Friend to Friend

By Elder Robert L. Backman

Of the First Quorum of the Seventy

Print Share
    Elder Robert L. Backman

    Our loving Father in heaven has blessed us with eighteen grandchildren, who are the light of my life. I love them so much it is difficult to express it in words. When our home is filled with their sweet spirits and their joyous laughter, I know I am a wealthy man. And when they tell me they love me, my heart almost bursts.

    These youngsters have taught me many lessons about faith and love. I know what the Savior meant when He gathered the children around Him and declared:

    “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3.)

    Two years ago one of our daughters was seriously ill and hospitalized for several weeks. Our entire family was deeply concerned. Michelle suggested in a family home evening that her family fast for their aunt. The family agreed. The next day Michelle quietly fasted. She even asked for permission from her teacher to stay in the classroom during the lunch hour so she would not be tempted to eat. Her little brother Neal did not do so well. He cried when he arrived home from school because he had not been able to resist when a boy offered him a cookie. I was proud of both of them.

    In a recent fast and testimony meeting, Charlotte, age six, bore her testimony, expressing love for her parents, the Church, and President Kimball. To her parents’ surprise, 3-year-old Laura followed. She gave a powerful sermon in a few words by saying, “I know my sisters love me. I love my sisters.” And then she sat down.

    Tyler, now 5 years old and anxious to start school, prays with the maturity of an adult. His prayers are very personal and always different, as he talks to his Heavenly Father in a meaningful way. His little brother Brandon is following in his footsteps. Although it is difficult to understand him, it is obvious that he, too, loves Heavenly Father.

    When I ask my grandsons what they are going to do when they turn nineteen, they all reply, “I hope they call me on a mission.” In fact, all of them have missionary savings accounts and our granddaughters are saving for temple marriage hope chests.

    Not long ago my wife and I shared a family home evening with a daughter’s family. The father was a seventy and involved in stake missionary work. To our delight, Robbie, eight years old and newly baptized, brought out his father’s flip charts and gave us a discussion from the missionary lessons. I would like to be that young man’s mission president someday.

    Robbie, Dan, and Melissa’s older brother Joey is mentally retarded. He lives at the training school in American Fork, Utah. When they visit him, they play with Joey and the other special children who live with him. To see how they share their love is a sacred experience. They really enjoy the opportunity of making Joey and his friends happy, and they return to their home uplifted and enriched by the experience. It causes them to love one another even more.

    As we have attended the baptismal services for our grandchildren, we’ve shared their happiness in becoming members of the Church. After her baptism, Amy innocently wrote in her journal: “When I was baptized, it was fun because I became a member of the Church. … Now it is all over and I don’t have any more sins and I don’t have to worry.” Seeing these precious children reach out to take their fathers’ hands in complete faith and trust as they enter the baptismal font has been one of the most beautiful sights I have witnessed. Then, joining with others in placing my hands on their heads as they have been confirmed and having their fathers give them the gift of the Holy Ghost and a father’s blessing have been experiences I shall never forget.

    If I sound like a proud grandfather, I am—just as proud as your grandfathers are of you. Our grandchildren are our treasure—special spirits entrusted to us by our Father in heaven. We know what a royal generation you are! We love you and have faith in you.

    I pray that my grandchildren, and grandchildren everywhere, will understand what Jesus taught and will be converted to His gospel. I hope they remain as little children, full of love and faith, so that they all might enter into the kingdom of heaven.