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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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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Steven ODell on 12 January 2009 - 4:20pm.

The Journal
Steven G. O'Dell (c)2008

The words on the page were difficult for Hyrum to interpret, due to the changes in the language over hundreds of years and fading in many of the characters. To make matters more frustrating, the paper itself was darkened and brittle. Great care had to be taken when turning the pages or they would crumble into small pieces. Hyrum Anderson was thankful that he had the luxury of a modern digital camera at his disposal. The old saying that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' was one that he believed in wholly—more so on this trip. This excursion had been extremely expensive and he wasn't going to leave anything to chance. He would have copies and photos and notes of everything and anything that crossed his path or came close. There might not be another opportunity in this lifetime to obtain the records that he now inspected.

It had been a long, long several days, going from here to there by foot, by train and by auto, but finally he was convinced that he had come to the end of his research and there was little, if anything more to be gained. The next two days would be for enjoyment alone, thanks to the feverish pace that he had kept up for the balance of his two weeks previous. And Hyrum felt he had earned it, for sure. He carefully closed the old journal and returned it to the Antiquities Librarian, who then inspected it just as carefully, smiled and dismissed him. But, even as he left the building with a sigh of relief, something about that old journal, the last item he had inspected, tugged at him. It was an odd feeling. He shrugged it off and returned to his hotel.

It was now late in the afternoon and Hyrum decided he would rest his overworked eyes with a short nap before he hit the town for some entertainment and distraction. As his head touched the pillow, Hyrums's thoughts were again drawn to the old journal. In a few moments, he was asleep.

As he dreamed, Hyrum saw an old man sitting at a rustic table, a journal before him and a quill pen and an inkwell on the table next to him. The room was small and had the feeling of belonging in an old farm house or cabin of some kind. There was daylight coming in through a small distorted glass pane in the nearby wall. For a brief second, Hyrum thought he could see through the window a man departing the house and crossing a meadow, but then his attention turned again to the man at the table. In a second he was looking over the shoulder of the man as he began writing. Hyrum felt he could read and understand the writing and was amazed, as he recalled that the script had been all but indecipherable to him while awake. With each dip of the quill and ink applied to the parchment, Hyrum became more and more elated. The import of the message was without question. This document was the reason he had come to this land. It would pull all the pieces of his research together.

With a sudden start, Hyrum was awake. And just as quickly, his understanding of the document vanished. How could this be? He had been certain that he could read it and knew the message, but now he could recall none of it. Without a moment's pause, Hyrum jumped from his bed and ran to fetch the camera that he had used in the library to record the pages of the journal. The small LCD screen came to life and he zoomed in on page after page of the document—all to no avail. He could read no more than before. Deep depression now hit with a vengeance. Why had he experienced such a dream? Was it all in his imagination only? He had felt so sure that he knew the message.

Hyrum had intended to go out for a night on the town and celebrate, but now all he wanted to do was mollify his feelings. Nonetheless, he recognized the need to avoid feeling sorry for himself and forced himself to leave the hotel and see what distractions he might encounter. It wasn't long before he came across some evening activities in a park, where several young people were engaged in a friendly game of hacky-sack under the park lights. Hyrum wondered to himself how many days and hours of practice it took to do some of the things that he was witnessing—and whether or not it was something he might ever be able to do. Hyrum didn't notice that he had company until the man spoke.

“Amazing, isn't it—how they can do such things?”

“What? Oh...,yes. I was just thinking that myself. Ahh, to be that young again.”

“You are only as young as you feel—or so I hear.” He smiled as if at some inside joke that Hyrum was not privy to.

“Well, tonight I feel extremely old,” Hyrum said more to himself than the stranger.

“What seems to be the problem? Why so glum?”

“I'm sure you don't want to be bothered with it all.”

“No, really. Tell me what troubles you.”

Hyrum couldn't explain why, but he felt comfortable telling a complete stranger about his concerns. Perhaps it was because he knew that there would be no obligation to give heed to any advice he might receive and maybe because just talking about it would help to get it off his chest. No matter the reason, he opened up and shared his worry.

“I have come here, thousands of miles, to research some genealogical information. In the past two weeks I've gotten pictures and copies of everything I could, yet the one thing that torments me is the last piece of information I acquired. For some reason I can't fathom yet, it seems to be the most important, yet the most cryptic. I even dreamed about and thought I understood it. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?”

“Not at all. I put great stock in dreams—if they are inspired dreams.”

“What do you mean, 'inspired'?”

“In the scriptures is the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and his dream, which Daniel had to interpret for him. Then there is the dream of Pharaoh and Joseph had to interpret that one. And God promises that in the last days the old men would dream dreams and the young men see visions. It is clear that some dreams can mean a lot more than we might think.”
“I hadn't thought of that. So, do you think my dream might mean something, too?”

