Friend to Friend

From a personal interview by Joleen Meredith with a General Authority’s two children.

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    “When I was a small child, we moved a lot. In fact, we moved fourteen times during the first ten years of my life. I was often afraid at night, and I remember my father holding my hand until I fell asleep. He was so kind and understanding,” said Michael.

    The son and daughter of this General Authority were both smiling as they recollected this childhood memory one afternoon during an interview at Brigham Young University.

    “My father is a gentleman. He never shouts, and he is a peacemaker wherever he goes.

    “Dad was born in the Netherlands, but he was converted to the Church in Toronto, Canada. He says that he kept calling the mission home in Toronto to have the missionaries come and teach him. For some reason they missed him on several occasions. He kept calling and calling. Finally, the missionaries came, gave him the lessons, and baptized him.”

    “He speaks Dutch, English, Spanish, Indonesian, French, German, and Cantonese. He also speaks some Italian and Portuguese. He’s a remarkable man!

    “Dad always looks at the positive side of life—the sunny side. He takes time with people, and I’m amazed at how generous he is with his time. He loves to interview missionaries and to help others.”

    “I don’t recall my father ever disciplining me harshly,” said Audrey, age eighteen. “My greatest punishment followed times when I disappointed or hurt him. Then I suffered too.

    “My father loves missionary work. He was first counselor in the mission presidency in Holland and always tried to set a good example. In his business dealings with many important people, he always represented Church standards through his example. As a regional representative in Holland and Spain, he did much to help the people there.

    “One thing I remember were our week-long trips to the temple when I was younger. We lived in Holland and would drive twelve hours to the Swiss Temple. My brother and I would do baptisms for the dead, while Mother and Father would go through the temple on endowment sessions.”

    “Dad and I have had some special times together,” related Michael. “We played table tennis and were both in a badminton club in Holland. While we were in Holland, I’d often chauffeur Dad to conferences. We both liked the same type of music and enjoyed riding along, listening to the radio.

    “Dad likes spaghetti and Indonesian food—fried rice and meat on a wooden stick.

    “His hobbies include his language studies. He doesn’t really have much time for himself. Once in a great while he enjoys watching a soccer game. He also likes to walk.”

    “Our dad has a marvelous talent for having a close, interpersonal relationship with others. He is also a good speaker and is always well prepared.

    “His love of life is evident, and he exemplifies the power of positive thinking. When others are having trouble measuring up, he often remarks, ‘They haven’t learned any better yet. Maybe we can help them.’”

    “Dad shows his love for me through his willingness to help with any problems I’m having. He helps me with my German and French. We know he cares about us. Even when he’s busy traveling, he somehow finds time to send each of us cards.

    “My father likes his first name. ‘It’s like Jacob in the Book of Mormon,’ he says.”

    Show References

    • Elder Jacob de Jager

      This General Authority is Elder Jacob de Jager of the First Quorum of the Seventy.