Friend to Friend


Blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God (Hel. 12:23).
Elder Andrew W. Peterson

As a boy, I lived next door to the bishop of our ward, Bishop Philip T. Sonntag. His son Mark was one of my best friends. One afternoon when I was quite small, Mark and I were playing outside his home and having a wonderful time. Mark was in a distant part of the yard, when his father came outside and said to me, “Drew, do you know where Mark is?” I knew that if I told him the truth, he would say that it was time for Mark to come inside, so I shook my head. “No, I don’t know where he is.”

Bishop Sonntag went back into the house, and I joined Mark again.

“Who was that?” Mark asked me.

“It was your dad,” I answered.

“What did he want?”

“He wanted you to go inside.”

“Then I’d better go in,” Mark said.

He left, and I stayed outside. A few minutes later, Bishop Sonntag came outside again. He told me that what I had done was not right and that he was disappointed that I hadn’t told the truth.

I felt terrible as I walked home and went into my bedroom. I remember crying, kneeling by my bed, and asking Heavenly Father to forgive me. Then I got up and went back to the Sonntag home. Bishop Sonntag answered my knock. I looked up at him and said, “I just want you to know that I’m sorry about what I did.” He put his arms around me, picked me up, and carried me into the house. We sat on the couch and shared a nice moment together.

That experience taught me at least two valuable lessons: One, it’s important to tell the truth. Two, if we repent after making a mistake, we will feel better. I’ll always remember the outpouring of love I felt from my bishop as I visited him, trying to correct my mistake.

When I was about four years old, my family and I spent Easter with relatives in Ephraim, a small town in Utah. We went for a picnic there, and it was then that I saw a cactus for the first time. I ran back to my family, and my uncle was the first person I saw. “I’ve just seen something I’ve never seen before,” I told him. I described what it looked like. “What is it?”

“It’s a cactus,” he said. “You know what cactuses are for, don’t you?”

“No, what are they for?” I asked.

“They’re for sitting on.”

I ran back to the cactus I had seen, and I sat on it. The rest of the afternoon was spent with my mother picking out the painful prickles from the cactus. I learned then that when someone tells you something, you have to pay attention to whether he’s serious or just having fun!

Several years ago, when I was a Primary teacher, our ward Primary planned an outing to see the Salt Lake Temple. Everyone was excited about the chance to be near the temple and to talk about it together.

We had planned our outing for the first Saturday in May, but that day a major snowstorm hit the city. The question in everybody’s mind was “Are we still going to go?”

The snow was falling as we gathered at the ward. The Primary president said to us, “I know you’ve all been concerned, but I’ve prayed about it and I’ve been impressed that we should still go.”

We climbed into the cars, and by the time we got to the temple and unloaded everyone, the snowstorm had stopped and the sun was out. The Lord had known that all these children were coming to see His temple. We were able to walk around the beautiful temple and have a wonderful time. How special it was—and is—to know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers, and watches over His children everywhere!

While serving as a missionary in South America and as a mission president in Mexico, I met many children and came to realize that children around the world laugh and cry and love and that their needs are very similar. I have felt the love the Savior has for children. The same blessings will be given to children no matter where they are, if they are willing to have faith, be obedient, pray, and be honest.

[photo] 1. At age 4 (top, center), with Mom, Dad, sister Kari, and brother Kevin

[photo] 2. In his dentist office with a patient

[photo] 3. At age 4

[photo] 4. At his grandfather’s grave, with his son Andrew

[photo] 5. At age 6

[photo] 6. As one of the sons of Mosiah in the Hill Cumorah Pageant (right)

[photo] 7. Hiking with his son Daniel at a Scout Camp

[photo] 8. After his daughter Megan’s wedding