“I know, I know.” Tony typed furiously on his keyboard. “We haven’t gone on a trip in Voyager for more than a month. Give me a break, you guys. I had other things on my mind.”
“And we know what. Or should I say who!” Kim chided.
Tie Li giggled. “Can’t you think of girl and something else?”
Tony stopped typing, sighed, then continued. “Will you quit bugging me?” he muttered. “Now that Laura’s dad is taking care of her, we can get back to normal around here.” Tony smiled. “She was pretty nice, though, wasn’t she?”
Kim rolled his eyes. “Oh, brother! When Tony’s in love, it’s sickening.”
“Well,” Tony shot back, “listen to old Mr. Lonely Heart here. Didn’t I see you drooling over Cindy Pareski the other day? You almost walked into a wall.”
Kim blushed. “She’s just a friend.”
“Yeah, like Romeo was a friend to Juliet.”
Tie Li covered her ears. “Girls, girls, girls! All you talk about is girls. Why don’t you talk about fun stuff?”
“Such as?” Kim questioned,
“You know, stuff like swimming, chasing butterflies, making chocolate-chip cookies. Eating chocolate-chip cookies.”
Kim smiled. “Someday you’ll understand.”
Tie Li shook her head. “Everybody tells me, ‘Someday you’ll understand.’ But I’ll never understand. Someday never come!”
“There,” Tony called out, happy to change the subject. “Voyager’s ready! We’re heading for a village in Galilee, not far from Nazareth. The carpenter will be passing by there.”
Kim and Tie Li took their places in Tony’s invention. The little girl tightened the chin strap of her football helmet and smiled up at her brother. “It’s OK you like girls,” she said shyly. “Just don’t forget about me.”
Kim patted her on top of her helmet. “No chance of that, silly. You’re still my favorite girl.”
Tie Li beamed. Even if she didn’t understand boy-girl love, she did enjoy being Kim’s sister. She liked the feeling of belonging it brought. Were other kinds of love like that too? Oh well, she’d find out someday. At least that’s what everybody kept telling her.
Tony entered the machine and barked out his usual order. “Voyager, power up.” The invention responded with flickering lights and glowing screens. Internal system motors hummed to life as each phase of the start-up sequence performed in rapid order.
With complex keyboard commands, Tony guided his machine through, its long self-examination. Tie Li watched the on-board computer respond to Tony’s checks and double-checks. Words flashed across the screen.
POLARITY–RANSFERRED TO I/0
Tony’s hands flew between panels and switches, his eyes staring hard in concentration.
TRANSLATOR CIRCUITS–ON STANDBY
STABILIZING ARM–FULL SWING
POWER RESERVE–100 PERCENT
DESTINATION CODE–ENTERED AND CROSS–CHECKED
VOYAGER STANDING BY . . .
Tony looked at Kim, then at Tie Li. Each gave the thumbs-up signal. Turning to the panel above his head, the boy spoke firmly. “Voyager, go!”
The machine glowed blue, then white. With a roaring sound like a strong wind, Voyager faded from view.
Inside, Tony carefully monitored the illuminated dials circling the panel by his right arm. Words on the main screen reported the children’s progress back through the centuries.
CONDITION–NORMAL VOYAGER UNDER WAY
TIME–WALL INSERTION IN–4, 3, 2, 1.
Voyager jolted hard as the machine slammed against the electrical barrier maintaining the normal sequence of time. The children felt the boundary give way as Tony’s invention continued its journey.
Soon Voyager’s swaying motion lessened. Then, with a slight bump, it stopped altogether.
“We’re here,” Tony breathed. “Some ride, huh?”
Kim let out a nervous sigh. “It doesn’t get any easier. Someday we’re going to all end up nowhere, no time, with no way back.”
“Now there’s an interesting theory.” Tony rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“Never mind,” Kim urged. “Let’s not experiment.”
Tony laughed. “Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of you.”
The three placed the plastic sheet over Voyager, and Tony checked the solar recharge switch. With everything in order, the children set out to explore the landing site.
The machine had settled on the summit of a small hill. Farmers’ fields, burdened with ripening grain, spread out toward the horizon. Carpets of wheat lay in neat golden squares. The fields were crisscrossed by rows of trees and an occasional splash of wildflowers.
At the base of the hill, a small village lined with low, whitewashed houses basked in the hot midday sun. Occasionally a distant bird would call out in defense of its territory, but after its shrill voice echoed into silence, the hillside was still once again. Far to the east, the blue waters of Galilee sparkled diamond-like in the yellow palm of the land.
“There’s something to be said about the past,” Kim said, his eyes drinking in the scenic beauty. “No factories, no cars, no airplanes. Everything seems . . . natural, peaceful.”
