The next two weeks brought a near continuous and intense language training. Lyda was an expert teacher, and Tom a gifted student. They were now able to have simple conversations with each other. Now that Tom knew the basic structure of the language he progressed rapidly.
But language study was not the only thing going on during this time. Tom had been allowed to go to his ship and retrieve some clothing and personal effects. He met with people he had assumed were scientists at the ship. With his limited language skills he tried to explain how it all worked. It was no easy task. These scientists were understandably very interested in the technology. Tom hoped that they would not take the whole thing apart and not be able to get it back together. He would hate to be stranded here. Or would he?
Tom had also been allowed to launch one of the flying drones one night. This drone would reach a low orbit and be able to map the planet with great detail in a couple of days. He was also able to set a rover out on the grounds of the compound to take the various readings and samples it needed. Tom was glad for the cooperation thus far. Apparently he was no longer viewed as any threat.
For Tom the best part of the whole experience was meeting Lyda. He had grown very fond of her during this time. He was a bit disappointed in himself for flirting with her occasionally. Tom was not a flirt by nature, and it was unprofessional of him. It just came out. He even asked her if she was married once. When she told him that she wasn’t he wanted to give a simple acknowledgment, but with his current language ability he had apparently said something like ‘wonderful’ instead of ‘I understand’. His mistake was really no mistake at all, and he imagined that Lyda was aware of that. She was a very perceptive individual who seemed to be able to read body language as well as she taught spoken language.
It was nearing the end of their studies for the day, and Tom decided to ask some questions he had been wondering about. He asked Lyda about religion on this planet. Lyda gave him the names of a few of the religions on this world. She tried to tell him some of the basic beliefs, but confessed that she was not a religious person. She did not know much about these religions and had a difficult time explaining what she knew to Tom. They had not studied many religious terms. She asked him if he was religious.
Tom explained that for much of his life he had been very religious, but with his profession keeping up on it was very difficult. He confessed that deep down his beliefs were quite strong, but that he had not participated in his religion socially for a long time. Lyda asked about his religious beliefs. Tom’s mind went blank for a moment. What should he say? What could he say? He decided to try to express some of the Articles of Faith. He tried to sketch out the Plan of Salvation. He expressed the basic ideas of the atonement. And it happened again, just like on his mission, he taught beyond his language ability. His mind seemed so clear. He thought for certain Lyda had been touched by the spirit as he testified of Christ. She asked how he was able to explain this so well, and Tom just shrugged.
Lyda had this far-off stare in her eyes. Tom asked what she was thinking. She said that she had a friend that had similar religious beliefs to what Tom had expressed. Tom was excited by this and asked if he could meet this friend. Lyda said that was unlikely. The government had decided to keep Tom a secret from the general public, at least for now. Tom asked if this friend would have any scriptures in the best way that his language skills allowed. Lyda said that this friend had given her a book called, ‘The Sacred Words from God’. Lyda had not read it, but still had it. Tom asked her if she could bring that in, and Lyda thought that she could. She had not had to justify any of the other books that she had brought. She would bring this book with her tomorrow.
Tom was excited to see what these scriptures would be all about. What would they be like? Would they have a creation story? A flood? An Abrahamic covenant? A virgin birth of a Savior? Baptism? So many questions. Tom had not learned to read very well yet He would need Lyda to read for him. But that would not be so bad. If this friend was a member of the church he hoped , Lyda needed to learn what ‘The Sacred Words from God’ had to say anyway.