Grace Part 3

As soon as Rachel arrived home, she excitedly ran to her father, gave him a big hug, and thanked him over and over again for allowing her to go to the festival. Paul looked at her animated eyes, smiled and asked if the festival went as well as she had hoped. Rachel hugged him again and proclaimed that it was so much better than she could have even imagined! Paul invited her to sit down and tell him about her week.

She excitedly recounted to her father about her practically perfect performance. Paul was thrilled for her and informed her that he wished that he could have been there to watch her. Rachel agreed. Then she told him about the sunrise, the mid-day meal, and the dances! Paul listened to his love-struck daughter describe her week. While Rachel was expressing her thoughts and feelings about Pahana, Pezi walked into their house.

Playing his typical role of the overprotective brother, he asked Rachel all types of questions about Pahana. Feeling frustrated with all the questions, Rachel exclaimed that Pahana would be here in about one month and he could talk to him then. Smiling, Pezi assured her that he would determine if this young man was good enough for his little sister. With Paul smiling at the interaction between the two, Rachel playfully hit him on his arm and guaranteed that he would like Pahana.

Later in the week, Pezi and Rueben visited Micah and Donn to inquire about Pahana. They promised that Pahana was a great man and would be a good match for Rachel. Donn told them how well Pahana treated Rachel, how he looked at her, and that he was an amazing dancer. He also admitted that he would not hesitate to allow Pahana to marry one of his daughters; but since he had eyes for Rachel, that was out of the question. This helped alleviate Pezi and Rueben’s concerns about Rachel’s relationship with Pahana.

About one month after the festival, Pahana moved to Rachel’s city. Upon meeting him, Paul immediately loved him like another son and knew that he would be a good husband for his daughter. Pezi and Rueben quizzed him incessantly until Rachel looked at her father with pleading eyes. Feeling amused, Paul finally warned his sons to leave Pahana alone. Pahana thanked Paul, with a look of relief on his face. Pezi and Rueben broke out in good-humored laughter. They assured Pahana that they questioned any young man who Rachel was interested in and declared that he met their approval. Pezi surprised everyone by inviting Pahana to share a house with him since he had extra space. Pahana agreed to the arrangement.

Five months later, under a full-moon and by a gurgling creek, Pahana asked Rachel to marry him. She excitedly answered yes; initiating their betrothal.

Pahana and Rachel began dancing together professionally They entered many competitions and due to their grace and elegance, they almost always won. Rachel learned to enjoyed dancing with a partner, but they would usually choreograph a short solo for her into their dance.

After a six-month betrothal, Pahana and Rachel were married. Their marriage was a fabulous celebration with festive music and dancing. They decided that they would live in Rachel’s city to be near her father.

They continued dancing, but knowing that they needed to provide a living for themselves, Rachel began teaching dance lessons with Micah. She especially loved working with the young girls who were about 3 and 4 years old. Pahana developed his gifts as a choreographer and created many dances for Micah and Rachel’s students. He also had a gift of music composition as music would come to his mind while he created dances. He collaborated with many different musicians to help orchestrate the music.

Pahana was also an exceptional artist. His maternal grandmother was well-known for her magnificent paintings. She and her husband were also renowned for their abilities to create superb quality paints. Pahana developed an interest in creating different hues of paints when he was young. He spent a lot of time at his grandparents’ home learning from them.

Knowing that he may not be able to make a good living in the dance world, he focused his attention on improving this craft. Rachel lived in an area where there was a different variety of plants, flowers, and soil than his hometown. He experimented with different materials to create unique pigments. He eventually became well-known for the quality and color of his paints. His grandmother even came to visit him and purchased paints from him to take back to her town to sell.

Pahana and Rachel desperately wanted to start a family but sadly, it proved to be difficult for them. More than a year after they were married, Rachel was finally with child, only to lose the baby after three months. A few months later, she conceived again, only to lose the baby. More than two years after their marriage, Rachel became with child again and carried the baby to full-term. After a difficult delivery, the baby, a beautiful tiny girl, peacefully passed away. Even though the baby died, they named her Lutzi after one of Pahana’s grandmothers. Rachel and Pahana were heartbroken, as well as their families. Rachel was practically inconsolable. Pahana assisted her in choreographing a dance to express her feelings and overcome her grief. As part of her healing, she wrote a poem to which Pahana and a couple of their musician friends composed music to accompany the dance. She performed the dance at a competition, some festivals, and other various performances. The women, especially, felt the grief in her dance and were touched and inspired. The dance was powerful and helped Rachel to heal, as well as others.

