Marianne pulled her sweater around her as she walked home from church. She loved autumn. The air was cool and crisp, the trees had turned a beautiful orange and yellow, and the layer of snow on the top of the mountains reflected the sunlight.
Her older brother walked ahead; her mom was still in the meetinghouse library. Marianne knew that when she got home, her dad would be sitting in the family room, reading the newspaper, as he had every Sunday for as long as she could remember.
She sighed and looked down at the paper cup in her hand. Jesus often taught the gospel by talking about seeds. Today her Primary teacher had helped her and her classmates plant seeds and told them about Alma’s teachings about faith. Marianne knew that every time she looked at her little plant, she would remember that Jesus wanted her to plant his words in her heart and to always choose the right.
Right now, though, she was thinking about some different seeds—missionary seeds she had learned about a couple of weeks ago at the Primary activity. The Primary president had talked about the ones we plant when we talk to people who are not members of the Church.
Her father was not a member of the Church, and she wanted to help him gain a testimony. She thought about the things she did and said when she was with him. Sometimes she forgot to obey quickly, and sometimes she and her big brother fought. But she was trying her best to be a good example, and she prayed for her father all the time. Today she wondered if maybe there was something more she could be doing. She decided to ask her mom about it.
Right after school the next day, Marianne put on her warmest sweatshirt and went out in the front yard to help her mom plant tulip bulbs. The sun warmed her back, but her face and hands felt the bite of fall. Her mom hummed as she dug the holes, and Marianne put in the bulbs and covered them with the dark, cool dirt.
“I’m glad you came out to help me,” Mom said, smiling. “When these come up in the spring, they will be twice as beautiful because we planted them together.”
Marianne smiled back, then cleared her throat. “Mom, remember our Primary activity a few weeks ago?”
“The missionary activity?”
“Yes. We talked about setting a good example for our nonmember friends and about sharing our testimonies.”
“Those are good things to do.”
“Well, I wondered if there is something else I should be doing … you know, with Dad, so he can be a member too.”
Mom thought for a minute. “I think we’re doing all we can.”
“Well, then, when is he going to get baptized?”
“We just have to be patient, Marianne. Sometimes it takes a little time.”
Marianne felt confused. She had a strong testimony that the Church was true. If she could tell him and show him, why didn’t her dad see how right it was? She wrinkled her nose and looked at her mother for an explanation.
Mom smiled at her. “Marianne, go in my room and get my scriptures. We’ll see if we can find an answer there.”
It only took a minute to get the scriptures. Marianne sat on the porch step and handed the worn brown books to her mother.
Brushing the dirt off her hands, Mom carefully turned the pages. She handed the book to Marianne and said, “Read aloud from Matthew 13:3–8.” [Matt. 13:3–8]
“‘And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
“‘And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
“‘Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
“‘And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
“‘And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
“‘But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit. …’”
“What do you think this parable is saying?” Mom asked.
“Well, it says that not all the seeds that were planted grew. Some didn’t have good soil, weeds choked some, and some were eaten by birds.” She paused a second, then, with a troubled look, asked, “Do you mean that you don’t think our seeds will grow? You don’t think that Dad will ever join the Church?” Tears started to gather in her eyes.
“No, Marianne. I do believe that your dad will join the Church. I just don’t know when. You see, the seeds we plant are very important, but so is the soil. The heart has to be ready to receive. Your dad has to do that for himself; no one can do it for him or force him.”
“But Dad is the best!”
“Yes, he is. He’s a great man.” Mom thought a minute as she returned to the flower bed, dug in the ground, and placed a tulip bulb in the hole. “Look at these bulbs we’re planting. They aren’t going to grow now. No matter how we care for them, these tulip bulbs have to lie in the soil all winter long if they are to be ready to grow in the spring. Do you understand?”
Marianne was silent for a moment. “I guess so. We have to set a good example, share our testimonies, and love Dad. Then we have to wait until the seeds are ready to grow, right?”
“Yes, that is right. And while we’re waiting, we continue to support him as the head of our home.”
“And we can still pray.”
“Yes, sweetheart, we always pray. Does that help you?”
“Yes. I feel much better.”
“Good. It looks like we’re just about done here. Let’s finish up and go fix a nice dinner to welcome Dad home from work.”
As Marianne was putting the last things on the table, Dad drove in the driveway. She ran to give him a hug. “Hi, Dad!”
“Hi, sweetheart. What have my two best girls been doing?”
Marianne took Dad’s hand, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and said, “Oh, just planting some seeds.”