Gifts of the Heart

These things have I spoken … that your joy might be full (John 15:11).

How are you doing, Matte?” Grandmother asked.

“I’m about finished, Mormor (Grandmother). It will be ready on time.” She held up the sweater she was knitting for her grandmother’s inspection.

“You’ve done a fine job,” Grandmother said. “I’m sure that Jenny will love it.”

Matte’s American cousin was coming to Norge (Norway) for a visit. She was going to stay for the whole month of August, and Matte had many things she wanted to share with her. This sweater was one of them.

In Norge everyone wore a svetter (sweater) knitted with wool in pretty patterns. Jenny’s sweater was navy blue with white diamonds and polar bears. Polar bears were very popular, and Jenny would look stylish in it.

Matte had many plans for her cousin. Ålesund, her town, was right between two of Matte’s favorite places. On one side were forested mountains; on the other was the fjord. She would take Jenny up on the ski lift so she could look down on the countryside. After a trip to the heights, they would swim in the crystal-clear water of the fjord.

Matte had been baptized in the fjord just two months before. She planned to share that day’s special memories with her cousin while they were swimming there. She wanted to introduce Jenny to this most important part of her life—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Matte and Mormor had started talking to the missionaries after Christmas. The missionaries had taught them about Jesus Christ and the Prophet Joseph Smith. They learned that Joseph Smith was a prophet to people all over the world and that he’d translated a very important book, the Book of Mormon.

The book fascinated Matte. In school they sometimes studied about the American Indians, and she loved learning about these people who were so proud of their race and heritage. So when she’d heard that the Book of Mormon was about them, she was eager to read it.

She and Mormor had read it aloud to each other during the long winter evenings. When they finished the last sweet words of Moroni, they prayed about what they read. A calm assurance that it was true helped them decide to be baptized.

That had started a new life for Matte Pedersen. The very first Sunday after her baptism, Soster (Sister) Hansen introduced herself as the Lykkefroken (Merrie Miss) teacher. Matte was to be in her class. Although there was just one other girl, Solveig, they had a lot of fun. On Sundays, Soster Hansen taught them many important things from the scriptures.

On their activity days, they learned different kinds of things. Soster Hansen helped them make their own bunad (national costume). When May 17, Constitution Day, came around, the girls proudly wore the beautiful dresses and aprons that they had made.

The Lykkefroken class was going to Bror (Brother) Olsen’s farm next week. Matte, Jenny, and Solveig would cut the sweet-scented hay with scythes and hang it to dry on racks. They’d gather speckled eggs and help milk the cow. Oh, how delicious that warm milk would be! Then they’d help Soster Olsen churn the cream into butter. It would be so much fun. Jenny was sure to like it!

Matte finished the last stitch on the svetter and cut the yarn. Carefully she worked the end into the pattern so that it wouldn’t unravel. “There,” she said happily. “It’s finished. I hope she likes it.”

The next morning she and Mormor were up early. They wanted to have the house sparkling clean, with supper waiting, when Jenny and Aunt Louise arrived.

At the sound of a car horn, Matte ran to the window. They were here! Rushing to the door, she was swept into Aunt Louise’s arms for a big hug. Then she faced Jenny. It was like looking in a mirror! She had blond hair streaked by the sun, and apple-red cheeks. Blue eyes like her own looked shyly back at her.

“Welcome to Norge,” Matte said, hugging her cousin.

“Thank you, Matte.”

“Come to my room,” Matte said. “I have something for you.” In the bedroom, she handed the tissue-wrapped present to her cousin. “I made it myself!”

“It’s beautiful!” Jenny exclaimed as she unwrapped the sweater and admired the intricate pattern. “I can’t believe you knitted this yourself! Now I don’t know if I should give you the present I made. It’s not anything like this!”

“I’d love to have it. Please?”

Jenny ran into the other room and dragged a suitcase back with her. Opening the case, she pulled out a present. Matte admired the beautiful wrapping, then carefully opened it. Inside was a wooden embroidery hoop with a message cross-stitched on cloth: I can follow God’s plan for me.

Matte felt excitement build inside her. She understood English very well but wasn’t quite sure she interpreted the motto right. Finally she grinned at her cousin and gave her a hug. “You’re a Lykkefroken like me!” Seeing Jenny’s puzzled look, she added, “A Merrie Miss. You’re a Latter-day Saint too!”

Laughing and hugging, the girls eagerly told each other of their baptism days, one in Norway and one in America. It was a wonderful surprise to learn that they were both members of the Church.

“Since we can’t introduce the gospel to each other,” Matte said with a twinkle in her eye, “maybe we’ll find someone else to teach it to this summer!”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney