This page is the introduction to a book Rodric Johnson started writing years ago that reflects his spiritual beliefs. The story is about two brothers who seem to have enchanted lives but live with struggles of faith and conscience. Following is the Introduction with links to subsequent chapters following.
Heber furrows his brow as he sits near the pool patiently filling out papers related to his mission call he received just yesterday from the president of the church. The decision to serve as a missionary did not come easily to Heber; however, he is grateful he decided to accept the invitation.
All the tests and rules are impossible, he thinks. I am doing this for a good cause. I will be serving God. A sharp, powerful force propels Heber sideways sending him with a splash into the pool disturbing the mirror image of the sky reflected from its once undisturbed surface.
“Tag,” Hiram says casually as Heber’s head rises above the water, “you’re it.” Hiram struts along the edge of the pool smiling defiantly at Heber, who fumes in the pool. “So how’s that for a payback‽”
“For what you big cow paddy?” questions Heber—irritated and dripping wet climbing out of the water with blonde locks matted to his head and clothing clinging to his body revealing his muscular frame.
Hiram, sensing Heber’s hostile expression almost bolts but decides to stay well on the other side of the pool and remind Heber of last week. “Hib,” says Hiram affectionately, “Do you remember last Saturday night?”
“What are you talking about Hiram,” responds Heber in controlled speech allowing the anger to drip from his body with the water.
“Come on Hib. I know you remember. I was asleep on the pool chair, and you picked me up and threw me in the pool!”
“That was only because you shaved my eyebrow the night before,” he says running around the pool to catch Heber. “It was payback man. Think pain; when I catch you, it is all you’ll feel.”
Hiram knows he is in for it! “You cain’t chase me forever. You’re bound to give up; you always do,’ he says dodging a pool chair pillow thrown by Hiram.
“Anyways, I cut your eyebrow off because you put pickle juice in my mouthwash.
“Dude! Because you put Sun-In in my conditioner which bleached my hair!”
“How was I supposed to know you were going to the conditioner in overnight? I didn’t think locks need that type of girly hair treatment anyway,” he says as he and Heber lap the pool playing keep-away, with Hiram the object to keep away from Heber.
“And don’t lie, you like the way your hair looks. I think blonde does you well,” Hiram says as he throws a pool chair pillow back at Heber, hitting him in the face, and causing him to fall over a pool chair back into the pool again.
“You want to call it a truce, we can” Hiram offers nursing a laugh and knowing that all six feet five inches and 225 pounds of Heber will crush him if he catches him “I will even let you throw me in the pool, what do you say?”
Hiram, a spry muscular kid himself at 6'', knows he cannot outrun his older brother forever; Yet, he finds joy in the journey! Both kids are outstanding athletes--their parents did sports when they were in school and do cross fit at their neighbor’s house. The boys, strangely make their parents look like dwarfs since their dad is a shorter man at 5” 7’ and their mom 5 feet even. There is always a competitive spirit in the house between the boys. Consequently, there is always some level of punishment or restriction because of it too!
Hiram notices that Hib is emotionally compromised today. Usually, Hib laughs off the pranks and plans his revenge on Hiram; but today, he is upset. Hiram feels a twinge of apprehension thinking, Has the gentle giant finally stop being so gentle?
Heber climbs out of the water and takes off his drenched shirt and shoes. He looks at Hiram across the pool and smiles big. “Okay. Let’s call it a truce. You got me good today.”
Heber senses that Hiram is a little more apprehensive than usual chopping it up to the intimidation effect his size causes. He is not wrong. I know he saw me get angry, he thinks. It ain’t like I would have done anything but throw him back in the pool.
Hib thinks back quickly to being 12 years old. Because he was such a large person even then, in an act of defiance he snatched away from his mom because he did not want to eat chicken instead of pizza with so much force it threw her to the ground startling her. Immediately he burst into tears begging for her forgiveness and promising himself that he would never put another soul in that position. Always bigger and stronger than his peers growing up, he understands how his size and strength put him in a different category than other kids his age. Throwing a tantrum could injure people; so at 12, he stopped. Consciously, he makes sure he is gentle with everyone--not that he is the only tall person around or anything. Inordinate strength is also a gift he has. Hib knows his size can be intimidating and uses it well in sports, but not out of the game.
