Tom’s car was much comfier than the “dinosaur,” as the kids called it, that Gram drove. She would never have fit everyone in her car and with Tom driving she could relax and enjoy the ride. Gram sat back and looked out at the beautiful white, fluffy clouds in the distant blue sky. She loved clouds and they were particularly glorious this morning.
Gram looked over at her son. It was good to have Tom home again. She knew he had needed to work away for the money, but hopefully that would be coming to an end soon. He had found out that the local hospital had a position open that was right up his alley and from his conversation on the phone, the job sounded promising.
It would be good for the kids too. Gram’s eyes turned to Elijah who was sitting between them. Ben and Marty had asked if they could ride along to church with them, so Elijah sat up front while the other kids rode in the back. She watched as the breeze from Tom’s window tossed Elijah’s hair around. The missionaries had said that between sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and Relief Society it would be about three hours. That didn’t really bother Gram too much. The longer they would be in church the more they would be keeping the Sabbath day holy. Still she wondered how the kids, Tom included, would hold up for that long.
As the wind tussled at her hair, she thought back over the years. Ever since he was little Tom had to have the car window down. As long as the temperature was above fifty degrees he had to have the one beside him open. And if you ever said anything to him he would get all upset over it and roll it all the way back up. The church wasn’t far and didn’t require driving on the highway so putting up with the breeze wasn’t worth getting him all bent out of shape. Besides, she had just gotten a perm and it would take more than a little air to mess up her hair.
They pulled into the church parking lot and Gram couldn’t help but notice that the Mormon Church was not as ornate as the other churches she’d been to. No big crosses or bright red doors. And most of all, there were no stained glass windows. Still, she thought, it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what goes on inside.
As they piled out of the car, Gram gave everyone a final once over, even Ben and Marty. After she was sure that each member of the group looked well kept, they headed across the parking lot. It was a shock to her that even Ben, whom she always worried would be a bad influence on Elijah, looked presentable in his white shirt and tie. “Must be trying to blend in with the boys?” she thought. As they entered the building, “the boys” were waiting for them. The Elders shook each of their hands and led them into the chapel. Several others introduced themselves as they found a seat.
The Roches and Jonathan were already there, as were Debbie and her parents. Everyone smiled and exchanged “Good mornings” as they took their seats. Gram looked at Jonathan. “He’s quite the trooper,” Gram thought and prayed that Pastor Mike would soon see the light. She also couldn’t help but notice the young Bowley girl. She was very pretty; its no wonder Elijah fancied her so much. He never said anything out loud, but Gram though it was obvious by the way he looked at her.
Now that she was settled, Gram surveyed her surroundings. Inside the chapel, like the outside of the building, was fairly plain. Off-white walls, high ceiling, and a podium standing in the front. It was a nice building, just not as elaborately decorated as she was used to. Again she reminded herself that it wasn’t the building that mattered, it was what went on inside. But if they did decide to become members here, she would miss not having the stained glass windows. Children scurried up and down the isles as more families arrived. Soon the organ began playing the prelude music and a man stood up at the podium and welcomed everyone.
After a few announcements and an opening hymn, another song was sung as two young men started preparing the sacrament. Gram was surprised that they were young men from the congregation. Neither was much older than Becca. The song ended and one of the young men said a prayer over the bread and several even younger boys begin passing it to the congregation.
She couldn’t remember all of the prayer, but the part about taking upon herself the name of Christ stuck with her. That was something she had always tried to do as long as she could remember. Try to be like Jesus, try to do what Jesus would do, and never be afraid to let people know whom you’re trying to follow. As the apostle Paul said to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”
Next, the water was blessed and passed and the sermons proceeded. First, there was a youth speaker, a young girl, probably not much older than twelve. Next a lady spoke, then a song, then an older gentleman. Each one spoke about prayer and though “the boys” had said the church didn’t have professional ministers, Gram was impressed by the talks. All in all she was impressed with her first visit to the Mormon Church.
“I felt about as out of place in there as a ...” Ben paused, reconsidered his wording, and blushed a little. “A really bad person going to confession.” Wow, he even was trying to keep his off color comments to Elijah clean in here, Ben thought to himself. He smiled at Elijah as they left the chapel and followed Mark and Jonathan to Sunday school. He liked feeling this way about church; it was different than saying bad stuff in school, this place felt kinda sacred. He’d never been any place he’d considered sacred before.
But even feeling out of place was worth it. He had gotten to sit next to Marty on the way there and purposely sat between her and Elijah during church. He’d hoped it didn’t seem too blatant, though. There was something about her he liked from the first time Becca brought her to prayer group. She was beautiful, but not in a too girly or stuck-up way. She didn’t come off as being beat or tweaked, both pluses in his mind.
As they entered the next room, he was glad to see that she would be in there too, but there was no way to make it look like he accidentally got stuck in the seat next to her, so for now he would be content to be in the same room. Their whole group was still together in the “investigator/new member” class. The few other kids their age that he’d seen so far he didn’t recognize. They probably went to other schools, maybe some special Mormon school like Jonathan and the Christian elementary. This meeting seemed sort of like prayer group to him; there were a bunch of people in a room talking about religious things that he didn’t really know much about.
But he was a changed man now. After his argument with Jonathan, he realized that the path he was going down was leading to nowhere. He really believed in Elijah. They had been friends for a long time now and he trusted him. If Elijah said he’d had a vision of Jesus then he believed it, no matter what anyone else might think. And if following Jesus meant giving up a few things, then he was going to try.
“So, this is Priesthood?” Tom thought as he sat in the chapel. All the men had come back into the chapel for the first part of the meeting. There was quite the age range, he thought in passing as he looked around the room. He took a quick inventory around the room to see if he recognized anyone, but it was a sea of new faces. Beside him sat Elijah, Ben, Jonathan, and Mark; who sat next to his father, Paul senior, on the other end of the pew.
So far he had enjoyed the meetings. The sacrament meeting speakers, for not being professional clergy, had impressed him. In Sunday school, Brother Scribner, the ward mission leader, had discussed a lot of the stuff they had gone over in the missionary discussions so far. With all the new comers in their group, the brother thought it best to get a feel for the group’s background instead of just a straight lesson. He seemed like a decent, down-to-earth guy. Miss Freed from the school sat in with them too, which Tom felt was really nice for the kids. Now there was just one more meeting to go.
He still felt out of place without Rachel, even after all this time. They had hardly spent a day apart after they were married. There was peace in his heart when she was around. Being here without her made him feel like a big piece of the puzzle was missing. If it hadn’t been for Becca and Elijah, he doubted he would have ever entered a church again. He often imagined that someday he might see her again in Heaven and wondered if they would even know each other.
But things were changing now. Maybe Jesus was coming back sooner then he expected and he’d have that question answered. Thanks to Elijah and this whole vision thing maybe there was hope after all. The day Rachel passed away Tom still had faith in God, but without her his hope in his future was shattered. That hopeless feeling had never left him and he figured it would always be there. But looking down at Elijah, who was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, Tom put his hand on his son’s shoulder and thought, “maybe there’s hope after all!”[Home] [Chapter 28] [Chapter 30]