The Experiment
    Footnotes

    “The Experiment,” Liahona, Apr. 1999, 14

    Fiction:

    The Experiment

    In Primary, Pilar’s teacher, Sister Solana, explained that the prophets have said we should try to be more like Jesus Christ. We should be kinder and more forgiving and treat others the way Jesus would treat them. Sister Solana asked the class to pick one day during the week and go through the whole day imagining what the Savior would do if He were there. The class members would report on the results the following week. Today was the day Pilar had chosen for the experiment.

    When she got out of bed, she asked Heavenly Father to help her remember the experiment all day long. She was excited to see what would happen.

    The first chance came as she waited at the corner for the bus. When the bus came, everyone pushed and shoved up the steps to get a good place to sit or stand. Usually Pilar pushed and shoved along with the rest of the crowd, but today she realized Jesus would not do that. She waited patiently for all the others to get on first. As the bus made other stops, she smiled brightly at the new passengers and made room for them to pass her and move into the bus. A few even smiled back.

    When she got to school, she felt a bit happier inside than usual. Right away she noticed Juana, a girl nobody played with, standing by herself in a corner of the school yard. Thinking of the kindness of Jesus, Pilar went over by Juana and said, “Hello.”

    Juana looked up. “What do you want?”

    Pilar felt herself getting angry and wanted to storm away; then she remembered she was trying to act more Christlike. She quietly answered, “I was wondering if you’d like to jump rope with me until class starts.”

    Juana’s face lit up. Her eyes sparkled, and she grinned the biggest grin Pilar had ever seen. They played happily until school started, and Pilar noticed Juana seemed happy the rest of the day.

    When school let out at one o’clock, Pilar walked down the block to her favorite corner stand, where she always bought a fried sweet-potato sandwich to eat while she waited for her bus. As she turned and walked toward the bus stop, she passed a poor, elderly man she often saw. She had hardly ever given him much thought, but today she handed him her sandwich.

    “Thank you,” he replied as she walked away. Somehow Pilar didn’t feel hungry at all on the way home.

    When she got home, Mother was washing clothes in the big sink out back. Pilar offered to do the marketing. When she returned she helped Mother cook chicken and rice for lunch.

    After lunch Pilar took a few mangos to an elderly neighbor. She decided to stay and visit instead of rushing outside to play with her friends. When she got up to leave, Sister Acuña tenderly took her hand and held on tight for just a moment. As Pilar looked into her face and saw her love, tears of joy began to swell in her own eyes. So far, today had brought Pilar more happiness than any day she could remember.

    Later that night, however, her happiness turned to anger when she walked into her bedroom and saw her younger brother, Ricardo, accidentally knock her favorite vase to the floor. It broke into hundreds of pieces. She forgot all about the experiment. She screamed at Ricardo, then ran to tell her mother what had happened. Ricardo ran behind her crying, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” But Pilar was so upset she didn’t care how many times he said he was sorry.

    Her mother swept up the pieces and took Ricardo to the other room. Pilar sat on the bed, angry and in tears. Until then, she had felt so good all day! Why did this have to happen? she asked herself.

    A little while later, Pilar heard a soft knock at her door. “Come in,” she mumbled gruffly. In came Ricardo with a small, handmade vase in his hands. Pilar recognized it as the one he had made that year in school. She knew how proud he was of it and how he had planned to save it forever. He gently handed it to her. Her heart began to ache as she realized that forgiving Ricardo was what Jesus would do. She set the vase on her desk, smiled at Ricardo, and said, “Thank you, Ricardo. Let’s go outside and find some flowers to put in it.”

    The next Sunday, when it was her turn to report on the experiment, Pilar recounted the things that had happened. She told Sister Solana and the class that the thing that surprised her the most was how happy she had been. That night as she prayed, Pilar promised Heavenly Father she would try to live more like Jesus every day, just as the prophets have said we should.

    Illustrated by Jerry Hartson

    The Portrait of Christ, by Del Parson