A Time to Remember (Part 3)


Maron made a long, perilous journey to Kurom to deliver her father’s message to Teomnihah, a leader of their people. While there, she was hidden from Mocum’s guards when they took away Teomnihah and his men. A terrible storm overtook her before she could reach home. Melekib, her brother, found her, and they struggled to reach a small, abandoned house. The storm became wild. Earthquakes caused part of the roof to fall, injuring Melekib. When the storm ceased, total darkness filled the air. It was then that Maron and Melekib realized that the prophecies concerning the Savior’s death had come to pass.

NOTE: The words of the Savior are found in 3 Nephi 9–17. [3 Ne. 9–17]

The heavy blackness clung to the air like moss to a tree. Maron and Melekib felt its weight and breathed its intensity for three long days. When Melekib tried to start a fire with his flint, not even a spark penetrated the darkness. They ate what little bread and cheese Maron had in her cloak pocket. The air was still, but from the city the two children heard people screaming and crying with pain and fear.

“I wonder how our father and mother are,” Maron remarked at last.

“God will protect them as He has us,” Melekib assured her.

“Surely the three days Samuel the Lamanite spoke of must be over,” Maron whispered desperately. “I do not know how our mother has lived in darkness so many years.”

Suddenly a voice, soft and clear, began to speak so gently that it didn’t startle them.

“Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent.”

“Who said that?” Maron sat up, straining to see through the darkness. But there was only blackness.

“Shhh,” Melekib said.

“Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.”

“Jesus the Christ!” Maron gasped. “The Savior! But where?”

The voice continued: “Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.”

Then the voice stopped, and for hours silence reigned like a king over the black earth. Periodically the ground trembled and rocked, then rested, but no person cried out. Then, just as it had before, the voice softly pierced the dark stillness.

“O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.

“But if not, O house of Israel, the places of your dwellings shall become desolate until the time of the fulfilling of the covenant to your fathers.”

This time after the voice stopped, the howls and screams of the terrified people in the city began again, only louder and more fearfully.

“What’s happening?” Maron asked.

“I think those people have realized how wicked they have been,” Melekib said thoughtfully. “How many times have we heard our father say that pain of the spirit hurts much more than pain of the body?”

“And now they must have pain of both the body and the spirit.” Maron shuddered at the mournful sounds.

Just then a faint light seemed to penetrate the darkness.

“It is passing!” Maron exclaimed as the black slowly eased into a nighttime darkness and then into a dusky morning hopefulness.

Melekib threw his arms around his sister and hugged her tightly. “Come,” he cried, “we can now go to our parents.”

They tried to hurry, but besides being extremely weak, they walked in a world that had changed. Paths and roads had been erased by the storm. Fallen trees and huge rocks were strewn about like children’s toys. Hills and mountains had appeared where before there were plains and valleys.

Maron stared. “Melekib,” she gasped, “look at the destruction! It is a miracle we still live!”

They stopped and looked back at the cement hut they had sought refuge in. One side of the roof was caved in, but all the walls still stood. The entire forest behind the hut lay in ruins. Not one tree was standing. To the right of the hut a giant gully had formed, and the waters rushed into it.

“Come.” Melekib grasped her hand. “We must find Mother and Father.”

Slowly, carefully they climbed the hill, picking their way around and over the fallen trees and rocks. Finally they reached the top. “Oh, no!” Maron cried as she looked down at the city. Charred foundations blackened the landscape, and huge chunks of cement and rock from houses and other buildings were scattered across the landscape like handfuls of grain. Streets had been swallowed by the fractured earth, and hills had risen where none had been before. In the center of the city the temple still stood, however, a monument of strength and righteousness.

“Surely Mother and Father will be there,” Maron said, glad that they would not need to find their home first to see if it, too, was destroyed.

As quickly as they could, the sister and brother picked their way to the temple where a vast crowd of dirty, bruised, and ragged people had already assembled. The buzz and hum of their conversations filled the air.

“How will we ever find Mother and Father in such a crowd?” Maron asked.

Melekib did not hear her. His attention was on a man giving out food. With a smile the man handed them each a large slice of cheese and two pieces of fruit. “Eat,” the man said. “And may all be well with you.” Then he disappeared into the crowd.

Grateful, Maron and Melekib devoured the food, then continued searching through the mass of people. It would do no good to call out, for the babble was too great.

