“Fireworks and a New Bike,” Friend, July 1993, 8
Whenever I heard Sister Kovacs speak, I wanted to have a beautiful foreign accent like hers. But at testimony meeting—we had it on June 30 that year because stake conference was the next week—I was too busy listening to what she was saying to even notice her accent. …
“It was fifty years ago tomorrow that I arrived in this wonderful, free land.” She wiped away a tear and began to chuckle. “I was only twelve years old, and just as I got off the boat, all these splendid fireworks started exploding. I thought they were welcoming me. I didn’t know it was Canada Day. I also didn’t know what a great blessing Heavenly Father had given me by letting me come here, because here I found the gospel of Jesus Christ. My testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel is my most precious possession.”
That made me think about the new bike I had just received for my birthday. I had told my little brother that it was the most valuable thing I owned and that he’d better not touch it.
After Sister Kovacs finished, Brother Stevens and Sister Pickett both said what a privilege it was to live in a free land, where they could have the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even Sister Cartier mentioned it, although I could only understand a few of her words because she always spoke in French.
As we sang “O Canada,”* I wondered just how grateful I was for those blessings. “God keep our land Glorious and free!” I sang timidly, my words drowned out by the fervent voices around me.
The next day, July 1, our family went on our traditional Canada Day picnic. That evening we took our blankets to the park and watched the fireworks. As the oranges, reds, greens, blues, and yellows blazed across the sky, I remembered Sister Kovacs saying how the fireworks had welcomed her to Canada. That started me thinking again about her testimony of Jesus Christ, and I suddenly realized that it really wasn’t her beautiful foreign accent I wanted—it was her testimony! But how could I get it? It was hard enough trying to talk like her, let alone trying to feel the way she did in her heart.
“Rebecca,” pleaded my little brother the next day, “Please let me ride your bike.”
“No way,” I said.
“But you’ve been riding it all morning.”
I finally let him ride my bike on Thursday, but only because Mom came out and glared at me.
“See, he’s not doing so badly,” she said, watching him shimmy down the driveway.
“But he might wreck it,” I complained.
I didn’t think about Sister Kovacs again until I saw her at church the next Sunday.
“Hello, Rebecca,” she greeted me. “Did you have a nice Canada Day?”
“Oh, very nice,” I said, enjoying her beautiful accent. “We had a wonderful picnic, and we watched—”
I stopped, remembering.
“Yes, Rebecca. What did you watch?”
“We watched the fireworks, and I thought about your seeing them when you first came to Canada.”
“Yes, it was quite a sight for a twelve year old.”
I pressed my lips together and looked up at her seriously. “Sister Kovacs, is your testimony really your most precious possession?”
“Yes, dear,” she said gently but earnestly. “And what is yours?”
“Well,” I said, looking up at the ceiling and back down again, “I suppose it’s my brand-new blue bicycle.”
She nodded. “I bet you spend a lot of time with that new bike of yours.”
I went home wondering if Sister Kovacs spent a lot of time with Jesus. “Dad,” I asked, “how can you spend time with Jesus?”
“I suppose by praying and by reading about Him in the scriptures.”
I sat on the back steps and stared thoughtfully at my new bicycle. If I cut down my bike riding by ten minutes each day, I could read about Jesus. I was sure David wouldn’t mind riding my bicycle ten minutes a day.
That same afternoon I opened the Bible. It wasn’t Christmas yet, but I decided to read about Jesus’ birth: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. …
“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:7–8, 16.)
Every day I read for ten minutes—some days even longer. I didn’t understand all the words, but Mom and Dad helped me. I felt all warm and good when I found out how much Jesus loves little children: “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
“And said, …
“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.” (Matt. 18:2–3, 5.)
One day David rode my bike for more than half an hour. “Where were you?” he asked when I finally came to find him. “I thought you got lost.”
“Oh, I got busy reading about Jesus feeding five thousand people and walking on the sea during a storm.”
Then came the day that David burst into the house with a red, frightened face.
“What’s wrong, David?”
“Oh, Rebecca, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to do it. I crashed on your bike, and now there’s a big dent in it!”
“Are you hurt?” I asked.
David looked shocked. “No, but aren’t you mad about your bike?”
I looked down at my book. “I’m trying not to be. I wish the dent wasn’t there. But I know you didn’t mean to do it, so I forgive you.”
“I was just reading about Jesus forgiving all the people who nailed Him to the cross. The least I can do is forgive you for putting a dent in my bike.”
The day I read 3 Nephi 17 in the Book of Mormon, I felt as if Jesus was standing right next to me: “And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
“And when he had done this he wept again.” (3 Ne. 17:21–22.)
I looked at the words for a long time and knew that they were true. I knew that Jesus Christ was my Friend and my Savior. And I knew that I had a testimony.
I thought about Sister Kovacs. Next Canada Day, I could bear my testimony too. On second thought, I didn’t have to wait until Canada Day. I could bear it at the next testimony meeting—or even sooner. I wanted to share my most precious possession.