Making Friends:

Out of the Best Books—Benjamin Ruben of Suva, Fiji

By Adam C. Olson

Church Magazines

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Getting a book out of Benjamin Ruben’s hands for long is like taking the wet out of water. It can’t be done.

“I like to read,” Benjamin says, sitting in a pile of books from his bookshelf. “A lot.”

It’s hard to disagree with this eight-year-old missionary-in-the-making from Suva, Fiji. He reads everything he can get his eyes on—usually more than once.

“When he can’t get something new to read,” his mom says, “he starts reading everything over again.”

Benjamin enjoys soccer and playing hide-and-seek with his friends, but nothing is better than reading.

“Sometimes he’ll watch cartoons,” his mom says. “But otherwise he’s reading.”

Benjamin reads everything from picture books to children’s novels to the Friend and the scriptures. In fact, the scriptures are some of his favorite books.

He likes the Doctrine and Covenants a lot. He reads the Bible with his family. And his mom says that sometimes she’ll just sit and listen to him tell about stories he’s read in the Book of Mormon.

“Sometimes they’re stories I didn’t even know,” she says. “And when we read the Bible as a family, he’s always way ahead.”

Much of Benjamin’s love of reading comes from his thirst for learning. If he had a spelling test every day in school, he’d probably be happy. Benjamin likes learning new words so much that every Sunday he tracks down his bishop like a bloodhound so he can spell what he learned during the week.

His mom worries about pestering the bishop too much, but the bishop, a schoolteacher, doesn’t mind.

Math and science are also fun for Benjamin. But his favorite subject of all is the Savior.

“I like Primary,” he says, “because I like learning about Jesus Christ. That’s my favorite thing.”

Benjamin is already looking forward to serving a mission. “I want to learn more about Jesus Christ so I can teach about Him,” Benjamin says. “I want to be a missionary and preach about the gospel.”

He’s also looking forward to the day he can hold the Aaronic Priesthood. He’s preparing by obeying his parents and trying to do what’s right. Just the other day he chose the right when his mother asked who had turned the volume on the TV up so high.

“I told her that it was me,” he says.

Getting along with his brothers and sisters—Vimal, 16; Rimal, 12; Joseph, 11; and Adrian, 2—is one way Benjamin helps his parents.

Another way is by doing his share of the chores around the house. “He always helps me when I ask him to do work,” his mom says. There’s always something to do. Cleaning up the yard, sweeping inside the house, doing dishes, and dusting are all common chores.

Another great thing about Benjamin is that whenever his mom needs help, she knows where to find him—curled up with a good book.

Photography by Adam C. Olson

The sun sets over Suva Harbor in Fiji (left).

Well-worn books surround avid reader Benjamin Ruben (right).

Benjamin and his brothers and sisters, Vimal, Rimal, Joseph and Adrian (right) don’t live too far from the Suva Fiji Temple (below).