New Harmony: Of fishing and becoming 'fishers of men'

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 5 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

The men in our family have learned we can have ourselves a pretty good time if we convince the women that what we are up to is "family bonding."

So last Saturday, my grandson Parker and I attended the LDS priesthood session in Salt Lake City together, but we also "bookended" the evening with some food and fun. We went to dinner beforehand and kicked around in a sporting goods store after.

Parker is a serous fisherman, so we chose fish for dinner. All the way to the restaurant we talked of the exotic fish we were going to try. But we're Western guys. We both ended up ordering rainbow trout.

While chowing down we talked about fish in the Bible — about the loaves and fishes and how Jesus cooked up a fish dinner for his disciples after the resurrection.

"It takes faith to catch a fish," Parker said.

Then it was off to priesthood where, wonder of wonders, one of the main themes was missionary work — becoming "fishers of men."

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland sounded the call for young men to get right with the Lord and get going on missions. He said the brethren had tried to be subtle, but now he was going to get in our faces a little — singe our eyebrows, he said, grab us by the lapels.

Parker's forehead wrinkled.

"What's a lapel?" he said.

I grabbed my lapels.

"Oh," he said.

It was a fine talk, filled with passion, tenderness, humor, wisdom. I hate to say it was the best conference talk I ever heard, but because of the atmosphere at the Conference Center, because I was with Parker, because I was paying twice as much attention as I usually do, it may have been the best conference talk I ever heard.

Parker listened with both ears as well.

Afterward, on our way to the sporting goods store, Parker remembered the time Jesus told the tax collectors to look for a gold coin in a fish's mouth. I suspected that since the day he heard the story he checked the mouth of every fish he hauled in.

I told Parker how Jesus asked Peter — the big fisherman — to leave his nets and go fishing for men, become a missionary.

We never got around to Jonah.

At the store, Parker darted for the tackle shop. He was as at home there as a trout in a river. In 30 minutes, he taught me all about fishing.

Thanks to Elder Holland and a trout dinner, I think Parker learned some things that night as well.

He's a good kid, a good listener and, yes, one heckuva trout fisherman.

And, knowing Parker, I'm sure he's mulling over that "fishing for men" business.

Jerry Johnston is a former Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears weekly in Mormon Times. Email: jerjohn@desnews.com

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