Friend Power in New Zealand

Being a good friend sometimes means being a good missionary.

Jaslyn Simpson took a leap of faith in a Beehive class of only two young women. The Beehive adviser in the Crofton Downs Ward, Wellington New Zealand Stake, challenged the Beehives, as part of a lesson on missionary work, to invite a friend to church. And Jaslyn decided she would do it.

“I knew there was something missing in Amy’s life,” Jaslyn says, “so I knew I should introduce her to the gospel.” Jaslyn’s small act of love triggered a major change in the life of her best friend, Amy Valentine. Amy came to church with Jaslyn at the first invitation. She kept coming to Sunday meetings and weeknight activities for the next two months, until Jaslyn and her family moved to Sydney, Australia.

“I had never really had a Christian background. I had no idea how to pray or anything,” Amy says. “But before Jaslyn and her family moved, I decided I was going to keep going to church without them. By then, I knew some other people at church.”

One of those people was Michelle Broczek, the other Beehive in the Crofton Downs Ward. Michelle invited Amy to take the missionary discussions in her home and, with her parents’ approval, Amy was baptized when she was 13. That was five years ago.

But Amy’s transition into the Church wasn’t easy. “Even when I was leading up to it and for a while after my baptism, it was hard to adjust,” she says. Michelle’s friendship and love helped Amy stay close to the gospel, even though her family and her other friends were not members. “Michelle is an amazing example,” Amy explains. “That was one of the biggest differences for me.”

“I’ve always done those things,” Michelle says. “I didn’t change just because Amy was joining the Church.”

Michelle knows it is important to be an example, especially to strengthen investigators and new members in the Church. “Keep on working on your testimony and yourself, and be aware of the little things you do,” she counsels.

Amy and Michelle gain a lot of strength from each other, and they have strong individual testimonies too. They both frequently give away copies of the Book of Mormon with their testimonies written inside.

Love at Home

Even with a strong testimony of the gospel, Amy finds that being the only member in the family is not easy. Although she has been able to share the gospel with her friends at school, it is more difficult with her family. “I look to my parents as an example,” she says. “So it is kind of a switch when I try to teach them more about the gospel.”

Not having other members of the Church in her family makes the goal of a temple marriage very important to Amy. She wants to have a family that is strong in the gospel and to do all the things she doesn’t get a chance to do now, like having family scripture study and family home evening.

Christlike Love

Amy keeps trying to share the gospel with her family, and she hopes her example and activity in the Church will eventually have an effect on them. She stays active by praying a lot and drawing strength from the Young Women program.

Now that she is a Laurel, Amy has also chosen a value project that is helping her come closer to Christ. “This year I’m really concentrating on getting to know Jesus Christ better,” she says. Realizing that the way to know Him better is to be more like Him, Amy made a list of all the attributes of Christ she could think of, with help from the scriptures. She came up with attributes like faith, charity, and generosity, and she tries to develop each of the qualities on her list one at a time.

To others in her situation, Amy has some words of advice. “Really, really study,” she emphasizes. “Gain a testimony and an understanding of the gospel for yourself. Don’t rely on others, because it is up to you. Always rely on Heavenly Father. He will give you the understanding and the blessings you need.”

Labor of Love

The young women in her ward all agree: Amy’s life is a labor of love. “Everyone should want to have a friend who is as dedicated to the gospel as Amy is. She loves the gospel,” says Kelly Butters, who just moved from the Young Women program into Relief Society.

Since the gift of the gospel was shared with her, Amy feels she needs to share it with others too. She and Michelle and the other young women in their stake have fellowshipped others, and they continue to share the gospel and their testimonies.

Jaslyn’s small leap of faith, taken five years ago, has rippled through Amy’s life. It continues to bless the lives of others through Amy’s example and testimony.

You’re Invited!

Margaret D. Nadauld

Will you reach out and bring one other young woman into full activity in the Church this coming year? Surely each one of you knows of a girl who is less active or a recent convert or who is not a member. We are asking you to reach out and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with one other young woman, so that she can also enjoy the sweet blessings of heaven. … Just think, if each one of you will accept this invitation to reach out and bring in just one, next year there will be twice as many active young women! Let the Holy Spirit guide you in your effort. Your parents and your leaders will also help you know what to do and how to do it.” —Margaret D. Nadauld, Young Women general president (“A Comforter, a Guide, a Testifier,” Liahona, July 2001, 111)

[photos] Photography by Shanna Ghaznavi

[photo] After a friend introduced Amy Valentine (right) to the Church, Michelle Broczek (left) helped provide support and friendship.

[photo] Now Amy (second from left), Michelle (center), and other young women in the stake share the gospel and their testimonies.