Friend to Friend


Study my word (D&C 11:22).
Elder H. Verlan Andersen

Two of the greatest blessings that I have received during my lifetime are (1) that I was born when the Church was upon the earth and (2) that I was given parents who taught me to study and love the scriptures at a very early age. During my early childhood, my family lived in northern Utah, where the winters are very cold. We lived five or six miles from the nearest schoolhouse, so my parents decided that rather than send me to school, my mother would teach me to read and write at home.

The text my mother used was the Book of Mormon, and I still remember how very interested I was in reading about the wars between the Lamanites and the Nephites. I came to realize at that early age that when one army is righteous and the other one is wicked, the Lord will always help the righteous one to win the battle. I have had a very deep love for the Book of Mormon since that time.

My father, who always worked on a farm, was a hardworking man, and he expected his children to work hard also. I recall that when I was five or six years old, my sister, who is about three years older than I, was driving a span of four horses hitched to a disc plow. I was sitting on a metal plate placed just above the large steel discs that revolved and tilled the soil. My feet were resting on a crossbar in front of me. To entertain myself, I put my head down between my legs and watched the ground as we passed over it. While doing this, I became dizzy, lost consciousness, and fell faceup on the ground in front of the moving plow. The sharp discs ran over me and cut my face in several places, but the wounds were not serious enough to leave scars or cause lasting injuries. I have always known that the Lord miraculously protected me from harm or possible death while the heavy machinery passed over my head and body.

My parents were continually teaching me the gospel in my youth, and they often urged me to control my temper—something that I had difficulty doing. My mother taught me that it was foolish to become angry, because anger was more harmful to the one who was angry.

The faith that my parents instilled in me was so deep that I had little difficulty in coming to believe that Heavenly Father controls and governs the challenges, difficulties, and problems that come to us in life and that they are for our good. I came to realize that while He gives us complete freedom to decide how we will react to the tests that He gives us, He arranges the events in our lives so that we can grow and develop and overcome our weaknesses. Once we become convinced that the offenses of others give us the opportunity to learn to be patient and forgiving, we can see how foolish it is to become angry at those who may offend us.

Another scriptural truth that my parents taught me and that has deeply influenced my life is that the Lord knows everything that is going to happen to us before it happens. I recall that when I was about seven or eight years old, I was walking down a dusty lane, thinking about my parents telling me that the Lord knew everything that I was going to do before I did it. In my childish foolishness I thought, Now I am going to fool the Lord. He thinks that I am going to take a step directly in front of me, but I am going to fool Him. I am going to step over to the side, just to show that He doesn’t really know everything that I’m going to do. It took me some time before I realized that the Lord also knew beforehand that I was going to try to fool Him.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy in the Mexico/Central America Area. There are many wonderful people there who are of the house of Israel and who are anxious to hear and accept the gospel. Some of them do not have enough to eat or to wear. Nevertheless, they are a happy and loving people, and by observing them, we can learn that it does not take wealth, comfort, and luxury to make us happy. On the other hand, it is living the gospel of Jesus Christ that makes us happy. Children, if you want to be happy, be obedient to your Heavenly Father and your parents, study the scriptures, and pray always.

[illustration] Illustrated by Scott Greer

[photo] Elder Andersen, second from top

[photo] Elder Andersen as a missionary in Montana