Inwardly Hiram sighs of relief, of course never letting on that he had to swallow his heart and keep from running to tell their mother that Hib wants to annihilate him. No, he will never admit to that feeling. “Truce it is then. What’s eatin’ you Hib,” he asks with forced joviality. “You looked like you wanted to football tackle me into the cement Dude.”
Hiram walks toward Hib with his hands on his hips standing near the now sitting Hib. “I must of really geared you up? You normally don’t try to get your revenge back so quickly seeing as it usually gets us grounded if you do.”
“Hiram, man I was set off before by what happened today.” He looks at his wet mission papers and back at Hiram. “You won’t believe what came in the mail!”
“Well, if you mean that mission call, how could I forget? I didn’t know your voice could get so high.” Hib starts laughing, “You started clapping and jumping up and down like a little school girl getting a sweet candy treat. I already uploaded that to YouTube with three thousand hits and counting.”
“Hey, just wait until you get yours, man,” says Hib pointing his finger into Hiram’s chest.
“Well, anyway what is it you so ripped up about man?” Hiram sits next to Hib and looks toward the house to see if their mother is milling about. She is not so he just stares as Hib speaks.
“I got a full scholarship to Florida State University offer in the mail, and a full scholarship offer from Tennessee,” explains Hib as he winces his face and puts his head in his hands.
“So that is why you wanted to pound me in the pavement? That’s good news!”
“No man. I am going on a mission. I can’t take the scholarships, and they won’t hold them I was told.”
“I would take the scholarships man. You can hold off on that mission. I could see if you were 18 years old. You are only 17, man. Why did you send off for mission paper so early anyway? I still don’t get that. You just graduated.” Hiram turned to Hib and waited for a response. “Well…!”
“Hiram, you know the stake president told me to send in my papers early. He claims to have gotten some revelation that I need to send off my papers now. He says usually it takes months for a mission call to come.”
“Do you believe it Hib?” questioned Hiram not hiding the fact that he thinks it is far-fetched.
Hib hesitates and answers, “Yes, I do.” For some reason, this shocks both Hib and Hiram. “I do believe it, man. I felt something when…”
“Okay man, this is scaring me more than that bull look you gave a few minutes ago,” interrupted Hiram admitting that Hib had scared him earlier. “Don’t go getting all spiritual on me. I’m just not ready to see you become a nerd—one big GIANT nerd!”
“What, I thought you would be happy I had a spiritual side. Did my hostility become contagious?”
“No, man, I just…never mind. Well… forget it.
“I don’t know if all that stuff the church teaches is for everybody. I mean I see it in our lives all right, but Dad hardly goes to church, and he served a mission too. Mom is the only one with it really…well; I guess you are now too.” Hib places a heavy arm around Hiram, shook him affectionately, and stood up. Hiram stood up also and looked up at him waiting for him to say something.
“Okay, I change my mind.”
“What, you not going to the mission field?”
“Of course, I am. I mean, about the truce.” Hib scoops Hiram up and tosses him into the pool. “Payback!” He dances a little jig as Heber takes his turn to fume. “Man, you will figure it out on yo own anyway.” Hib smiles and turns quickly to walk toward the house.
“You big idiot,” yells Hiram after Hib. “You are not really a teenager. I think Mom and Dad lied about your age so you could trick people into letting you stay a kid and graduate high school with normal people.”
Hib turns around and flexes his arms, and points to his torso. “Hey, this is called hard work and good genes.” He picks up his shirt and shoes and enters the house.
Hiram hates that he has to plan another gag to get back at Hib. He also wishes Hib had said more to help him make up his mind about the church. He was being sincere while talking to Hib. Why would he pick then to try to get me back, he thinks?
