“Double Lesson,” Friend, June 1990, 36
I really don’t know how I let Sister Moffat talk me into it in the first place. Before I knew what was happening, I had agreed to give a five-minute talk in sacrament meeting about being a Cub Scout. All the other guys were pounding me on the back, saying that they were glad it was me, not them.
“You really are a pal, Alan,” Will said. “You saved all the rest of us.”
Yeah, I thought, but who’s going to save me?
When I got home, I told Mom about it. “I don’t know why I said I’d do it. I can’t talk for five minutes.”
“It sounds like a great opportunity to me,” she said, smiling.
Somehow I knew she’d say that. That’s what mothers always say. “But five minutes,” I said. “That’s a long time to say I like Cub Scouting because it’s fun and helps me learn new things.”
Mom chuckled. “Five minutes isn’t nearly as long as it sounds to you. I’ll help you. Together I’m sure we can think of enough to take up five minutes.”
“I sure hope so,” I said. I was glad she had volunteered to help though. It was kind of like she had picked up the other end of a heavy load that I had been trying to lift by myself.
Because this was a talk for sacrament meeting, and because Dad says that sacrament meeting is probably the most important of all our Church meetings, I knew that I couldn’t put off preparing it until Saturday. So after school on Monday I asked Mom if she had had time to write any of my talk.
She looked at me in surprise. “Now, wait a minute. I didn’t say that I would write your talk. I said that I would help you write one.”
“But you always wrote my talks before,” I said. “I thought that that’s what you meant when you said that you’d help me.”
“You’re old enough now that I don’t have to do everything for you. Wasn’t it you who was telling me last week that a ten-year-old ought to have more privileges than his eight-year-old sister?”
“But I don’t even know how to begin,” I wailed. “You said that you’d help me.”
“I will,” Mom answered. “But there’s a difference between helping you and doing it for you.”
Well, when Mom finally convinced me that she really wasn’t going to do it all, I pleaded for suggestions. She said that we should start with prayer. Then, by asking questions, she helped me get a better idea of what I wanted to say. After that, she helped me decide in what order to say things.
I still had to sit down and write the talk out myself, but it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it would be, because I knew what I wanted to say. When I finished, Mom helped me correct some grammar mistakes.
Once the talk was written, I started feeling kind of glad that I was going to talk in sacrament meeting. I practiced giving it every day in front of a mirror. By the time Saturday rolled around, I felt pretty confident. As long as I had my paper there to remind me what came next, I could give most of the talk by just glancing down once in a while.
Sunday morning I made one last trial run with Dad as my audience. “Alan, that is a very fine talk,” he said. “You’ll do just great in sacrament meeting. But there is one thing that you don’t want to forget.”
“What’s that?” I asked, a little disappointed to think that something wasn’t just right.
Seeing my disappointment, he said, “Oh, there’s nothing wrong with your talk. I just want to remind you to ask Heavenly Father to help you do your best.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling much better. “I will.”
Sitting up on the stand, I felt pretty important. I glanced at the clock—two minutes until the meeting started. I felt a nervous excitement as I reached into my pocket for my talk. It wasn’t there! I felt in my other pockets. I looked on the floor. It was gone! Just then the bishop got up and announced the opening song and prayer.
What was I going to do? I caught Mom’s eye and gave her a pleading look. She just smiled at me. I began praying fervently that the paper with my talk on it would miraculously appear. I felt in my pockets again—nothing. When I put the hymnbook under my seat, I felt around the entire area for my paper—still nothing.
When the deacons were just about finished passing the sacrament, I knew that my miracle was not going to happen. I began praying that I would be able to remember my talk or that I would at least know what to say.
Suddenly I heard my name as the bishop announced me as the first speaker. With leaden feet I walked slowly to the pulpit. I could see my mother and father smiling at me. Will was pointing at me.
I was sure that everyone could see me shaking. Very slowly I announced the topic of my talk. There was Sister Moffat. She was smiling too. I just stood there quaking for a minute. Then something miraculous did happen: I remembered the first few sentences! As I began speaking, I remembered more and more. It was almost like I was standing in front of the mirror at home, except that I felt a warm, radiating glow around me.
I was finished before I knew it. The rest of the meeting was like a pleasant after-glow. I felt wonderful. That feeling was only intensified by all the compliments I received when the meeting was over.
“Alan,” Dad said, “you were great!”
“You really were,” Mom said as she planted a kiss on my cheek. “We’re proud of you.”
“But you know,” I confessed, “I didn’t think that I was going to be able to do it, because I lost the paper with my talk on it. When I discovered that it was gone, it was too late to do anything else but pray for help. So I did. Heavenly Father really came through for me.”
“It sounds like you learned more than just how to give a good talk,” said Dad, giving my shoulders a squeeze.
“Yeah, I really did.”