The Experiment

By Wendi J. Silvano

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    Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you (3 Ne. 18:16).

    In Primary, Pilar’s teacher, Hermana (Sister) Solana, told them how the prophets have said that we should try to be more like Jesus Christ by being kinder and more forgiving, and by treating others the way He would treat them. She asked the class to pick one day during the week and go through the whole day imagining what the Savior would do if He were there and then do it. They were to report on the results the following week. Today was the day Pilar had chosen to try the experiment.

    When she first got up in the morning, she asked Heavenly Father to help her remember the experiment all day long. She was excited to see what difference it would make.

    The first chance came as she waited at the corner for the bus that took her to school. When the bus came, everyone pushed and shoved up the steps in order to get a good place to sit or stand. Usually Pilar pushed and shoved along with the rest of the crowd, but today she decided that Jesus would not do that. She waited patiently for all the others to get on. As the bus made other stops, she smiled brightly at each new passenger and made room for him to pass her and move back into the bus. A few of them even smiled back.

    When she got to school, she felt a bit sunnier inside than usual. Right away she noticed Juana, a girl whom nobody played with, standing by herself in a corner of the school yard. Thinking of the kindness of Jesus, Pilar went over by Juana and said, “Hola (Hello).”

    Juana looked up. “What do you want?”

    Pilar felt herself getting angry and wanted to storm away, then remembered that she was trying to act more Christlike. She quietly answered, “I was wondering if you’d like to play with me until class starts. I brought my jump rope.”

    Juana’s face lit up. Her eyes sparkled, and she grinned the biggest grin Pilar had ever seen. They played happily until school started, and she noticed that Juana seemed happy all the rest of the day.

    When school let out at one o’clock, Pilar walked down the block to her favorite corner stand, where she always bought a fried sweet-potato sandwich to eat while she waited for her bus. As she turned and walked toward the bus stop, she passed an elderly man she often saw. He lived in a cardboard box by the side of the road. She had hardly ever given much thought to him before, but today she reached down and handed him her sandwich.

    Muchas gracias, señorita (Thank you, miss),” he replied as she walked away. Somehow Pilar didn’t feel hungry at all on the way home.

    When she got home from school, Mother was washing clothes in the big sink out back. Pilar offered to do the marketing. When she returned, she helped Mother cook chicken and rice for lunch.

    After lunch, Pilar took a few mangos to an elderly neighbor lady. She decided to stay and visit, instead of rushing outside to play with her friends. When she got up to leave, Señora Acuña tenderly took her hand and held on tight for just a moment. As Pilar looked into her face and saw the love, tears of joy began to swell within her own eyes. So far, today had brought Pilar more happiness than any day she could remember.

    Later that night, however, her happiness turned to anger when she walked into her bedroom and saw her younger brother, Ricardo, accidentally knock her favorite vase to the floor. It broke into hundreds of pieces. She forgot all about the experiment. She screamed at Ricardo, then ran to tell her mother what had happened. Ricardo ran behind her crying, “Lo siento, lo siento (I’m sorry, I’m sorry).” But Pilar was so upset that she didn’t care how many times he said that he was sorry.

    Her mother swept up the pieces and took Ricardo to the other room. Pilar sat on the bed, angry and in tears. Up till then, she’d felt so good that day!

    Why did this have to happen? she asked herself.

    A little while later, Pilar heard a soft knock at her door. “Pasa (Come in),” she mumbled gruffly.

    In came Ricardo with a small vase in his hands. Pilar recognized it as the one he had made that year in school. She knew how proud he was of it and how he had planned to save it forever. He gently handed it to her. Her heart began to ache as she realized that forgiving Ricardo was what Jesus would do. She set the vase on her desk, smiled at Ricardo, and said, “Thank you, Ricardo. Let’s go outside and see if we can find some flowers to put in it.”

    The next Sunday, when it was her turn to report on the experiment, Pilar recounted the things that had happened. She told Hermana Solana and the class that the thing that surprised her the most was how happy she had been.

    That night as she prayed, Pilar promised Heavenly Father that she would try to live more like Jesus every day, just as the prophets have said that we should.

    Painting by Ted Henninger

    Illustrated by Jerry Harston