Chapter 32

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” 1 Peter 3:18-19

Tonight was the fifth and final missionary lesson. It was Dad’s night to say yea or nay to getting baptized. In his heart Elijah knew his dad would say yes. Dad hadn’t had any problems with anything the Elders had taught so far. The church was true and he knew his father was starting to feel it as much as he did. Still, he would feel better after he heard Dad say it.

Everyone was sitting around the living room. Elijah sat on a chair he had pulled from the dining room table. It was wooden with a cushion tied to the backrest. The cushion slid around with every little movement he made and he was sure it didn’t make the chair any more comfortable than if the cushion wasn’t there at all, but he tried not to notice. He was anxious to hear what the final lesson covered.

Mark was sitting on an identical chair beside him. Elijah, Ben, and Jonathan had talked to him before dinner about how Meatplow stood up for them at lunch and planned to come to prayer group the next morning. Mark said Meatplow had mentioned it to him earlier at school. All Mark could say about it was “miracles have not yet ceased to happen.”

After a prayer, Elder Horsewood began talking about the Priesthood and Relief Society. Elijah had already figured out how some of it worked from church last Sunday. During the third meeting they had split up, Gram and the girls going to meetings for women; and he, Dad, and the rest of the guys went to Priesthood meeting. They then further split up in Priesthood after an opening song and some announcements. Dad then stayed in the chapel with the grown-ups and Elijah went with the younger guys.

Elijah had also read something about it on mormon.org. The Priesthood was permission from God given to men to act in His name on Earth. The men were broken down into age groups, but Elijah couldn’t remember what all they were. He listened as Elder Horsewood referred back to the first lesson. He talked about how after Christ had died and was resurrected, there was a time when the Priesthood was lost.

“One of the many missions of Joseph Smith was to have the Priesthood restored to him,” said the Elder. “Because the Priesthood is passed on by the laying on of hands, Heavenly Father sent John the Baptist, now a resurrected being, to restore the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph Smith and his friend Oliver Cowdery in the year 1829. A short time later; the apostles Peter, James, and John appeared to them and restored the Melchizedek Priesthood.”

That was it, Elijah thought, Aaronic and that Mel something or other. He wondered what it must have been like for Joseph and Oliver to see angels appear and have them restore the Priesthood. He thought back on how he used to wonder why people didn’t see angels or have prophets these days. At the time, it was unbelievable to think that things like that even happened anymore and it still would be if it hadn’t been for the vision. Elder Horsewood finished up by saying that the Priesthood was not something that men used for themselves, but it was a gift that was used to serve others.

Elder Poulson then talked briefly about missionary work. He joked that being a missionary for the church didn’t just mean wearing a white shirt, tie, and a little black badge that said Elder on it. Every member everywhere could be a missionary. Elijah thought about it for a moment. Missionary work was what the angel was telling him. He was to tell everyone about his vision. He was to be a missionary. Elijah daydreamed for a moment about himself in a white shirt, tie, and a little black badge that said Elder Abbot standing in front of a large crowd preaching the gospel. This time he wasn’t nervous or afraid. He wished it would come true someday.

“The family is the center of the church. It’s in the family that we find our greatest strengths to follow Christ, which we need today more than ever,” Elder Horsewood stated. “Heavenly Father has revealed to us that family bonds don’t have to end at death. Couples that are married in the temple by the priesthood are given the promise that if they keep their covenants that they will be together forever and not just until death do they part.”

Elijah’s eyes shot to the family picture just above the couch. Mom and Dad sat in the middle with Becca and Elijah standing behind them. Mom was smiling and holding Dad’s hand. She had been increasingly on his mind since the vision. He had always believed in his heart that he would see her again, but was it true? Would they be a family again?

“Wait a minute,” Dad stopped him. “How can that be possible? I’ve never heard that anything like that was possible.”

“This is one of my favorite parts of the gospel,” Elder Horsewood stated. “My father died when I was very young, before my family met the missionaries. He had never had a chance to hear the fullness of the gospel and it’s always given me comfort to know that he still has that chance and someday we will be together again, as a family.”

“Where does it say that in the Bible?” Gram questioned earnestly, not to argue, but she too seemed anxious to learn more.

“Well, it’s not spelled out that clearly in the Bible, Mrs. Abbot,” Elder Horsewood continued, “but here’s what I’ve been able to find in my own searching. It starts with Jesus’ resurrection. His body had been in the tomb for three days, but when He met Mary at the grave, He told her not to touch Him, for He had not gone to the Father yet. At the time Jesus doesn’t say where he was for those three days, but later the apostle Peter tells us in first Peter, chapter three, versus eighteen and nineteen,” the Elder opened his scriptures and read.

‘For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.’

The Elder continued to flip through his scriptures as he continued to talk, “Like the spirits that Jesus taught, everyone that hasn’t heard the gospel will have the chance. But why teach them the gospel if it’s too late for them to accept it and be baptized into the church? Paul touched on the subject in his first letter to the Corinthians. The people were not sure if there would be a resurrection of the dead to which Paul reminded them:

'Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?'”

“These passages have given me strength,” Elder Horsewood said fervently. “Not only can my father hear about the restored gospel, but he can receive all the blessings it offers.”

“Mr. Abbot, in the church we have temples,” Elder Poulson continued. “These are sacred buildings where we can make covenants with Heavenly Father, like baptisms for the dead and eternal marriage. But there have been millions of people that have never had a chance to accept the gospel. God loves all his children and has prepared a way for all of them to return to his kingdom. When we talked about the plan of salvation, we said that when we die our bodies are buried, but our spirits live on in the spirit world. While there, those that didn’t have a chance to hear the gospel in this life have the opportunity to hear it there. Here on Earth, worthy members of the church can go to the temple and perform things like baptisms and sealings on behalf of their dead family members. Mr. Abbot, your wife can still receive the fullness of the gospel and all of its blessings.”

No one said a word. It was so quiet that Elijah could hear the ticking of the clock on the kitchen wall above the sink. Everyone looked at Dad, who sat with the most solemn look that Elijah had ever seen.

“Elders, since Elijah’s vision and taking these lessons, all I’ve thought about is my Rachel. How I wished she could be here and how she died without ever hearing about the restoration. It just didn’t seem right that she would be denied all of this because she died before she had a chance to hear it. Everything you just said is what I needed to hear. Everything you just taught the Spirit tells me its true, I believe it with all my heart, and that is why I am most definitely going to be baptized this Sunday.”

********

That night Elijah made a single entry on the “Young Prophets” website. He posted it as a continuation of the main “Who is the boy from the visions” question.

“Tonight, more than ever, I know that the vision was meant to lead me to the church that the boy we’ve been searching for restored and this Sunday I will be joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

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