“Alisa’s Plan,” Friend, Sept. 1996, 30
Alisa’s collar scratched, and her Sunday shoes pinched. She squirmed as her six-year-old hands inched toward her baby brother’s red rattle. Even though it was a baby toy, she grabbed the bright rattle and shook it. The noise lasted only a few seconds, for Mom quickly snatched the toy away and tucked it safely into the diaper bag.
Alisa pretended she’d had nothing to do with the racket. She looked at the bishopric. Bishop Walker was watching Sister Williams, who was giving a talk. He seemed very interested in what she was saying—something about Lehi’s dream.
Then Alisa glanced at the music director, Matthew’s mom. She was also quiet, smiling while holding her hymnbook in her lap.
Alisa sighed. Everyone was being quiet and reverent and was listening to Sister Williams. Except the babies. Wherever Alisa looked, she saw a baby. A curly-haired blond baby tweaked his mommy’s nose, and the mom didn’t even pull his hand away. A bald, blue-eyed baby with a bow pasted on her head drank from a bottle. Her own baby brother happily chewed on his toys and made funny noises.
The babies were having fun. Alisa wished she were. Her mother had told her that she wasn’t a baby any longer, so she couldn’t eat snacks in church or bring her toys to play with. Mom said that she should try to sit quietly and listen to the talks.
Alisa really and truly tried. But it was hard. Before she knew it, her feet were tapping and her eyes were wandering. She slipped under the bench to look at all the shoes.
She loved to study the shoes under the benches. There were high-heeled mom-shoes, scuffed-up boy-shoes, polished dad-shoes, and shiny black little-girl shoes. Two weeks ago she had grabbed Sister Norton’s shoe because it was so pretty and she wanted to see it better. Sister Norton was startled, but smiled when she saw who it was, so maybe she hadn’t minded very much.
But Dad had minded. On the way home from church, he said, “Alisa, you’re getting to be a big girl. It’s time you started behaving in church like Heavenly Father would want you to behave.”
She knew it was true. She was almost six, and she wanted to be reverent and to obey Heavenly Father. The next week she’d tried to be more reverent, but sacrament meeting had lasted such a long time! Halfway through the meeting, she was under the bench again, trying to decide whom each pair of shoes belonged to.
Finally, it was time for Primary. In her class, they acted out stories from the Book of Mormon. She had never quite realized how thrilling the Book of Mormon was. Samuel the Lamanite was so brave! Nephi was stronger than anyone she knew. And Ammon was smart—even smarter than Michael, the smartest boy in first grade!
She loved the stories. And they had given her a wonderful idea! Many of the talks mentioned Book of Mormon people. Maybe that could help her be more reverent in sacrament meeting. She could hardly wait to try out her plan.
The week flew by, and before she knew it, Sunday had come—the day for “The Plan.”
She carefully packed paper, markers, and her Book of Mormon storybook, which had lots of pictures, into her brother’s diaper bag.
Sacrament meeting started in the usual way—announcements, a hymn, a prayer. The bishop talked for a few minutes, everyone sang another hymn, and the sacrament was administered. Then came the talks, the hardest part of the meeting for Alisa.
She took out the Book of Mormon storybook and opened it to pictures of Nephi and his brothers. She wondered why his brothers didn’t like Nephi. She hoped her baby brother would like her when he grew up.
Turning to the story of Samuel the Lamanite in the back of the book, she wondered what it would feel like to stand on a wall and see arrows flying toward you. Was Samuel afraid? He didn’t look scared in the picture. He looked strong and brave. She hoped that she would be as brave the next time she saw Tim at school. He loved to make fun of her—he called her Carrot Top or Freckle Face. She ran whenever she saw him. Maybe next time she would be like Samuel.
While she looked through her book, she heard Brother Pistorius say something about Abinadi and King Noah. It was her favorite Book of Mormon story. She turned to the story in her book and found pictures that showed the things Brother Pistorius was telling about. He thought that King Noah was a bad man, too, and that Abinadi was brave for telling him about the gospel, even when the prophet knew that he would die for it.
Alisa liked listening to what Brother Pistorius said, and before she knew it, sacrament meeting was ending—and she had been reverent the whole time!
After the prayer, Alisa packed her things back in the diaper bag. Mom gave her a hug, and Dad said, “Alisa, we’re proud of the way you acted in church today. You really are a big girl.”
Alisa was happy that her plan had worked. Maybe it wasn’t so bad being a big girl, after all.