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LIVING IN A STORYBOOK TOWN

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Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn may have plotted to miss church, but not Lehi and Benjamin Jergensen, two young men who have frequented the haunts of Mark Twain's stories here.

A month ago, the two moved with their family to Blue Springs, Mo.While in the Hannibal Branch of the Nauvoo Illinois Stake, Lehi, 16, and Benjamin, 15, had near perfect attendance at Church meetings.

"We only missed a couple of times that I can remember and that was when we went to visit our grandmother," Benjamin explained.

"And that was in 11 years," Lehi added. "We're always at Church on Sunday. No problem there."

In Hannibal, the two Aaronic Priesthood holders were surrounded by the setting for Mark Twain's popular stories. They have both read the books and visited the spots made famous by the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

"I even took the part of Huck Finn in a play in school and I worked at the Mark Twain Restaurant," Lehi said. "Most everything in Hannibal seems to have something to do with Mark Twain."

Mark Twain was born some 30 miles southwest of Hannibal in a little town called Florida. The cabin where he was born is preserved in a museum that also contains many of his personal belongings, a hand-written manuscript for Tom Sawyer and first edition copies of all his books.

The Jergensens not only know historic Hannibal, but they also have had the opportunity to visit Church historic sites that are relatively close. The boys, with their family or with branch members, have visited Nauvoo, Carthage, Quincy, Independence, Liberty Jail and other historic Church sites in Missouri and nearby Illinois.

Both young men were named after Book of Mormon prophets - something that opens doors for them when it comes to sharing the gospel.

"I have to explain my name, but that's no problem," Lehi said. "It really is an opportunity to tell about the Book of Mormon."

George Cowgill, former Hannibal Branch president, said, "These are great young men. I was their home teacher since they moved from California as little kids. They are an active family.

"Just to tell you what kind of boys they are, once I went to get help for a project. I picked up Ben and his younger brother Jared, but Lehi wasn't there right then. A moment later, when he discovered we had left, he chased us down the street for five blocks just so he could help.

"I asked Ben to be in charge of the bulletin board at the meetinghouse. He is so artistic that the board has looked better ever since. He did a great job."