Why does it feel so different? Laura wondered, staring down at her hands and nervously twisting her CTR ring.
The chairs were the same. The carpet was the same color. The songs were the same. Even the teacher, Sister Wright, happened to have the same name as Laura’s Primary teacher in her old ward. Mom, who had moved many times as a child, had reassured Laura that the Church was the same wherever you went. “Saints are Saints, and that means friends,” she always said.
Well, it doesn’t feel the same to me! Laura thought as a tear dropped onto her hands.
“Boys and girls, let’s welcome Laura Bybee, a new member of our class,” Sister Wright announced. “Laura, where do you live?”
Laura struggled to swallow the lump in her throat. “We’re staying in a motel for a week, until we can move into our house. I think our address will be 48 Earl Street.”
“That’s close to my house!” the girl sitting next to Laura exclaimed.
“How nice, Stacey.” Sister Wright smiled. “Let’s all introduce ourselves to Laura.”
Laura managed a quick glance at each of her new classmates as they said their names. Everyone was trying to be nice, but still Laura wanted to run out the door and never come back. She wanted to return to her old ward, where she knew everyone and where everyone loved her.
She wanted elderly Sister Glove to hug her and tell her how tall she’d grown in just one week. She longed to have Brother Webster squeeze her small hand in his huge, rough one and tease her by asking when she was coming to slop his hogs. She wished she could help catch Brother and Sister Jensen’s active twin boys when it was time to load them into the car. Most of all, she wished she could sit in the shade of the pine tree on the church’s back lawn and laugh with her friend Rachel while they waited for their parents.
As Sister Wright began the lesson, Laura realized it was the same one the other Sister Wright had taught the week before in Laura’s old ward.
“Why is it important to keep the Sabbath day holy?” the new teacher asked.
“It’s a commandment,” a boy named Daniel answered.
Laura remembered what the other Sister Wright had taught: “It is a commandment, but it is also a way to show that we are Christ’s followers. By keeping the Sabbath day holy, we receive help to stay clean from sin. Keeping the Sabbath day holy is a privilege.” Laura had promised herself and the Lord right then that she would always treat the Sabbath with reverence. Remembering that promise helped Laura feel calm and peaceful.
“What are some things we should avoid doing on Sunday?” the new Sister Wright asked.
“We shouldn’t go hunting or fishing or to ball games,” one boy said.
“We shouldn’t work,” answered another.
“We shouldn’t make others work by going shopping or out to eat,” the girl at the end of the row added.
“Excellent answers,” Sister Wright said.
Suddenly Laura’s awful feeling returned. Tears filled her eyes. This time all of them came spilling onto her lap.
“Laura, what’s wrong?” Stacey whispered.
Sister Wright stopped her lesson and knelt in front of Laura. “What’s the matter, sweetheart?”
“I had this lesson last week,” Laura sobbed, “and I promised Heavenly Father that I would always keep the Sabbath day holy. But I just remembered that we’re staying in a motel and we’ll have to eat in a restaurant today. And it’s Sunday.”
Sister Wright wrapped her arms around Laura’s shaking shoulders. “It’s all right, Laura. The Lord understands your situation.”
“Laura doesn’t have to eat in a restaurant!” Stacey declared. “She can eat at my house. I know my mom will say it’s OK.”
As soon as Primary was over, Stacey grabbed Laura’s hand and pulled her down the hall toward the Relief Society room. “Mom! Mom! Can Laura’s family eat with us? They’re new in the ward, and they’re staying in a motel, and Laura doesn’t want to break her promise to keep the Sabbath day holy by eating in a restaurant, so I told her—”
“Whoa!” Stacey’s mom held up her hand. “I think we already have things worked out.” Turning toward the woman next to her, Stacey’s mom said, “This is Sister Bybee, and I’ve already invited her and her family to come to our house to eat.”
“Yippee!” Stacey clapped her hands and then gave Laura a big hug. “See, I told you my mom would say it’s OK.”
Laura smiled. Her mom was right. Saints are Saints, and that means friends!