Hib is only a year older than he is and already has his life together. At only 17 he looks like a fully-grown man—a professional wrestler. He made straight A’s in school and won just as many academic awards as he did athletic. Now he is going on a mission earlier than any other person they know—at seventeen!
Dad went at 18, and now Hib is going at 17, he thinks. “It ain’t fair,” grumbled Hiram as he pulled himself out of the pool. Why does my best friend have to leave so early on a mission he continues in his mind? Finally, Hiram admits to himself that he wants Hib to stay with him instead of going away for not the customary two but three years. And to where, he thinks, Africa, South Africa.
Hiram walks into the house through the French doors and blurts, “You don’t even get to learn a new language at the MTC in Jo-Burg.” Getting no response, he goes upstairs to change out of his wet clothes. Hib’s room door is open. Peeking in to see what he is up to he notices Hib praying. What’s more is he hears his own name and then steps away from the door. Warmth forms in this heart, and he recognizes it as the Spirit. He knows his brother is such a gentle giant because he prays and loves God.
“I don’t want him to leave,” he mumbles aloud and punches a pillow as he sits on his bed in his room.
Okay, I cannot take this any longer. I need to go and talk to Hiram. Hiram is not as large as his brother is, but people expect him to be more mature than he is because he is a big kid for his age too. He is not willing to live by other people’s expectations, though. He is so upset that Heber is choosing a mission he is going to destroy his own life by being bitter.
Hib knocks at Hiram’s bedroom door and pushes it open. “Why the long face?”
“Why the long legs,” Hiram says playfully trying to hide his feelings about Hib’s mission. “I was born with the long face man.” He lowers his head and confesses, “I don’t want you to go Hib. I’m gonna miss you too much. Why cain’t you just stay around and play football so I can brag on my big bro?”
“Don’t tell me you goin’ soft on me now.” Hib grabs the top of his head and he jerks away.
“I’m serious Hib. I don’t think the church should send out missionaries anyway. Who are we to tell people that what they believe is wrong? Our religion works for our family barely—with Dad gone most of the time.”
“You are right. We aren’t to tell people they are wrong. We tell them the truth and let them decide if they will accept it.”
“You jerk. You sound just like Dad.” They both smile and Hib looks away. “Hib,” starts Hiram, “You never told me why you were mad still.”
Hib sits on the bed. “I was upset that I have everything offered me at one time and had to choose only one of them. I may never get this chance again. I choose the mission.”
“Well, that is obvious,” Hiram responds irritated
“What, you think because I’m leaving in two months I will forget about you or something?”
“Like I care about that—okay I do.” Hiram ends. Hib is surprised at Hiram’s candid response. “I don’t care if I sound lame anymore. I still don’t know what is going on.” A look of extreme frustration appears on Hiram’s face. Hib sits quietly now listening to Hiram. “First, you tell me you are going on a mission at 18 and that we would probably serve simultaneously for at least a few months. Then you are leaving one year earlier than normal and for one year longer than normal. What gives? I am not ready for you to go. You are only 17. You may look like a fully-grown man, but I still know you gotta be a kid. You have your whole life to grow up.” He then stares intensely at Hib with watery eyes and a pleading and soft face. “Why do you have to go now?” Hiram looks away and lies back on his bed, embarrassed for sharing so much about his feelings. His life used to be simple. He thought he at least had the summer with Hib before he turned 18.
Hib sits silently next to Hiram not knowing what to say. Searching his mind and heart for answers, he comes up empty. Earlier today, he felt upset at having to choose the mission field so early and forgoing football at one of the two universities. Praying for guidance in making his decision to serve a mission, Heber knew he received it when he told his brother that he believed the stake president. Now the challenge is to help Hiram see the importance of it all. It disturbs Hib that Hiram questions the Church and its divine mission. Hib would never have thought that about Hiram. He always seems to fit perfectly into church life. He also never would have guessed Hiram thinks Dad not being home often as an indication that the church fails their family somehow. He takes it for granted that everyone understands. Hiram seems so carefree that nothing seems to bother him, well… until now.
