Mysterious Visitors


(Based on an experience from the author’s family)
Let … thine alms [service] … be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly (Matt. 6:3–4).

As I came into the kitchen, my big brother Matt was saying to Mom, “I think just you, Dad, me, and Abby should be in on it. I don’t think he can keep a secret.” He was talking about me! “I can too keep a secret!” I said.

Mom smiled. “On Monday nights, the Family Night Phantom secretly leaves treats on people’s doorsteps. How would you like us to become the Phantom?”

“What a great idea!” I wanted to go right then, but Mom said that we had to wait until Monday.

Week One

Tonight we decided to deliver cookies and notes from the “Phantom” to two new families in our ward, the Kennedys and the Jensens. With Mom at the wheel to make a quick getaway, Dad and Abby did the ringing and running at the Kennedys’. Then it was my turn. Matt and I walked quietly up to the Jensens’ porch, laid the cookies down, rang the doorbell, and ran. The Phantom was a success!

Week Two

For this week’s adventure, Mom said, “Why don’t you each choose a family?” I wanted to phantom my best friend, Kyle Stephens.

During the family home evening lesson, Abby talked about how Jesus helps lonely people. That made me think.

“Mom, do you think Sister Hart would like chocolate cupcakes?” She was an older lady in the ward who lived alone.

“I’m sure that she would, Jeremy. Why?”

“I changed my mind. Let’s leave the treat at her house instead.”

We had a great time phantoming. Sister Hart almost caught me! I was at the edge of her driveway when I heard the door open, so I dove behind the hedge. I heard her say, “How nice! What a wonderful treat.”

Later that week, Matt said that his friends thought that the Phantom was the Bennetts.

“Well,” Dad said, “I think that puts the Bennetts on the top of our list to phantom next week!”

Week Three

I came home from school on Monday to the wonderful smell of homemade bread, our Phantom treat for the week. “Who should we phantom tonight, besides the Bennetts?” Mom asked me.

I had been thinking about it all day. “The Barneses are moving and are probably busy packing. And Sister Bradley has been sick, so her family could use a treat.”

Mom gave me a kiss and said, “You’re really something. Tonight it’ll be bread for the three Bs!”

A few days later, Dad came home from a meeting at church. He had seen a note on the ward bulletin board marked FAMILY NIGHT PHANTOM. It read: “Thanks for the bread. We didn’t have a family home evening dessert planned, so it came in handy. Keep up the good work. From the Barneses.” Mom said that we had to secretly remove the note and put it in our family scrapbook.

Week Four

During dinner on Sunday, Mom told us that after church Sister Simpson and Sister Bennett had discussed the Phantom. They wanted to get “revenge,” but on whom?

On Monday, I had news of my own. “Tyler Bennett asked me who I thought the Phantom was. It was hard not to smile! Then he said his family is going out tonight armed with 10 loaves of banana bread.”

“We can’t match that, but I do think it’s time to phantom ourselves,” Mom said.

“Great idea,” Matt agreed. “If the Phantom visits us, no one will suspect us!”

That night I delivered popcorn balls to my own door. We were sitting in the kitchen munching away when the doorbell rang. Matt opened the door to find a plate of cookies on the porch and not a person in sight! “Are you sure Tyler said that his family was delivering banana bread?” Mom asked.

We decided to hurry and finish phantoming before we ran into other Phantoms. We chose Bishop Stephens’s family (including Kyle!) and the Garcias.

Back at home, we began our family home evening lesson. Mom asked us to name activities that draw a family closer. Dad said, “Family prayer.” Abby thought of scripture reading. Matt mentioned camping together during the summer. “Don’t forget the Family Night Phantom,” I said. “That has brought us closer.”

“I think you’re right, Jeremy,” Dad agreed.

“So serving together brings a family closer,” Mom concluded.

Our night wasn’t over. When we were almost settled into bed, the doorbell rang—for the third time! We all ran for the door. On the porch was a loaf of banana bread. What a night!

Week Five

No one has accused us of being the Phantom, so I think our secret is still safe. Tonight we have brownies, ready for delivery to three more unsuspecting ward families. The Family Night Phantom rides again!

[Loving Service]

President Thomas S. Monson

“Loving service anonymously given may be unknown to man—but the gift and the giver are known to God.” President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, “‘Anonymous,’” Ensign, May 1983, 57.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brandon Dorman

Valerie Ipson is a member of the Ellsworth Ward, Mesa Arizona Skyline Stake.