Friend to Friend

From a personal interview by Joleen Meredith with children of a General Authority.

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    “I always turn to my dad for good advice. He’s so easy to talk to.”

    This remark seemed to be repeated again and again by one child after another during our discussion together.

    A recently married daughter said, “I always vowed I wouldn’t marry anyone who wasn’t just like my dad. And I’m so lucky—I found a man just like him.”

    “Dad has always been understanding. Once I was driving a borrowed car and became involved in a wreck. I was devastated and in tears when Dad arrived. He patiently helped me through that crisis, and I’ll never forget that experience.”

    “When he tries to sing a song and doesn’t know the words, he makes up new ones. It’s really fun to sit next to him when he’s singing—it’s like listening to a foreign language.”

    “Dad’s a tease and loves to tickle! When our family was in the mission field, Dad would tease the missionaries a lot.

    “Speaking of the mission field, Dad used to tell the elders not to ‘tiptoe through the tulips,’ but to get the job done. At one zone conference during Christmastime, our whole family was on the program. Dad wore an orange hat and we sang and danced to ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips.’”

    “Dad is directly descended from Hyrum Smith and Melvin J. Ballard, and he enjoys telling us stories about his family. He has deep love and concern for older people but he also likes to work with the youth. I guess he just loves people.”

    “Dad always encourages us to be strong in the Church. When we were in the mission field he told us that our own mission was to be examples to others.”

    “I could never lie to my father, because I feel as though he can see right through me.”

    “Dad’s fun to be with on a vacation. He always says that it’s our trip and for us to decide what we want to do. Although he dislikes waiting in lines, he will if it’s for something we really want to do.”

    “Dad usually wears a suit. Once when our family went to Aspen Grove for a family vacation, I forgot my tennis shoes so Dad took me to town to buy some new ones. While we were at the store he decided to buy some jeans and a checkered shirt for himself. The family almost didn’t recognize him when he came back dressed in his new look.”

    Nine-year-old Craig said, “I like it when Dad plays with me and when he teaches me about the gospel. He has taught me how to use the scriptures.”

    “While we were in the mission field, Dad asked all of us to invite our nonmember friends to a fireside. About thirty young people attended, and for 2 1/2 hours Dad told them all about our church and about the gospel. Then he bore his testimony to them. Many of them hadn’t lived lives to be proud of but they all listened. The impact was something! Some of our friends commented that it was certainly a different way to spend a Friday night. I’m sure many who attended will never forget that evening. Seeds were planted that may bear fruit in years to come.”

    “It’s a special experience to have your dad marry you,” a daughter remarked. “After our ceremony, he bore his testimony of a living Savior. It was so special that we were all in tears.”

    “I love our family home evenings because this is the time when we all bring our questions to Dad and he answers them to the best of his ability. We’ve had many deep discussions about the Church.

    “My father sometimes takes each of us to lunch so just the two of us can visit together.”

    “He loves ice cream, chocolate cake, steak, and chicken. And on Christmas mornings he makes a tasty omelette for all of us.”

    “At special times Dad gives us a father’s blessing—the first day of school, when we are preparing to leave home for a while, on a wedding day, at times of illness, etc.”

    “He’s always a missionary. We will go into a restaurant and when we’re asked about something to drink, he’ll respond to the waitress, ‘We don’t drink coffee. We’re Mormons. By the way, what do you know about the Mormon church?’”

    As the interview was coming to a close, I inquired if there might be one quality that seemed to describe him best. The unanimous answer came, “Inner strength—he never lets us down.”

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney

    Show References

    • This General Authority is Elder M. Russell Ballard of the First Quorum of the Seventy.