“Friend to Friend,” Friend, May 1996, 6
In my stake as I was growing up, fathers didn’t baptize their children; they assigned the priests to have that experience. So a young man baptized me. Afterward my father took me to a store, gave me some money, and told me that I could buy anything I wanted that would remind me of my baptism.
I remember looking and looking. Finally I found five wonderful pictures of the Savior and His life. One of them showed the star when He was born, and the rest showed other special scenes. I thought those pictures were the most wonderful things! I put them up on the wall in my bedroom. As I looked at those pictures every day, I had a peaceful, happy testimony that Jesus Christ was the Savior and that Heavenly Father loved me. It was a wonderful reminder of my baptism and of the promises that I made to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Shortly after my eighth birthday, my family moved to the little town of Kailua, Hawaii. It was a wonderful place to grow up. I had a lot of freedom to be outside, and I remember having happy times with my friends as we went swimming or searched for shells on the beach. Behind our home, in the middle of our neighborhood, was a dense grove of trees that we called a “jungle.” We made trails through our jungle and built huts out of palm tree fronds. We had to watch carefully for centipedes and scorpions, which were very dangerous, but we enjoyed playing there.
I have always been able to connect things in nature with Heavenly Father. Whenever I found a perfect shell, I thought, Heavenly Father created this, and He loves me because He’s created this beautiful world. My mother taught me the names of the flowers and trees, and all of this helped me appreciate the lessons that nature teaches us.
My favorite flower is the sunflower. When I go for walks in the morning, I notice how the sunflower turns its face toward the sun. By evening, it has turned so that it faces the setting sun. I enjoy gathering my grandchildren around me and telling them how we can be like the sunflower: We need to turn our faces to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and follow Him. He is our light, and if we follow Him, we will be happy.
The Primary theme this year is “As I have loved you, … love one another.” As we follow Jesus, a very important thing for us to do is to love others, whether they are our parents, our brothers and sisters, children in the neighborhood, or anyone else we know. That’s the best way for us to show Heavenly Father and Jesus that we love Them.
When I was young, we had two separate meetings on Sunday: Sunday School in the morning and sacrament meeting in the evening. We had to travel to a nearby town for church. When I was about nine years old, the Church members in our town got permission to have a branch Sunday School of our own. We had a little portable organ, and my father, who had helped get the branch Sunday School started, asked me if I would play the music every Sunday. I hadn’t known how to play the organ for very long, and it was hard.
Later, when I was about ten, I was asked to play the music for Primary. My piano teacher, who was also a Primary leader in my ward, encouraged me. I remember being very nervous as I played the Primary songs. But I did it, and I’m glad I did. My parents often expected me to do things that seemed hard at the time, but I think that those things helped me grow up and become more confident.
You may be asked to help in Primary, whether it’s giving a talk or a scripture or other things. Sometimes you might feel a little bit scared, but that’s all right, because if you do these things over and over again, you will grow. You need to know that you are valuable, that you can bless people’s lives, and that you can help people. Often you can do this in Primary.
I love you, and I pray every night for each of you. I know that Heavenly Father loves you and that He cares about everything that you do. Some of you are having hard struggles, and I pray that you can be at peace. That feeling of peace can happen best when we turn to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, just as the sunflower turns to the sun.