A New Heart


(Based on a true story)
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness (Rom. 10:10).

Anna Lisa sat dejectedly in her Aunt Lois and Uncle Owen’s house and worried about her father. He was in a hospital far away getting a new heart so he could be healthy. Her mother was with him, and her aunt and uncle were taking care of her.

Aunt Lois was sewing, Uncle Owen was watching a football game, and Anna Lisa had nothing to do. It was Sunday, but her aunt and uncle didn’t go to church. No one offered to take Anna Lisa, so she stayed home too. Anna Lisa sighed.

“Why don’t you go downstairs and snoop around? There are some old toys and books down there,” Aunt Lois said. She must have read her mind—or heard her sigh.

Anna Lisa made her way down the rickety stairs to the basement, which smelled cool and damp and musty and was full of all kinds of things. There was an old washing machine, several trunks, various pieces of furniture, and lots of boxes. At first she didn’t see the toys or books, but then she noticed a box with BOOKS written on the side. She opened it carefully and found a treasure—dozens of children’s books. Anna Lisa read all afternoon until Aunt Lois called her for supper.

As Anna Lisa put the books back in the box, she saw another book that caught her attention. It read Book of Mormon on the cover, but it didn’t look like the one her mom and dad owned. This one was a gold color with black letters, and its pages were uneven on the sides and crinkly. She decided to take it upstairs.

“You must have found something interesting down there,” Aunt Lois said as she dished up a bowl of tomato soup in the kitchen.

“I found a box of books.”

“Your mother has told me how much you like to read. I’m glad you found something good.”

That night in bed, Anna Lisa looked at the Book of Mormon. There were no chapters or verses—just paragraphs like other books. Anna Lisa tried to read some of it, but it was hard for her, and she finally put it aside.

The next evening, Anna Lisa showed the book to Uncle Owen as he sat reading the newspaper. “Have you read it?” she asked him.

“No, I never did. When your mom and dad joined the Church they gave us a Book of Mormon. But we were busy with our trucking business, and I wasn’t interested. This one must have been in our basement for years. Maybe missionaries brought it to my grandparents.”

“It’s hard for me to read,” Anna Lisa said. “My dad reads to me sometimes from the Book of Mormon. Could you read some of it to me?”

Uncle Owen looked at his newspaper, and Anna Lisa knew that he’d rather read that, but he looked at her with a kind face as if he knew she was missing her dad. He smiled and opened the book.

“What part should I read?”

Anna Lisa snuggled up next to her uncle. “Well, I’ve heard the first part a lot, about Nephi and his brothers and crossing the sea. Why don’t you just open it up in the middle—it will be a surprise.”

Uncle Owen smiled at her and opened to the middle. He began to read.

“‘Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word’” (Alma 5:7).

Anna Lisa sat up straight. “That’s what’s happening to my dad—a change of heart. And he said that they will put him in a deep sleep while it happens.”

Uncle Owen laughed gently. “I think this is talking about a different kind of change of heart, like deciding to believe in God.”

Anna Lisa leaned against Uncle Owen as he read more. She began to feel very sleepy, but as she dozed off a little, she could still hear Uncle Owen reading. Then he was silent, but when she looked up, she saw that he was reading to himself. And when Aunt Lois came and got her and led her up to bed, he was still reading. The next morning, when Anna Lisa went down to breakfast, he was still reading from the book.

“Did you read all night, Uncle Owen?” she asked.

“Well, no,” he said, “but I read very late, and when I woke up I started reading again.” He laid the book carefully on the table and came to breakfast, but after breakfast, he read some more. Anna Lisa was glad he liked the book so much.

That night her mother called and told her that her father was doing just fine, but he needed to stay in the hospital a little while longer. Anna Lisa sighed one of her big sighs. She wanted very much to see her parents again.

Every night that week, before Anna Lisa went to bed, Uncle Owen read to her from the Book of Mormon, and Aunt Lois sat and listened too. On Saturday night, Anna Lisa said, “Could we go to church tomorrow? I want to be in my Primary class.”

“But you won’t know anybody. It won’t be your own class with your friends,” Aunt Lois said.

“I know, but it will feel the same; people will be nice.”

Uncle Owen and Aunt Lois looked at each other. Then Uncle Owen ruffled Anna Lisa’s hair. “OK. We’ll take you.”

As Anna Lisa drifted off to sleep that night, she felt very happy. She knew there was more than one way to have a new heart. Maybe her uncle as well as her dad would receive one.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brandon Dorman