Krista climbed the four steps to her front porch and dropped her backpack with a thud. Then she plopped down beside it and pulled out her social studies book, Adventures in Social Studies, Level 3. “Adventures? Ha!” Krista snorted. “More like nightmares! It’s all your fault,” she muttered. “Why did you have to be about Japan? Now what am I going to do?”
Dropping her book, Krista wrapped her arms around her knees and hugged them to her chest. Chewing on her lower lip, she thought back on school that day.
Mrs. Mickles had clapped her hands together to get the class’s attention. “To end our study of Japan, this Friday we are going to have a Japanese tea ceremony,” she announced.
The class buzzed with excitement. No one seemed to notice how still Krista was. My family doesn’t drink tea, she thought. How can I go to a tea ceremony and not drink tea? Maybe she would be sick Friday and miss the whole thing.
By dinnertime Krista still hadn’t solved her problem. Gloomily she gathered the dishes off the table and carried them to the kitchen sink.
“What’s wrong, Krista?” Mom asked as she loaded the dishwasher. “You’ve been frowning ever since you came home from school.”
“Oh, Mom,” groaned Krista, “I just don’t know what to do. In Primary we learned about the prophet Daniel and how he obeyed God’s food laws even when the king said not to. And then we learned that Heavenly Father has given us the Word of Wisdom. One of the things we’re not suppose to do is drink coffee or tea. But Friday we’re having a special Japanese tea ceremony at school, and if I don’t drink the tea, everybody will think I’m weird and call me a spoilsport.” Tears rolled down Krista’s face as Mom hugged her tight.
“Let’s sit on the couch,” Mom said. “I’m sure that you can find a solution to your problem if you try.” As they snuggled together, Mom continued, “Tell me more about Daniel. Maybe he can help you.”
Krista gulped and wiped her eyes with her hands. Biting her bottom lip, she thought hard. “Well,” she began, “Daniel was a boy when he and his friends were captured by King Nebu-something-or-other.”
“Nebuchadnezzar,” Mother said.
“That’s right,” replied Krista. “Nebuchadnezzar was a king who ordered Daniel and his friends to eat lots of rich foods and drink wine. He thought it would make them stronger. Daniel knew that God said to not eat those foods because they’re bad for you.”
“So what did Daniel do?”
Krista chewed on her lip again. “Well, he asked if he could eat simple foods and water. At first the answer was no, but Daniel suggested a test. He and his friends would eat the simple, good foods, while the rest of the boys would eat what the king ordered.”
“What happened?” Mom prompted Krista.
“Daniel won! In the end, Daniel’s group was wiser and looked healthier than the other group, so all of them had to eat like Daniel after that.”
Krista thought about Daniel. He had courage, disobeying the king, and he really loved Heavenly Father. I love Heavenly Father, too, so how can I be like Daniel?
Excitedly Krista jumped up from the couch. “Oh, Mom, I can be like Daniel! I can ask Mrs. Mickles if I can drink punch instead of tea because God doesn’t want me to drink tea.” She spun around the room until she collapsed dizzily to the floor. “I bet she’ll understand.”
The next morning Krista slowly approached Mrs. Mickles’ desk. The words that seemed so perfect last night sounded scary now. “Uh, Mrs. Mickles,” she blurted out, “can I talk to you about the tea ceremony? Our family doesn’t drink tea. My church teaches that it’s bad for you—so could I bring some punch to drink, instead?”
There! She’d said it! And Mrs. Mickles didn’t look upset. Instead, she was smiling. “What a good idea, Krista. I’m sure there are other children who might not want to drink tea or won’t even like it. I’ll bring some punch so that everyone can have a choice.”
Krista gave a huge sigh of relief. “Oh thank you, Mrs. Mickles. You’re the best teacher ever!” She headed back to her desk, half-skipping in delight. Now she could enjoy the tea ceremony!
Friday finally came. After lunch, the desks were pushed to the front wall, and a woven mat placed on the floor. The boys and girls took off their shoes and knelt in a half circle on the edge of the mat. Mrs. Mickles bowed to them, and everyone bowed back. Krista watched happily as her friends received little plates of cookies and their choice of tea or punch. When Mrs. Mickles came to Krista, they exchanged bows, then Krista took her plate of cookies and cup of punch. She smiled when Mrs. Mickles winked at her. Sipping her punch, Krista decided that the Japanese tea ceremony was pretty nice, after all—thanks to Daniel.