“My mom says that I can’t be friends with Mormons because they believe in Joseph Smith,” Cody said as they spilled out of their classroom onto the playground for recess.
Ricky’s face burned with confusion. Cody had been Ricky’s very best friend since Ricky had moved in at the beginning of the year. They had played soccer every recess, sat together every lunch, and promised they’d always be best friends. Ricky had even asked Cody to come to his baptism.
“My mom thinks Mormons are bad and I’m not supposed to play with you anymore. I’m sorry,” Cody said as he nervously looked at the ground. Ricky pushed his hands into his pockets and forced the tears back as he watched his best friend run across the blacktop out to the soccer field.
Since as far back as Ricky could remember, he had imagined his own baptism with pure excitement. But now, with the special day less than a week away, he couldn’t stop thinking about what Cody had said.
At dinner Sunday evening, Ricky sat quietly picking at his plate.
“Hey, Ricky, what’s up?” Mom asked. “You’ve been moping around all weekend.”
“Why do we have to get baptized?” Ricky asked.
“You know all the reasons, Ricky: to become members of Christ’s Church, to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, to follow Jesus’s example,” Mom said. “But most important, we get baptized because we want to, not because we have to. What’s bothering you, honey?”
“If I get baptized, Cody won’t be my friend anymore,” Ricky finally said.
“It’s a very important decision and it needs to be yours,” Mom said. “I have an idea. Get your pajamas on and brush your teeth and then meet me on the top of the bunk bed.” It was Ricky’s favorite quiet place where he often went to escape his busy little brothers.
As Ricky clambered up the ladder, he thought Mom looked awfully silly with her head bent to the side to keep from bumping the ceiling. She was holding a worn copy of Book of Mormon Stories.
“Ricky, before we begin, will you say a prayer and ask the Spirit to be here?” Mom asked.
Ricky folded his arms. “Dear Heavenly Father, please let Thy Spirit be here while we read. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” A still quiet fell upon the room. Tears filled Mom’s eyes as she opened the book to the first page and began.
“ ‘One day Joseph read James 1:5 in the Bible,’ ” Mom read. “ ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.’ ” Ricky had heard this story a thousand times, but this time, it all felt very different to him. Mom continued. “ ‘When Joseph told some people what he had seen and heard, they laughed at him.’ ”*
Ricky listened carefully as Mom read about how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ came to Joseph Smith in a pillar of light. She read about how the angel Moroni had told Joseph about the gold plates, and how Joseph translated them. The words became the Book of Mormon.
“How can you know if Joseph Smith really saw Heavenly Father and Jesus?” Mom asked.
Ricky thought about how he had prayed about important things and answers had come. He knew he needed to pray for an answer. On the cozy little bunk bed, Ricky and his mom scooted up on their knees and folded their arms.
“Dear Heavenly Father,” Ricky began, “I need to know if Joseph Smith really saw a vision, and if the Book of Mormon is really true because I’m supposed to get baptized this week.” A quiet peace filled Ricky’s heart as he spoke the words. “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” Then his heart seemed to fill with joy. As Ricky put his arms around Mom’s neck and she squeezed him back, he knew that Mom felt it too. Ricky had never felt so happy and so sure about anything before.
“Sometimes we have to make hard choices so we can do the right thing, just like Joseph Smith,” Ricky thought as he climbed down from the bunk bed.
When his little brothers scampered into the room, Ricky pressed his fingers to his lips. “Shh,” he whispered. “I don’t want this feeling to go away.” Wonderful peace warmed the whole house as Ricky continued to remind his family through the rest of the evening: “Shh, I don’t want this feeling to go away.”
“Today all who want to know whether they should be baptized are invited to follow Joseph and Oliver’s example and pray.”
Illustrations by Maryn Roos
*Book of Mormon Stories, 2–3.