The young man taps on the sliding glass door.
“Elder Laws and Elder Davis. We’re looking for Ernie.”
“Oh, Ernie. Why you want Ernie?”
“He ordered a Bible off the TV.”
“Oh, ok. He out back in the trailer home.”
The young men turn and start across the driveway, but before they can reach the trailer, a man appears from the opposite end. He wears cut off blue jean shorts, beat up tennis shoes, no socks, and no shirt, and his dark skin gleams with a light sheen of sweat. The whites of his eyes are yellow and he reeks of cheap beer.
“Are you Ernie?” the young man asks.
“Yeah. What up?”
“Did you order a Bible off the TV?”
“Ah yeah? You bruthas brought my Bible?”
“Yeah,” says the young man.
“All right, all right. Hole up.” Ernie runs behind the trailer and comes back with three folding chairs whose seats are about six inches off the ground. “Yeah, this here is important. We all gots to get our crap together.”
“Yeah,” says the young man. “So you believe in God and Jesus.”
“Yeah, man. See, that’s the thing. The first time when Jesus come, he all nice and just take everyone’s mess. But ain’t gonna be like that when he come back.”
“He will come in His glory.”
“Yeah, he ain’t gonna be no Mr. Nice Guy this time. He gonna be PISSED.”
The young man lowers his head and tries not to laugh. He looks at Elder Davis and whispers, “We’re not gonna teach here. He’s not gonna remember a thing.”
He looks back at Ernie and pulls a Bible from his bag. “Ernie, here’s your Bible.” He extends it toward Ernie, but Ernie winces, leans back, and acts like someone has hit him.
“No! No! No! You can’t just give me a Bible.”
“Uh, ok. What should I do with it then? You ordered it.”
“Nah, man. You can’t just give it to me. You gotta bless it.”
“Yeah. You gotta bless my Bible.”
“Hold out the Bible in yo hand.”
The young man holds the Bible out in his palm. Ernie places his hand on top of the Bible. Then he rotates the Bible so that his hand is on bottom and the young man’s is on top.
Ernie has his head bowed. “Now bless my Bible.”
The young man closes his eyes. “Heavenly Father, we thank thee for the chance to meet Ernie. We thank for the scriptures. Bless this Bible to help Ernie, and help Ernie in trying to follow thee. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
He opens his eyes and lifts his hand off the Bible. Ernie is crying. He stands quickly, Bible in hands, and throws his arms around the young man. He is nearly overwhelmed with the smell of body odor and beer. He hugs Ernie briefly. Ernie let’s go and clutches Elder Davis.
“Now go,” says Ernie.
The young man motions with his head, and Elder Davis follows him to the car. It’s one of his first weeks in the field.
“What just happened?” says Davis.
The young man opens the driver side door. “I have no idea,” he says. “Welcome to Pasadena.”