BETA

'You are not baptized?' 6-year-old's lesson

Surrounded by those baptized as infants, she didn't want to be a 'child of devil'

On one, beautiful, very hot summer afternoon — so typical of many others here in Hermosillo, Mexico, where we live — I returned home from work only to be met at the door by my wife. Her face carried a look of deep concern as she said simply, "I believe you should talk with Jessie."

Jessie was our small, 6-year-old daughter, a beautiful child in her first year of elementary school. I found her sitting on a tall chair at the kitchen counter with a look of deep worry that transcended her age; it appeared that she did not know what to do.

"What is the matter, Jessie?" I asked as I came up to her. "Do you want to tell me about it?"

Jessie, with large and expressive eyes, and with a tone of worry that I had never heard from her before, replied, "Daddy, is it for sure that I am a daughter of the devil?"

This question hit like a bucket of cold water. All I could do was to ask who had told her such a thing. She began to explain that in her room, her little friend, Xochitl, had a party over the weekend to celebrate the baptism of her little brother, who was three months old. This surprised Jessie and she asked why they would baptize one so very young. Xochitl responded that this is done with all babies. She also had been baptized as an infant, and exclaimed, "What! You are not baptized?"

Jessie, who was very sure of herself, said that she was not baptized.

Her friend said that if she was not baptized, then surely she was a daughter of the devil, repeating what her grandmother had told her.

Jessie immediately said no, no she was not, but her friend insisted. They went to the teacher, but the teacher, who had the same belief, didn't know what to say. Jessie was left to feel that she was bad because she hadn't been baptized. My daughter left school with a doubt in her heart. At the end of her explanation, she pleaded, "Daddy, baptize me! I don't want to be a daughter of the devil."

I felt strongly that this misunderstanding needed to be resolved immediately. With no more appetite for dinner, I followed her to her room. We sat on a little wooden table. With an expectant look, my wife handed me the Book of Mormon to help me give an answer. She then left, shutting the door behind her. My agitated heart was calmed a little to know that in my hands I had the words to answer my little Jessie.

I began to speak of the importance of baptism and the great blessing that babies received when they were born, and that when they were 8 years old, in our Church, they are baptized. She being a child only of 6 years, therefore, she should wait a little more to understand that she is a child of God and that our Father in Heaven loved her so much that He would not allow the devil to hurt her in any way. However, my long answers did not satisfy her short questions. Eventually, we turned to Moroni 10:4. After reading this passage I asked if she would like to pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him if all the things we had talked of were true. She answered, "Yes."

So we went to my bedroom and knelt at the foot of the bed. I explained to her, "Jessie, this will be a very special prayer. Ask in your prayer to Heavenly Father if the things of which we have been speaking are true. I am going to ask that you do not open your eyes and be very attentive to the answer that you will get."

Without another word, she bowed her head and began her prayer, asking, "Heavenly Father, I want to know if the things my father told me are true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Here I realized that I had placed my young daughter at one of the most significant prayers of her life.

Suddenly I felt irresponsible. While I had been genuinely worried about this problem, I prayed to my Heavenly Father to forgive my audacity of bringing my daughter to Him with this question, but pleaded that He would not permit her to get up without receiving an answer from Him.

I knew that if she remained in uncertainty and doubt as to the truthfulness of what I had told her, I would be faced, for the rest of my life, with the impossible task of trying to convince her.

I prayed and asked with great intensity. Then Jared, our 4-year-old son, came running in, interrupting us and making us open our eyes. He whirled to Jessie and asked, "Did you receive your answer?" His small face carried a look of expectancy. She answered, "No, we haven't heard anything."

I took her up in my arms and began to explain that our Heavenly Father speaks directly only to the prophets but to us He sends the Holy Ghost. . . .

Here, as I pointed to her heart, Jessie interrupted me and said, "With a strong feeling in my heart!"

I said, "Yes."

She replied, "I can feel it, Daddy."

I hugged her and silently thanked my Heavenly Father that He had permitted her to feel His answer. It was at this instant that I also had a strong feeling come to my heart. I looked into my little daughter' eyes and told her that what she felt was an answer to her little prayer. Now, she knew the truth that she was a daughter of God, and that when she was 8 years old, she would be baptized.

She answered that yes, she would wait.

It has been several years since we had that experience, and we have learned that the enemy of righteousness will attack in different ways, even at such an early age. But we also discovered that the promises of our Heavenly Father are always fulfilled.

My long answers did not satisfy her short questions. I asked if she would like to pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him if all the things we had talked of were true. She answered, "Yes."

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