“Can Ben Come Over to Play?” Ensign, March 2016, 54–56
In September 1995, after I had been a single parent for two years, my son and I moved to a smaller home in Arlington, Texas, USA. My son, Ben, was almost eight years old, and it was just the two of us.
One day after we moved, I received a phone call from Sharon, whose son Zander was one of Ben’s classmates. She asked if Ben could come over to play one afternoon with her son. I agreed but asked if Zander could come over to our house first so I could get to know him. He came the very next day. Zander was a really cute boy, and he and Ben soon became best friends.
Sharon became one of my best friends also. Although she was considerably younger than me, our boys were the same age, and that seemed to supersede anything else. Ben and Zander played sports on the same team, rode bikes together, and attended Cub Scouts together each week. Zander had two brothers and a sister who were good examples to my son. We ate dinner at each other’s homes and even went on vacation together. Our two families loved each other.
We learned that Zander’s family was Mormon very quickly because Zander did not play sports or attend birthday parties on Sunday. Instead, his family went to church and spent time at home as a family. Ben loved Zander’s dad, John, and he loved the spirit in Zander’s home.
Every year Zander asked Ben to come to his church’s Halloween party and Christmas party. I always said yes. Zander and his family also attended events at our church.
It wasn’t long before Ben started asking if we could switch to Zander’s church. I always responded, “No, sweetie, we have our own church.” Ben never questioned my answer, but he kept asking that same question over the next few years.
Zander’s family always went to a family reunion in Utah during the summer. Zander and his cousins attended a sports camp at Brigham Young University in Provo before or after the reunion. When Ben was nine, Sharon asked if he could join them. So off Ben went with Zander to BYU basketball camp and a family reunion. He had great fun and felt loved and accepted as part of their extended family. Ben loved it so much he went again in 1998.
The following year, I decided to join Ben on the trip with Zander’s family. I took a week of vacation, flew to Utah with him, and stayed at John’s parents’ home while Ben went to the BYU camp.
What I didn’t realize is that my life would be changed forever that week. I spent it with the most amazing people. Everyone was kind, sweet, helpful, and interested in Ben and me.
Slowly and simply, I began asking questions about the Book of Mormon and the temple, and everyone was willing to answer my questions. I felt compelled to learn more about the Spirit I had been feeling. I wanted to feel it more.
When it was time to return to Texas, John’s father came over to the car. He said, “Lisa, I think you and Ben, together, should take the missionary lessons.”
I replied, “Yes, sir, we will do that when we get home.”
About a week after we returned home I kept my promise and called John to ask if we could schedule a lesson with the missionaries. He said, “Of course!”
We had the best missionaries the Lord could have sent us. I asked immediately if we could begin attending church, and our lessons went rapidly and smoothly. When the missionaries asked us to be baptized, I knew the gospel was true (my son already did), and we accepted.
We were baptized on September 12, 1999, and confirmed the following week. I attended the temple on November 16, 2000, to receive my endowment. The members of the Arlington First Ward put their arms around Ben and me and have been there for us ever since.
Ben and Zander have both served missions and brought others to Jesus Christ. I am blessed with a good life, wonderful friends, and the Spirit surrounding me with love. My son and I are blessed with the gospel and the blessings it brings. And all this because a classmate’s mother took the time to simply ask, “Can Ben come over to play?”