Another two years went by before Rachel was with child again. She and Pahana felt cautiously optimistic that they would be able to deliver a healthy baby. In fact, Pahana felt a powerful peace that they would raise this child. With the help of the healer, Rachel took very good care of herself during the pregnancy, even better than she had done before. She marveled at her growing belly and loved to feel the movements of her unborn child. Pahana was gleefully certain the baby would be a dancer and was already practicing.

Towards the end of the ninth month, Rachel became quite anxious. Part of her could not wait until the baby came as she felt enormous and uncomfortable. The other part feared losing this baby. She had grown to love this baby growing within her and did not know if she would be able to endure another loss. Pahana continued to reassure her of his peace and conviction that this baby would be born healthy and happy. Rachel wished that she had the same reassurance, but instead, trusted Pahana.

The day for delivery finally arrived. Pahana rushed to get the healer. On his way, he ran into Pezi’s wife and two children; she promised that she would tell Paul and then she would be on her way to be with Rachel.

Pahana impatiently waited outside his house with Paul, Pezi, and Rueben. Pezi’s wife, Beth, and Rueben’s wife, Maia, helped the healer and Rachel. After one final loud scream from Rachel, a baby’s piercing cry was joyfully heard. Pahana immediately and excitedly hugged Paul and ran into the house, uninvited! He quickly, but quietly, rushed to Rachel’s side, then saw his precious baby daughter on Rachel’s belly. He put one hand on Rachel’s head and the other on his very beloved baby girl. The healer, Mecha, gave Pahana a scolding look for coming into the house so soon, but the look quickly and easily turned to a big smile as she asked him if he wanted to cut the cord. He replied that he would be honored to do that, but felt strongly that he needed to wait few minutes. He spoke sweetly to Rachel and thanked her for all that she did to bring this beautiful baby into the world. Mecha put a warm soft blanket over the baby and Rachel while Pahana kissed her forehead.

After saying a silent short prayer, Pahana said that he was ready to cut the cord, which he did with the help of Mecha. Then Beth and Maia helped to clean the infant. Maia, with joyful tears in her eye, asked Rachel what the baby’s name would be. Rachel immediately said Grace, then looked at Pahana for approval, which he gladly gave as he kissed his wife again.

(To be continued…)

Grace Part 2

Grace Part 1

The first day of the festival could not have been more perfect. It was a bit cool in the morning, but the sun was shining, rapidly warming the air to comfortable temperatures. Rachel excitedly prepared for her first dance. She donned the flowing costume that was recently made for her. She felt beautiful in her new costume and hoped it would accentuate the feelings and message that she desired to convey in her dance.

Rachel and Salali, along with Salali’s family, excitedly walked to the theater. Rachel looked for Pahana, but did not see him. As they arrived at the theater, Rachel and Micah went to the side of the stage since Rachel was in the first group to perform. Salali hugged her friend and wished her luck.

Rachel nervously, but excitedly watched the first two dancers while warming up. Then it was her turn. Micah gave her a quick hug and reminded her how beautiful, graceful, and talented she was and that she would have a magnificent performance. Rachel elegantly walked to the middle of the stage, positioned herself in her beginning pose, then waited for the musicians from her dance troupe to begin the music. She heard the familiar beat then spent the next several minutes lost in the music and her dance. She danced eloquently and with passion! As she finished, the audience immediately stood on their feet and cheered. Rachel bowed in appreciation. As she stood up and began to walk off the stage waving to the audience, she saw Pahana smiling at her and then he waved. Rachel’s heart about melted! As she walked off the stage, Micah hugged her and congratulated her on a spectacular and practically perfect performance.

After her group finished their dances, they took a break to eat. Rachel looked for Salali and soon found her. Salali hugged her and excitedly congratulated her on a perfect performance. She remarked that the audience was completely mesmerized while she performed; the passion for her dance was felt by all.

