Standing on the edge of the broad sidewalk leading from the front doors of the meetinghouse, Brian could see people milling around in the foyer. The meeting was just over.
Brian was actually going to meet a real prophet! When the missionaries called him a few minutes ago, he couldn’t believe his ears. They told him that President Spencer W. Kimball was visiting a neighboring ward to attend the blessing of a great-grandchild. Brian could meet the prophet, they said, if he came quickly.
As he hung up the phone, Brian yelled to his mom that he was going to the church. Then he jumped on his bike and raced the four blocks there. The missionaries were waiting for him. They stood on either side of him now. Other people were waiting on the sidewalk, too. Brian guessed that they’d also heard that the prophet was here today and had come to see him.
Brian glanced down and was dismayed to see his scuffed and tattered tennis shoes and his old T-shirt. He hadn’t thought about changing before he came over. He might have missed meeting the prophet if he had. But what would the great leader think of him?
Brian hastily tucked in his shirt. He couldn’t do anything to change his shoes, but maybe the prophet wouldn’t notice them. Suddenly he felt a wave of uneasiness. Turning to the missionary on his right, he asked, “Elder Turner, how do I look?”
Elder Turner peered at him closely and pointed to the corners of his own mouth. Brian quickly wiped away any traces of lunch, then looked at the missionary again. Elder Turner nodded with a smile.
Until meeting the missionaries a few weeks ago, Brian had never even heard of a modern prophet. He knew about Noah and Moses and other prophets in the Bible. But he’d never thought that a prophet might be on the earth today. The missionaries told him that the prophet tells people what Jesus would tell them if He were here.
He had seen pictures of Old Testament prophets with long white hair and flowing beards. So he was surprised when the missionaries showed him a picture of President Kimball. He did have white hair, but it was neatly trimmed. Brian thought that he looked like a kindly grandfather.
One day, when the missionaries had taken Brian to Primary, he heard a song about following prophets. He looked around him in amazement at all the children who believed in a prophet.
Brian’s attention returned to the church. The doors opened, and a small group came out. They moved slowly, greeting people as they made their way down the sidewalk. Some fathers held little children in their arms or on their shoulders so that they, too, could see and greet the prophet.
Brian could tell that someone was stopping and shaking hands. Grown-ups blocked his view, but he caught a glimpse of white hair and a dark suit. It surprised him that the man wasn’t much taller than he was.
As they came closer, someone moved and Brian could see clearly. He saw the man whose picture the missionaries had shown him. The man spoke softly and kindly to the grown-ups and children he shook hands with.
Brian felt worried. What would the prophet say to him? Would he sense Brian’s doubts and questions? Would he say something to try to persuade Brian that the Church was true?
Then President Kimball reached out his hand again, and Brian heard a familiar voice.
“President Kimball, it is so great to meet you. My companion, Elder Turner, and I would like you to meet our friend, Brian. He’s investigating the Church.”
It was Elder Ellis who was speaking and shaking hands with the prophet. His other hand reached out and rested on Brian’s shoulder.
The prophet turned and looked at Brian. He caught his breath as President Kimball smiled at him.
Extending his hand, Brian spoke haltingly. “I’m … very … glad to meet you, sir.” He felt his face becoming warm.
President Kimball took his hand in a soft but firm grip. Then suddenly the prophet released Brian’s hand and threw both arms around him and gave him a big hug. With his face close to Brian’s, he said softly, “I love you.” His voice was low and raspy.
When he released Brian, he smiled and then turned to greet Elder Turner. Brian was speechless.
He watched the prophet of the Lord continue to shake hands until he reached a car at the curb. Helping his wife into the backseat, he turned and raised his hand to the people gathered on the sidewalk. Then he climbed into the backseat, and the car pulled away from the curb.
Three words! That’s all he had said. Yet Brian felt deep inside that they were true. He knew that a prophet had spoken those words. A prophet! Were they the words Jesus would say to Brian if He were here? A warm feeling began in Brian’s chest and spread through his body. Yes, he thought, they were the same words.