“Building a Friend Ship,” New Era, Sept. 1994, 32
She was sure it was late fall of 1993. At least that’s what Amy Westerby thought when she left Provo one morning to travel to Antelope Island located in the middle of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Somewhere along the way, she seemed to go back in time 600 years before Christ.
Amy had been selected to play the character Susan in the new seminary videos where truths from the Book of Mormon are played out in modern scenarios. This day she was there to participate in the opening shots of the video called I Will Prepare the Way, where her character walks along a long, white sand beach. She was also going to get the chance to see Nephi’s boat being built.
According to Amy it was amazing to see a huge wooden boat being constructed before her eyes. And the men playing Nephi and his brothers were so realistically dressed. It felt a little like a time machine. “It was great just to be there,” said Amy, “and watch the whole thing happen.”
The video first follows the story of Nephi being commanded to build a ship. His brothers ridicule him, but Nephi knows that the Lord will not give him a commandment without preparing the way for him to accomplish it. Then the story switches to a modern one where one girl, Susan (played by Amy), feels inspired to help another girl, Linda (played by Coco Warner), become active in the Church again. Like Nephi, she has some people in her life who tell her it can’t be done. But, like Nephi, she has faith that the Lord will help her find a way.
Coco had to try to imagine what it would be like not to understand about faith and how she would react to the persistence of a new friend. Coco said, “I wasn’t the cool cheerleader type in high school like my character is. But I did know people like her that when you first meet them you think they are perfect and that they have everything. When you get to know them, you find out they are really insecure about a lot of things. I just tried to remember people like that who kept everybody at a distance or seemed kind of untouchable, but when you break through and really talk to them, they are down to earth and have their problems just like everybody else.”
The ship was finished at last. The sun was setting, turning the sky all colors of red and gold. It was the perfect concluding shot for the video. The ship became a symbol, a symbol of something the Lord asked to have done and of the help he gave to those who listened to him. Just like Nephi building the ship, we all are asked to build friendships to help each other stay close to the Lord through participation in the Church.
The video shows that sometimes miraculous things are accomplished by people who didn’t start out knowing if they would succeed or not. They had faith, and the Lord helped them find a way.