Talking to Lenny
Illustrations by Natalie Hoopes
Every day on the bus ride home from school, I would see Lenny. He always wore the same baggy T-shirt and worn-out tennis shoes, and he often had a big smile. He also had a disability. Often, the Spirit prompted me to say hello to him, but my pride stopped me.
One winter afternoon when I got on the bus, the Spirit’s promptings were especially strong, and I had a little extra courage. So when I saw Lenny in his usual spot, I decided to sit next to him. When I was almost to my stop, I closed my eyes, said a silent prayer, and then turned toward Lenny.
“Hi, I’m Ashley,” I said in an insecure but friendly voice.
He smiled at me, and all of my fear and pride melted away.
“I’m Lenny,” he shyly replied.
With those few words, a friendship began to form.
The next day, I sat next to Lenny again. He reached into his backpack and pulled out a handmade Valentine’s Day card addressed to “the pretty girl I see on the bus every day.” Valentine’s Day was long over, but Lenny had made this special card for me and had been patiently waiting for me to talk to him before giving it to me. I couldn’t help the tears from trickling down my cheeks.
Now I talk to Lenny daily. We exchange simple gifts on holidays, and we even went bowling with a group of friends. Each time I’m with Lenny, I’m reminded of the scripture in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” Lenny helps me remember the blessings that come from forgetting pride and having courage to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Hearing Five Simple Words
When I was 14, my grandfather passed away. On the day of the funeral, many people came up to me and expressed love and sympathy, but I didn’t really pay attention because I was so sad. Then my grandma came up to me and said five simple words: “We will see him again.”
Those five words meant a lot to me. I really took them to heart, and I finally fully understood that because of Jesus Christ and the great plan of happiness, we will see our loved ones again. There is a resurrection! I took great comfort in Mosiah 16:8–9:
“There is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
“He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.”
I miss my grandfather so much, but with the knowledge of the gospel, I’m comforted because I know, like Grandma said, that “we will see him again.” I’m so grateful for the gospel and for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Teaching with the New Era
At Scout camp, my troop and I had a “spiritual moment” every night before we went to bed. During that time, we’d read a story from the New Era. Afterward, we’d have a discussion about the story and a closing prayer.
Two boys who were not members of the Church were with our troop, and after the first couple of nights they started participating in the discussions and prayers. During the week we taught them about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I’m glad we have so many tools for sharing the gospel.
Turning Fear into Faith
The Sunday after my 17th birthday, I had my first epileptic seizure. It was terrifying to lose all control and slip into darkness. When I awoke, I struggled to remember basic things like where I was or what day it was. I was prescribed medication to help the physical condition, but the psychological terror remained. I constantly monitored myself, paranoid that I would have another seizure. I was afraid to fall asleep, and I lost some of the freedoms I’d had before. I even thought that I might leave this world soon.
But then I remembered who I am. I am a son of God. I remembered one of my favorite scriptures, Joshua 1:9, which says, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” This scripture brought me much-needed comfort. As I prayed for comfort each day, the terror was replaced by a stronger reliance on God and a stronger testimony that He is always watching over me and keeping me safe. I know I have a bright future ahead of me, because no matter what happens, God is always at my side.