I stared as a new boy entered the Primary room. A woman pushed him in a wheelchair toward the front of the room.
“Everyone, this is David,” Sister Olive said. “He and his grandmother have just moved into our ward.”
David smiled and waved to the Primary. I tried not to stare. David’s body was covered in red scars, and he carried a cane across his lap. His right hand was just a nub, and his left ear was completely missing. I had heard about David. When he was a baby, he had been burned in a fire. Whenever he grew, he had to have surgeries because his skin did not stretch with him as he got bigger.
David’s grandmother wheeled him to the end of the row of the CTR 7 class. I was in the back in the Valiant 11 class, too far away to try to help David feel welcome. Would any of the children in his class be brave enough to talk to him?
Just then, Joseph jumped out of his chair. He sat down on the seat next to David and started talking to him. Sister Olive had to tell them to be quiet so we could start singing time.
Sister Olive took out a big black paper music note. “We’re going to play ‘Hide the Note,’” she said. “I will choose one person to hide this note somewhere in the Primary room and another person to leave the room so he doesn’t know where the note is hidden. When the second person comes back into the room, we’ll all sing louder when he gets closer to the note.”
“And quieter when he gets farther away!” Joseph said.
“That’s right,” Sister Olive said. “Who wants to hide the note?”
Almost everyone raised their hands. We really liked this activity.
“Julia, you can hide the note,” Sister Olive said. Julia jumped up from her chair and walked to the front of the room.
“Who wants to find the note?” Sister Olive asked. We all raised our hands again. “David, you can be our finder.”
“I’ll help!” Joseph volunteered. He wheeled David outside and closed the door.
Julia hid the music note under the piano. It was a good hiding place.
Sister Olive called David and Joseph back into the room. Joseph slowly wheeled David down the aisle, and we started singing quietly.
David pointed to the left with his cane and Joseph wheeled him left, toward the CTR 6 class. We sang more quietly. David pointed to the right with his cane and Joseph wheeled him right, toward the Sunbeams. We sang even quieter. David looked confused. He thought for a moment and then pointed his cane backwards, toward the piano. Joseph wheeled him closer and closer to the piano, and we sang louder and louder.
David pointed his cane at the piano, and we all sang as loudly as we could. Joseph looked all over the piano until he finally found the music note on the ground, under the piano legs.
“We did it!” David cheered. He grinned from ear to ear and patted Joseph on the back.
“We make a great team,” Joseph said.
David and Joseph sat down and Sister Olive chose other children to hide and find the note. I could tell that David and Joseph had become friends. Joseph didn’t seem to notice David’s wheelchair. To Joseph, David wasn’t different.
Illustration by Matt Smith