“What does my church believe?” Andrea stammered.
“Yeah.” Jane urged. “You have to believe something—maybe something different.”
“Well, um … we believe in Heavenly Father and … and …”
“I guessed that much. Most churches believe in God,” said Jane. “But what does your church believe that makes you different from other churches?”
Andrea could feel a hot blush rise in her face. What can I say? she wondered.
Just then Jane’s mother called, “Andrea, you need to hurry home to help your mother. She just phoned and said something about taking your brother somewhere.”
“Oh! I forgot! Sorry, Jane—I have to run. See you tomorrow.” As she thanked Jane’s mom and hurried toward home, Jane’s questions kept popping into Andrea’s mind. She felt ashamed at not knowing what to say. I’ve been a member all my life. I should know what the Church believes.
After school the next day, Andrea slipped out of her chair and out the door. If I hurry, Jane won’t catch up to me and ask me again, she thought. But she wasn’t fast enough.
“Andrea, wait for me,” Jane yelled down the hall to her. “I just need to get my library book.”
As they started toward home, Andrea kept her head down and stared at the sidewalk as if expecting it to jump up at her. She could only manage to nod or shake her head whenever Jane said something. Finally Jane bent down and looked up at her friend’s face. “Are you OK?”
“Yes. I’m fine. I just don’t feel like talking. Anyway, here’s your house. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon—you’re still coming over for our usual Saturday pizza-after-chores get-together, aren’t you?”
“Of course—I haven’t missed yet, have I?”
Andrea hardly heard Jane’s reply. What do Latter-day Saints believe? she asked herself as she continued down the street. From her parents and in Primary, she had learned about temples, prophets, the Book of Mormon, the celestial kingdom, Jesus, Heavenly Father, and lots more. But how could she explain all that to Jane? It had taken her whole life to learn these things.
That night, as she and her father did dishes, she asked, “Dad, what does our Church believe?”
“Well, Andrea, we believe a lot of things. For starters, we believe in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We believe that families can be together forever. We believe in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.”
“But that’s not all, is it?”
“No, of course not. I guess that if we went into detail, we could write several books about what we believe. Why do you ask?”
“Yesterday Jane asked me what our church believes, and I didn’t know what to say. I’m ten years old. I’ve been baptized, and I still don’t know what to say.” Andrea’s voice choked up, and tears started to pool in the corners of her eyes.
Dad put down the dishcloth, sat at the kitchen table, and gestured for her to sit next to him. “Andrea, you know what we believe. You’ve just forgotten that you do. Remember when you were preparing to be baptized? What did you do?”
“Well, I read the Book of Mormon, and I tried to repent of my sins, and I memorized the Articles of Faith.”
“Right. And what do the Articles of Faith tell us?”
A smile spread slowly across Andrea’s face. “They tell us what we believe! I do know!”
“Sure you do. The Articles of Faith can be very valuable tools in helping us and other people understand what we believe.”
When Andrea and Dad had finished the dishes, they sat and opened their scriptures to the Pearl of Great Price. On the last two pages, they found the Articles of Faith and read them one by one. Or rather, Dad read while Andrea recited them from memory. She was happy that she had been reviewing them for her Gospel in Action award and could remember them all.
Below the thirteenth article, Andrea saw the name Joseph Smith. “When did he write these?” she asked.
“Well, a man named John Wentworth, who was the editor of an Illinois newspaper, wanted to know how the Church was started and what members believed. Joseph Smith told him in a letter, which became known as the “Wentworth Letter.” The principles mentioned in that letter later became the Articles of Faith. They don’t go into a lot of detail about all the things that we believe, but they list many basic truths of the gospel.”
“I’m glad that we have the Articles of Faith! Now I know what I can say to Jane. Thanks, Dad.”
The next day Andrea was eager for Jane to come. Before her friend had hung up her coat, the words were tumbling from Andrea’s mouth. “Remember what you asked me Thursday at your house—about what my Church believes?”
“Oh, yeah. I remember. We didn’t get very far, did we?”
“I can tell you now.” Andrea began reciting the Articles of Faith.
“Wow! You really know a lot about your church. I think that’s great. How do you know all that?”
“I’ve been learning at home and at church all my life, but”—she grinned at her friend—“I had a little help from a newspaper man.” Then she told Jane about the Wentworth Letter and about how Joseph Smith’s reply had become the Articles of Faith.
“I can’t believe you memorized them all,” Jane said. “That’s a lot to remember!”
“It’s not that hard when it’s what you believe.”
Jane sat quietly for a minute. “Andrea, could you tell me more about what you believe? I don’t really understand everything you said, but I’d like to.”
“Sure. Let’s start with the first article of faith.” Andrea spent the rest of the pizza-making time explaining some of the Articles of Faith. While they feasted on their favorite—a concoction with ham, pineapple, and just a sprinkling of chopped tomato and green pepper—she explained more. When Jane left for home, Andrea offered, “If you want to know more, you can come to church with me.”
“Oh, I’d like that a lot. I can’t tomorrow, but I’ll ask my mom about next Sunday and let you know.”
That night, Andrea told her father all about it.
“Andrea, the Prophet Joseph Smith would be happy that what he wrote to John Wentworth helped you to share the gospel. Remember to thank the Lord tonight for him and the great work he did.”
And Andrea did just that.