Just then, Pahana came up to Rachel and Salali. He enthusiastically congratulated her on her performance and informed her that he had become so entirely caught up in her dance that he actually forget where he was. Rachel thanked him then introduced him to Salali. After talking for a few minutes Pahana asked Rachel and Salali if they would like to join him for a small meal. They looked at each other, Rachel with stars in her eyes. Salali quickly mentioned that she promised her parents that she would find them immediately after the first dance group was finished but told Rachel that she could go and she would tell her mother where she was at. Rachel also said that she needed to change out of her costume then she would be able to go with him.

At her tent, Rachel put on her favorite tunic made out of a soft blue linen fabric with flowers embroidered around the neckline and hemline. The tunic lightly accentuated Rachel’s soft curves and accentuated her light colored eyes. Pahana took her arm and guided her toward his tent as he continued to praise her performance. Once they arrived, he introduced her to his parents, Len and Azelia. They both expressed their honor at meeting such a beautiful and graceful dancer. They indicated that they had watched her dance in other festivals and competitions and had always desired to meet her. They sat down on bright-colored and soft cushions and ate some dried meat and fruit while they talked.

Rachel learned that Len and Azelia were also dancers and would be dancing in two days. She enthusiastically expressed that she looked forward to watching them. Just then, a beautiful young women who Rachel thought was about her age, with long light-colored hair and eyes, came up and immediately hugged Pahana. He smiled and warmly hugged her back. Len and Azelia also warmly greeted her. Rachel suddenly felt foolish. She was beginning to really like Pahana, and now to learn that it appeared he may already be committed to someone. She felt foolish inside as she concluded that Pahana was just being kind to her, but she wondered for what reason. She tried not to let it show, but feared that her disappointment was so great that it would be quite obvious.

Then Pahana took the beautiful young woman by the hand and introduced her to Rachel, as his cousin and dance partner, Carmen. She looked at Rachel with awe and also a bit of humor in her eyes. Surprising Rachel, Carmen hugged her and told her how happy she was to meet her. She congratulated Rachel on the expressive and entrancing dance that she performed, then looked at Pahana with knowing eyes. He smiled and imperceptibly nodded at her. Carmen sat down next to Rachel and began chatting with her while they both ate some dried fruit. Rachel felt sudden relief as she realized who this beautiful girl was and took comfort that it appeared that Pahana had talked to Carmen about her.

When they had finished their meal, Rachel thanked Len and Azelia for the food and then excused herself as she wanted to see if Salali needed any help preparing for her performance. Azelia and Carmen hugged her and Pahana informed her that he would like to walk with her back to her tent. Rachel told him that it was not really necessary, but Pahana gently insisted. She could not resist his piercing eyes and agreed. As they began to walk away, Rachel just happened to notice Carmen give Pahana an approving look.

They enjoyed their walk. She thanked Pahana for the food and for walking her back. He then asked if she would sit with him during the afternoon performances. Rachel, her stomach full of butterflies, enthusiastically replied that she would love to sit with him. He informed her where he would be sitting and that he would look for her.

From that time on, Pahana and Rachel were practically inseparable. To the disappointment of many young women, Rachel had his complete attention during the open dances in the evening hours. Rachel and Pahana gracefully and easily danced together; it was as though they had been dancing together their whole lives.

The five day festival quickly came to a close; much too soon for Rachel who was completely smitten with Pahana. During the last evening of the festival, Rachel spent the entire evening with Pahana. They danced, and oh how Rachel enjoyed dancing with Pahana. They talked, they laughed, and they even cried as they thought about departing their separate ways. After all, they lived about a three days journey from each other.

While they were talking about their dreams, Len and Azelia strolled up to them. They looked at Pahana and Rachel, seeing the love and adoration in both of their eyes, and with parental concern and wisdom, asked them what was next. Pahana replied that they were just discussing that, trying to determine what they wanted and needed to do. He looked at his parents with pleading in his eyes and expressed that he did not want to leave Rachel. He confessed that he felt a familiarity about her and already believed that he desired to be with her forever. Rachel was a bit taken back by this revelation but felt elated. He looked at her and gently told her that he loved her and did not want to be away from her. Then (in front of his parents) tenderly leaned into her and gently kissed her lips.

