Kirsten’s Assignment


(Based on an experience from the author’s life)
For all have not every gift given unto them. … To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby (D&C 46:11–12).

“Welcome to our class!” Sister Garcia beamed just like the spring sun shining through the classroom window. “I’m so excited to be teaching you older girls. You’re old enough to be good readers, and we can really get into the scriptures!”

Kirsten’s heart sank. She could read, but she knew she wasn’t a good reader. She took twice as long as her best friend, Ayisha, to get through a page when they were reading a magazine together. When she read aloud, words sputtered out of her mouth. That was always uncomfortable. After all, she was 10 years old. And reading the scriptures was especially hard. The words were so strange, and the sentences seemed to go on forever.

Ayisha put her hand on Kirsten’s shoulder. Kirsten looked over at her. Ayisha had written in her tiny notebook, “You’ll be OK!” Kirsten wondered how.

Kirsten took her turn reading that Sunday, but it seemed to take forever to get through the verse, and she just wanted to cry. The next week, before Sister Garcia even started the lesson, Ayisha raised her hand.

“I was wondering if Kirsten and I could cooperate on scripture reading today. Give us one scripture to work on together. I’ll read it, and Kirsten can draw a picture. She’s a great artist!”

Kirsten knew Ayisha was being kind, but she also felt like a big spotlight was shining on her, hot and uncomfortable. “I might as well have a sign hanging around my neck that says BAD READER,” Kirsten thought.

Sister Garcia seemed surprised. She looked at the girls and then smiled a little. “It sounds like fun,” she said. “And I think it would work well with our lesson today about Alma and Amulek. Are you willing to do that, Kirsten?” Kirsten nodded. “How about you other girls? Katie and Lauren, why don’t you be a team, too? And Elizabeth and Michelle?” She gave each team a scripture, and they began to work.

Kirsten couldn’t believe Ayisha’s nerve or her teacher’s sudden change of plans. But Sister Garcia’s smile, and the way she brought everyone into the idea, seemed to make it better. Kirsten drew a picture of Alma meeting Amulek. She realized she liked this story—two great missionaries and how they became friends.

The next Saturday, Sister Garcia showed up at Kirsten’s front door. “I just thought I’d drop by and see if you could take a special assignment for our class tomorrow,” she explained.

“What is it?” Kirsten asked. “Please, not reading,” she prayed silently.

“Could you present this scripture to the class?” Sister Garcia handed Kirsten a slip of paper.

“What do you mean, present it?” Kirsten asked.

“Well, you should read it out loud, but I thought I’d give it to you now so you can practice,” Sister Garcia said. “Then tell what it means to you. If you want to draw a picture, that would be great, too. I didn’t realize you had such a talent for art.”

“Am I the only one doing this?” Kirsten asked.

“Well, for this week, yes. But in coming weeks, all the girls will be taking turns.” Sister Garcia smiled in a way that seemed to make things OK. “I thought I’d have you go first. To tell you the truth, I’m eager to see more of your artwork.”

“OK,” Kirsten agreed. “I’ll do it.”

Kirsten read the verse out loud over and over. Then she spent all afternoon drawing a picture of Alma and Amulek healing Zeezrom, making sure everything was just right.

Finally, Kirsten made her way downstairs to where Dad was cooking spaghetti. “Can I practice my scripture for you, Dad?” she asked. Dad nodded, so Kirsten read, “Alma 15:8: ‘And Alma said: If thou believ … est in the re … demption of Christ thou canst be healed.’”

Dad stopped stirring the spaghetti sauce and turned around. “That was wonderful, Kirsten. Pretty smooth! I can tell you’ve been practicing. And your picture looks great! But you’re still missing one thing.”

“What? Did I forget something in the picture?” Kirsten examined her work.

“No, that’s not it. You should say how you feel about what you’ve read,” Dad explained. “The most important thing isn’t how you read or even how you draw, although both of those are great. What your class really needs to hear is how you feel about what you’ve read and drawn.”

Kirsten thought about this. “I guess I’m happy that Zeezrom got better and that he wasn’t being mean to Alma and Amulek anymore.”

“That’s good. Maybe you’ll want to say a prayer about it,” Dad suggested. “Think about what this scripture means for your testimony. That’s what you need to do. Bear your testimony.”

“‘If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed,’” Kirsten read in class, smoothly and confidently. “I have a testimony that this is true. I have been healed by the priesthood, too, when my dad has given me blessings. And when I prayed about this scripture I could feel the Holy Ghost.” She glanced at Sister Garcia, who nodded encouragingly. “I drew this picture to show Alma and Amulek healing Zeezrom. I’m so happy that Zeezrom changed from being an enemy of the gospel to becoming a great missionary, just like Alma and Amulek.”

Kirsten sat down. Ayisha flashed her notebook at her. “Awesome job, Kirsten!” the note said, with a big happy face. Kirsten couldn’t help but smile.

[Book of Mormon]

Elder Russell M. Nelson

“Each individual who prayerfully studies the Book of Mormon can also receive a testimony of its divinity. In addition, this book can help with personal problems in a very real way.” Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 71.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Rob McKay

Ana Nelson Shaw is a member of the Merced First Ward, Merced California Stake.