Family Home Evening with a Friend


(Based on a true story)
Shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother (Zechariah 7:9).

Tricia was bored. It seemed like her father and mother had been visiting with Sister Clark forever. Tricia looked around at her brothers and sisters, and they looked just as bored as she felt. She wondered again why they needed to have family home evening with Sister Clark.

“Don’t you think Sister Clark gets tired of us going to her house?” Tricia asked her parents after they left Sister Clark’s home.

“Not at all,” her mother replied.

“I feel that our visits are the highlight of her whole week,” her father added. “She has been lonely since Brother Clark died last year.”

“But don’t you think she would like to have her privacy?” Tricia asked.

“Why don’t you try something,” her mother suggested. “Try imagining everything you can think of that Sister Clark does in a day. List them all on a piece of paper and we’ll see how much time that takes.”

“OK,” Tricia agreed. As soon as they got home, Tricia ran into the kitchen and got a piece of paper and a pen. She sat at the table and thought carefully. She decided to list everything Sister Clark might do in a day. First, she would wake up and get dressed. Next, she would fix breakfast, eat, and brush her teeth. Tricia smiled. She already had five things listed on her paper. She would show her parents how busy Sister Clark really was. After that, Sister Clark would read the newspaper or write letters to her children.

“Oh, no she wouldn’t,” Tricia thought suddenly. “She only had one daughter who died in an accident when she was 13. Sister Clark wouldn’t write letters to her children or grandchildren because she doesn’t have any.”

Tricia tried to swallow a lump that had formed in her throat, but it stuck uncomfortably. She tried to think of what family Sister Clark had to whom she could write a letter.

“Mrs. Benton!” Tricia cried happily. She remembered Sister Clark’s sister, Mrs. Benton, who had visited her last summer. But as Tricia began to write Mrs. Benton’s name on her paper, she remembered that Sister Clark and her sister didn’t get along very well. Sister Clark probably wouldn’t write a letter to her only sister either.

Tricia drew in the corner of her paper as she tried to think of what else Sister Clark would do to occupy her day. When she couldn’t think of anything, she drew some more. Finally, Tricia decided that Sister Clark would probably watch a morning news program and wash the dishes. Then there was that afghan she was working on. She liked to make caramels and give them to people in the ward. Of course, she might do some cleaning, but her house was always so spotless.

“No wonder she always seems so happy to see us,” Tricia said out loud. “We really are the highlight of her whole week.”

“You’re absolutely right,” her father said. Tricia looked up and realized that her father had been standing behind her for a while. “Is it really so bad to visit Sister Clark every week?” he asked quietly.

The lump returned to Tricia’s throat, and she could not answer. She shook her head and looked down at her paper. It had more doodles on it than items in her list. She wadded up the paper and threw it away. Her father held out his arms to her and she rushed into his waiting hug.

“It’s not bad visiting Sister Clark, Daddy,” she whispered. “Actually, I’m really glad that we share our family home evenings with a friend.”

[True Religion]

President Howard W. Hunter

“True religion consists not only in refraining from evil … , but in deliberately and purposefully doing acts of kindness and service to others.” President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95), “True Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1978, 12.

[illustrations] Illustrations by Julie F. Young