I Always Wanted a Brother

I Always Wanted a Brother

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

I Always Wanted a Brother

Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him.

D&C 20:21

Her name was Jillian.

When I was eighteen, I packed up my car and moved to New York. A family on Long Island was looking for a young LDS girl to be the nanny for their two young children, and I had the opportunity to care for their two beautiful girls; Jillian was six and Emily was a few months old when I arrived. I jumped at the chance for the job and couldn’t have been more excited to experience New York for myself. Being born and raised in a very small town in northern Utah, moving to New York City was like going to a whole new world.

I was blonde-haired and blue-eyed, and it was easy to pick out my west-coast country accent. I couldn’t really hide my background or the way I was raised. The family I would be living with and working for was Jewish. I didn’t know anything about their beliefs before I moved in with them, but after living with them and growing closer to them, I wanted to learn more about their beliefs.

I was able to experience the Jewish holidays with them, and they used the opportunity to enlighten me about Jewish customs and traditions. In return, I was able to introduce many things to them as well. I was always introduced to their family members and friends as “their Mormon” rather than as their nanny.

My first Christmas with them was quite an experience for all of us. Members of the Jewish religion don’t believe Jesus Christ is the Savior—so, naturally, they don’t celebrate Christmas. That was a concept I had never even imagined! Jillian was extremely curious about almost everything I did. One of my friends sent me a Christmas calendar with candy on each of the days counting down to Christmas day. Being a normal six-year-old, Jillian wanted some of the candy and asked endless questions about why Santa comes and why I celebrate Christmas. I found it difficult to explain to her at first, but her questions made me think in-depth about the true meaning of Christmas.

Jillian knocked on my door every Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church. She was always dressed in her best dress, and innocently begged to come with me. Her parents usually had plans that prevented her from coming, but one Sunday, her parents let her join me.

Since many members of our singles ward were LDS nannies living on Long Island, you’d expect to see a few children with their nannies. But it was actually quite rare to see a child in our ward. Jillian held my hand tightly as we found a seat next to my friend Harlow and the rest of the guys. Jillian had a crush on Harlow, and told everyone that he was her boyfriend—so she sat quietly between Harlow and me as we waited for fast and testimony meeting to begin.

Jillian was very well behaved for her age, so the first part of the meeting went well. Every few minutes she asked questions about what was happening. Why do you sing those songs so much? Why do those boys hand out bread and water? Are they for snacks because everyone is hungry? Why is everyone so quiet, and why do we have to whisper? Harlow and I just kept laughing to ourselves as I tried my best to explain to her.

Jillian listened carefully as each person went up to the podium to share his or her testimony. After one particular testimony, the room was very quiet as we sat and waited for the next person to go up. Jillian leaned over to me. “Who is Jesus Christ, Britnee?” she asked loudly.

I was shocked. I looked up at Harlow, who had the same expression on his face. I heard a few people around us snicker. I didn’t really know what to say. Then she asked me again, very loudly, “Britnee, who is Jesus Christ they keep talking about?”

Who is Jesus Christ?

A million thoughts ran through my head! I was a lifelong member of the Church. I was taught who Jesus was practically before I could walk. Every Sunday I learned about Jesus and Heavenly Father in Primary. There was no doubt in my mind that Jesus is my brother and that he gave His life for me. I know it. I have faith in it. But here was an innocent young girl who had no idea about the man named Jesus that everyone was talking about.

Harlow leaned down, whispered in her ear and explained who Jesus is. He explained that Jesus is God’s son and our brother—that He died for us, and we love Him very much because he did that for us.

Jillian smiled, looked at me, and asked, “When are you going to go up there and talk about Jesus?”

She made a good point. I was overwhelmed with the innocence of this little girl. The next thing I knew, I found myself standing in front of my ward, with a smiling little girl standing behind me, holding my hand. I bore my testimony of my love for our Savior, my gratitude for my knowledge of the gospel and my upbringing in the Church. I was touched by the Spirit and shed a few tears as I explained to the rest of the congregation what Jillian had said to me before I got up to bear my testimony. Many eyes were wet with tears as we sat down. All the young men who were sitting on the row with us got up, one by one—they, too, were touched by Jillian and wanted to express their love for our Savior.

That six-year-old girl really opened my eyes. She strengthened my testimony of Christ without even knowing it. She made me sit back and really ask myself, “Who is Jesus Christ?” It might be a question we don’t think about often—but we should.We should know who He is and get to know Him through the record of His life and His teachings.

When we got home from church that day, Jillian eagerly ran to her parents to talk about everything that happened at church. Her mother laughed a little when she told about this man, Jesus Christ, who died for her; it didn’t upset her parents, because they realized she was simply learning new things.

I don’t know if I made a difference by reaching out to this wonderful Jewish family. I stood for what I believed in and shared the gospel with them by example. I know Jillian will always carry those memories with her. And, who knows? Maybe one day when she’s grown, two young men in suits and ties may knock on her door with a message about a man named Jesus Christ.

She’ll remember. She’ll remember her “Mormon nanny,” Britnee. She’ll remember the missionaries that came to her house to have dinner with her. And she’ll remember that Jesus is someone we love very much.

Jillian came to church with me a few other times. She became very well-known, and everyone loved the warm spirit she brought with her. I’ll never forget something she said to me a few weeks after that fast and testimony meeting. She came up to me and motioned for me to kneel down so she could whisper in my ear. She threw her arms around my neck and gave me a huge hug.

“Remember when I learned about Jesus at your church?” she asked.

“Of course I do, sweetie! Why?”

“Well, Britnee, I always wanted a brother, and now I have one. . . .”

Britnee Gilbert

More stories from our partners