Instant Messages

By Rivka O’Neal


A Soft Answer

I grew up in a house on the corner of Main Street in a small Idaho town. Often during the summer we would spend our afternoons and evenings in the front yard, playing on the grass or visiting with our neighbors.

One afternoon while we were playing in the yard, my youngest sister, who was only two years old, bolted out into the street. At the same moment, a truck with a couple of teenage boys from down the street screeched around the corner. My dad acted quickly and pulled my little sister out of the truck’s path. The boys in the truck shouted unkind and inappropriate words as they sped down the street.

I was angry, to say the least. I remember thinking someone should go down to the boys’ house and put them in their place. My sister could have been hurt or killed by their careless, dangerous driving.

I was glad when I saw my mother walking down the street, and I followed her. I was certain that the boys were going to be in big trouble. When we got to the house, the boy who had been driving answered the door. He was angry and defensive. He asked what we wanted and, to my surprise, my mother began to apologize. She said she was sorry that she had allowed her daughter to be so close to the street and told him she would watch my sister more carefully in the future.

Immediately the boy’s countenance changed. He apologized for driving so fast and for putting my sister in danger. He vowed to be more careful as he drove. After the short conversation, we returned home.

I still have never seen such an immediate change come over someone as it did over that boy that afternoon. We lived in that house for 11 more years, and in that time I never again saw the boy drive carelessly around the corner. As Proverbs 15:1 teaches, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” I imagine the outcome of the situation would have been very different if my mom would have approached angrily. Instead, two hearts were changed by the soft words of my mother.

The New Era at Work

I took the New Era magazine with me to work to read during my break time. At one point during my shift, I went to the back to get some things from the freezer and found one of my friends flipping through my magazine while she was on break.

“This must be yours,” she said as I smiled at her.

“Yeah,” I replied. “It’s the New Era magazine I receive each month through my church.”

Later that evening, she asked if she could borrow the magazine for the night and read through it. Ever since then I have brought the New Era with me to work each month and have had quite a few friends ask me questions about my beliefs and about different principles of the gospel. I have also been able to give the friend I mentioned earlier a copy of the Book of Mormon.

I’m grateful for the chance to share the gospel in such a simple way. It has brought joy into my life.

A Small Reminder

Except for a few cries from toddlers, everything was quiet. I stared forward and waited for the sacrament tray to make it to the end of the row so that I could pass it to the next row. I wondered how long it would take before it would reach me and I could continue on with my duty.

As I waited, a thought my priesthood leader had shared came to my mind: “During the sacrament you should be thinking about the Savior,” he had said.

I tried to follow his advice, but my thoughts soon switched to something that had recently happened to me. Giving up, I passed the tray to the next row and began waiting and wondering again.

Then I heard a soft voice behind me. I listened and realized that it was a girl speaking to her little brother. The girl said, “Do you know what the bread and the water mean?” The brother answered, “No.” They were silent for a moment. Then I heard, “They represent the body and blood of Christ.”

Immediately after she said that, my heart filled with the Spirit, and my thoughts didn’t drift anymore from the meaning of the sacrament. I will never forget that small reminder from a young girl and her brother.

A Hug and a Kiss

My mom and I seemed to drift apart after I joined the Church. She didn’t accept my new beliefs and resented me for leaving the church she had raised me in. I had prayed about what to do to help us become close again.

One Sunday, someone spoke about the need to let the people we love know how much they mean to us. The speaker suggested that we not only express it verbally, but also seal it with a hug and a kiss. I couldn’t remember my family ever hugging, kissing, or expressing our love for one another. Everyone just sort of assumed they were loved and hoped they were right.

That day, I decided I would give it a try. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was a bit scary. But I did it. I told my mom how much I loved her, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and hugged her. It was as though the balm of Gilead had somehow healed the cankering that was coming between us.

That act, inspired by prayer, seems to have had an effect on the entire family. Now when any relatives leave our home, they do so with a hug and a kiss. It gets quite interesting when a lot of family members are present, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Instant Messages

features personal experiences, insights into favorite hymns and scriptures, and other uplifting thoughts. If you have a personal experience that has strengthened your testimony and you’d like us to consider it for Instant Messages, please e-mail it to newera@ldschurch.org

or send it to:

New Era, Instant Messages 50 E. North Temple St., Rm. 2420 Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0024, USA

Please limit submissions to 400 words or less. They may be edited for length and clarity.

Illustrations by Paul Mann; New Era cover photograph by Matthew Reier