to the gospel they seemed to have a spiritual power emerge from within them. He felt drawn to listen to what they had to say. It made the lesson even more exciting for him after seeing the change the Spirit brought.
After a prayer the Elders jumped right into the lesson. Elijah sat on the edge of his seat as he listened to the missionaries.
“Today’s lesson is on the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Elder Poulson began. “In the first lesson we spoke of everyone having sin and the need for Jesus to be the Savior as part of the Plan of Salvation. Jesus taught the gospel during His earthly ministry. He paid the price for our sins, but He didn’t take away all of man’s responsibility. The gospel was Christ’s teachings on what man needs to do to fulfill his part of the plan.”
The Elder called the things they would cover in this lesson the first principles and ordinances of the gospel; faith, repentance, baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Elder Poulson then went into faith in Jesus Christ as all present listened intently.
“Faith leads to action,” stuck in Elijah’s mind. Truly believing in Jesus led one to action, led them to do something about it. That sounded cool to him and he thought about all the things he hoped to with the vision. Maybe someday he’d even go on a mission.
Elder Horsewood took the second principle. The topic was repentance. “Even after we accept Jesus as the Savior, there will still be times when we do things that we shouldn’t. It’s like taking a bath; no matter what we do, we will eventually get dirty again. Sin is to do something even though we know that it’s wrong. When we sin, or get dirty, we need to repent,” Elder Horsewood said. “Through Christ’s Atonement, when we sincerely repent, our sins are forgiven. It’s like taking another bath and becoming clean again.”
Like faith leading to action, the concept of repentance sounded totally cool to Elijah. It was awesome that no one was expected to be perfect. Even after having a vision he was far from perfect, he thought back at how angry he was towards Mark. He certainly didn’t have very Christ-like thoughts then towards his now good friend.
“Every day we sin,” Elder Horsewood continued. “Heavenly Father knew that we would. That’s one of the reasons He sent Jesus to be the Savior. If we sincerely repent and ask Heavenly Father to forgive us in Jesus’ name we become clean again.”
The lesson then covered baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Elijah was still thinking through repentance when the topic changed to baptism. He had been baptized as a baby, so all set there he thought to himself. The Elders covered some other things about the church not baptizing children until they were eight years old and that baptism was required for membership in the church. “Well,” he thought, “if being baptized once is good, twice must be even better.”
The Gift of the Holy Ghost was a new concept for him. Elijah had felt the Spirit many times since the vision. It had prompted him to do and say things, but the feelings came and went. But the Gift of the Holy Ghost would mean that, as long as he stayed worthy, the Spirit would stay with him all the time. “Now that would be sweet,” his thoughts continued, “to not have to wonder if the Spirit would show up when needed because it was already there. Always there!”
Elder Poulson finished off the lesson by talking about enduring to the end. He even gave a football example about how a player doesn’t stop running until he reaches the goal. That just made sense to Elijah. Following Jesus wasn’t a one-time thing, but something you kept on doing. It also helped when Elder Poulson said that even after you get baptized you still make mistakes. “Even after a vision,” Elijah thought. But repentance wasn’t a one-time thing either; it’s something you have to keep doing.
“During the lesson we talked about the principles of faith and repentance. We also covered the two physical ordinances of baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. So, does anyone have any questions?” Elder Poulson asked.
When no hands were raised Elder Poulson continued looking directly at Tom Abbott, “Mr. Abbot, I know that baptism is essential to salvation and that Heavenly Father will bless you and your family for following His plan. Will you be baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, one week from tomorrow?”
Tom paused for a moment. There was a quick glint of surprise on his face then his eyebrows furrowed in thought. “Well, I’ve really enjoyed what you guys have been teaching us and I haven’t disagreed with anything. Still, there’s a couple more lessons, being a project manager, I like to try to have all the facts before committing to anything.”
Tom looked to Elijah and Becca then back to the Elders. “But like any project, if you don’t set target completion dates, nothing ever gets done. So, let’s tentatively say yes to the Sunday after tomorrow.”
Elijah felt his heart jump with excitement, which continued to grow as Gram also agreed to the date. “I’m ready now,” Elijah interjected before he could be asked, a wide smile across his face. With three quarters of the Abbots in, everyone’s eyes turned to Becca.
Becca had a puzzled look on her face, which was slightly red. Whether from embarrassment or anger Elijah couldn’t tell, but she flicked her hair back over her shoulder like she did when she was arguing with him. “Why do we need to get baptized again?” She asked anxiously. “Like, I’ve already been baptized once.”
“That’s a good question, Rebecca,” Elder Horsewood answered. “There are many reasons why the Church asks people to be baptized, even those that have been baptized in other churches. One reason is like we talked about in the lesson; baptism into the Church must be done by a Church member with the Priesthood or authority to perform it.”
Before he could go on Becca cut him off. “Well, I was baptized by Pastor Mike and that’s always meant a lot to me. Are you saying it didn’t count?” Becca said in an icy tone.
“Rebecca, your first baptism helped you have a relationship with the Savior and the church would never try to lessen that away for you.” Elder Horsewood said in a calm apologetic sounding voice. “We’re only asking you to build on that relationship and take it one step further by being baptized again into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
This seemed to soothe Becca and she replied, “Well, as long as you put it that way, I’ll get baptized, too.”
The missionaries then turned their attention to Ben, Marty, Debbie, and Jonathan. “We also invite you guys to be baptized, but because of your ages we will need permission from your parents,” Elder Pouslon stated as they all nodded in agreement. “Before next Sunday we would like to meet with your families to discuss baptism and what it means for you.”
Everyone felt uncomfortable as Jonathan sniffed at the idea. He sat back in his seat and folded his arms. “Well, that’s not going to happen,” he said. “They won’t even talk to me, let alone talk to you. I’m certain they won’t give me permission to get baptized.”
“Yes,” Elder Poulson continued, “we kinda figured that would be the case. Elder Horsewood and I have actually been thinking about it even before last night. Pastors don’t usually give their sons permission to join other churches. We called our mission president last night and told him about your situation. His answer was that as long as you are living according to the gospel Heavenly Father will not hold you accountable for not being baptized now. You are only judged by how you live according to the situation you live in. Heavenly Father loves you Jonathan. He’s not going to punish you for not being baptized now.”
Elder Horsewood added, “You’ve made the toughest choice I’ve seen my entire mission and I feel that Heavenly Father is aware of the choice you’ve made and wants to bless you.”
Jonathan gave a slight smile towards the missionaries. “Thanks guys, I appreciate it.”
“Well” said Elder Poulson, “we should be going. We need to call in and then get ready for church tomorrow. Is everyone still planning to make it?”
Everyone nodded in affirmation and with that the third discussion ended.[Home] [Chapter 27] [Chapter 29]