“Time to get up, Kristina,” Mother called. Kristina rubbed her eyes and started to grumble about the early hour until she remembered. Today was Sunday.
Mother’s face had a new softness to it, as though happiness came from inside and she couldn’t keep it to herself. She had started humming around the house. Kristina found herself humming, too. Father spent more time at home, and sometimes he took long walks with Kristina and her mother. Often they sat on the front porch and talked. Kristina liked those times best.
Now her parents paid tithing and encouraged Kristina to pay it, too. She enjoyed slipping the tithing from her allowance into an envelope and handing it to one of the members of the bishopric. It was one way to show Heavenly Father and Jesus how much she loved Them.
But the biggest difference Kristina noticed was inside herself. Knowing that Heavenly Father and Jesus loved her filled her with such happiness that she sometimes felt as if she would burst.
Kristina still remembered the look on her father’s face when he answered the door three months ago and found two missionaries on the porch. He had invited the young men inside. After introducing themselves, the elders had talked about families. “Would you like to know how your family can be together forever?” Elder Stark asked.
Kristina’s parents exchanged glances, their eyes filled with longing.
“More than anything,” Kristina’s mother said.
Father had asked the missionaries to come back. On each visit, they presented a lesson. When they challenged the family to be baptized, Kristina’s parents immediately said yes.
“You’re nine years old, Kristina,” Elder Sanderson said. “You’re old enough to be baptized, too.”
The day of her family’s baptisms was the most important day of her life. Kristina remembered every detail, especially the clean, warm feeling she had after the baptism.
Since that day, Kristina and her parents hadn’t missed a single church meeting.
Glancing at the clock, Kristina hurried to get dressed. She didn’t want to be late. She liked everything about church, especially her Primary class.
Kristina’s family arrived a few minutes early. They listened to the soft organ music. Today was fast and testimony meeting. Kristina liked listening to the testimonies. Someday, she promised herself, she would share her testimony.
At family home evening the following night, Kristina’s family took turns reading from the Book of Mormon. Kristina stumbled over some of the words, but she enjoyed reading about Nephi and his family building a boat to take them across the ocean.
When Kristina came home after school on Tuesday, she found her mother in the backyard digging neat rows of shallow ditches. “What are you doing, Mom?”
Mother looked up and smiled. “Getting ready to plant a garden.”
“A garden?” Kristina echoed. “We’ve never had a garden.”
Mother put down the spade and wiped her forehead. “We want to become as self-sufficient as we can, like the prophet told us to.”
Kristina understood now. It was part of the difference. She smiled as a warm feeling grew inside her.
Kristina’s mother handed her a packet of seeds. “You can drop these in, and I’ll cover them with dirt.”
An hour later, Kristina rocked back on her heels. Corn, beans, peas, radishes, onions—they’d planted them all. Her arms and back hurt, but it was a good kind of ache, the kind that comes from working hard to accomplish a goal.
That evening during dinner, she watched her parents smile at each other. They smiled a lot lately, another difference. It made Kristina smile, too.
“How long will we have to wait before we can go to the temple?” she asked her father later as they sat on the porch. Her last Primary lesson had been about temples.
“We have to wait a year after our baptism,” he said. “Then we can be sealed together as a family for time and all eternity.”
Tears pricked Kristina’s eyes that night as she said her prayers. A peaceful feeling settled over her like a warm blanket. The baptism difference was the best thing that had ever happened to her family.
“When we have undergone this mighty change, which is brought about only through faith in Jesus Christ and through the operation of the Spirit upon us, it is as though we have become a new person.”
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), 13th President of the Church, “A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989, 4.