“Love Your Country,” Friend, August 2009, 20–22
Eleven-year-old Nicole Ritfeld enjoys living in the countryside. Her family lives near fields and forests full of bushes, trees, and flowers. Nicole likes to ride her bicycle, and she pedals quickly over dirt and grass alike, dodging puddles.
But Nicole also enjoys the bustle of nearby Paramaribo, the capital city of Suriname. She likes seeing the houses that are crowded close together and the cars, scooters, and bicycles that jostle each other for space. In the center of town is a park called the Palmentuin (Palm Gardens), where the flag of Suriname waves in the sun and statues are often decorated with flowers.
Nicole loves Suriname. So when she heard about a national contest to write an essay about her country, it seemed like a good thing to do. The contest rules said to describe what she would do if she were the Minister of Tourism. In her essay she suggested that historical buildings in Suriname should be cleaned up and beautified and that citizens of Suriname should be friendlier to visitors.
Nicole won the contest for her age group and traveled to Puerto Rico to compete with winners from other countries. Nicole really enjoyed her trip to Puerto Rico. “It is a beautiful country,” she says. “The people there are very kind, and I made lots of friends. But after all, home is home.” She was eager to be with her parents and her four older sisters again. And she was anxious to see her pet cat, Rosy!
Nicole attends the Wanica Branch of the Paramaribo Suriname District. At church, people know her as a Primary girl who is kind and nice, always setting an example of reverence.
One of Nicole’s favorite scriptures is 1 Nephi 8:30, which talks about the iron rod. “I know that if we keep holding on to the iron rod, we can have eternal life with our Heavenly Father,” she says.
The twelfth article of faith also has special meaning to Nicole. She recites, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
Families also have rules that family members should honor and obey. Nicole says her mother, father, and sisters have helped her learn to choose the right. “They correct me when I’m wrong and praise me when I do good,” she says.
Being the youngest isn’t always easy. It’s especially challenging when she sees her sisters go somewhere and she has to stay home. But she knows her family loves her and that they work well together.
One example is when they sing. Nicole loves music. She likes to lead the music, and she has a natural ability to keep everyone on beat and in harmony.
At night Nicole likes to listen to the chirping crickets and the croaking frogs and the sounds of life in the woods around her house. She also likes to think of the city, with its government buildings and street signs, flower stalls and food markets. She is happy to be where she is. And she is grateful that, by writing down her thoughts, she was able to share her love for her country with people throughout the world.