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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
Submitted by Steven ODell on 12 January 2009 - 3:41pm.

The Train
Steven G. O'Dell © 2008

It was going to be another hard week at the office--no, actually it was going to be far worse than usual. Everything in the new project had to be changed. The new boss said so. No one liked the idea of a new boss, let alone having to change everything they had worked so hard upon for the last month. But like it or not, that was how it was going to be. It needed to be more 'professional', he had said. So, here I was, on the 'uptown' train, early Monday morning and already in a bad mood. I couldn't see how it could possibly get worse. I was wrong, of course.

A large man came and sat next to me on the bench. He smiled and I did my best to smile back, although the effort almost made me ill on a day like I knew this was going to be. His comment made me ill for real.

"Thank God for the trains, right?"

"God? You can thank the engineers who built it and the men who run it. God has nothing to do with it." There was no holding back, considering the mood I was in.

"Not a big fan, I take it?" He was seemingly bewildered at my response.

"You might say that. I don't believe anymore." I thought that would be the end of it, but he was a fanatic.

"It wasn't your fault, you know."

I was stunned and whirled toward him so quickly that I surprised myself in doing so. "What did you say?"

"I said it wasn't your fault. You couldn't have known she was that severely depressed. There was nothing you could have done by the time you found her."

I was shaking almost uncontrollably; whether from fear or anger, I didn't know. I could barely get the words out. "Who are you?"

"A friend when you need one. You're on a self-destruct course and that isn't the plan for you. You wanted an answer and we are here to give it."


He cast a glance to the seat on the other side of me and I turned to see another pleasant-looking man, again large in stature, smiling at me. "My name is Kumen." He offered his hand and I ignored it.

"Listen, I don't know who you guys are or how you think you know anything about me, but you're creeping me out, okay?"

The stranger's demeanor grew more serious for the moment. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't properly introduce myself. My name is Mathoni and as my brother said, his name is Kumen. As to what we know about you, let's just say that someone you don't have much faith in is concerned about your welfare, both temporal and spiritual."

"I already told you I don't believe in God, okay? Don't waste your time." And I did my best to pretend that I was not flanked on either side by hostile forces.

"No bother for us. Not when your happiness for all eternity is at stake. But, then, I see we are going to have an uphill battle. Alright, so be it. Kumen, would you care to begin?"

"Yes, thank you." He turned to me with full attention. "Your wife was terribly depressed and she had no idea what she was doing when she overdosed on the sleeping pills. She forgot that she had taken some earlier. Depression will do that to you. That's why there was no suicide note."

I don't know whether I was more steamed at the intrusion of memories I was trying to bury or if I was about to buckle under them emotionally. I was a jumble of feelings at the time. All I could blurt out was, "Lucky guess. You read the papers; so what?"

"Did the papers say anything about you wanting to jump off the bridge that night?" Kumen wouldn't let go.

"Another lucky guess. Who wouldn't consider it at a time like that?"

"Alright. Then you took to drinking--something you were never prone to at all. You have several every night, just to get to sleep. The papers don't say things like that, do they? It now affects your work and if you don't stop soon, you are going to be fired. If that happens, you will get suicidal for real. Do you want that?"

"What are you guys doing...following me around and spying on me? Why can't you just leave me alone? Move to another seat or I will--got it?" I looked about and there were no seats available to move to. And strangely, there seemed to be no one listening to our conversation. Even in a city this large, that seemed impossible. That thought shook me up even more.

"You started to call an old friend in Maine, but you stopped as you got to the last number and hung up. And, no, we don't work for the phone company. That is what you're thinking, isn't it?" He asked as if he already knew and that disarmed me totally.

"Who are you guys...really?" I was scared for real by now. Almost enough to get off the train early, but I was also curious to have answers.

"I told you", Mathoni offered. "You just have to trust that you have a Father who loves you enough to send us." He was one hundred per cent serious now.

"Father? My father is dead." I was serious, too. But how could they know that I had almost called an old friend and then hung up--a friend in Maine, specifically? "But you don't mean that father, do you?"

"No," Kumen whispered softly. "You have a Father in Heaven that has sent us to help you--to save your life and heal the wounds. You do want that, don't you?" He asked already knowing the answer again.

"Yes," I barely whispered. My emotions were suddenly so high at this point that I was too choked up to be belligerent anymore.

"Alright", Mathoni said, "then lets get to it. You think you let your wife down and you can't bear to carry that burden alone, so you find it easier to blame God for it. After all, a loving God wouldn't allow such a thing to happen to someone you love, right?"

He had hit the nail right on the head and I was crying softly, unable to speak. All I could do was nod my head in agreement. Mathoni anticipated my next question.

"So why did He allow it? The first thing you need to know is that this mortal life is not all there is. You and your wife and all mankind lived before this life with your Heavenly Father and there is also another segment of existence after this life. Yes, she still exists and she misses you. Before you try talking yourself out of believing that, notice that you felt the confirmation of the truth of it in your heart just now. There was a warmth and peace as the Holy Ghost told you it was right--it rang true to you."

He was right. I had felt it and it did ring true to me. He couldn't possibly have known that unless he was in tune with some higher power. I was beginning to trust them. At the very least, I was a willing audience.

He continued, being quite blunt, but that was what I needed right then. "As long as you don't do anything stupid to yourself, you have the chance of seeing her again. The Lord has truly thought of everything, you know. It's called the Plan of Happiness."

"Yes", Kumen interrupted, "and you have the promise that you can have her forever and the two of you can live with God for eternity...if you are willing to follow certain rules to earn it. Still interested?"

"Yes, I am. What do I have to do?" I was more passive now.

"Call this number, for a start. Then meet with them and don't give up until you are fully informed, okay?" Kumen had handed me a piece of paper with a number on it. "Oh, and remember to pray about what you hear from them--and when you feel that same peace you just had, you'll know the truth of it."

"Alright. I will." I was beyond argument by now. I really did want to know. At this point, they excused themselves and stood to leave the train. I couldn't let it go that easily. "Will I see you two again?"

"I can almost guarantee it", Mathoni said with a wink. "Keep your faith up until then."

That was it. They got off at the next stop and I was left to think over for a few more stops what they had told me. That night I called the missionaries' number that had been given to me and I found their teachings to be not only fascinating beyond belief, but more uplifting emotionally and spiritually than anything I had ever heard before. I instinctively knew it also made perfect sense. My faith in God was truly renewed and I received hope that I had never imagined possible.

Needless to say, the day that I thought was going to be so terrible turned out to be perhaps the best day of my life. I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and soon entered the temple and had the ordinances and sealings done for my wife and I. What could have been simple hopes and wishes previously were now sure knowledge--my wife and I would be together for all eternity now. Even death could not part us now. She was there with me in the temple. I felt her presence and it gave me great comfort. Having the priesthood of God gives me great confidence and comfort, also.

Oh,...and 'thank God for the trains.'

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