Monday morning and back to school. Elijah wasn’t sure exactly how many days were left, but he would be glad when summer vacation had finally arrived. He would have some time to focus just on the vision, the church, and spreading the word. At least for now he still had the prayer group, plus the missionaries would be coming over for the fourth lesson tonight.
Elijah could feel the breeze from the windows as he entered the band room. The early morning air was still cool and gave him a shiver. Someone apparently thought it would feel good if they opened the windows, but he never liked being cold. Still, the fresh air blew away some of the brassy band room smell.
The room wasn’t nearly as full as it had been on Friday. Let down by the poor attendance, he scanned the room. Jonathan was standing up front, getting ready to start, seemingly undaunted by the events that had transpired since the last meeting. Mark was also there, sitting as usual beside Miss Freed. Debbie had returned, as did several of her friends. None of the guys that had sat on the other side of the room were in their seats though. They must be wherever David was hiding.
It was odd that David wasn’t here. He was 16 and drove to school. Elijah had noticed his car in the student parking area. Wherever he was, being that he must be somewhere at the school, but not in the meeting, couldn’t be good for the group at this point. It suddenly dawned on Elijah that Jonathan had lost more than his family. He had been friends with everyone that was not sitting in the room this morning.
Elijah stood amazed that Jonathan was able to be so strong. An old Sunday School memory came to him, it was a song about building your house on a rock and when the rain comes down it stands strong. The rock was supposed to be Jesus and Jonathan definitely believed. Elijah thought of the replies to his post about Jonathan on the “Young Prophets” website. They said to be a friend and Elijah resolved to be the best friend he could be.
Just as shocking as Jonathan’s resolve was that Ben and Marty were sitting beside each other talking as he and Becca entered the room. Ben had mentioned that he thought she was kinda hot and Elijah had noticed that Ben managed yesterday to sit beside her at church and on the drive there. The most shocking part about it was that Marty was smiling and talking back, like she was enjoying it. Marty and Becca had been hanging out for as long as Elijah could remember and he had come to think of her as more of a sister than a cute girl.
Elijah and Becca slipped into the room and took seats on each side of Ben and Marty. As they sat Jonathan looked up and gave them a smile. It was the same smile he wore the first time they came to prayer group, but the face was somehow different now. There was a sadness in his eyes that marred the smile on his face.
“Good morning, everyone,” Jonathan began. “Despite our diminished numbers, I see a strong group before me. I’m sad to say that we’ll be a few members short for awhile. Miss Freed tells me that several of the other students have decided to start their own prayer group in the auditorium. I’m sad that we’ve been separated, but we must keep moving forward and keep growing stronger.
“I still want to try to add a lesson to the meeting,” Jonathan continued. “Now that several of us have gone through the first three missionary discussions, I thought we might try going over what we learned in them. What do you guys think?”
Elijah’s eyes widened in surprise when Miss Freed’s voice spoke from behind him. She had stayed fairly quiet during the meetings unless they needed someone with “school authority” to step in. There was rustling throughout the room as everyone turned to look at her.
“I have a suggestion,” Miss Freed said. “Years ago, when I lived in Utah, I taught early morning seminary. Each school year we studied a different set of scriptures, one year the Old Testament, another year the Book of Mormon, and so on. There haven’t been enough young people in the church to do it out here, but maybe now I could get permission?”
“So, every day we would go over a couple of chapters?” Jonathan asked.
“Sort of,” Miss Freed replied. “Some mornings we would cover sections of the scriptures, for others we would cover specific topics. It’s really a great program. Not only do you learn what happened in the scriptures, but why it happened and how it can help you apply the scriptures to everyday life.”
Elijah could see the anticipation on Miss Freed’s face as she explained what seminary was to them. It was clear that the program meant a lot to her. Learning about the scriptures always seem out of reach to him. Especially the Old Testament, even written in English it seemed like it was in a foreign language. Perhaps this would be his chance.
“That sounds just like what I’ve been imagining Miss Freed,” Jonathan said, his voice sounding excited now too. “What does everyone think?”
Looking around the room, Elijah could see every head nodding in affirmation.
“Wonderful,” Miss Freed exclaimed as her eyes lit up with excitement. “I’ll talk to the principal today to see what we have to do to get started.”
Elijah was starving! Breakfast seemed like a distant memory. By the time he found Ben and Jonathan and then made it through the lunch line, he was about to eat the plate, tray, and silverware too. It felt good to get out of a stuffy classroom for a bit. As the spring continued to get warmer, so did the classrooms. The Social Studies room last period had been like a sauna.
Now a refreshing breeze was blowing in from the open windows along the side of the cafeteria. Elijah closed his eyes for a moment and breathed the cool air. The sounds of dozens of voices echoed from the tables around him. Despite the commotion, he cleared his mind for a moment and enjoyed the dehydrated mashed potatoes.
Looking across the table, Ben and Jonathan both seemed lost in thought. He tried to imagine what they were thinking about. Ben’s distant and dreamy look could only mean he was thinking about Marty. Jonathan still had a sorrow about him. Elijah could only imagine he was thinking about his family. He felt like he should say something to Jonathan, but no words came to mind and for a moment they sat in silence.
Ben and Jonathan both turned their heads up the aisle and Elijah’s gaze followed. Coming up the row was David and several of his friends, all glaring at Elijah. “Well, if it isn’t the fallen prophet and his disciples,” David sneered while several of the others glared.
“Take a hike, David,” Ben blurted out.
David never took his eyes off of Elijah, “Who’s this? Your bodyguard? You might think about getting someone more intimidating. But I’m not afraid of any of you because I know that you’re wrong and that God will help his true followers bring you down.”
“And you,” David spat as he turned to Jonathan. “We’ve been friends most of our lives. How could you choose him over us?”
