During one of the righteous Jaredite times, a time when prophets taught the people and they listened and obeyed, a happy time as the Jaredites focused on the coming of Jesus Christ and His Atoning sacrifice for them, a time when the Jaredites lived after a manner of happiness, a healthy baby boy was born to David and Mary. Even though all seemed well for the Jaredites, there was still opposition, temptation, and trial.
Thomas was David and Mary’s first born child. They were young parents, David was 18-years old and Mary was 17, yet they were full of optimism for their son. Many severe complications occurred during the birth of Thomas, so much so that David feared he would lose both Mary and the baby. With the expertise of a gifted healer, prayers, and blessings, Mary finally delivered Thomas, a large, healthy baby. It was not without consequence as she was unable to bear anymore children. David and Mary were heartbroken; they desired to have a large family, but were determined to give Thomas the best childhood they could give a young boy.
David was a bow and arrow artisan by profession. He learned from his father and continued to work with him. Intricate bows and arrows were their specialty, however they made several other useful household items with wood.
From the time Thomas could walk, he loved to go into the workshop where his father and grandfather worked. He loved the aroma of fresh cut wood and watching his father and grandfather interact with each other. He felt the love and respect that they had for each other. Thomas often watched his father and grandfather craft bows and arrows for their customers and was always intrigued at the craftsmanship that went into each bow.
When Thomas was about 4-years old, David came home from the workshop at the end of his workday with a big smile hiding his left hand behind his back. Thomas, eagerly greeted him and tried to jump into his arms. Thomas was big for his age, taller than most of his friends who were his age. He had the build of a potentially strong athlete. His light-colored hair and eyes caught the attention of all those he met. Thomas, seeing his father’s hand behind his back, knew that his father had something just for him. He could not contain his excitement at receiving a gift from his father. David often brought gifts home for Mary and Thomas and Thomas loved every single gift he received.
Thomas unsuccessfully tried to peak behind David’s back as David turned his hidden hand away from his very curious son. He tried to pull at David’s arm to glance at the surprise, but David’s strong arms were no match for Thomas. He jumped up and down, begging to see the surprise. Mary came out of the cooking room to see what the commotion was. She greeting David with a hug and kiss and asked what he was hiding behind his back. Thomas immediately informed her that he was sure it was something for him, but David wouldn’t let him see it.
David slowly moved his arm from behind his back to reveal what he was hiding. It was a miniature bow and some arrows. It was almost the perfect size for Thomas’s hands and arms, a bit big allowing for Thomas to grow. Thomas could not hide his excitement! Finally! He had his own bow and arrow set.
The bow was made of a strong hardwood with intricate carvings in the limbs of the bow. The arrows were made of a softer, but strong wood. The bowstring was carefully made from spun flax. There were feathers at the end of each arrow to provide stability. Arrowheads were connected to the end of each arrow, but they were created with a dull, broad point while arrowheads fashioned for hunting had a sharp point.
Thomas was anxious to go outside to try out his new gift. Mary told them that dinner was just about ready, but they could go outside for a short time. They walked to a grass and weed covered field a short distance from their house where David had already set up a target for Thomas to practice.
David explained the importance of safety when using the bow and arrows. Thomas, at first, only partially paid attention to his father as he felt very impatient. David cautioned Thomas that if he did not heed his words, he would not be allowed to use his bow and arrows. He shared a couple of stories of family and friends that were injured because essential safety issues were not followed. Thomas immediately decided that he needed to pay close attention so he could use his bow; he really did not want to hurt anyone.
Handing the bow and one arrow to Thomas, David showed him how to correctly hold the bow, nock the arrow, aim for the target, and when to let go. David lovingly put his arms around his son, showing him the correct way to hold the bow and the arrow. After aligning the arrow to the target which was about 20 feet away, nocking the bow, David helped Thomas pull back on the bow, and instructed Thomas to let go of the bow when he was ready. David backed away then with a steady gaze on the target, Thomas let the arrow go. But, as he let go, he flinched, causing the arrow to go straight to the ground about 10 feet in front of him.
David smiled at Thomas and told him that he did well, especially for the first time using his bow. He assured his frustrated son that just about all of his customers had to learn how to use new bows for the first time and it was fine.
They walked back to the house for their evening meal, with the promise to Thomas that they would return to the field for more practice after eating. After Thomas hastily ate most of his meal –and with prodding from his father, all of his meal –he grabbed his bow and arrows then deliberately dragged David back to the field. David, laughing at his son’s enthusiasm, blew Mary a kiss and followed after Thomas.
After about four attempts, Thomas finally hit the edge of the target. He jumped up and down with triumph, finally feeling some success! Because the sun was about to set, creating long shadows, David informed Thomas that it was time to return home and they would practice more tomorrow. Thomas did not want to go back; he pitifully pleaded for one more shot. David could not resist the pleading eyes and allowed him one more try.
A determined Thomas picked up his bow, chose an arrow, nocked the arrow, precisely eyed the target, then let go of the arrow. The arrow shot directly to the center of the target! David, feeling proud of Thomas, picked him up and swung him around! They laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the moment. Thomas retrieved the arrow, picked up his other arrows and his bow and quickly ran home so he could share the great news with his mother.
After listening to Thomas excitedly recount his success at hitting the center of the target, Mary hugged him and told him how proud she was of him. Thomas beamed! He declared that he would become the city’s best target shooter and hunter!
(To be continued…)