“You’re right.” Tony drew in a deep breath of the nature-scented air. “I love the country. I guess the Nazarene liked it too. The Book says he spent a lot of time up here.”
Tie Li lifted her hand. “Hey, I think I hear talking.”
Over the rise, not far from where the children stood, a group of men approached. Jesus was in the lead. The conversation sounded heated.
“You’ve got everyone confused,” one of the men was saying. “Some are calling you Elijah, some say you’re the prophet Jeremiah. I even heard one guy say he thought you were your cousin John the Baptist!”
The group paused on the hilltop. “So why don’t you just tell people who you are?”
The carpenter turned to his followers. He studied each face as if searching for something. In a quiet, almost sad voice he said, “Whom do you say that I am?”
No one spoke. A gentle breeze moved through the grasses covering the hillside. Some in the group shuffled their feet nervously. Throats cleared. A man coughed. Deep silence hung heavy over the gathering.
The Carpenter nodded slowly, his eyes still searching the faces before him.
Suddenly a deep, penetrating voice called out, “You are Christ, the Son of the living God!”
Simon Peter stepped from behind the group and stood before Jesus. “The Son of God. That’s who You are.”
The Nazarene smiled. His face radiated a renewed hope, a growing resolution. It seemed as if he’d drawn strength from the fisherman’s words.
“Simon Peter,” Jesus said, “no person told you that I was the Son of God. My Father placed that truth in your heart, and you believed.”
Turning again to his followers, Jesus continued. “This is the kind of faith that will be the cornerstone of my church, and even death will not destroy it. With the power generated by simple faith, you can do anything. Heaven will stand by your side. Please, listen to my Father when He speaks to you.”
Peter’s brother, Andrew, moved to the front of the group. “Master, how will we know?” he asked. “What does the Father’s voice sound like?”
Jesus pointed down the hill. “Come. I’ll show you.”
Tony, Tie Li, and Kim followed the group along the road leading to the village. At the edge of town, dogs barked their warnings, then took shelter inside the simple structures lining the narrow streets.
Jesus paused by the well that had been dug in the center of the village. “Listen,” he said, raising his hand. “Listen very carefully, and you will hear my Father’s voice.”
Silence fell over the gathering as every ear strained to hear what the Carpenter had promised. At first there was nothing, then from down one of the streets came a muffled sob. A woman was crying softly to herself.
From another corner of the village, a moan lifted from a bed of sickness and drifted through the open door of a house.
Angry voices echoed from yet another direction as a distant argument punctuated the afternoon stillness.
“Do you hear it?” the Carpenter asked. “Do you hear my Father’s voice?”
Andrew stepped forward and stood beside Jesus. “Master,” he said quietly, “there are only the sounds of the village reaching our ears. We hear no voice from heaven.”
Jesus motioned for the group to follow. He led them down the street in the direction of the soft sobs. Pausing at a door, he called out, “Woman, why do you weep?”
A gaunt, tear-stained face emerged from the darkness of the house. “My son,” the woman cried, “is unable to walk. An accident struck him down. Now the crops wait in the fields, and he can’t bring in the harvest.”
A young man hobbled to the door, his leg wrapped in strips of cloth. He leaned heavily on a rough wooden cane. “Sir,” he pleaded, “help us. We have no one.”
“Oh, but you do,” Jesus countered. “You have the Father. He has heard your cry. Go. The harvest waits for you.”
The young man looked at his mother, then back at the stranger standing by the door. The cane dropped from his hand as he took a faltering step forward. The leg supported him.
A look of wonder spread across the young man’s face. “My leg,” he called out. “My leg is healed! My leg is healed!”
Slowly, then with increasing confidence he moved about the room. “Mother,” he cried, “look! I’m walking. Do you see me? I’m walking!” He turned back toward the door, but the stranger was gone.
Jesus paused at another house. Inside, moans of sickness hung heavy in the damp air. He told his followers to wait outside as he stepped into the dwelling. Within minutes, the moans had stopped. In their place were joyous shouts.
At house after house the carpenter paused, turning sorrow to joy, sickness to healing, anger to peace.
At the edge of the village he turned and looked back along the dusty streets. “Listen again,” he said. This time there were no moans, no angry shouts, no crying. The only sounds were those of praise and thanksgiving.
Jesus smiled. “The voice of God can be heard any place there is sorrow, pain, and anger. When you touch another human life, you’re answering the call of my Father. Listen for it. His voice is everywhere.”
The group moved down the road away from the village, toward the distant waters of Galilee. Behind them a town basked in the heat of the noonday sun–and reveled in the warmth of the Master’s touch.