Friend to Friend


Elder Julio E. Dávila

I would like to tell you children of the Church to be worthy to receive miracles in your lives. Every day I remember a miracle that came to my family in 1973.

My wife, Mary, and I and our two daughters were living in Colombia, South America. We had joined the Church in 1968. There were no temples in South America then, but we wanted to be sealed in the temple. We could not afford to buy airline tickets to go to one, so a friend of mine asked the owner of a travel agency to give us a 5 percent discount on our airfare. The travel agency owner was not a member of the Church and was not even a religious person, but when he found out why we needed the tickets, he gave us a pass that could be used to go to any city in the United States. Mary and I were able to be sealed in the Salt Lake Temple. The following year, our daughters, Maritza and Liana, were sealed to us.

I know that the temple is the place where the Lord will bless us. Many South American members of the Church make great sacrifices to travel to one of the temples in South America. Some must make a very difficult trip by boat or bus, traveling four or five days each way.

I was born in the beautiful, clean, quiet city of Bucaramanga, Colombia. I had an older brother and two younger sisters. My father and mother belonged to the Presbyterian church, and they taught us much about the Bible. My father was a journalist and was always studying and writing. He was also very dedicated to studying the Bible. He was a good teacher, too. I remember the way he stood holding the scripture.

He and my mother were eventually baptized into the Church, as were my brother, sisters, and many of our relatives.

My mother was very strict. If any of us did something wrong, she punished all of us. “If you see your brother do something wrong and do not stop him, then you are an accomplice,” she would tell us.

When I was young, we moved to the city of Cartagena. Many boys there were smoking marijuana. I feel that I was blessed because I was never invited to do it. When I was ten or eleven, I became a Boy Scout. I was the only Scout in my public school, so I was chosen to be the leader for many things. I wore my uniform in parades. I collected things for the poor people in the city. I experienced the joy of giving.

The way for you to be happy is to love others and to be obedient. You can set a good example at school and in your family. You can also set an example as a good citizen of your country. If we want to have strong nations, we must start with our children.

Recently our ten-year-old grandson, Farid, brought a friend who belongs to another church for a vacation at our country home in Colombia. Together these two boys began studying the scriptures daily under the trees. They asked me about the Apostle John. “I want to know about him. He was with Jesus. I have many questions to ask about Jesus,” Farid explained.

I know that children need heroes—but not the kind of people you often see on television. If you want to know about true heroes—friends from the past, present, and future—the best way to learn about them is from the scriptures.

One time Farid was in a testimony meeting with us. Just at the moment when he was going to stand to bear his testimony, the bishop closed the meeting. The next night, I asked Farid to bear his testimony in family home evening. He surprised me when he asked, “Which testimony do you want?” He then explained that when children are asked to bear their testimonies, they usually say that they know the Church is true. “But my testimony,” he said, “is more about Jesus Christ. It is very strong.” This is the kind of testimony I hope that all children will have.

Be obedient, children. Be confident in the Lord. Pray every day and study the scriptures. Follow the good example of Jesus when he was a child.

[illustration] Illustration by Nate Pinnock

[photo] Seven-year-old Julio Dávila with his two sisters.