It’s easy to find eight-year-old Nesha Bowman’s hometown on a map of Texas. If the state were really the upside-down, one-legged, short-necked, big-beaked camel it resembles, El Paso would be on the beast’s nose.
If the map could show you Nesha herself, you would see a pretty blond girl with kind eyes and a peaceful smile. Nesha can usually be found right in the middle of her parents and six siblings. She is often seen holding her 14-month-old sister, Madison, who has Down syndrome. Caring for her is one of Nesha’s greatest joys.
“Nesha (the e is pronounced as in nest) is my little angel,” her dad says. “She’s really sweet. She has a great big heart. She’s very loving and giving. If she gets candy at school, she brings some home for her brothers and sisters. She shares everything. Sometimes we have to caution her a bit because she would give away all she owns to her friends.
“She is close friends with her family and is a great helper with Madison. Nesha is very responsible, too. She walks her younger brothers to their classes at school every day before going to her own class.”
The nine members of the Bowman family share a tight bond. They play together, laugh together, and sometimes act silly together. And when it’s time to be serious, they can be serious together. Each day begins with prayer, a spiritual thought, and scripture reading.
Every Monday night they hold family home evening. The children have a favorite lesson about the Plan of Salvation. They begin upstairs in the “premortal existence.” A white sheet is hung at the top of the stairs and labeled the “veil of forgetfulness.”
Dad sends the children downstairs one by one as Mom calls for them in the order of their birth. Jason (13) goes first, then Sarah (11), then Nesha, then Camron (6), Caleb (5), and Joseph (3), and finally Madison (with Dad’s help).
The living room at the bottom of the stairs represents “earth,” where they symbolically experience mortality, accept baptism, and receive temple ordinances. Finally they pass through another sheet into the kitchen, where a large picture of Jesus greets them.
Nesha has many talents and interests. She plays the violin and is a good swimmer. She enjoys drawing, playing soccer, swinging on the backyard swing set, jumping on the trampoline with her brothers and sister, going on daddy-daughter dates, and spending time with friends.
She takes her schoolwork seriously. With her dad’s help, she worked hard to perform a science experiment for school. Her project was chosen to be entered in the science fair.
There is work to do at home, also. The children have rotating chore assignments, so Nesha works in every part of the house as well as outdoors. Baking cookies with Mom is no chore, though—it’s something she loves doing.
The Bowmans only recently moved to El Paso, where Dad teaches military instructors at Fort Bliss. They have moved several times over the years, so it’s a good thing that Nesha has a talent for making new friends.
El Paso sits in a high desert between rugged mountain ranges. The majority of its people are of Mexican descent, and Spanish is heard on its streets as often as English. Across the Rio Grande River is El Paso’s “sister city”—Juarez, Mexico, where there is a temple.
Although they are newcomers, the Bowmans have quickly embraced this cultural mix. Whether visiting Misión Yselta del Sur, an early Spanish mission, or looking over El Paso and Juarez from a mountainside park, they admire both sides of the border.
Many of Nesha’s friends have Mexican roots. Some are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and some are not. She has already given a Book of Mormon in Spanish to one friend of another faith because missionary work comes naturally in her family. The Bowmans often make appointments with the missionaries and then pray to know who should be invited to hear about the gospel.
They do not forget those who have left this earth, either. Nesha’s mom has a Turkish grandfather, and Nesha is named for a relative living in Ankara, Turkey. The Bowmans are looking forward to doing temple work for their Turkish ancestors. They know that all people are brothers and sisters and Heavenly Father’s children.
If maps could really show people as well as cities and rivers, the “nose” of Texas might glow as brightly as the nose of a certain famous reindeer. Part of that glow would be Nesha Bowman.