Prairie Line (Part 3)

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    ConclusionAnd whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God (3 Ne. 11:33).

    While Elder Wood and Elder James help Seth operate his grandfather’s dairy farm, they teach him the gospel. He learns about Joseph Smith and begins reading the Book of Mormon. But when Grandpa returns from the hospital, he is unhappy to learn that strangers have been helping take care of his animals.

    When the missionaries knocked on the farmhouse door, Seth rushed to open it. He introduced them to his grandma.

    She eyed the young city elder. “Are you the young man who baked that cake?”

    Elder Wood looked a little nervous but answered clearly. “I am.”

    Grandma smiled. “That’s good cake. I was just dying for something homemade. Now, if you remember that recipe, I’d like to write it down.” Seth left them talking as he took Elder James to meet Grandpa.

    Grandpa scowled when he saw the missionary. Elder James smiled and held out his hand. Grandpa took it, and the scowl softened. Its strength and roughness identified it as the hand of a farmer. Grandpa recognized another man who loved and served the land.

    “You have a fine farm here,” Elder James said. “That Guernsey is a good milker. I wish I had one just like her.”

    Grandpa thawed completely, and as Seth left the room, the men were talking of things dear to the hearts of farmers.

    It was almost dark when Seth’s parents arrived. He quickly forgot about everything except being with them. They hugged and laughed and talked. Grandpa sat up on the couch, swaddled in blankets. Seth held baby Janet and listened. It felt good to be together again. Later he went out to his bed on the porch. He was going to sleep there that night to make room for his family in the house.

    Dad followed him and sat on the porch rocker. He looked very serious. “Grandpa told me about those men who have been here. He and Grandma like them, but he says that they’re Mormon missionaries.”

    Seth sat very still. “Yes. That’s right.”

    “Why didn’t you tell me? You’ve called every night and never mentioned anything about Mormons.”

    “I wanted you to meet them first.”

    “Mrs. Bowers says that the Mormons are an evil group who steal children away from their families.”

    Seth stared in astonishment. “Mrs. Bowers is an old gossip! Nobody believes a word she says!”

    “Seth,” his father said sternly, “you’re talking about a neighbor.”

    “I’m sorry, Dad. But the real name of the Mormon church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Families are important to them. I know that they wouldn’t try to take me away from you.”

    He grabbed the Book of Mormon by his bed. Grandpa had given it back to him that morning and asked if he could borrow it to study it more when he felt stronger. “See, they gave me this book.” He opened it to First Nephi. “Look at this.”

    His father took the book and read out loud: “‘I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father. …’ Hmmm. This doesn’t sound bad to me.” He looked puzzled. “I need to read more. Is it all right if I take it home?”

    Seth nodded. “I’ve read some of it and prayed about it. I know it’s a true book.”

    His father studied him for a moment. “Is that so?”

    Seth nodded again. “I want to be baptized into their church. Will you let me?”

    “I need to know more about it first. I don’t want you making any mistakes.”

    Every day Seth waited impatiently for the time when he could call his parents. Every day he asked his father the same question. “Have you read the book yet?”

    Every day Father answered, “No, I’m still too busy with the haying.”

    Seth knew that at haying time, everyone worked till they could hardly stand up. He’d have to be patient, no matter how hard it was.

    One day when he asked the question, another voice piped in. “Just what is this book you’re always talking about?”

    Seth could hear his father’s soft chuckle. “Well, Mrs. Bowers, he’s talking about the Book of Mormon.”

    She gasped. “That book! I heard it’s wicked, wicked! No one should read it!”

    “I’ll give you a copy,” his father offered. “Then you won’t have to listen to others talk about it. I’ve read a good part of it, and there’s nothing evil in it. It’s about Jesus Christ on this continent.”

    Seth could hardly believe his ears. “You read it!”

    His father chuckled again. “Your Elder James stopped in and talked to me yesterday. After he left, I sat down to read.”

    “That’s wonderful!” Seth yelled. “Then I can be baptized?”

    “Yes, you can.”

    “Well, I never!” Mrs. Bowers butted in. “Not a soul in this area will ever talk to you again if you join that church. Well, you’ve been warned. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”

    “Thank you,” his father said solemnly.

    Seth giggled. He knew that his father was thankful for her promise not to say any more, not for her warning.

    The next time the Elders came by, Seth ran out to meet them. “I can be baptized! My folks will let me!”

    Elder James smiled and clapped him on the back. “That’s great. Before you know it, the rest of your family will be joining too.”

    Seth frowned. “Mrs. Bowers said that no one will talk to us anymore if I join the Church.”

    Elder James looked thoughtful. “That happens sometimes. People are afraid of what they don’t understand. What do they think of your family now?”

    “We’ve been friends with everyone around here for years.”

    “Then that’s how it will stay. If they object, just give them time to see that you’re the same person, only a little better. They’ll warm up to you again.”

    Grandma was hanging clothes on the line. She walked over and shook her finger in the air. “You leave Eliza Bowers to me! She won’t dare spread rumors about my grandson!”

    The men all laughed at the fierce little woman. She laughed with them. Together they went into the house to plan Seth’s baptism. Seth wanted all his friends and family to be there—Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad, baby Janet, and, most of all, Mrs. Bowers.

    [illustrations] Illustrated by Mike Eagle