Good Samaritan

“Good Samaritan,” Liahona, Sept. 2000, 10


Good Samaritan

Books and papers fell to the floor when Becky bumped into Sister Chapman in the hall. “Oh my,” Sister Chapman said as she picked up her books. Lauren quickly helped Becky gather the papers. “Thanks,” Sister Chapman said with a smile. The girls smiled back. Lauren liked her new Valiant teacher.

When they got to class, Meagan was there. “I’m glad you’re feeling better,” Sister Chapman told her. Then she turned to Lauren. “Since Meagan missed last week’s lesson,” she said, “can you retell the story of the good Samaritan?”

Lauren noticed that everyone was waiting for her to answer.

“Let me tell the story,” Becky begged. “We’ll be here all day if we wait for Lauren.”

Lauren looked down as Sister Chapman said, “Becky, I think you owe Lauren an apology.”

“Sorry,” Becky muttered.

Lauren felt better when Sister Chapman started to tell the story. Her voice soothed Lauren, and the story brought tears to her eyes. Some of her tears were for the poor man lying in the road; the rest were for herself. Why can’t I remember the scripture stories? she wondered.

“Today in opening exercises, we sang ‘Search, Ponder, and Pray,’” Sister Chapman continued. “Did you notice that we were singing about having a testimony of the scriptures? Think to yourselves: Do I have a testimony? Do I know the scriptures are true?”

Caught in the moment, Lauren nodded her head.

“Lauren, how could you have a testimony?” Becky scoffed. “You can’t even remember last week’s lesson! You have to know the scriptures to have a testimony.”

“Our testimonies are very personal, Becky,” Sister Chapman gently corrected her. “We can’t say someone else does or doesn’t have a testimony. But we can know if we have one personally.”

At the end of class, Sister Chapman handed out the next week’s scripture reading assignment and asked, “Is there anything else anyone wants to talk about?”

Meagan raised her hand. “I want to thank my Valiant Secret Pal—the cookies were great!”

“You, too?” asked Sister Chapman. “When I was sick this week, someone left cookies and a card on my doorstep. It was signed ‘Your Valiant Secret Pal.’ I wonder who it is …” Sister Chapman looked around the room. “Well,” she added, “whoever it is understood last week’s lesson. Jesus Christ taught us to help the sick. Someone was really listening and put into action what he or she had learned. I’d say we have a good Samaritan right here in our Valiant class.”

That night for scripture study, Lauren’s dad read from the New Testament. Excitedly Lauren exclaimed, “We talked about this story in Primary!”

“Super!” Dad said. “Why don’t you share it with us?”

Lauren felt the same uneasiness she’d felt that morning. She thought hard and then shook her head, “I can’t.” Her parents looked at each other, and then Dad continued to read about the good Samaritan.

Later, when Mom sat on the edge of Lauren’s bed to kiss her good night, she found Lauren crying. “What’s wrong?” Mom asked.

“Why can’t I remember that story? Sometimes I feel so dumb.” Lauren told her what had happened in Primary. “Becky’s right,” Lauren said, “I don’t know the scriptures.”

Lauren’s mom hugged her. “Lauren, you are not dumb. You’re a bright young girl. You understand what the stories are about, but you learn them a bit differently than some people, and remembering the details takes you a little longer—that’s all.”

The teachers in Lauren’s class at school always told her the same thing. She had heard it over and over, but it still didn’t help.

The next Sunday, Sister Chapman didn’t ask Lauren to answer any questions, and Lauren didn’t raise her hand. Becky answered almost every question—correctly. I wish I could be like Becky, Lauren thought.

As class was dismissed, all the girls left in a hurry except Lauren, who stayed and helped Sister Chapman erase the chalkboard and put away the chairs. “Thank you, Lauren,” her teacher said. “I can always count on you to help.”

“I liked the lesson,” Lauren replied. “You are a good teacher.” Lauren noticed a bright smile on Sister Chapman’s face.

Later that week, Lauren opened the front door and found a letter and a small package on the porch. They were from Sister Chapman. Lauren quickly opened the letter and read it:

“Dear Lauren,

“I want to tell you how much I enjoy having you in class. I’ve noticed that you feel uncomfortable answering questions, so I didn’t call on you last Sunday. Lauren, you do know the scripture stories. I’ve seen you live them.

“I have a feeling you were Meagan’s—and my—Valiant Secret Pal. You helped the sick. Do you remember helping Becky pick up my papers? You helped someone in need. Every time you thank me for a nice lesson, you help me become a better teacher.

“Lauren, you understand more about the good Samaritan than you think. For some people it’s easy to remember the scriptures word for word, and that is a wonderful gift. But the hardest part is to live the principles the scriptures teach.

“Thanks for being a good Samaritan in our class. Enjoy the gift. It reminds me of you.

“With love,
“Sister Chapman”

Lauren unfolded the tissue paper and found a bookmark that read, “The Good Samaritan.” Lauren read the words over and over—they sounded good to her. Walking back inside the house, she sang, “‘I’ll know the scriptures are true’” (Children’s Songbook, 109).

Detail from The Good Samaritan, by Del Parson

Photo illustrations by Steve Bunderson