Be a Friend

“Be a Friend,” Friend, Aug. 2000, 48–inside back cover

Be a Friend

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).

My first-grade teacher at Beaumont Elementary School in Knoxville, Tennessee, was Miss Ready. At the beginning of the school year, she asked me to sit beside and help a blind boy named Josh. At first, I was a little nervous because I had never been around anyone with a disability before. I tried to remember how kind and loving Jesus was to all people. By the end of the year, Josh and I had become best friends.

Josh lives with his grandmother and rarely gets to go anywhere, so I invited him to the zoo. We had a lot of fun feeding the animals and stuff. I also took Josh swimming in the pool where my mom works in the summer. He’d never been to a pool before. In the spring, I invited Josh to go with us to sing for a senior citizens center. It was our Primary’s Easter service project. Josh made lots of new friends. We sang for the seniors, and then we went back to the church and had an Easter egg hunt and played games.

One of my mom’s favorite memories is of when she brought cupcakes to share with my class on my birthday. Josh was with his special education teacher in another classroom down the hall and around the corner. Miss Ready asked me to go get him. I was so excited that I told Josh, “Let’s run!” With Josh holding my arm, we ran for all we were worth. When we got to the classroom, we were out of breath, and Josh said, “That was so much fun! Can we do it again?” I realized then that Josh never gets to run.

Josh’s teacher came huffing and puffing into the room, her eyes big and round from fright. She calmed down when she saw that Josh was OK and that I had been careful and hadn’t bumped him into anything as we ran.

During a field trip toward the end of our first-grade year, Miss Ready separated Josh and me and put me into another group. She told my mom that she hadn’t realized until then how isolated I had been, taking care of Josh all year and that she felt bad about it. But both Mom and I feel that it was a very rewarding year.

I have gone on to second grade now. Josh stayed back in first grade. I miss him a lot, but every couple of days or so we talk on the phone. I’m going to invite him back to church with me and pray that his grandma will let him come. I know that Heavenly Father loves Josh, and I pray that he will find someone else in his class to care for him with love and kindness. In the meantime, I’ll find someone in my second-grade class who needs a friend, because I’m trying to be like Jesus.

Jessica (center) with her brother, Andrew (left) and best friend, Josh (right)

Sitting on a turtle sculpture, with Josh feeling its head

Feeding a goat at the petting zoo

Feeling the Animal Wall at the Knoxville Zoo