Len, with wisdom and concern in his voice, asked Pahana what they had discussed doing. Pahana responded that he desired go home with them and tie up a few loose ends, then he wanted to travel to Rachel’s city, join the dance troupe there, and explore their relationship. He lovingly looked at Rachel then to his parents asking for their opinion and advice. Azelia gave him a big, long motherly hug and agreed with his plan. With a tear in her eye, she said that she would deeply miss him, but that he needed to follow his heart. She admitted that she already loved Rachel and would most enthusiastically welcome her to the family.

She turned to Rachel and asked her what she wanted. Rachel replied that she was a bit stunned how quickly this relationship developed; yet she really liked Pahana and wanted to be with him. She confessed that she had not yet given much though about being with him forever, but fervently desired to have the opportunity to see where this relationship would go. Pahana took her in his arms, kissed her and then hugged her like he never wanted to let her go, with his parents delightedly looking on.

(To be continued…)

Grace Part 1

Dancing and entertainment was an important part of the Jaredite culture. Similar to other cultures and eras, there was good entertainment and not so good entertainments over the hundreds of years of their existence.

As Jared, his brother, and their families traveled to the promised land, one way they praised their God was through dance.

They had many different types of dances. There were various ballroom-type dances, where couples danced together. They had their own genres of waltzes, upbeat dances like the swing, and the foxtrot. They also had a form of ballet, folk dances, and other types of dances that were unique to their society. Musicians were an integral part of the dances, as most dances were done to music. If musicians were not available, someone would tap out a beat for practice.

Many children took dance lessons while they were young. It improved coordination and actually helped with their studies, similar to the benefits of athletics. The children performed in dance recitals that the communities supported. Often, the recitals were combined with other performing arts.

One young Jaredite girl, Grace, loved to dance! She even began dancing before she walked. Any time she heard music, she danced. She was naturally gifted as her parents were dancers and loved to dance around their home.

One of Grace’s favorite stories was about how her parents met. She heard the story over and over again as she requested it often.

Grace’s parents met during a large five-day dance festival where dancers gathered from many surrounding cities to perform their various styles of dance and to learn from others.

Her father, Pahana, even in his youth was a well-known dancer, especially in couple dances. He was known for his strength, agility, and elegance. He could easily and eloquently pick up his female partners as they portrayed a story through dance. Several young girls, hearing and knowing about Pahana’s gift of dance, went to the dance festival, not only to perform themselves but also hoping to have an opportunity to dance with him.

Rachel, Grace’s mother, was a beautiful girl with light colored eyes and hair who was about 17 years old when she met Pahana. She was a bit above average height and very thin, yet her muscles were gracefully defined from hours of dance practice. She was a gifted dancer and well-known for her artistic abilities; she was more of a solo dancer, whereas Pahana was most often a couples dancer. Rachel loved performing in front of audiences as it gave her an outlet to express her inner feelings. She loved hearing the applause as she hoped her dances helped the audience to connect with their inner feelings and occasionally to God and inspire in them a desire to be a bit better.

Rachel desperately wanted to go to this particular dance festival. She learned that Pahana, who was just one year older than her, would be attending. She dearly longed for a chance to meet and dance with him. She had first noticed Pahana and his partner in a dance competition a few months earlier and was mesmerized as she observed his artistic grace and skill. Ever since that competition, she had wanted to meet him. She begged her father to take her to this specific dance festival so she would have a chance to meet and dance with Pahana. Even though she was a solo dancer, she had danced in enough couple dances that she had the confidence to easily dance with him.

Because of pressures at her father’s business, he was unsure if he would be able to take Rachel. She assured him that she would help him in anyway that she could. Her father, with twinkles in his eyes and seeing the determination in his daughter’s eyes asked her what would be the possibility that she would even be able to dance with Pahana; after all, would not most of the young women who went to the festival desire to dance with Pahana? He would not be able to dance with all the beautiful young women who attended; lovingly adding that Rachel would be the most beautiful of all of them. Rachel confided that she had a good feeling that she would be able to dance with him and that it would be the greatest experience of her life! Remembering the feelings he had had the first time he had seen her mother, her chuckled at her response and determined that he would do all he could do to fulfill his daughter’s desire.

