This is a story about the Lamanites who learned about Jesus and were baptized. We told you how happy they were.
They woke up each morning, jumped out of bed and said, “what a beautiful day. I am so excited.” And at the end of the day, they knelt on their knees and spoke to God. “God,” they said. “That was a really good day. You made the sun perfectly bright. And while it was hot, there was a breeze. And it cooled me down. And so we played and worked and we are now very tired.” And after their prayers, they fell asleep without even complaining or asking for another cup of water because they were content already.
But that was about to change because they were living next to a bunch of Lamanites who did not like them. Some did not understand. Some had other beliefs. And some just didn’t like the whole idea of a Nephite like Ammon or Aaron having something to teach a Lamanite. And so they did not like the Lamanites who had converted. And they said, “You are not really Lamanites. You are something else.”
And so the people came up with a new term for themselves. Because they weren’t Lamanties anymore. And they were not Nephites. They called themselves the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. And while it was a mouth full, it is also descriptive. And I think what it meant is that they were not Nephites and they were no longer Lamanites, but they were children of Lehi. “So there you have it,” they said. “Are you happy now?”
But the Lamanites were not happy and they picked on the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. They made fun of them. And they tried to start fights with them. And they said, “You do not belong here. Go somewhere else or we will fight you.”
But the Anti-Nephi-Lehies had nowhere to go. If they did not belong with the Lamanites and they did not belong with the Nephites, then where did they belong? And if they did not leave, they would have to fight. But they had promised God that they would not fight. And so they said, “Lamanites, we will not fight you. But we cannot leave.”
To show that they were serious, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies took everything they had ever used to fight with, all their swords and shields and clubs and arrows and every other weapon they owned, and they buried them deep in the ground. “See,” they said. “We have nothing to fight you with. So please leave us alone.”
But the Lamanites did not listen. Instead, they took advantage of the opportunity. They gathered an army and they said, “Quickly, polish your swords. Let’s go fight the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. They don’t have any weapons. It will be so easy. We will chase them. And they will run. And anyone who does not run fast enough, we will kill them.”
And so the Lamanites got their weapons and started to march. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies could see them coming. There were so many of them. And the sun reflected off of their newly polished weapons. Imagine this with me. Can you see the army coming? They are coming to fight you. And you cannot stop it. What would you do? I want you to imagine this because what happens next is one of the most remarkable parts of the entire Book of Mormon.
The Anti-Nephi-Lehies did not run away. And they did not dig up their swords. They did not gather rocks or sticks or roll up their sleeves ready to fight. That would have made sense but it is not what they did. All they did was walk into the field towards the army with empty hands. They looked at the Lamanites right in the eyes. Then they knelt down on the ground and prayed. They were not going to fight, no matter what.
Many of them were killed. They died peacefully, calmly, eyes towards heaven. They died praying and hoping and trusting that inside each Lamanite was goodness, and compassion, and love. They believed this because even though they called themselves the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, they were really just another bunch of Lamanties. And they were proof already that Lamanites were good.
And they were right. The battle quickly ended. The Lamanites dropped their swords and instead of fighting they hugged and cried and said, “We are so sorry. We are brothers. No matter what else we are, we are all still brothers.” And some of them stayed to learn about God and Jesus and were baptized and became Anti-Nephi-Lehies too.
But Ammon knew the Anti-Nephi-Lehies would have to leave. Most of the Lamanites were not interested in being Anti-Nephi-Lehies. And they would come back. They would bring swords and war. And many more people would die. And so Ammon said, “this cannot continue. If we cannot live with the Lamanites, we need to try and live with the Nephites.”
But that wasn’t such an easy thing for the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to do. Because the Lamanites and the Nephites had been fighting and killing each other for years and years and years. There was bad blood.
Bad Blood, a definition
Good Blood is red. It is the kind of blood you have. It pumps through your body, fills you with air and energy and life. Bad Blood is the opposite. It’s black. It pumps through your body, fills you with cobwebs, bitterness, and lies. It happens when you don’t love other people. Whether it’s Nephites, or Lamanites, or Russians, or Coloradans, or Muslims. When you don’t actively love people, you start to dislike them. Then you start to hate them. Then you teach other people to hate them. And that’s how Bad Blood happens. And once it gets started, it spreads like a disease, and is very hard to cure.
Well the Nephites and the Lamanites had bad blood. They had hated each other. They had killed each other. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies thought there was no way the Nephites would forgive them. “Oh no, Ammon,” they said. “We cannot do that. Anything other than that.”
But Ammon was certain. And so they said, “Then let’s go as servants, like you did, when you came to us. That way we can learn to love them and they will learn to love us.” And that may have been a good idea except, as Ammon quickly informed them, “Nephites do not have servants.”
This was a let down. There was no other solution than to walk right up to the Nephites as brothers and sisters. They would see faces of people they had fought with. They would see widows and mothers whose husbands and sons they had killed. They would have to face all the worst things they had ever done, and all the worst things their parents had ever done, and all the worst things their grandparents had ever done.
It was even scarier than when the Lamanite army was coming to kill them. That time they had to bury their weapons. This time they had to bury their pride. That time they had to face the wickedness of other people. This time, they had to face the wickedness in themselves.
They were more scared than they’d ever been in their whole lives. And they did the most remarkable thing they had ever done. They trusted that the Nephites would be good and kind enough to forgive them. And that they would be able to live together. And that together, they could dispel the bad blood.
And when those Anti-Nephi-Lehies arrived in the Nephite kingdom they threw themselves on the ground, and they held the feet of the Nephites and they cried and cried. “Can you ever forgive us?” they asked. “Can you ever be happy with us?”
And the Nephites also did something remarkable. They helped the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to their feet and looked straight into their eyes. “My friends, we have all done wrong. But you are home now. Come live with us. Be our sister. Be our brother.” And the Nephites helped them move into their new home.
They brought their horses, their sheep, their clothing, their games, their toys. But they left behind two things. Two things buried deep in the earth. And where they are buried, there is a mound. And the mound is green now. Soft with moss and grass. Trees have grown there so that it is shady and cool. They are tall trees with roots that go deep into the earth and mingle with swords and arrows and axes and cimeters. And the roots are slow and strong and whatever they wrap around they dull, they bend, they break into dust. And the water washes it slowly, ever so slowly away. Maybe in another thousand years, there will be nothing left.
All artwork by Lauren Blair.
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