Father wasn’t interested in a “new” religion, and if James Reed hadn’t had bloody feet, Father wouldn’t have let him in that cold, snowy night. When Brother Reed told the family about the Book of Mormon, Father issued him a challenge: “If it’s true, we’ll listen to all that you have to tell us.” If upon reading it, Father believed Brother Reed to be a liar, however, he would be thrown out of the house. Father started to read it that very night. …
Early the next morning, Mary Ann awoke when she heard an ax behind their cabin. Sleepily she snuggled back under the covers. The cabin would soon be warm. Father was building a fire. Then, hearing her father’s voice downstairs, she sat straight up. Father wasn’t chopping wood! Who was? Wrapping a shawl around her, she hurried down the ladder.
The front door opened as Brother Reed came in with an armful of wood. On top was a pile of kindling to help get the fire going. “Good morning to you all,” he said cheerfully. “The snow’s stopped, and the air is clear. It’s a beautiful day.”
“You shouldn’t be up and about on those feet,” Mother said.
He winked at Mary Ann. “Warm woolen socks do wonders for a pair of sore feet.”
Mary Ann winked back. She looked at her father. Although he didn’t say anything, she could tell that he was pleased that the stranger would help with the chores.
When Anna began to fuss in her cradle, Brother Reed gently picked her up so that Mother could continue to cook breakfast. Father opened the book the stranger had brought and began to read more of it.
Mary Ann crossed over to Brother Reed. He looked like he knew how to hold babies. “Do you have any children?”
He nodded and looked sad for a moment. “I have a wife and two tiny boys in Kirtland, Ohio.”
Mother stopped stirring the porridge. “You left them to preach the gospel?”
He nodded as he continued to gently jounce the baby. “My wife, Alice, believes the gospel as strongly as I do. She waits patiently for me to return. The Lord will provide for her.”
When breakfast was ready, they all sat down around the rough table. Father turned to Brother Reed. “Would you like to offer a word of prayer?”
“Surely, but may I quote a scripture first?” At Father’s nod, Brother Reed said: “‘And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
‘Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
‘And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them.’” *
Then he gave a blessing on the food and all those that lived in the house.
“That scripture you quoted,” Mother said. “I don’t remember hearing it before.”
Mary Ann felt that warm feeling wash all over her again. She felt good at church when Parson Grimes taught, but this was different. It seemed to fill her whole soul. While they were eating, she shyly asked, “Is this Apostle you talked about close by? I’ve never seen an Apostle of the Lord before. Could we hear him preach?”
Brother Reed smiled at her. “Tomorrow is the Sabbath, and we have received permission to preach in Pastor Grimes’s church. If you come with me at ten o’clock tomorrow morning, you’ll get to meet a true Apostle of the living God.” He looked around the table. “You’re all invited. Will you come?”
Mother looked at Father. He nodded.
Mary Ann’s family always observed the Sabbath, so all their work had to be finished on Saturday. Never had she worked so eagerly! The next day she would actually see an Apostle of the Lord!
At ten o’clock the little log chapel bulged with people gathered to hear the Mormon preachers. Mary Ann and her family sat next to her best friend, Betsy, and her family.
As Mary Ann looked up at the face of Brigham Young, she thought That is an Apostle of Jesus Christ! She listened carefully to all he said, and again she felt that warm feeling telling her that he spoke the truth. She whispered to Betsy, “Can you believe you’re actually seeing one of the Lord’s Apostles?”
Betsy glared at her. “You’re crazy! My father says these men are imposters. God stopped speaking to men on earth years ago. We don’t need Apostles—we have the Bible.”
Suddenly anger welled up inside Mary Ann. How could her best friend be so blind. Tears flowed down her cheeks, she rushed outside. Betsy followed her.
“I suppose you believe them,” Betsy sneered. “I suppose you’re going to be baptized.”
Mary Ann felt hate in her heart just then. She glared at her friend. “Yes, I am! And you’ll be sorry someday that you didn’t. You’re just too stupid to understand.”
“No, I’m not,” Betsy answered. “And I won’t be sorry, because I’m not fooled by them.”
Mary Ann ran around the corner of the church and leaned against a tree. How can Betsy be so blind? she wondered. How can she be so mean to me?
Mother walked toward her. “I saw you run out of the meeting. Is something wrong?”
“Betsy thinks they’re fakes. I hate her! How can she be so stupid. Doesn’t she feel anything?”
Mother gave her a hug. “Do you remember what the Savior did when someone didn’t believe Him? What He did when they hurt Him?”
Mary Ann hung her head. “He forgave them.”
“Yes, and He prayed for them. Even on the cross, He prayed for them.” She hugged Mary Ann again. “When you feel better, come back to the meeting. Brother Young will not be here forever.”
After she left, Mary Ann still felt angry. But it was cold outside, so she went home. Climbing to the loft, she knelt by her bed and prayed that she could forgive Betsy. Then she prayed that Betsy would listen to the message of these men.
When she finished, she felt better. Maybe Betsy would never listen, but it was Mary Ann’s job to be a friend and to understand. She climbed down from the loft and started back to the meeting. If Betsy was still there, Mary Ann would apologize for getting angry. Maybe later Betsy would listen to the message of the true gospel.
(To be continued)