Elder Peterson and Goliath


Elder Peterson and Goliath

I was excited when Mom told me Sean was coming for dinner. He’s my big brother, but he moved away from home when he finished high school. My brother Mike went on a mission when he finished high school, but Sean doesn’t even go to church. He’s a great brother, though, and I love him. I especially love it when he plays with me. When I was smaller, I’d take horse rides on his back. He ran all over the yard with me hanging onto his neck and him holding onto my legs. He snorted and bucked around like a real horse.

I’m too big for that now, so he shows me wrestling moves instead. He won the city wrestling championship in the 11th grade. Sometimes we play ball, and sometimes we just sit and talk. I was really looking forward to his coming over tonight because I wanted him to help me make a model race car. Sean is good with his hands, and I like to work with him.

I helped Mom set the table to make the time go faster. As I put the knives and forks out, I noticed something was wrong. “Hey, you have too many plates on the table,” I said.

“No, dear. Sean is coming tonight, and so are the missionaries.”

“The missionaries!” I cried, slamming down the last fork. “Why do we have to have the missionaries when Sean is here? I want to have him to myself. I want it to be a special night.”

Mom looked at me in surprise. “It can still be a special night,” she replied gently. “The missionaries are nice young men. I’m sure you’ll like them.”

That’s what she thought. How could Sean play and work with me when the missionaries were here? I knew he’d be polite and spend his time talking to them.

By the time Sean arrived, I was upset. He could tell I wasn’t happy, but I knew better than to tell him why. Mom and Dad would be really disappointed if I ever complained about the missionaries to him. More than anything else, they wanted him to come back to church. So did I, but I didn’t think talking to the missionaries all night would make it happen.

When the missionaries arrived, Mom had dinner ready, so we sat down to eat. Everyone had a good time. Mom was right—the missionaries were great guys. They cracked jokes with Sean, and both faked surprise when he told them he wrestled in high school. Sean’s not my big brother just because he’s older, but also because he’s big—tall and strong and big.

Dinner ended with everyone laughing. Then it happened. Elder Blair asked if they could leave a message and a prayer before they went to their next appointment. This is the end of the night for me, I thought, disappointed. Sean won’t be helping me with my model car tonight. He’ll escape before anyone talks religion to him.

I waited to hear his chair move and the excuse why he couldn’t stay. But nothing happened. Slowly I looked up, and he was still there, watching Elder Blair thumb through his Book of Mormon. When Elder Blair found what he wanted, he read a few verses. Then he started asking Sean questions. Mom and Dad looked worried and hopeful. Sean answered each question in a humorous kind of way. He had stayed because he was having fun with the missionaries, and now he was going to go on joking even though the elders were being serious.

Suddenly Elder Peterson, the short, skinny one, caught on to what Sean was doing. “Sean,” he said, looking him in the eye, “do you believe in Jesus Christ?”

Everything seemed to change. Sean looked back at Elder Peterson, and instead of answering with a joke, he very softly said, “Yes.”

“Then why are you making fun of what we’re saying?” Elder Peterson asked.

I looked at Mom. She had tears in her eyes. Dad did, too. What’s the matter with them? I wondered. Were they upset with Sean or with the missionaries?

Sean and Elder Peterson continued talking, Elder Peterson asking questions and Sean giving him honest answers. Finally Elder Peterson said, “Sean, when was the last time you went to church?” Sean shrugged and looked at Mom and Dad for help, but they both shook their heads. They couldn’t remember either.

I could remember—not the date but how happy I had felt sitting beside him, proud to be his brother, glad to sing along with him, even though he couldn’t sing very well. I wanted to tell him, but suddenly there was a big lump in my throat, and I wasn’t sure I could talk.

“Sean,” Elder Peterson asked, “will you go to church with us on Sunday?”

Sean was looking at his hands. I couldn’t see his face, but we could all see his head slowly nod up and down. The lump in my throat grew bigger, and now I had tears in my eyes, too. Everyone was crying, but we all had smiles on our faces.

As I looked at Sean and Elder Peterson, I didn’t see a scrawny elder and a big wrestling champion. I saw David and Goliath. David had saved the day because he had the Spirit of the Lord with him. That’s why we were all crying—we could feel that Spirit, and it felt good.

I love my brother Sean, but at that moment I wanted to be like Elder Peterson. I wanted to have the Lord on my side, and I think Sean wanted that, too. Mom was right. This had been a special evening. I had seen David, unafraid, go into battle with Goliath. Fortunately, they both won!

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown