Friend to Friend
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“Friend to Friend,” Friend, Aug. 1999, 6

Friend to Friend

Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord [Jesus Christ] shall be saved (Acts 2:21).

The first time I went duck hunting, I was ten years old. My dad wanted to spend some time with his boys because his Church job and his job as a lawyer had taken so much of his time. He suggested that we go duck hunting at a lake an hour outside of St. George, Utah. My older brother, Michael, was excited about the trip. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt happy to sit alongside my brother and my dad in the pickup truck.

When we got there, we crawled on our hands and knees to the edge of the lake. The frozen ground felt hard underneath my hands. I peered over the water, looking for some ducks. My fourteen-year-old brother stood up and shot at the few birds on the lake as they were taking off. When the birds cleared away from the lake, I could see one dark bird left floating on the water. My dad realized that we didn’t have a dog to fetch the dead duck out of the water, so he said that he would get it.

The water was freezing at that time of year, and my brother and I were thankful that he had volunteered. Dad took off his shoes and his jacket and waded into the lake. He swam until he reached some reeds, where he stopped to grab onto them to catch his breath. Unfortunately the reeds were not strong enough to hold him up, so he treaded water for a while.

When he finally made it to the bird, he held it up and called to us, “It’s a mud hen.”

A mud hen is different from a duck because it is not good to eat. My brother groaned and shook his head at the effort Dad had made for an uneatable mud hen.

Dad started to swim back. Suddenly he yelled that he was in trouble. He could not get enough air, and he couldn’t swim anymore. I can still remember seeing him sink in the water. He came up again and thrashed around in an effort to stay afloat.

“We have to go get him!” Michael cried. He had earned swimming and life-saving merit badges and had the presence of mind to realize this was an emergency.

Fear flashed through my body. I began to take off my shoes and jacket because I thought that I shouldn’t try to swim with all my clothes on. Meanwhile, Michael could see that there was no time to take off anything. So with all of his clothes on, he dove into the water and swam out just before Dad went under for the second time. He grabbed Dad and used the Boy Scout lifesaving technique to bring him back to the shore.

When they finally reached the shore, they were both breathing heavily. Dad had inhaled a lot of freezing water and felt so tired that he could barely walk. My brother and I wrapped him in blankets to keep him warm during the drive home. I knew that Dad had come very close to drowning. My heart thumped inside my chest the entire ride home because I felt so scared.

My older brother saved Dad’s life. As I watched Michael swim out to save Dad, I felt very thankful that my brother had learned what to do in Scouts. At age ten, I knew that I could not have saved my dad. I was not strong enough, I was scared, and I didn’t know what to do even if I had gone out there. Michael did. Later, the Boy Scouts of America awarded him its highest honor—a gold medal for saving a life.

We all have Someone who can save our lives when we are in trouble. Jesus Christ knows what to do when we are not strong enough, when we are scared, or when we are drowning. He knows how to help us. Just as Michael saved Dad’s life, Jesus Christ can save you when you are in danger or need help. As children, it is easy to become scared or confused. But Jesus Christ will help us. He loves us.

After I had children of my own, I realized how much the Savior loves children. I was tucking my son, Tom, into bed one night. I gave him a hug, and he said, “Dad, do you think that when Jesus comes again, I will be a little boy?”

I said, “Well, we don’t know when He’s going to come, so I don’t know if you will or not. Why do you ask?”

“I’ve been thinking about the stories I’ve heard in Primary about how when Jesus was on the earth, He really liked children. He invited the children to come, and He held them. I think I would like that, so I hope I’ll still be a little boy when He comes.”

I gave Tom a hug and said, “I’m really glad that you feel that way about Jesus, Tom, because that’s how I feel about Him, too. And I hope that you don’t have to be a little child for Him to hold you, because I would like that, too.”

Throughout my life I have felt how much God loves all of us, especially little children. It does not matter what country you live in or what language you speak. You are Heavenly Father’s child, and Jesus Christ is your Savior, and someday He will hold you in His arms.

I am currently living in Australia. When I visited a small branch of Aborigine members, I asked the children if they knew the song “I Am a Child of God.”*

All the children sang the song with their eyes full of light and their voices full of love. They sang it with their whole hearts. The Aborigine children knew every word of the song. They knew who they are, and so should you.

  • Children’s Songbook, pages 2–3.

1. At age 4, with Michael, then 8 years old, and their dad

2. Elder Hafen proudly holding his triplet grandchildren: Samuel, Eliza, Joshua

3. As a missionary

4. The Hafen family