Earthly Family


Honour thy father and thy mother … that it may go well with thee (Deut. 5:16).

Sister Cook was parked in the driveway, the motor running. Molly hurriedly finished tying her Sunday shoes and ran for the front door.

She stopped midrun. Her scriptures were not on the table next to the door. “Where are my scriptures?” she called to Mom sitting in the living room.

“I don’t know. Sorry, honey.”

“They were right here,” Molly insisted. “Somebody moved them.”

“I guess you’ll have to find them later.”

Molly yanked open the door and ran to the waiting car. “Justin probably grabbed my scriptures,” she muttered angrily.

Three-year-old Justin liked snooping in his sister’s belongings. Her homework and books and baseball equipment were always disappearing. Later she’d find them in the strangest places. Her soccer shin guards ended up in the refrigerator once. Justin had put them in the vegetable bin. Sometimes it was funny.

But it wasn’t funny today. It never was on Sundays. Even though her Valiant A teacher picked her up every week for church, Molly felt like she was alone. She was the only kid in the ward whose family didn’t go to church with her.

On Saturday nights she set her alarm clock for 7 A.M. When it went off, she got up and took a quiet bath and fixed her own breakfast. Everybody else was still asleep, although sometimes Justin came out to the kitchen in his pajamas and ate a bowl of cereal with her.

By the time she left, Mom and Dad were in the living room, reading the Sunday newspaper, its pages spread out all over the couch. Later they would play tennis. In her mind Molly could imagine them hitting the ball back and forth across the net, laughing and enjoying the cool fall weather. Justin would be running after the stray balls and giggling.

Her parents never stopped her from going to church, but they never went with her, either. Most of the time Molly tried not to mind. But sometimes it hurt.

Mom and Dad had gone to a meeting at church only once—to see her baptism. Molly had insisted that she wanted to be baptized. She had been awfully disappointed that Dad wasn’t the one to baptize her. And afterward her parents had left without staying to visit with the other people in the ward who had attended.

Sister Cook always told Molly to give her family time to feel more comfortable with the ward members. Someday her parents would regain their testimonies that the gospel was true and would come back to church.

One Sunday morning Sister Cook had given a lesson about the bishop and the ward family. The bishop was like a father to the ward, she had said. He was there to help the ward members, to help and counsel them just as a father does. The members of the church were like brothers and sisters, and they could be like one big happy family.

Thinking of that had helped for a while, but when she looked around the chapel at all the families sitting together, Molly again felt sad. It just wasn’t the same sitting next to Sister Cook’s family during sacrament meeting.

Today, at the end of Primary, the Primary president, Sister Miller, passed out the speaking parts for the Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation. She gave Molly a folded slip of paper and winked at her. The paper read: “Your topic is ‘Because Heavenly Father and Jesus love me, they have given me a special earthly family.’ Tell two or three reasons why your family is special to you.”

Molly read the paper twice on the way home. She felt as if someone had knocked the breath out of her. Why did Sister Miller give me a talk about families? I can’t do this assignment. Doesn’t she know how I feel? My family isn’t active at all. They don’t even like church! It isn’t fair!

When Sister Cook pulled up to her house, Molly mumbled good-bye, slammed the car door, and ran up the sidewalk. The entry hall shook when she slammed the front door too.

“What’s wrong, dear?” Mom asked. Still wearing her tennis clothes, she was putting the rackets and balls in the hall closet.

“Nothing.” Molly started for her bedroom, then turned back to look at her mother. “I have a part in the Primary Sacrament Meeting Presentation. I’ll get to speak at the pulpit, just like the bishop.”

“That’s nice.”

“It’s in three weeks. Will you and Dad and Justin come see me give my talk?”

“I don’t know,” Mom said. “We’ll see.” She smiled and went into the kitchen to fix lunch.

That’s what Mom had said last year when Molly had had a part in the Book of Mormon program. But they hadn’t gone.

Molly almost crumpled up her piece of paper and threw it in the wastebasket. Then she remembered last year when she had told the story of Nephi building the ship. Nephi had believed that the Lord would help him, and he’d prayed for guidance to build a ship so that he and his family could cross the ocean. Well, that’s what she would do too. Just like Nephi, she would pray for help and the Lord would help her.

Suddenly Molly had a warm, peaceful feeling. She felt that the spirit of the Holy Ghost was with her, just as she had been promised.

As she spent the next three weeks preparing and practicing her talk, she started noticing the many things that her parents did for her and how much they loved her.

Mom fixed her favorite snacks, helped her with science projects, and always rushed to hug her when she came home from school. Dad played soccer and softball with her, and at bedtime he’d tell her the most wonderful stories. It was always a warm, special time for just the two of them. Even though Justin sometimes seemed like a pest, she was happy that he was her brother. They sang funny songs and giggled, read books, and played at the park together.

Finally the day of the program came. Sister Cook picked her up, and she sat in her assigned seat near the pulpit.

When the Primary children sang “I am a Child of God” and “I Lived in Heaven,” Molly felt close to her ward “family.” And she remembered how much Heavenly Father loved her. She had three wonderful families—a heavenly family, a ward family, and an earthly family!

When it was her turn to go to the microphone, Sister Cook gave her an encouraging smile. And when she started her talk, saying, “Because Heavenly Father and Jesus love me, they have given me a special earthly family,” Molly was glad that Sister Miller had given her this talk. She didn’t feel hurt or angry anymore about going to church alone. Even though they didn’t come to church with her, she really did have a special earthly family.

Just then the back door to the chapel opened. Molly’s heart began to pound as Mom, Dad, and Justin quietly walked into the chapel and sat on the back row. They smiled at her, and she couldn’t help grinning back. She started her talk over again: “Because Heavenly Father and Jesus love me, they have given me a special earthly family.” And she knew that it was true.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Carl Hepworth