The Language of Friendship


Finding a Friend

Just before he started third grade, Jeff W. moved from South Korea to Columbia, Missouri, with his parents and his younger sister, Sarah. He didn’t speak English very well, so it was hard to make friends at first.

But that was before he met Will H., a boy in his class. Will noticed Jeff reading a book about a cartoon character that Will really liked too. Will asked if he could look at Jeff’s book, and that’s where their friendship began.

When Will invited Jeff over to play, Jeff’s dad brought a whole box of goodies from a bakery. He said it was the first time anyone had invited Jeff over to play in the United States.

Finding the Gospel

Jeff and Will weren’t in the same class in fourth grade, but they still got together to play. Then Will started inviting Jeff to Primary activities. When the ward Christmas party rolled around, Will asked his mom if he could invite Jeff. Will’s mom said, “Let’s invite the whole family!”

When Jeff’s family came to the party, they felt a special feeling. Next they came to the Christmas program in sacrament meeting. They made friends in the ward and started learning more about the Church. At the end of fourth grade, Jeff and his whole family were baptized into the Church.

Becoming a member of the Church changed Jeff’s life a lot. He says it made him feel safer. At first he liked going to church because he could see Will. Soon he liked answering questions about the scriptures.

Speaking the Language

Jeff learned to speak English so well that he represented his class in the school geography bee. Will learned that language doesn’t have to be a barrier to friendship. And Jeff’s family learned that the Spirit speaks to all of Heavenly Father’s children in the same language.

Moving Back to South Korea

Two months after Jeff was baptized, he moved with his family back to South Korea. School there is very competitive. Many students go to another school after their regular school day to learn extra math and English. But Jeff already speaks English so well that he takes piano lessons instead.

There aren’t very many members of the Church in Bucheon, South Korea, where Jeff and his family live. But everyone in the ward is good and kind, says Jeff’s dad. Every Sunday Jeff likes seeing the other six Primary children who are his age. He also likes it when the missionaries come over for dinner.

Even though Jeff and Will don’t get to see each other right now, they have big plans for the future. When they get older, they want to go to Brigham Young University together!

Their Favorite Things

  • Food: roasted chicken

  • Games: computer games

  • Activities: skiing

  • Food: sausage pizza

  • Games: computer games

  • Activities: four square

Photographs courtesy of the families; border wood texture © Corbis; skis and rubber ball © Getty Images