I love the name of this children’s magazine. Friends are important in our lives, and it’s appropriate that the name of the magazine for young children in the Church is called the Friend.
In my childhood, I was blessed with many good friends, friends who deeply influenced my life. My best friends were my family, particularly my father.
I grew up on a farm and worked side by side with my father all day long. I learned so much from him! I learned about the importance of hard work, honesty, and integrity. I also learned about the gospel and about developing a strong relationship with the Lord.
My mother was also a treasured friend, as was Berniel, my older sister and only sibling. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the four of us gathering together in the evening after a hard day of work. My father played the harmonica, and my mother sang. Often my sister and I also sang. We shared a closeness and unity that I know will last forever.
My parents were the driving force behind my activity in the Church. I knew how much they loved me, and I knew how important the Church was to them. Growing up, I could not have dreamed of disappointing them or hurting them in any way. As I lived the gospel principles and followed my parents’ examples, I developed my own testimony of the gospel. I learned for myself that the only way to be happy in this life is by obeying Heavenly Father’s commandments. I also learned that another treasured friend was the Savior.
One of the fundamental things my parents taught me was the importance of prayer. They taught me that if there was ever anything wrong in my life or if I ever needed help, I should always pray. One of the first times I remember following their advice was when I was about six years old.
That year for Christmas I had been thrilled to find a toy bow and arrow under the Christmas tree. This toy was exactly what I had wanted. I spent many hours aiming the arrow straight up into the air and seeing how high I could get it to fly.
One day I shot the arrow into the air, then lost sight of it. I had no idea where it landed. I spent a very long time looking for it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I remember how bad I felt. I thought at the time that this was one of the saddest things that had ever happened to me.
Remembering what my parents had taught me, I decided to ask Heavenly Father for help. I knelt by the trunk of an apple tree and told Him what had happened. I asked Him for help in finding the arrow. When I opened my eyes, the arrow was next to me, sticking in the ground. That made a great impression on me, and I have relied heavily since then on the power of prayer.
Because I grew up on a farm, I didn’t have a lot of neighbors or close friends. Because my parents taught me to respect all of God’s creatures, some of my dearest childhood friends were animals. I enjoyed spending time with my two favorite animal friends—my horse, Lady, and my dog, Brownie.
I had always wanted a horse, and I shared that desire with my father as we worked together on the farm. One day, Dad took me to a horse auction with him to buy a pony. We sat and watched as different horses were brought into the arena. Before long, four foals were shown. Dad started to bid and eventually was the highest bidder for a sum of eleven dollars. As highest bidder, he had first choice to buy any one of the foals.
He turned to me and said, “OK, Son, which one do you want?” I was so excited! My dream had come true. There were three healthy foals and one that was scrawny and thin. I picked the scrawny one. I felt sorry for her and told my dad, “She needs me.”
We didn’t have any way to get my new foal home, so we took the backseat out of the car, and my father sat in the back of the car, holding the colt while my uncle drove us home.
I named my new friend Lady. She was very tiny and young; I had to feed her from a bottle three times a day. She followed me around and was almost like a member of the family! She mimicked everything I did. If I squealed, she squealed. When I ran, she ran right behind me. I enjoyed graham crackers, and that was her favorite treat as well. She grew into one of the most beautiful, award-winning, and well-mannered riding horses I have ever seen.
My dog, Brownie, was my other good friend. We spent many hours playing together. One of our favorite games was hide-and-seek. I’d throw a stick as far as I possibly could, then quickly hide. Brownie would fetch the stick and then always come and find me.
My family didn’t have a lot of the things people think are important, but I grew up with what I needed to be happy. It doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you have. What matters most in life is how you live. And one of the most important things you can have in your life is good friends who love and support you.
Each of us has the opportunity to develop a strong friendship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. When He is our best friend, we can be confident that we have the love and support we need to find peace and happiness in this life and in the life to come.