Rachel was the only daughter of Paul and Lavena. She had two older brothers, Ruben and Pezi. Her mother passed away when she was a young girl, so her father raised her and her brothers on his own. Although her brothers loved to tease her, they adored her and were very protective of her. It was hard for the family, especially Paul, after Lavena died, but he received a lot of help from extended family members.

Rachel belonged to a dance troupe in her city and knew that a couple of the dancers, including one of her best friends Salali, would be traveling to the festival. She and Salali had been dancing together since they were very young and Salali’s mother, Micah was their dance teacher and coach. She mentioned this to her father and suggested the possibility that she could travel with them. Her father assured her that he would take that into consideration and talk to Micah.

The next day, while Paul and Rachel walked to the market to purchase food, Paul informed Rachel that he spoke with Micah and her husband, Donn, and they were more than willing and happy to have Rachel join them. Rachel looked at her father with excitement and love in her eyes. She gave him a big hug and kissed his cheek. He gave her some specific instructions, and assured her that he was happy that she could go and hoped that she would be able to meet and dance with Pahana.

The time to leave for the festival could not come soon enough for Rachel. She and Salali spent hours practicing their dances, receiving last minute instructions from Micah, and creating and organizing their costumes. With the help of a costume designer, Rachel went to one of the dressmakers to have a new costume made just for the festival. It was a beautiful flowing costume using light fabrics in several shades of blue that accentuated her beautiful and shapely body and allowed for complete, unrestricted movement.

The morning of the day before they left for the festival, Pezi and Rueben brought a medium-sized trunk into Rachel’s sleeping chamber. It was a beautiful trunk made out of sweet-smelling cedar wood with a carved picture of Rachel in an elegant dance pose on the lid. Rachel was shocked and surprised at what Pezi, with some help from Rueben, made for her. She put her nose to the trunk inhaling the sweet cedar scent and traced her finger over the elaborate carving. Rachel hugged her brothers and thanked them for the beautiful trunk. She was so surprised and deeply touched at the beauty of the trunk and that her brothers, who had teased her for much of her life, did something so generous for her. Rachel gently and carefully packed her clothes and costumes in her beautiful new trunk.

After Rachel and Salali, arrived at the festival, and set up their tents, they walked around to see who else was there. They recognized several of the attendees as they had seen them in various dance concerts and recitals. Suddenly, Rachel stopped and without saying a word, she pointed off in the distance. Salali, at first, did not understand what Rachel was doing; then she saw who Rachel was pointing at, it was Pahana! Rachel became giddy like a star-stuck girl and wanted to run to meet Pahana. Salali grabbed her arm and reminded her that she would get a chance to meet him.

Rachel and Salali continued to walk around where the attendees were setting up their tents and rehearsing. They talked to many dancers that they knew and met a few that they had seen in previous concerts. Rachel kept a watchful eye out for Pahana, but she did not see him again.

This particular festival was held was at one of the nicest outdoor theaters in the region. The stage was nestled at the bottom of a rounded hill, the perfect place to create a theater setting. The stage was created from thin hardwood strips, sanded to perfection and coated with a finish to protect and preserve the wood from weather. Hardwood walls were constructed behind and over the stage to facilitate scenery and acoustics. The stage and theater were used often for several different types of performances; plays were performed, choirs sang, musicians played, and dancers danced. Rachel and Salali walked to the stage and rehearsed parts of their dances on it. Both girls had already danced on this stage so they were familiar with it.

Since both girls were scheduled to dance the next day, they went back to their tent area to rehearse their routines with Micah observing and giving them last minute instructions to perfect their dances.

The next morning Rachel woke up when there was barely enough light to see, just before the sun was about to rise. She quietly left her tent and walked to a clearing where she could watch the sunrise. There were a few high feathery clouds in the sky that took on light orange and pink colors as the sun reached toward the horizon. Soon, the colors faded as the sun began its ascent and cast long shadows in the clearing. Rachel closed her eyes and said a silent prayer to express gratitude for a beautiful morning and for the great privilege to attend this festival.

As she was finishing her prayer, she heard quiet footsteps coming toward her. She opened her eyes and gasped! It was Pahana! He apologized for interrupting her and then introduced himself. He mentioned that he was also out watching the sunrise, saw her in the distance and thought he would come and join her; if she was agreeable to that.

