The McDowell family moved into a house across the street nearly six months ago. They sure are different from the rest of the families in the neighborhood!
First I met Nephi, their 11-year-old son. Nephi told me his parents named him after an ancient American prophet. I’d never heard of any ancient American prophets, but he showed me a book with his name in it—a book called the Book of Mormon.
My family goes to church, and sometimes we read the Bible. But nobody in my family had ever heard of the Book of Mormon. Nephi called it a second testament of Jesus Christ and said it was an ancient record of the Lord’s dealings with people in the Americas. That was my first clue that Nephi and his family were different.
Next I met Nephi’s older sister, Glitchen. She wasn’t named for a prophet. She was named for her great-grandmother Glitchen Kelly, who was Irish. Glitchen’s great-grandmother had red hair and married a man from Poland named Alex. Glitchen knows all this because her family studies their family history.
All I know about my family is that my parents were born here in our town. I’d like to know more, but I can’t imagine spending all the time that Glitchen’s mother does researching their ancestors.
When the McDowells first moved in, the whole neighborhood changed. For one thing, it looked better. The house they moved into hadn’t been kept up very well, but not long after unloading their furniture, the McDowells set to work repairing their new home. They painted it and fixed the front gate. Then Mr. McDowell put Nephi to work in the garden plot, clearing weeds and tilling the soil.
Back then, no one in the neighborhood cared much for gardening, but Nephi said their prophet wanted them to grow a garden and be as independent as they could. At first I thought Nephi meant the same prophet he was named after—or maybe Moses or Abraham. But Nephi said he meant the living prophet, the one who leads their church today. He said their prophet is a man who speaks for God down here on earth. After all, Nephi said, the world needs a prophet today as much as people needed one in the Bible.
When I told Mom about this living prophet, she didn’t laugh like I thought she might. Instead, she sighed and said she prayed that such things were true. That evening we went into our own abandoned garden and started pulling weeds.
So Mom, Dad, and I grew our garden, and the McDowells grew theirs. In the fall, Mom and Mrs. McDowell swapped recipes, and Mrs. McDowell taught Mom how to preserve food. Then Nephi’s dad and my dad began fishing together on Saturdays and sometimes on Friday evenings—but never on Sundays. We quickly learned just what the McDowells would and would not do on Sunday.
“It’s our Sabbath,” Nephi told me. They didn’t fish or go shopping or do anything but spend family time together and do church stuff. I felt really sorry for Nephi and Glitchen, but they didn’t seem to mind, even when I heard Nephi’s stomach growling one Sunday when he’d been fasting all day.
Now, believe it or not, after all I’ve seen of the McDowells, I like them. Maybe it’s because they laugh a lot and seem to have fun. Or maybe it’s because Nephi helped our soccer team win a few games. Or maybe it’s because I just feel good when I’m with them.
Tonight after dinner, the McDowells are bringing over some missionaries to tell my parents and me more about their church. Mom has cleaned the house and baked a cake, and Nephi and Glitchen are bringing a Book of Mormon just for me.
I’ll soon know all about Nephi the prophet and about family history stuff and gardens and the Sabbath day, plus a whole lot more. I’ll even learn what it means to be different, like the McDowells. I think sometimes different is good.