“Tyler’s Name Tag,” Friend, Sept. 1997, 8
Tyler loved having visitors. His family had signed up to help feed the missionaries, and tonight they were coming to dinner. Mom had promised that he could sit next to them.
At the table, Tyler felt shy and didn’t know what to say. He wanted to be a missionary someday, so he listened and watched carefully. He wanted to remember how missionaries act. He looked at their shiny shoes, white shirts, and straight ties. Then he noticed something on their shirt pockets. “What’s that?” he asked, pointing to Elder Snow’s pocket.
“My name tag,” Elder Snow replied, holding it up a little.
“‘Elder Snow,’” Tyler read. “‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’ Do all the missionaries have name tags?”
“I think so,” the other missionary, Elder Millburn, replied. “We want everyone to know that we are missionaries for the Church.”
“I always make sure to put my name tag on,” Elder Snow added. “I want everybody to know that I believe in Jesus Christ.”
After the missionaries left, Tyler told Mom, “I’m going to make a name tag. I want to wear one so that people will know that I believe in Jesus Christ.”
Tyler cut a rectangle out of paper and carefully printed his name on it. Below his name, he wrote, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” He taped a folded paper to the back of it to insert in his pocket to hold the name tag on. He went to the mirror to see how it looked.
First thing in the morning he thought about his name tag. Hurriedly he got dressed and put it on.
When Mom went grocery shopping, Tyler went too. He walked around, hoping that everyone saw his name tag. While they were going back to the car, it started to rain. He pushed the cart quickly and helped Mom load the car before they both got very wet. “Such a good helper!” she said, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
At home he helped carry in the groceries. When he leaned over, he noticed that his name tag was torn and sagging. And rain had smeared the words. I need a better name tag, he told himself.
That afternoon, he cut a rectangle out of a plastic lid. He wrote his and the Church’s name on it with a marker so that the words wouldn’t wash away. He taped another piece of plastic to the back and stuck it in his pocket. He had a name tag again. Showing it to Dad, he said, “Just like the missionaries, I like to wear my name tag.”
Tyler went to show his big sister. She was studying at her desk and didn’t seem very happy.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, forgetting about the name tag.
“I have too much homework,” she moaned, “and it’s my turn to do the dishes.” She started writing again.
Tyler watched for a minute. “I’ll do the dishes.”
His sister looked surprised.
“My homework is all done,” he said. “I have time to do them.”
She gave him a hug and exclaimed, “You’re a great brother!”
Tyler did the dishes, but his shirt got wet and dirty. Pulling it off, he threw it in the laundry.
Getting dressed the next morning, he remembered his name tag and ran to the laundry room. His mother had already washed the shirt. She was putting it in the dryer. “Wait!” he yelled, pulling the shirt out of the pile. The name tag fell to the floor, twisted and warped. Tyler couldn’t make it lie flat. He threw it away. I’ll have to make something better, he told himself.
In the garage, Tyler searched for a thin wood scrap. Finding one just the right size, he went in the house to paint it. With a pointed brush he printed the letters. He made two holes in the wood with a hammer and nail, and put a piece of twine through them so that he could wear the name tag around his neck. When he took his shirt off, this name tag would stay put and wouldn’t get ruined. Tyler showed it to Mom and Dad. “Clever,” they told him.
Tyler wanted to show it to his best friend, Jason. He went outside and looked to see if Jason was in his yard next door. From the other direction, a boy on a tricycle whizzed by, laughing. His dog ran along beside him, barking in fun. It was little Jimmy from down the block.
Jimmy’s mother ran after him, calling frantically, “Stop! You’ve gone too far!” But Jimmy didn’t hear her, so Tyler raced to catch up with him. Grabbing the tricycle, Tyler gently pulled it to a stop and turned it around. He led Jimmy and his dog back to his mother.
“Thank you for stopping him,” she said. “He might have ridden into the street and been hurt. You’re a good neighbor!”
Tyler waved good-bye and headed back to find Jason. He reached for his name tag and stopped suddenly. It was gone! It must have fallen off while I was running, he realized. Searching, he finally found it, but the twine was broken and the name tag lay in pieces. It had been run over by the tricycle. Tyler walked home and laid the pieces on the table. “Jimmy ran over my name tag,” he told his mother, angrily. Then, with a big sigh, he said, “But I guess he didn’t mean to.”
A few minutes later, Tyler heard his father come home and ran out to tell him about the name tag.
“You know,” his father said, “not all missionaries wear name tags. When I was a missionary, we didn’t have name tags.”
Tyler was surprised. “How did people know you believed in Jesus Christ?”
“We told them,” Dad said. “And we tried to show them by the way we acted.”
That evening Tyler and his parents went to the stake center because one of his friends was getting baptized. During the meeting, a speaker talked about Jesus Christ. “If we try to live as He did,” the man said, “then people will know that we believe in Him.”
Tyler thought about that as they went home. Remembering what Dad had said, too, he suddenly knew what he could do.
“Mom! Dad!” he said excitedly. “There is a name tag I can wear that won’t get ruined or lost—an invisible one! If I try my hardest to live like Jesus Christ did, it’s like telling people I believe in Him. It’s like wearing an invisible name tag!”
Dad smiled. “You’re right, son.”
Mom hugged Tyler. “I’ve already seen your invisible name tag.”
“You have?” Tyler asked, looking down at his shirt.
“Yes, it’s been there,” replied his mother. “Each time you’ve been helpful and kind—like when you washed the dishes for your sister, and when you helped little Jimmy—your name tag was there.”
Tyler looked down again. He didn’t see the invisible name tag, but his mother had seen it. He hoped other people would see it, too, because he wanted everyone to know that he believed in Jesus Christ.