“Did you hear the voice?” many were saying. “Look at the temple. It still stands!” others marveled. “The destruction! We will need to rebuild the entire city!” some exclaimed. “Our home has been swallowed by the earth!” The astonished words went on and on as the crowd grew larger.

“Can you see them?” Maron asked.

“No,” Melekib replied. “I hope they have not been hurt.”

“They are not—” Maron stopped as a voice from above pierced the air. It was not a loud voice. Rather, it was a gentle, quiet voice, yet it penetrated to the very heart. Maron could not tell if she was hearing the sound with her ears or if it was inside her head. She strained to understand the words but could not.

The voice stopped, but no one moved or spoke. Then again the voice. Maron strained even harder to understand the words. A third time the quiet voice came. Staring into the sky, Maron listened with all her might and heard the words, “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.”

Maron, Melekib, and all the people there gazed in awe as a Man descended out of the blue sky. His robe was a brilliant white, and a glorious warmth and light radiated from Him. He drew closer and closer and soon stood in the middle of the crowd. No words were uttered, no baby cried, no sound of movement or even wind broke the reverent peacefulness that filled the temple grounds. “Behold, I am Jesus Christ,” He said. “I am the light and the life of the world.”

The Savior! Maron thought. My Savior! Joy pulsed through her, and tears of gratitude ran down her cheeks. The Savior! she thought again, and she fell to her knees in awe, reverently bowing her head to the earth. Melekib knelt next to her, and every person in the crowd fell to the earth to worship the Savior.

“Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.”

Only a few reverent whispers and the gentle sounds of grateful weeping broke the silence as each person took Jesus’ hand in his and knew for himself that Jesus Christ had died for the sins of the world.

As the last person moved away, the entire crowd again fell to their knees and worshiped Him.

Jesus called to the prophet Nephi to arise and come to Him. Nephi stepped forward, then knelt before Jesus and kissed His feet.

Jesus commanded him to arise, then gave Nephi and others the authority to baptize the people after He left them. Then Jesus began to teach the people.

Melekib looked at Maron. Neither spoke, but Maron could see the same joy and happiness that filled her shining through her brother’s dirty, wounded face.

Jesus taught the multitude many wonderful things. He told them about His Father’s kingdom and about His commandments. The more He talked, the more love and joy Maron felt, until she was sure she would burst with beautiful feelings. At last Jesus told the people to “go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.”

As He spoke, Maron’s eyes filled again with tears. Oh, please do not go away! she thought. After all we have been through—the pain, the fear, the longing for You. And now we see You and hear You and feel Your love and goodness. Please stay with us!

“Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you,” the Savior declared. Then He asked for the sick and afflicted to come to Him.

Maron looked anxiously through the crowd as one by one Jesus healed the blind, the crippled, the deaf, and all others who were sick or hurt. Cries of joy and excitement rose from the crowd as men, women, and children rejoiced.

Maron cried when she saw her father lead her mother toward Jesus. “Melekib,” she whispered excitedly, “Mother will see!”

Pushing through the crowd, the sister and brother tried to get close enough to hear, but they could not make out the words. Their mother’s face filled with a joy they had never seen before as she embraced her husband. Pushing harder, Maron and Melekib moved through the crowd and into their father’s arms.

“Oh, how I thank Thee,” their mother was saying to Jesus.

“Melekib, Maron! You are safe!” their father cried.

Their mother turned to look at them for the very first time. “Maron! Melekib!” she cried, throwing her arms around her dirty, ragged children and hugging them tightly. “You are both so beautiful!”

Jesus asked the crowd to bring their children to Him. Then He asked all the people to kneel. When they had done so, He also knelt and began to pray the most beautiful, marvelous prayer they had ever heard. When He finished, He stood, but the people still knelt, completely overcome with love and joy.

Jesus gently commanded them to arise, and said, “Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.” And He wept.

Maron could scarcely believe how much love she felt from Him and for Him as Jesus began taking the children into His arms and blessing them. When all of the children had been blessed, Jesus held out His hands and declared, “Behold your little ones.”

Maron saw the heavens open and angels come down and minister to the children while fire encircled them.

“Oh, Melekib,” Maron cried, hugging her brother close, “for once my thoughts are much more eager than my acts. I will always remember this time.”

Melekib gazed at Jesus as He held a small baby in His arms.

“Nor will we forget His love,” Melekib said.

Maron nodded, for she, too, knew with all her heart that Jesus loved her, loved them all.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Robert Barrett