Pahana was a few inches taller than Rachel and had dark hair with deep blue piercing eyes. Even with his tunic on, Rachel could tell that his body was well-defined and that he took very good care of himself.

Rachel, almost too stunned to answer, finally told Pahana her name, where she was from, and responded that she was happy to have him join her. Pahana asked her when she would be dancing and inquired about the type of dance that she did. Rachel, feeling giddy inside, answered his questions, and asked him about his dances. After talking for a few minutes, Rachel informed Pahana that she needed to return to her tent and prepare for her dance later that morning. Pahana asked if he could accompany her back; to which she readily agreed.

After arriving at her tent, Pahana wished Rachel luck with her dance and expressed his desire to see her again. Rachel, trying to stay calm despite all the excitement that she felt inside, thanked him, wished him luck with his dance, and enthusiastically replied that she would enjoy seeing him again.

As soon as Pahana left, Salali, who was watching from a distance, rushed over to Rachel and impatiently insisted to know all that had happened. Rachel, jumping up and down with excitement, shared all the details with her friend.

(To be continued…)

Thomas’s Stories

Author’s note:

I have been working on Thomas’s story since the end of April. It’s hard for me to imagine that I have worked on a single story for that long, and it is still not done! I was curious of how pages long the story was, so I put all the stories in one document…it’s 62 pages long!

I feel the need to take a break from Thomas’s story for awhile as other stories want to be written. I do not know when I’ll come back to finish it; I know, it’s not a good place to pause a story. I also have no idea what will happen to Thomas as he begins a new life in Helki’s community. This will all come in time.

Thank you for reading the stories and please share them with others!

Thomas Part 21

Thomas Part 1

Thomas Part 20

Surprising everyone, Thomas sadly but confidently disclosed that he would go in for Shiblon. Micco looked at him incredulously and warned him against doing that. Thomas took Micco aside and the others in the group followed to hear what Thomas had to say. Before Thomas could say anything, Micco reminded him of how this would hurt his daughter. He did not want to see her go through sorrow and grief like she had done before. With tears threatening to escape his eyes, he told Thomas that he finally had his daughter back. Marcus also pleaded with him not to go. He expressed his anger at his brother who stupidly put them in this situation, only thinking of himself and not even considering how this would affect his family. Now, it appeared the consequences were further reaching than anyone could imagine.

Melchior reminded Thomas that he had no idea what he was getting in to. He could not guarantee that the king’s army would be able to get him out alive. The community had grown in size since the last time he was there and he knew that all members, including women and girls, rigorously trained to fight battles. Malachi remarked how eerily calm and confident Helki seemed, he acted almost king-like. Thomas acknowledged their remarks but told them that deep down, he felt like he needed to go. It felt as though God was telling him to go.

With that said, he turned and looked with determination at Helki and commanded him to bring Shiblon to them and then he would take his place. Helki ordered two of his companions to go back and bring Shiblon.

After they left and while waiting for them to return, Thomas soberly asked Micco to send a letter to his parents explaining the situation and why he is doing what he is doing. He also requested Micco to warn his parents that Cherubim might be in danger and to seriously consider relocating to somewhere Helki could not find them. He asked him to advise them that they would need to be careful since it seemed that Helki had spies everywhere and could possibly know if they left. He also asked Micco to encourage Pat to keep the business going, that he would be back in time. He gave Micco a big hug to give to Maren and Daniel. He told him to tell them that he loved them and would be back as soon as he could. He pled with Melchior and Malachi to get an army to the community, soon, as something had to be done to stop the evil practices.

He then requested a blessing from Micco and Marcus. Surrounded by the others in their group, Micco and Marcus placed their hands on his head. Micco, with tears streaming down his face, blessed him with an assurance that he was following God’s will. He blessed him with a measure of protection, however could not bless him with complete protection. He commanded angels to always be with him, even in difficult circumstances. He blessed him with the ability to keep his covenants. He told him to pray daily and to always stay close to God.

As Micco closed the blessing, all the men in the group had tears flowing down their faces. Micco still doubted Thomas’s decision to go but felt the assurance that it was God’s will.

