The next two days went smoothly for Elijah. David and his friends had left everyone alone, having Meatplow around for prayer group and lunch helped see to that. Outside of Pastor Mike’s staring him down every morning as they drove to school, the picking was pretty much kept at a distance. Classes were getting back to normal and the prayer group was starting to grow again. Several of the kids that hung out with Jonathan had returned now that things had calmed down. There were also a couple of guys from the football team coming once they heard that Mark and Meatplow were there.
Home life was going well, too. Dad and Gram had driven to a place the church called a stake center. They said it was just like the local church building, but bigger. There was a family history center there and they were learning about how to get Mom and Grand pap’s temple work done.
The Elders had stopped by with some missionary they called a zone leader, who gave everyone a baptismal interview. It basically covered the things they had gone over in the lessons. After he covered each topic the Elder asked them if they would follow the different commandments. Elijah was glad when all the interviews were over and everyone was set for Sunday’s baptism.
Dad even surprised everyone by ordering take out Thursday night. He had gotten the job with the hospital and wanted to celebrate. As much as he wanted to take them to a nice restaurant, Dad hated the thought of being on display the whole time. Being followed to and from school and church was one thing, but trying to have a nice dinner while being watched by press and paparazzi was not his idea of celebrating.
Outside of a fast food chain or pizza there weren’t many other places to get take-out. After a short deliberation they opted for Chinese. Elijah ordered his usual, General Tso’s with white rice. While they ate Dad said he would start the new job on Monday, and outside of the occasional late night for system upgrades, he would be home every night now.
Things were even going well on the YPS website. Along with Elijah’s post a large number of the other kids that had had visions were joining or investigating the Mormon Church. Anonymous Angel, the Middle Eastern boy, posted that he had shared his vision with several members of his family and they were receptive to hearing what he had to say. Elijah hadn’t seen any new posts from him for a couple of days and was worried that his fears of being ostracized had come true.
Friday morning was starting out much like the previous two. Dad drove them to school early for prayer group, Pastor Mike and his protesters were standing on the corner waving their signs, and Jonathan was standing behind the podium at the front of the room prepared and ready to go. As Jonathan had suggested, the group had started reading a chapter from the Book of Mormon each morning.
This was only the second morning of reading. Jonathan just read out loud from his copy the morning before, but somehow Miss Freed had come up with a box full of Book of Mormons and gave one to each member of the group. Now that everyone had their own copy, Miss Freed wanted to give a brief overview of what was going on.
“The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture written by prophets, much like the Bible. Members of the Mormon Church use both of the books together to help them have a better understanding of the gospel. The Bible takes place in and around Jerusalem, but the Book of Mormon primarily takes place here on the American continent. After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, he visited the people here and set up his church among them.”
Before Miss Freed could go any further a shout from the door made everyone in the room jump. “Enough!” Shouted David as he exploded into the room. “I can’t stand to hear this any longer. I won’t stand by and listen to you talk about that book like it is from God.”
David quickly moved to the center of the room towards Jonathan. He looked like he was going to start a fight with his face beet red and flailing a Bible with his right hand. So much so, that Meatplow had stood up and ran to Jonathan’s side.
“You can’t scare me any more, Meatplow,” David spat.
Jonathan stepped forward to meet him. “David, why are you doing this?”
“Because of you,” David shouted back standing less than a foot away from Jonathan holding a Bible in his face. “We used to say that Mormons aren’t Christians, that they were going to Hell and we should try to show them they’re wrong.”
“Yes, we used to say that,” Jonathan sighed. “But that was before we really knew anything about them.”
“I know enough to know that they, you, are wrong,” David sneered. “You were the one that used to say Mormons believe that you have to work your way to Heaven. The Bible says that we are saved by faith.”
“I remember and that’s one of the things I’ve been talking with Mark’s dad about. He’s really helped clear up a lot of questions for me. Mormon’s don’t try to diminish the Savior’s role or believe that we are saved without Jesus’ sacrifice. They believe that accepting Jesus as the Savior is the only way to be saved, but they also believe that Christ expects us to do our part. Even my dad preaches that true believers must bear fruit.”
Jonathan slowly reached up and took David’s Bible from his hand. “Here, let me show you. It says in Revelations 20 verse 13, ‘And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works.’”
“You see, David,” Jonathan said. “Works must play a part of what happens to us. It says it right there in the Bible.”
David grabbed the book and looked at the scripture for a moment. Then he slowly lifted his eyes to meet Jonathan’s. His face twisted with anger as he reached up and tore the page from the book in his hand, crumpled it into a ball, and threw it at Jonathan’s feet. No one made a sound. As the page hit the floor it echoed throughout the acoustic enhancing room. “It doesn’t say that in my Bible!”
The two stood looking at each other; one in rage, the other in horror.
Before another word could be spoken, David turned and stormed from the room. As his shadow moved from the view Jonathan knelt down and picked up the tattered page. Carefully, he flattened it out over his knee.
Meatplow reached out and put a hand on Jonathan’s shoulder in hopes of giving some kind of comfort. Jonathan looked into his face and did his best to fake a smile.
“He’ll repent of this someday,” Jonathan said. “And when he does, I’m sure he’ll want this back.”
“I’m sure he will, Jonathan,” Meatplow replied sadly. “I’m sure he will.”
