Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer aren’t the only active boys to come from Hannibal, Missouri. There are also Paul (10) and Jimmy (6) Stork. But Jimmy and Paul do like to keep those two famous boys in mind. Every Fourth of July they celebrate Tom Sawyer Day. This year, Paul will dress as Mark Twain and be in the fence-painting contest. Jimmy is going to catch and train a frog to jump so he can enter the frog-jumping contest. He’ll dress as Tom Sawyer for that.
Jimmy has a green thumb. He loves to garden. Every time his father, Dan, goes out to work in the garden, Jimmy’s right there. He has his own pumpkin patch that he weeds every day. When the first frost turns the pumpkins orange, Jimmy shares them with his neighbors.
Paul loves to play basketball and soccer, and he’s a whiz on computers. When his school first got computers, he helped some of the teachers learn how to use them.
One of the boys’ favorite activities is fishing down by the dam on the Mississippi River. They always have a contest with their parents to see who can catch the first fish, the biggest fish, and the most fish.
But the one contest they both hope to win is more serious—Paul’s fight with diabetes, a condition that can make you very ill if you eat the wrong things or don’t eat the right things.
Four years ago the doctors discovered Paul’s illness. At first, he was really angry about being diabetic, and he wanted to eat everything all the other kids were eating. But one time he went to his doctor and his blood sugar was really high—he hadn’t been eating right. The doctor sent the family to a specialist, saying, “If you don’t take care of Paul and keep him in control, he won’t live to be twenty.” That really upset them. The specialist helped the family learn what they needed to do to keep Paul healthy. Now he does everything he’s supposed to do. He even tests his own blood and gives himself three insulin shots each day to make certain that his blood sugar level stays normal.
About the same time that Paul found out he was diabetic, his father, also a diabetic, started having serious health problems because he wasn’t taking care of himself. One day Paul was with him when he had a seizure, and Paul had to call 911 for help. Dan realized then that he had to set an example for his son.
Paul also helps his father stay in control. Together, and with the help and support of Mom and Jimmy, they know it’s a battle they can win. It makes it easier that Mom, Carol, is a great cook who fixes all the right things for them to eat, and that there is sugar-free ice cream to celebrate special occasions with.
Jimmy tries to help his brother too. It was really hard for him the first time he saw Paul have a seizure, but now he knows what to look for and what to do if it happens. Still, he prays every day that Paul will be OK. His first words each morning are, “Where’s Paul?” He looks up to Paul and wants to go everywhere with him. Sometimes it drives Paul crazy, but he loves his brother and realizes that he needs to do what’s right because Jimmy is learning from him.
Paul and Jimmy love to visit their Grandma and Grandpa Stork, who live in Quincy, Illinois, a few miles away on the other side of the Mississippi River. When the river flooded last year, the only way the boys could go see their grandparents was by ferry or airplane because all the bridges across the river were washed out.
When the flooding started, their parents told the boys that they were all going sandbagging. Jimmy and Paul moaned and groaned all day. But after their parents explained to them why they were doing it—to save people’s homes and businesses—the boys were anxious every morning to get to work. Each day for two weeks, they went sandbagging with their mom from 10:30 A.M. until 3:30 P.M., when they’d go home to eat. When their dad got home from work, they all went again from 5 P.M. until about 9 P.M. They were very grateful to the Red Cross, who brought food and water so that they could stay on the job.
One day a ward member’s house was in danger of being flooded, so they helped move all the furniture and other things. It took until midnight, but they got everything out of the house before the water flooded it.
Paul and Jimmy’s favorite song is “Nephi’s Courage.” Both boys seem to have applied the example of that great prophet to their own lives: They try to have the courage to do what is right, to be obedient to the commandments, and to serve others. Their family is reading the Book of Mormon together every night. Both boys want to serve missions. “They’ll be the first missionaries from either Dan’s or my family,” said their mother. “It’s going to be neat!” It already is.