Thomas counseled Micco and his sons to keep a close eye on Shiblon. Feeling concern for him, he told them that he did not want to see him back there. He assured them that he would pray for Shiblon, and also Maren and Daniel.

Within the hour, they saw 3 people riding towards them. Thomas immediately knew one of them was Shiblon. As they came to the group, Micco and Rowtag ran over to Shiblon, helped him dismount the horse and hugged him tight. Shiblon’s horse, seeing him, whinnied in greeting. Shiblon was surprised and felt hesitant seeing all who had come for him. Helki spoke to him and asked him if he really wanted to go to his home, or stay in the community where he would be surrounded by beautiful girls, reminding him of his time with Dena and others who were looking forward to their time with him.

Looking at Helki, then looking at his Father, then at his brothers and Thomas, Shiblon commented that it was an amazing place. He described in detail the delicacy of the food, wine and all the beautiful women. It seemed as though he had no regard for anyone but himself as he appeared that he loved his short time there. Marcus looked at him with disdain in his eyes knowing that part of the enjoyment was because of Dena.

Deron, who had been quiet most of the trip, finally spoke up and expressed his sincere desire to Shiblon to come home. He empathically expressed the emotions of the family and the extreme sadness they felt when he left. He also mentioned that he understood his hesitations about God as he has had many similar thoughts and doubts, he just never expressed them to anyone. He sincerely apologized for not being more forthcoming with his thoughts and feelings, that maybe if he had expressed them, Shiblon would have found greater empathy and more answers.

Deron then recounted his struggles with his faith. He told Shiblon, and the others, how he had completely doubted his parents faith and teachings. He hated to go to worship services, but went anyway, putting on a show, hoping everyone would believe that he was happy and had a strong testimony. He apologized for lying to his parents and to him. He then thoughtfully recalled how he regained his testimony.

He reminded Shiblon of the day when he was out hunting with Marcus and Rowtag and Rowtag accidently shot him with an arrow in the shoulder. He said it was the most painful thing he had ever experienced. He wished that the arrow would have just pierced his heart and killed him instantly rather than to endure the intense pain he felt. Marcus, knowing that the arrow needed to come out, and knowing how painful that would be, without saying a word, quickly pulled the arrow out. He screamed with the intensity of the pain. Rowtag put cloth over the wound and then they carried him back home as quick as they could. The pain continued to be intense with every movement and every step; in fact, he passed out for part of the trek home. As soon as they arrived home, a healer was sent for.

The healer came and made a poultice of several healing herbs to put on the wound. Again, the pain was incredibly intense, so much so that Deron passed out again. He reverently conveyed what happened to him during that time. Looking off into the distance, he recalled that a beautiful angel came to him and reminded him of the testimony that he once had of the coming of Jesus Christ. He also reminded him that God loved him and his parents loved him. He instructed him to read the scriptures and listen to the prophets to find true and lasting happiness. After that experience, Deron never doubted again.

Micco looked at him with awe and amazement in his eyes, he did not know about Deron’s feelings and experience; Deron never told anyone—until now. Micco asked why he never told anyone about his feelings. Deron replied that he did not want to hurt his mother.

Deron put his arm around Shiblon, and apologized for not saying anything sooner. Shiblon asked him how he knew that vision was real, that it was not just in his imagination? Deron responded saying that the vision was just as real as they were standing there.

An impatient Helki broke up the reunion by telling them it was time for Thomas to depart with them. Shiblon looked at him in horror and said that he was not told that Thomas would be taking his place. With his devilish grin, Helki said that was the only way he would let him go. Shiblon then, in furry, told Thomas that he would not allow him to take his place! He was the stupid one to have followed Motega and Dena. He now knew he was wrong and wanted to make all things right again! He would go back! He did not want Thomas to go.

Thomas put his arm around him to comfort him and assure him that all would be alright. Shiblon shouted No, imploring that it would not be alright. The community was enticing, but there was something wrong. He implied that he had felt that before he allowed himself to go, but he was too caught up with the teasing and seductive advancements of Dena. He begged Thomas not to go; he would go back. With tears beginning to form in his eyes, he bore into Micco’s eyes, silently pleading with him to not allow Thomas to go.

Helki’s men seized Thomas, unarmed him, and ordered him to mount one of their horses, then took him away from those who loved him.

(To be continued…)