Friend to Friend


Cecil O. Samuelson Jr.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34).

My family didn’t have much money as I was growing up, but we had so much love for each other that we didn’t know that we were poor. And we helped each other through good times and bad.

Although we never went without food or clothing, we had to make most of the things we needed. My father could find a book on how to make almost anything. With my mother’s help, he built our home, and over the years he also built a freezer, a boat, an electric car, and other things.

When I was about five years old, while my parents built our home, we lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, in an apartment owned by my Aunt Elizabeth. We had heavy snows that winter and then a quick thaw, which caused a tremendous flood to sweep through the area where we lived, bringing rocks and sand with it.

When the flood waters were finally gone, my aunt gave me the task of shoveling the dirt it left behind into a little red wagon and unloading it onto a big mound, which was later hauled away. She paid me one or two cents a wagonload. That was how I earned a large part of the money to buy myself a Red Flyer wagon. What a great thing that was! I thought it was a privilege to have a job. My aunt could have had somebody else do it a lot more quickly and easily, but the experience helped me learn the value of working hard. This lesson has helped me at school, in the mission field, at work, and in other areas of my life.

As a boy, I had many interesting experiences with my father’s father. He didn’t have much schooling but was a very wise and good man. He was a superb carpenter and painter, and I can remember spending time with him painting. I thought I was learning to paint, but actually I was learning lessons that were even more important.

My grandfather often told me about the blessings that come from the payment of tithing. Two of his children, my father and my uncle, served missions during the Great Depression, when many people couldn’t afford to go on missions. It was quite an unusual thing to have two sons on a mission. Grandfather, who didn’t ever have much money, used to bear his testimony that his sons were able to serve missions because they always paid their tithing. He said, “I wouldn’t know how we’d make it at times; then somebody would call me and ask me to build a set of steps for them or paint their house or something like that.” I’ve wondered how many of those sets of steps really needed to be built. I’m sure Grandfather would not have taken a handout.

Grandfather thought that the payment of tithing was not only a duty but an opportunity. Shortly before his death I heard him bear his testimony, in a matter-of-fact but very direct way, that blessings come through the faithful payment of tithing. I’ve always considered it a privilege to pay my tithing, and I’ve seen the blessings that have come into people’s lives through living this principle.

Some of the most important things we can do in our families are share with and love and take care of one another. To be loved by someone is a great blessing, and to love someone is a great blessing as well. Most of us do not realize how important our brothers and sisters are when we’re young. It is likely that some of you may not always get along with your brothers and sisters. Remember that even though you squabble and argue with them, they are very important to you. Hopefully, they will be your best friends one day.

We should treat our families with love not only because it is a commandment to love one another but because this is the way to be happy. If you are having difficulty with someone, the best way to solve the problem is not to try to get the other person to change, but to try to love him or her more. Often the best way to change a problem is to change yourself.

I have great love for my ancestors. It’s comforting to know that not only my father, who has passed away, but also my grandparents, great-grandparents, and others who have died are cheering for me and for my family. I believe that is true for everyone. Our ancestors love us, and we should love them, just as we love our relatives who are with us now.

You are loved very much by Heavenly Father, by Jesus Christ, and by the leaders of the Church. You are loved by your Primary leaders and teachers as well. Probably the most important quality for Primary teachers to have is love for children. You’ll have teachers who have taught for many years and teachers who haven’t taught before, some who are shy and some who are outgoing. But they all have one thing in common: they love children. Children are very important in the Church.

[photo] Elder Samuelson as a baby with his mother

[photo] Elder Samuelson (right), age 4, with his brother Kent

[photo] Elder Samuelson as a missionary

[photo] At age 18, in the Army Reserve

[photo] Sister and Elder Samuelson (front, center) with their children (from left: Rebecca, Benjamin, Cecil, Scott, Sara)