“Blazer Patrol to the Rescue,” Friend, Sept. 1996, 3
After sacrament meeting, Jake followed his mother out of the chapel. “Oh no,” she said. “I forgot my scriptures.” Struggling to hold his squirming sister, she turned to Jake. “Would you please get them for me?”
Jake went back into the chapel. Everywhere he looked, papers littered the floor and the benches. “What a mess!” he muttered, picking up the book and hurrying to his mother.
In Primary, he forgot all about the litter until Sharing Time, when Sister Ranzenberger talked about feeling reverence for the Savior. “Love for the Savior includes respect for Him and His house,” she said.
Jake knew that the litter in the chapel showed a lack of respect for Jesus Christ. As he walked to class, he thought about what he could do to help. An idea came into his mind that made him smile. “Brother Vargas,” he said as the class sat down. “I’d like to call a special Blazer Patrol meeting for just a few minutes after class. Is that all right with you?”
Brother Vargas looked at him curiously. “Sure—you’re the Patrol Leader. I guess I can stay a few minutes.”
“Good,” Jake said. “We’ll meet in the chapel.”
After the lesson, the boys eagerly walked down the hall to the chapel. Bud shoved Jeff, knocking him into a picture of the Savior. Tim bounced a small rubber ball off the ceiling, and John ran his hand along the wall.
Inside the chapel, the boys formed a circle around Jake.
“What’s up?” Bud asked, casually dropping a gum wrapper on the floor.
Jake motioned with his hand as he said, “Look around you.” The patrol noisily looked around.
“It’s the chapel,” Tim said. “So what?”
“Look again. Really look.”
The boys quieted down and looked around the room.
“It’s kind of messy,” Bud said softly, stepping on his gum wrapper to hide it.
“That’s right,” Jake said. “So the Blazer Cobra Patrol is going to take five minutes now to pick it all up. Then it’ll be neat when the First Ward comes in.”
Tim headed for the door. “My mom’s waiting for me. I have to go.”
Jeff grabbed his arm. “She’s talking to Sister Williams, and you know how long that takes.”
The boys set to work picking up paper and straightening books. With Brother Vargas’s help, the job was finished in a few minutes. Afterward they stood in the back of the chapel, looking it over.
“It looks a lot cleaner,” John said.
“It looks good,” Jake agreed. “So good that I think we ought to do it every week.”
Brother Vargas smiled at him. “I think that sounds like a great idea—and though I need to clear this with the bishop, I’m sure that he’ll be delighted.”
Tim groaned. Some of the other boys rolled their eyes, but no one said anything. As they walked out the chapel doors, Jeff noticed the picture of the Savior and straightened it.
For the next few weeks, the Cobra Patrol tidied the chapel after class. One Sunday as they worked, Tod Tapu from the First Ward walked in. “What’s this?” he sneered. “The mighty Cobra Patrol picking up paper?” He laughed. “Maybe we ought to call you the Paper Patrol.”
“You’re just sore because we won all the awards at Blazer Camp,” Jake answered.
“Sure—keep thinking that. But you won’t catch our Wolf Patrol picking up paper.”
Brother Vargas picked up a tissue lying at Tod’s feet. “That’s too bad. I’ve seen the chapel after your ward’s finished, and it could use some picking up too.”
After Tod left, Tim muttered, “Paper Patrol! It’ll be all over the stake. Everybody’s going to call us the Paper Patrol.”
Jake started laughing. “What’s wrong with that? Let’s be the Paper Patrol. This is our chance to make a difference.”
As word of the Paper Patrol spread through the ward, something unusual began to happen. Children and adults started picking up paper as they left the chapel for their classes. Each Sunday there was less and less clutter for the boys to pick up. The halls and classrooms were cleaner too. Even the reverence in the chapel seemed better.
People stopped them in the halls to thank them. “Good job, Blazers,” Sister Ranzenberger said, beaming at them. “You’ve made a difference to the whole ward.”
One Sunday the bishop came in and gave them a hand straightening up. “Everybody needs to do his part in showing respect for our church buildings,” he said as they worked. “If everyone followed your example, the whole ward would be more reverent.”
Two weeks later, Jake had an interview with the bishop after church. When he arrived at the building, the First Ward was just leaving. He decided to see if the chapel was as messy as Brother Vargas had said. He opened the door and peeked in, then quickly shut it. Inside, Tod Tapu and the Wolf Patrol were picking up paper.
He stood in front of the closed doors for a moment, just smiling. Looks like there’s a Paper Patrol Two in the stake! he thought.