“Quite possibly. Would you mind sharing it with me?”

Hyrum didn't hesitate long, thinking it no loss to tell his dream to a stranger, but he might possibly have met a man that could give him some insight and if he didn't avail himself of it, there was no one else to blame. Hyrum told his story, including his frustrations at not being able to recall the details of the dream as he wished and then he waited for an answer. None came.

“So, what do you think?” he pressed.

“It's very interesting.”

“That's it? Just interesting? I thought maybe you would have some ideas on what it might mean.” Hyrum was a bit disappointed and couldn't hide it. He had hoped this was a chance to climb out of the doldrums.

“My friend, even Joseph and Daniel had to have some time to ponder and meditate. Would you expect any less with your dreams?”

The thought struck Hyrum like a physical blow. Suddenly humbled, he shook his head in some degree of apparent defeat.

“Do not give up, my friend. Shall we pray together and ask for insight? And then, if it is the Lord's will, He will not fail you.”

Hyrum and his new friend, who introduced himself as John, withdrew a distance from the commotion and had a prayer for guidance such as Hyrum had never known before. It felt as if the Spirit of God was right there with them. Perhaps it was, he thought. When they were finished, John shook Hyrum's hand and made a suggestion.

“Perhaps we should sleep on it tonight and I will meet with you tomorrow to discuss it. Will that be alright?”

“Absolutely. You know, I have never felt before what I did during that prayer. I think something is going to happen and I will understand all of this in the end. I want to thank you for your interest. You had no obligation to help me.”

“Yes, I did. Am I not my brother's keeper?” His smile said it all. John had a good heart.

After Hyrum told John where to find him the next morning, they parted ways and Hyrum left to go to his hotel room. He reflected on the odds that he would have run into someone like John on this night. Something told him it wasn't chance.

Hyrum Anderson made sure to say another prayer before retiring that night. He had been remiss in his duties and he knew it. This night he would re-dedicate himself to the Lord. He prayed with a greater sincerity than at any time he could remember.

As his head hit the pillow, a spirit of peace came over Hyrum and he slipped quietly into sleep. The same dream came to him this night that he had experienced the previous night. It was just as vivid the second time and and yet he was somewhat more than a captive observer this time, able to control where he wanted to look. He took it all in, just as before, but in greater detail. Again he saw the man walking away from the house and across the meadow and again he watched over the shoulder of the man at the table, observing each word that he wrote in the rough-made parchment book. And this time it made sense to him. This was a lucid dream and he was aware that he was comprehending far more of it than before. Hyrum was elated, even in his sleep.

The next morning, however, as he met John in the plaza near the hotel, Hyrum was not elated. He was quite depressed. He could no longer recall the meaning of his dream. Twice he had experienced this same dream and yet he still could not communicate the significance of it. John's countenance conveyed less than satisfaction.

“Twice now you have had this dream and twice you have not understood it. How did you prepare for the second night?”

”I did as you said—I prayed for enlightenment and I got the same dream again, but why didn't I understand it? I prayed like I never have before. I was sincere, John. I truly was.”

“You prayed sincerely.”

“Yes, I did.” His face showed his expectations—he thought that an answer was about to come and would straighten it all out for him.

“You prayed. Did you do the other thing I told you to do?”

Hyrum knitted his brow in confusion. What other thing had John told him to do?

John drew a breath and sighed aloud, as if in disappointment. “I see you did not remember to fast as well as pray. Is that not so?”

It was true. Hyrum had forgotten to fast along with his praying. He was now disappointed in himself. It made him wonder whether he would be worthy of another repeat of the dream. Had he failed so dreadfully that it was now pointless to try again? Hyrum nodded in the affirmative and John sat quietly and reflected for a moment before speaking.

“You must try again. And you must fast in preparation, praying before, during and after your fasting. You may again gain the Lord's favor. I will not promise this. It is between you and God at this point.”

Hyrum agreed and went to his room to mope for awhile before starting his fast. He was extremely disappointed with himself, but he also was wise enough to know that he would be counter-productive if he remained in that mode for long. Once it was out of his system, Hyrum got down to business and said a prayer to open his fast. He was, if possible, even more sincere this time. He was certainly more humble. He spent the remainder of the day in prayer and meditation, walking about the hotel room occasionally to keep the blood moving. There was a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door, for this time he could not fail. This might be his only chance to know the meaning of the dream that he felt so deeply was of utmost importance.

The night finally came and Hyrum knelt again to pray fervently for understanding and the grace of God to have a repetition of his dream. He was not to be disappointed, for as his head hit the pillow, he immediately fell into a deep sleep. The dream did come again, more vivid than before and this time Hyrum knew even before he woke that he would retain and understand the dream. There was a feeling of peace and a sense of import that was stronger than before. Hyrum would remember this dream forever.

