I sat at Jeremy Johnson’s kitchen table, staring at a bowl of yucky-looking green soup that Jeremy’s mom had placed in front of me. My friend Jeremy had invited me to sleep over that night, and my dad had driven me to the Johnson’s house just in time for dinner.
“I hope that you like split-pea soup, Tyler,” Jeremy’s mom said, smiling.
“I’ve never had it before,” I told her. “But I know that I like corn bread,” I added as she set a plate of it on the table.
Jeremy started to eat his soup. I just stared into my bowl. The color of the soup reminded me of grasshoppers. I didn’t think that I could eat it.
When I looked up, Jeremy was watching me. “Mom, Tyler doesn’t have to eat the soup if he doesn’t like it, does he?” Jeremy asked.
“Of course not,” said Jeremy’s mom. “I could make you a bologna sandwich, Tyler.”
I shook my head. “No, that’s OK. I’ll probably like the soup,” I assured them. I was remembering what my mom had said about missionaries having to eat foods that they aren’t used to when they are guests in people’s houses. Once during her mission in France. Mom ate fried snails—something she had never even thought of as food. The family who served the snails thought that they were giving her a special treat, and she didn’t want to hurt their feelings. Jeremy and his Mom aren’t members of the Church, I thought, and I want to be a good missionary. If Mom can eat snails, I can eat this split-pea soup.
I said a silent but fervent blessing on the food and then, between big spoonfuls of soup, took gulps of milk. When I was done, I asked Mrs. Johnson to pass me the corn bread.
“Oh, you finished your soup already,” she noticed, glancing at my empty bowl. “I’m glad that you liked it so much. Have some more.” She spooned more split-pea soup into my bowl and passed me the plate of corn bread.
“Thank you,” I said, looking at the second bowl of green soup in dismay. “Can I please have some more milk too?”
After dinner, Jeremy and I jumped on the trampoline in his backyard. He showed me how to do a back flop. I practiced a few times, and pretty soon I got the hang of it. We took turns inventing tricks to do on the trampoline.
When we went inside, Jeremy’s mom helped us make popcorn to eat while we watched a baseball game on television. After the game, Mrs. Johnson said, “Time for bed, guys.” She got two sleeping bags from the garage and helped us spread them out in the living room. Before turning out the light, she kissed Jeremy and patted my arm. “We’re having pancakes for breakfast, Tyler. Do you like pancakes as much as you like split-pea soup and corn bread?”
“I love pancakes,” I told her.
Before going to sleep, Jeremy and I talked for a while. He told me about the year his baseball team won first place in the league. I told him about the time I broke my arm sliding into first base. Then I told him that my family was going to play softball together next Monday night and asked if he wanted to play with us.
“Sure,” he said, yawning. “Well, good night, Tyler.”
“Good night,” I said.
Then I remembered—I hadn’t said my prayers yet. I waited until I thought Jeremy was asleep, then wriggled out of the sleeping bag and knelt on top of it. I was hoping that Jeremy wouldn’t wake up. He would think that I was crazy, kneeling there on the sleeping bag in the dark.
“What are you doing?” Jeremy suddenly asked.
I couldn’t think of any good way to answer him, so I just blurted out, “I’m going to say a prayer.”
“Oh,” Jeremy said. “How come?”
“Well, … I pray every night,” I started to explain. I wanted to be a missionary, but I wasn’t sure how to explain prayer to Jeremy. Then I had an idea. “Hey, do you want to pray with me? I’ll say the words.”
“I guess so,” Jeremy said. He climbed out of his sleeping bag and knelt on top of it like I was doing. I folded my arms, bowed my head, and closed my eyes.
“Dear Heavenly Father,” I began. “Thank you for all our blessings. Thank you for my friend Jeremy. …” I finished the prayer and closed it in the name of Jesus Christ. We both climbed back into our sleeping bags.
“I’m glad that you got to sleep over tonight, Tyler,” Jeremy said as he rolled over to go to sleep.
“Me too,” I told him.