Hib turns to Hiram and stares at him. Hiram has his eyes closed with moisture appearing about to fall from his closed eyelids. Hib is confused about Hiram’s reaction to his news because he and Hiram have always spoken about serving missions and the adventures they would have or the places they would serve.
Suddenly an idea comes to Hib’s mind. “Hiram, remember when you, me, John, Wade, and Logan were camping at the lake telling all those stories about foreordination.”
Hiram sits up and looks at Hib a bit puzzled. “Yeah” He then frowns. “What’s your point? That’s different from you leaving. I feel like such a loser for telling you all that.”
Hib ignores the last statement by Hiram. “My point is that the conversation developed into the ultimate test. You know, the one Dad calls the Abrahamic test.” Hib brightens up his face as Hiram shakes his head affirmatively. “Well, it is hard for me to make the choice to go, but I trust in God that he will help me through my Ultimate test. I know it may not be the one big test for all my life, but it sure feels like it right now.” Hiram’s features soften a bit, and he wonders where Hib is going with this. Hib continues, “One of your many big tests is enduring change.” Wait a minute that isn’t what I wanted to say, thinks Hib.
“What do you mean Hib,” Hiram asked.
“Well,” he continues off the cuff, “One of your biggest fears is change I gather.” What! Thinks Hib. I don’t know that. He looks at Hiram waiting for a response wondering if he had said the wrong things.
“You’re right Hib,” Hiram admits to himself more than to his brother. “Now that I think about it, it seems true.” He turns to Hib and prepares to reveals something else. “I think the reason why I enjoy going to church is because it is what I always did. I don’t really believe any of the stuff the church teaches. I just accept it because it is the easiest course.” Hiram starts to feel a growing feeling in his heart. “I don’t want you to go because it means I have to change something about my life.” Hib is amazed but sits quietly listening. “I even fear a mission because it means I will need to make a change.” He looks a Heber and puts his hand on his shoulder. “Over the next two months you are here, I need you to help me learn the gospel better.”
“Okay,” says Hib. What in the world just happened, thinks Hib? I did not mean to say the things I said, but I like the outcome. He then places his arm on Hiram’s shoulders. “I never knew you had such problems with the gospel or Dad or anything for that matter! I suppose me being upset let us know a few things about each other we wouldn’t have known.”
“Yeah, I learned that you do have a limit to be pushed to. Funny how you hid it my entire life until today.” Hiram punches him in the stomach playfully and stands up. Hib follows.
Hiram stops and turns around again to address Hib. “Hib, I really do look up to you. I know you are only a year and months older, but you seem today a lot more older… I mean… you know? ...wise.”
“Thanks, man. I always knew you looked up to me, though.”
“You did?” Hiram said surprised knowing he has been careful not to show that in the past.”
“Yeah, I am 5 inches taller than you. You can’t help it.”
“You are still a big idiot,” he says walking out of his bedroom door.
Hib jumps on Hiram’s back, and both fall to the floor. “It takes one to know one.” They tussle a bit before standing.
Heber then becomes sincerely serious, “we can get started this morning if you want. I mean, studying together. It’s Saturday; it is…about 9 a.m. We have time. What do you say?”
Woza Moya Ongcwele (Come Holy Spirit)
Chapter One: Woman at the Lake - This is the first of a series of stories I plan to write on HubPages about Woza Moya Ongcwele--Come Holy Spirit. This story, or chapter is about Hiram.
Chapter Two: Dear Elder Smarts - Not that he is comparing himself to Hib, but his brother had to give up his dream temporarily to serve the Lord. Hiram’s goal is to follow Hib’s example. Why is it so hard to get an answer....
Chapter Three: Transfer News - Coming
Chapter Four: Violet Kisses - Coming
Chapter Five: Coming
Chapter Six: Coming
Chapter Seven: Coming
Chapter Eight: Coming
Chapter Nine: Coming
Chapter Ten: Coming