Jonathan Palmans of Rotterdam, Netherlands
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“Jonathan Palmans of Rotterdam, Netherlands,” Friend, Feb. 1999, 15

Making Friends:

Jonathan Palmans of Rotterdam, Netherlands

Jonathan Palmans, 9, can often be found in his room, surrounded by cars, roads, bridges, buildings, and spaceships. He enjoys finding out how things are built and then making them out of plastic building blocks. He has a wonderful imagination and is often picturing in his mind what he will build next. Whenever his one-year-old brother, Alexander, wants to help him build things or play cars, Jonathan is willing to share and help. Someday he wants to be an architect so that he can design and build towers and bridges.

The gospel is an important part of his life. The family travels by car about twenty minutes to attend the Rotterdam Second Ward. His mother, Ineke, is a teacher in Relief Society, and his father, Bert, is the elders quorum president. When Jonathan’s CTR teacher assigns him to give a talk, he eagerly accepts. He enjoys telling the children one of his favorite scripture stories. A while ago, he told the story about Joseph’s brothers selling him to a passing caravan and then about Joseph’s life in Egypt.

Every morning the family reads the Book of Mormon, sings, and has family prayer. In the evening they read Bible stories or Church publications, sing, and have family prayer. Once Jonathan has heard a scripture story, he has the unusual ability of picturing it in his mind like a movie, so he never forgets it. He likes the story of Ammon because it teaches him that “if I trust in the Lord, then I’ll be OK and successful.”

What does Jonathan like to do at family home evening? He especially enjoys watching a Church video or having a lesson on the early pioneers and the sacrifices they made. The best outdoor activity is riding bicycles to the country. He enjoys the fresh air and stopping for french fries.

With a hearty appetite, he eagerly eats his mother’s cooking and looks forward every week to Monday’s menu of curry macaroni. A pannekoeken (crepelike pancake), fondue (small pieces of meat cooked in hot oil), a cheeseburger, and an uitsmyter (a slice of bread topped with a fried egg, ham, roast beef, cheese, tomato, and pickle) are always good, too.

Tidying the living room, organizing books, washing dishes, and hoovering (vacuuming) are a few of his chores. He would like to have a garden someday and grow herbs, tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes so that his mother won’t need to buy them at the store.

School is just a two-minute walk away. A very good student, Jonathan likes class better than recess! He enjoys all his subjects except writing, and he is now beginning to like it, too. His favorite books are a series, called Pietje Bell (Little Peter Bell) about a mischievous boy.

From a very young age, Jonathan has had a testimony of the gospel. At the age of three, he, with his father’s help, bore his testimony in sacrament meeting. Then they sang “Zielslief heeft ‘t hart van de Herder” (“Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd”). Everyone in the congregation was so touched that they cried.

It is important to Jonathan to live Jesus Christ’s teachings. When his father told him that there were many children who did not have toys like he did, he immediately put many of his toys into a box to give them away. They took the toys to a group of refugees, and Jonathan handed them out to the children. Tears filled his eyes as he saw how happy they were to get the toys. Later he told his father, “Now I know what Jesus means when He said to give. I have a warm feeling inside.”

When asked if he wants to serve a mission someday, Jonathan gives a very enthusiastic yes! He is preparing for it now by saving his money and studying the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He also knows that it is important not to do shopping on Sunday. If anyone ever asks him if he wants to go to his favorite hamburger place on Sunday, he tells them, “No thank you.” He knows that obeying the Word of Wisdom is important, too.

What would he tell people about the Church? “I would tell them that they would do well to come to church. Then I’d ask them, what do you prefer, a good time on earth or a wonderful time forever?” He would also share his testimony of the gospel: “I know that Jesus is our Redeemer and that He died for us and took our sins away. Jesus made it possible for us to live with Heavenly Father forever. I am grateful that Jesus Christ ‘built’ the Church. I know it is good to be in a family that has the richness of the gospel, which is better than a home with lots of money. I am grateful for my parents and little brother.”

Photos by Corliss Clayton

1. Jonathan. 2. Playing a game with his father is always fun. 3. An example of Jonathan’s handiwork. 4. Proudly showing one of his creations

5. Riding a bicycle. 6. The family has fun playing together. 7. Jonathan’s home.

8. Alexander with his toys. 9. Helping Alexander ride the go-cart. 10. Riding his go-cart.