This time Hyrum saw the house from the outside and the surrounding area. Then Hyrum was again in the same room as before. There was a man at the window and as Hyrum looked, he was shocked to find that he knew the face. It was John. The same John that he had conversed with these past two days. And John was no younger in the dream than he was in life. What did this mean?

Now Hyrum was looking over the shoulder of the man at the table. Somehow he instinctively knew that this was his fifth great grandfather on his mother's side. As he watched the quill pen dipped into the ink and applied to the paper, he absorbed the import of the words.

I, Henri Oldham, do wryte this of my own acord and at the direcshun of the stranger known as John. He has instructed me to record his werds for those who come after me. He says that one day ther will be a new cherch on the erth, new but the olde cherch agenn. God will agenn bild tempels and will rool on erth. He says my distent postarity will be saynts of God and go into thees tempels. I will not livv to see this. He says thet the son who fyrst will do this will be naymd Hirum and he will do a grayte werk for our famly in this cherch. I do not no if this is corect or not but it leevs a grayt impreshun on me so I wryte it all down. The cherch will have apossels and profetts agenn. That is all.

Hyrum was stunned. How could this be? And now he was awake, scrambling for a pen and paper in the drawer of the nightstand or desk, anywhere he could find them. I have to write this down. I have to.

What church? The name mentioned had been his. There was no mistaking that. And the man in the window that had walked away had been John—what did that mean? Hyrum sat in stunned silence on the edge of the bed. It was now 3 A.M., but he could not sleep again. Knowing there was no use in trying, he dropped to his knees and prayed for insight. He prayed a long time and finally rose to his feet in tears. No answer had come.

4 A.M., then 5, then 6 and after. He could not sleep and every minute that past felt like an eternity. The thoughts just kept swirling in his mind. His distant relative had written words of great import. He had done what he was told. As illiterate as he was, he had obeyed. He had written of a church that builds temples. As far as he knew, only the Jews had done this. But the writing had said there would be Apostles and prophets, too. That wasn't entirely Jewish. Apostles were in the Christian church. If only John could explain this. Suddenly Hyrum recalled that he had not made plans with John to meet today. And he had no idea where John lived. How could he have been so foolish? Shrugging mentally, Hyrum dressed to go out on the street. He could use a distraction about now.

The new day and fresh air was wonderful. The morning sun on his face felt exceptionally good today. A sense of peace came over Hyrum—all would be well with him. He knew without evidence or explanation that it was so. Feeling only to trust God, he walked toward the town center.

Hyrum walked an hour before he felt to stop on a corner. There was some reason to wait. He felt it inside. He did not have long to wait. Around the corner came two well-dressed young men, suit coats and ties, books in hand. When they locked eyes on Hyrum, he shivered for a second. Not in a bad way, but as if something was about to make a huge difference in his life.

“Good morning, sir. How are you this fine morning?”

“Doing well, thank you. Who are you guys?”

“We are Elders and missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

“Saints?” Hyrum was now fully alert. A church and something about saints.

“Yes. The ancient church of Christ called their members Saints and as the church was restored in modern times, we carry on that tradition, but with the distinction Latter-day Saints.”

“Did you say restored church?” Hyrum was almost shaking with excitement now.

“Yes. The Lord restored his ancient church to the earth once again, through a prophet in our own time. We would like to tell you more about this, if we could make an appointment to meet with you and your family sometime soon.”

“Do you have time right now? I want you to tell me all you know about this church. It's vital that I know.”

The Elders looked at one another in pleasant surprise, then back at Hyrum. “Of course. Let's find a place to sit comfortably and we can talk as long as you like.” And that is just what they did.

Hyrum was surprised as he heard the nickname of the church—Mormons. He had heard that name before. In fact, he had heard that his grandfather had been a Mormon at one time. There were stories that his grandfather had insisted that his first grandson be called Hyrum. He wasn't sure why, but it was obvious that he had gotten his way. Hyrum asked the Elders if they had ever heard the name before and they lit up like Christmas trees. They had—it was the name of the Prophet Joseph's brother.

“Joseph, like in the Bible?”

“Well, yes, there was a Joseph in the Bible, but I am referring to the Prophet Joseph Smith, God's instrument to restore the church in our time. Why do you ask?”

“Because my name is Hyrum.” He paused and his eyes began to moisten with the emotion of the moment. It had been no accident or eccentricity of his grandfather that his given name was Hyrum. It had been the will of God. He was certain of it. It was he that had a great work to do for his family. And it had something to do with temples, he knew.

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