“Peace, My Brother,” Friend, Oct. 1987, 7
Father plopped a stack of books on the table and announced, “Tonight for family home evening we are going to write our testimonies in a Book of Mormon. Practice first on a piece of paper. Then, using your best penmanship, write your testimony on the inside cover, and sign your name. We’ll glue one of your school pictures underneath it, and tomorrow I’ll give the books to the bishop to donate to the missionaries.”
“That’s a good idea,” said Mother. “Maybe what we write will spark somebody’s interest in the Church and help to convert them. Let’s put our address under the pictures, too, and maybe someone will write back to us.”
Tyler and Christi eagerly grabbed a piece of paper.
“I’m going to explain about the priesthood and how I was ordained a deacon,” Tyler said.
“I’m going to write about our family and how we can be together forever,” said Christi.
Kevin just sat and stared at his paper.
Soon everyone except Kevin was busily writing. Several minutes later Mother stopped and said, “What’s wrong, Kevin?”
“Nothing,” he mumbled.
“Can’t you decide what to say?” Father asked.
Kevin shook his head.
“Maybe you could write how the Church has a living prophet,” Mother suggested, “or how we read the Book of Mormon every day as a family and how that helps you to make right choices.”
“Yeah, I guess I could,” Kevin said. He stared at his paper some more. What could I say that would help anybody? he wondered. Who would ever believe what a seven-year-old had to say?
Kevin thought about his next birthday. It was four months away, and he would be baptized then. An idea began to form in his mind, and he started to write. Several times he wadded up his paper and threw it away, but he kept at it.
Everyone else had finished writing and was eating cookies when Kevin finally started copying his testimony on the inside cover of his Book of Mormon. When he finished, he reread it one last time. It said:
“My name is Kevin Richards. I am seven years old. Soon I will be eight. When I turn eight, I will be baptized by immersion as Jesus was. My father will baptize me and confirm me a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe that this is the true church of Christ. If you read this book and pray about it, Heavenly Father will tell you that the teachings in it are true. Then you can get baptized too. Please write and tell me how you feel when you read this book.
Satisfied, Kevin carefully glued his picture underneath it, wrote his address, and added his book to the stack.
“All finished?” Father asked.
“Yes,” answered Kevin. “Boy, that sure was hard!”
“Sometimes trying to express your feelings is hard,” agreed Father. “But sharing your testimony will not only help someone else learn about the Church. It will also help your testimony grow stronger.”
“Is that why I feel good now?” Kevin asked.
“I’m sure it is. And when someone gets your book and reads what you wrote, maybe he will get that good feeling too.”
Each day after school Kevin eagerly raced to the mailbox, hoping to find an answer from the person who received his Book of Mormon.
But it was Christi who squealed one day, “An answer! An answer! I got an answer!” And three days later both Father and Tyler got a letter.
“My letter came all the way from Mexico,” Tyler bragged.
Tears welled up in Kevin’s eyes. He crept upstairs to his bedroom and lay on his bed.
There was a knock on the door. “May I come in?” asked Mother. When Kevin choked out an OK, Mother went in and sat down beside him. She sat in silence for a few minutes, then said, “You’re really disappointed to not get an answer from somebody, aren’t you? Do you want to talk about it?”
Kevin hesitated, then sat up and wiped his tears away with the back of his hand. “What if the person who gets my book laughs at what I said? What if he thinks that I’m stupid? What if he thinks that a kid doesn’t know anything, and he decides not to read my book?”
Mother gently put her arms around Kevin. “No one would laugh. He’d know that you’re very sincere and that you care about him. And children can often touch people’s hearts in a way that grown-ups can’t.”
“Then why haven’t I gotten an answer?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure that there is a good reason. Maybe the missionaries just haven’t found the right family to give your Book of Mormon to yet. And whether we like it or not, just because we bear our testimonies doesn’t mean that the people who receive them will accept them. No one has written to me yet, either, so let’s just hope that we’ll still get letters. Sometimes it just takes a while.”
That night when he went to bed, Kevin prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, please help the missionaries to find the right person for my Book of Mormon. Bless him not to laugh at what I wrote. Bless him to read the Book of Mormon and get a testimony. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Days melted into weeks. Finally it was Kevin’s baptismal day. Just before lunch, Christi came running into the house, yelling, “Kevin! Kevin! Look what the mailman just brought.”
Kevin took the envelope Christi was waving and quickly tore it open. It read,
“Dear Kevin Richards,
Please forgive that I take so long to write. My name is Tuilolo Tuiaaga. I live with my wife and four children in Pago Pago on Samoan island called Tutuila. One day your missionaries came. I was busy in my bakery and had no time to listen. But my wife listen and keep your book and read it.
Then bad time came to my family. My bakery burn down. Our sick baby got sicker. Doctors try hard, but poor baby Sina die.
My wife say God loves Sina. God loves us. She say He cares. I get very angry. I yell, ‘If He love us, why bakery burn? Why Sina die?’
One night I hurt bad inside. I not sleep. I sit in darkness. By chair was your book. I want to burn book. I pick it up. I see your picture. I read what you write. Then I read and read and read in book. Is hard to read in English for me, but I read till morning. I read again what you write. The Spirit tells me what I read is true. I believe. I wake my wife. We cry and pray. I pray that God forgive my anger. Peace comes to my soul.
Soon will be our family baptism on 30 August. We are very happy. I thank you for sending Book of Mormon.
Peace to you, my brother,
That evening, on August 30, as Kevin came out of the waters of baptism, he whispered, “Peace to you, Tuilolo. Peace to you.”