Whatever Ricardo Fortuna does, he does with enthusiasm. This eight-year-old from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic plays baseball with the energy of a professional. He joins his friend and his brother to race toy trucks or stage an imaginary battle between dinosaurs. He gets excited when his mother invites him into the kitchen to cook tostones (fried plantains).
Ricardo eagerly joins in during family home evening. He prays earnestly with his family every morning and evening. He reads and reads his scriptures. And he wishes he could go to Primary more than once a week! Whatever Ricardo does, he does with his heart.
There is one thing that Ricardo does with all his heart—he loves the Lord. He knows it is a commandment because he read it in the Bible: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37).
“That means you love Him all that you can,” Ricardo says. That love was particularly evident in his family’s apartment as they celebrated Christmas. Each night the family read scriptures about the Savior’s birth. Some told about what happened in the Holy Land. Others told about what happened in the New World.
Ricardo says it is important to remember Jesus Christ at Christmas because that’s when people celebrate His birth. “But it’s important to think about Jesus every day and to follow His example,” he says. “We should remember that He taught us about Heavenly Father and how to worship Him and that He also sent us the Holy Ghost.”
Inside the front door of the Fortuna family’s apartment hangs a large painting of the Savior. No matter where in the room you go, you can see Him. “It reminds us to think of Him,” Ricardo says, “not only at Christmas but all through the year.”
Ricardo loves the Articles of Faith, particularly number five, which he can recite muy rápidamente (very quickly). “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof,” he quotes. “That tells us that the Lord calls the leaders of His Church and that we teach the gospel with authority.”
It takes time to make his favorite treat, tostones, but Ricardo thinks it is worth every minute. He and his mother carefully peel and slice the plantains, which look like bananas but are not sweet. They fry them in hot oil, let them cool, and carefully pat them dry. Then comes Ricardo’s favorite part. He places each slice in a wooden press and smashes it flat. Then each slice is fried again. He particularly likes to eat tostones with sausage.
Ricardo often plays with his little brother, Marcus, and with another friend, Manuel, a Latter-day Saint who lives in a neighboring apartment. He knows that true friends encourage each other to do what is right. “Because they look to me for an example, I must set a good example for them,” he says.
Ricardo is also close to his mother and father. “I love my mama and my papa,” he says. “They help me, and they play with me. They teach me, and they read with me. They say prayers with me every morning and every night.”
He also looks to President Thomas S. Monson as an example. “I know that he is a prophet of God and that he speaks the word of God,” Ricardo says. “I know he says his prayers and reads his scriptures, so I should too.”
And Ricardo says Jesus Christ is the greatest example. “He teaches us to do what is right, to be obedient, to pray correctly, and to be reverent and respectful.”