“I didn’t choose any one over you, David. I chose the path that Lord led me to.”
“Ha,” David shot back. “And how did that work out for you? Kicked out of your home. Disowned by your family. Your father had a lot to say about you and your new friends at church yesterday.”
Elijah stared in astonishment. Would Pastor Mike really say bad things about them in front of the whole church? It was clear that Jonathan thought so as anger covered his face.
David shook his head at them and started to walk away. Over his shoulder he continued to glare at them. “You’ll see, fallen prophet! Everyone will know what you really are soon enough.”
“What’d you suppose he meant by that?” Elijah turned and asked Jonathan.
“I’m not sure, but if my dad is on the rampage, it can’t be good.”
This lesson was certainly covering the most stuff, Elijah thought to himself. The Commandments was the topic of this lesson and there were plenty of them. He knew they were important and was trying to pay attention as best he could after a long day at school. Fortunately, the Elders didn’t have to go into much detail on most of them. So far, most had already been covered in previous discussions.
Prayer, scripture study, and keeping the Sabbath day holy were topics they had already discussed. Baptism and confirmation they talked about last lesson. So far, everyone was still committed. Dad pointed out that the date was reserved, but he wasn’t completely committing until they had been through all the lessons. Elijah watched Jonathan’s face when baptism was brought up and was thankful that the frustration that had appeared there yesterday didn’t return.
Following the prophet and other church leaders seemed a “no brainer” to Elijah. The vision had led him to the church and to believe that Heavenly Father had chosen Joseph Smith to lead it. If the church was true then what the prophet said was from God, so why not follow it?
Next had been the Ten Commandments. The big ten, as Gram would say. Elijah couldn’t recite them in order, but Gram had made sure he and Becca knew each one.
As Elder Poulson finished the Ten Commandments, Elder Horsewood began talking about the law of chastity. Elijah felt his face start to flush. Looking around the room he could see it was an uncomfortable subject for the other kids, too. Ben and Mark both had smirks on their faces and the girls were all blushing. Becca even started twirling her hair like she does when she’s embarrassed or in trouble. It wasn’t so much that talking about chastity bothered him, but they were all teens and it wasn’t something you talked about around parents unless they brought it up.
Elijah thought about the big push that the school had earlier that year. He remembered seeing several kids from the prayer group had been involved, even though he didn’t really know them then. There were posters around the halls at school and they also passed out contracts that students could sign that they would wait until they got married to have sex.
Ben, in his typical tactless fashion, had called them “wait ‘till ya mate” forms. The thought made Elijah grin even more. He hadn’t really paid much attention at the time, but that was before the vision, and now making such a pact didn’t seem so funny. Elder Horsewood went on to say that chastity was not just about actions, but also the way you dress, the jokes you tell, and keeping your thoughts clean. It certainly entailed more than Elijah thought when Elder Horsewood first said the word.
Elder Poulson, to Elijah’s relief, moved to the next topic. The missionary started building a case for staying healthy. God created us physically, our bodies are temples, and temples need to be kept clean for the Spirit to dwell in them. That sounded fine so far. This was followed by ways of keeping our bodies clean by watching what we put in them.
“The Word of Wisdom,” as Elder Poulson called it, “not only tells us that we should eat healthy foods, but that we should abstain from alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, and harmful drugs.”
Elijah thought through the list. There was never any alcohol kept in the house. The only time he’d ever seen his dad drink was a little champagne on New Years Eve. Neither Gram nor Dad ever smoked that he could remember. Tea and coffee on the other hand were always in the house, although he never cared much for the taste of either. Gram had given him a cup of coffee once when he was 12. After several sips and several tablespoons full of sugar he decided that there wasn’t enough sugar in the world to make coffee taste good.
“I couldn’t help but notice you say coffee,” Gram groaned.
Elder Poulson confirmed that coffee was indeed on the list and went through a list of reasons why it was harmful to the body. Elijah had found in the few times he tried to argue with Gram that she didn’t care much for reasons. She told him that she had drunk coffee for as long as she can remember. In the end it came down to the one thing that could sway her.
“Mrs. Abbott, how do you feel about the things we’ve been teaching you?” Elder Poulson questioned.
“Well, I have to admit that the more I listen to you boys and read the Book of Mormon the more believe it’s true.”
“And if these things are true and Joseph Smith was a prophet, then the Word of Wisdom must be from God,” Elder Poulson had dropped the bomb and Gram had no place to dodge it.
Gram was silent for a moment, then with a smile she replied, “Well boys, I’ll give it a try and that’s all I can promise.”
That allowed Elder Horsewood to lead into the last two topics of the evening, tithing and fasting. Elijah had never heard of tithing before. Their old church passed a collection plate around and Gram and Dad usually put some money in, but he had no idea how much they gave. Giving ten percent of his income didn’t bother him much; he wasn’t old enough to have a real job yet and Dad believed that chores were just part of being in a family so he didn’t get a real allowance.
Fasting was going without eating or drinking anything for two meals. Mark joked that fasting was the toughest thing for him because he was hungry 24/7. The money that would have been spent on the food should then be donated to the church to take care of others in need. Again that didn’t bother Elijah, but he thought about his dad. Dad had spent a lot of time away from home working to pay the bills. Like Gram and her coffee habit, would this be a problem for Dad?
It was like Elder Poulson was reading his mind as he asked, “Mr. Abbott will you live the law of tithing and fasting when you are baptized?”
Dad looked at Becca and then at Elijah. “Elder, money has separated this family enough over the past few years. Now that I am getting to a point where I don’t have to travel for work I’m not going to let it get in the way anymore. As long as things go well with the last lesson, I will definitely tithe and fast after I’m baptized on Sunday.”[Home] [Chapter 29] [Chapter 31]