“Andrew Gibson of Fairview, Pennsylvania—I Want to Be a Missionary Now,” Friend, June 2006, 20–22
“I want to be a missionary now. I don’t want to wait until I’m grown. …”* Andrew Gibson understands the meaning of this Primary song—in fact, he lives it! Andrew, a nine-year-old who lives just outside of Erie, Pennsylvania, is an outgoing boy who likes to share the gospel with people he meets. Right now he is the only member of the Church in his school, so he has many missionary opportunities. He says, “I talk about the Church with my friends. If you tell people about the gospel, or invite your friends to church, you’re being a missionary.”
Andrew is preparing now to serve a mission when he is older. “I am trying to obey the commandments,” he says. “And I’m also trying to save money.” He knows that setting and working toward goals is important. In addition to serving a mission, he wants to attend college and earn a Ph.D. For now, he is working on some short-term goals. In the past year, he has learned the multiplication tables, and he is still working to improve his handwriting.
Andrew faces challenges in life, like a life-threatening peanut allergy. He has to be very careful to not eat any peanuts. “The hard part is that you have to read the labels for everything you eat,” he says. “I can’t eat things like birthday cake at parties, just to be safe. My mom brings another treat for me.” He has to carry medicine with him at all times in case he accidentally eats peanuts. But the challenge has helped to strengthen his faith. “Every year before school starts I receive a priesthood blessing, and we pray that I will be safe. I feel like the priesthood blessings have protected me.”
Andrew knows that being a good example is one of the best ways to be a missionary to others. He tries to be an example to his dad, who is not a member of the Church. Andrew and his dad have a lot of fun playing sports and spending time together. Dad, who is also Andrew’s den leader, is helping Andrew work toward his Bear badge in Scouting. One of Andrew’s favorite Scouting activities was going fishing in a parking lot! First the leaders made a “fishing hole” out of boxes and duct tape, then they taught the boys how to cast fishing poles with bait into the “hole.”
Andrew likes to spend time with his entire family, including his mom and his sisters Rachel and Sarah. The family enjoys outdoor activities like swimming. They also like traveling. One place they like to visit is Presque Isle State Park, located on a nearby peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie. The family likes to rollerblade and bike on the paths that wind along the beaches there.
Living in Pennsylvania puts Andrew’s family close to many of the Church history sites. A few years ago, the family visited the Palmyra New York Temple. While there, the family also visited the Sacred Grove. Andrew says, “I remember walking around and looking at the trees. I wondered where Joseph was praying when he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.” His family has also visited the Nauvoo area where he saw Carthage Jail and learned about how the Prophet Joseph was martyred. “It was sad,” he says softly.
Andrew’s testimony has grown in many ways. He says, “I know the Church is true, and that the Book of Mormon is true.” How does he know? “Our family reads the Book of Mormon together every night. I prayed about the Book of Mormon, and I got a happy feeling.” With this strong foundation, Andrew is working hard to be a good missionary now to prepare to serve a mission when he is older.