Finally, Sunday had arrived. There was much to do. Gram was buzzing around the house making sure that everyone was getting ready. The baptism was going to take place right after church and there wouldn’t be any time to come home and get anything after.
Church only made Elijah more anxious. Each of the meetings seemed to take a little longer than the last. Everyone they met shook their hands and congratulated them on getting baptized. As soon as Priesthood was over Elijah, Ben, Jonathan, and Mark met the others in the chapel’s overflow area/ basketball court. The Elders had already arranged chairs in a semi-circle around the two large beige doors in the back of the room. Several small children were playing catch between the rows.
Along with the Abbots, Ben and Marty have gotten permission from their parents to get baptized. Both sets of parents had come for the service and were talking to Dad, Gram, Becca, and Marty as they picked out seats. “Scuze’ me boys,” Ben said as he puffed out his chest and put on a cheezy grin. “Gotta go check in with the little lady.”
Ben quickly made his way across the gym floor to Marty’s side and took her by the hand.
“Well,” Elijah smiled. “I guess their official and out in the open now.”
“A-hem,” Mark coughed as he looked up at the ceiling. “Well-uh, I will, um, I’ll talk to you guys later.” Mark followed Ben’s path and made his way to Becca’s side. They didn’t hold hands, but Becca blushed as he smiled at her.
Elijah shot a glance at Jonathan, “Anyone you need to go see?”
Jonathan laughed, “Not me, I’m just here for a baptism.”
Both looked around the room and watched as more people arrived. Jonathan smiled and poked Elijah in the ribs as they both saw the Bowley’s enter the room. “If you want to go say ‘hi’ I won’t be offended.”
Now it was Elijah whose face turned red. “I’m not quite ready for that yet,” Elijah confessed. “I just need to get through this first.”
Brother Scribner, the Ward Mission Leader conducted the meeting. He introduced Miss Freed, who gave a talk about what baptism means. Elijah had sat through many of her Social Studies classes, but this was the first of her classes he didn’t feel like falling asleep in. Then they were baptized. Gram, Dad, Becca, Ben, Marty, and Elijah had all gone to the dressing rooms and put on white outfits just before the ceremony. Elder Poulson, also dressed in white, did the baptizing.
Elijah couldn’t remember ever feeling as happy as he did when he came out of the water. He felt free, free from the world that had always seemed so big and daunting. He had touched the something he’d felt so many times, that there was something more to life.
After everyone was dried off and back in their church clothes, Elder Horsewood confirmed them each members of the church. That was all followed by a welcome by the bishop, a prayer, and a song. He had done it, Elijah thought. He’d joined Christ’s church that he had seen restored by the boy in the vision.
Several hours later Elijah found himself sitting on the back porch staring up at a bright blue sky. He watched as a slight breeze moved through the pine trees. He thought about climbing up and having a look around, but it wasn’t necessary, he felt like he was higher than the trees already. He hadn’t smiled this much for as long as he could remember.
He thought about everything that had happened since the vision and then drifted on to what he should do next. The more he thought about it, the more overwhelming it seemed. This was just the beginning and he suddenly felt like he’d just started. There was a whole big world in front of him to share the gospel with, not to mention the rest of the vision’s events. The sound of the screen door opening behind him caught him off guard and he jumped a little. He looked back as Gram stepped out on the porch.
“Elijah,” Gram spoke. “There’s some sandwiches in the house if you’re hungry.”
“Nah Gram, I’m still full of all those cookies at the baptism.”
She walked over and sat down on the step beside him. “So, what are you doing out here?”
“Just thinking,” he replied thoughtfully, looking back up at the pine tree.
“Well, you’d better not be thinking about climbing up in that tree,” Gram said as she put her arm around him and pulled him close to her.
“Don’t worry, I’m not.”
They sat for a moment, both looking at the sky. Finally, Elijah opened up. “I can’t believe how much Heavenly Father’s really blessed me, Gram. I mean with the vision and now the church. There’s still so much to do, though. I just feel like I should be a better person, know more about the gospel, and be doing more in return.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Gram said. “I think you’ve done more than most would have in your situation.”
“Maybe, but after the vision, that first morning, I wanted to tell the world. I wanted everyone to hear the vision and follow Jesus. I’m glad that you and Dad and Becca believed, of course, and some of my friends. I just wish I was farther along.”
“Now see here,” Gram scolded. “First off, you’ve done a lot of growing since the vision. You didn’t know everything then and you never will in this life. Line upon line, precept upon precept; your grand-pap used to always quote every time he’d learn something new. Today wasn’t the end, it was just another step.
“And secondly, no one has converted the whole world yet. Even Jesus started out with just a few close friends.”
Gram squeezed Elijah even tighter. “Look at all that’s happened in the few short weeks since the vision. You’ve brought the family closer together than I thought would ever happen. Ben has changed so much I can barely recognize him. And look at Debbie, Marty, Jonathan, and Mark. You have some good friends there. God set this in motion and He will take it where it needs to go.”
“And speaking of your Grand-pap, just think about what you’ve started for him and your mother. You know, I bet they were even there today.”
“I bet they were,” Elijah replied looking back up towards the heavens.
They sat on the porch taking in the beauty of the sky and the light scent of pine on the breeze.
“Do you think there will be more visions?” Gram asked.
“You know, Gram, I believe there will.”