Nicole Davie and Luwana Qummou of Brisbane, Australia, built a bridge together. It wasn’t a massive stone-and-steel structure like the one that arches over the bay behind them as they stroll the waterfront of Brisbane’s business district; Nicole and Luwana built a bridge of trust and love.
While they were teenagers, Nicole met Luwana at Sunnybank High School. They became good friends and have known each other for five years, including the past two years as university students.
“If the full-time missionaries had come to my door, I’m not sure if I would have listened to them,” Luwana says. “But Nicole was my friend. We had lots of fun at school, and I vaguely remember her talking about the Church. It took years before I felt comfortable asking about her religion.”
That finally happened late in 1993. “The first time we had a spiritual talk, she just wanted to learn more,” Nicole says. “She had a lot of questions and was troubled by some things she’d heard from others. I said a prayer for her that night, and I think the Holy Ghost went to work on her.”
“The next day, as we talked again, everything I’d been upset about didn’t seem to matter anymore,” Luwana says. “I felt the Holy Spirit strongly. I felt calm and happy. I knew I needed to study the Church, so I took the missionary discussions and started reading the Book of Mormon. The feelings got stronger and stronger.”
Friendship became a bridge of trust between Nicole and Luwana, and helped Luwana build a bridge of faith linking her to her Heavenly Father. With that kind of path to understanding, it wasn’t long before Luwana was baptized and became an enthusiastic member of the Church.
Now, as Luwana looks out over the waterfront in Brisbane, she knows she is building more bridges—bridges to eternity. Soon she will be married to a returned missionary in the Sydney Temple, and she thanks Nicole for the knowledge that made that possible.
“We’re best friends,” Luwana says. “To know that she wanted to see me marry a worthy man in the temple, that she wanted me to have that happiness, that’s really wonderful.”
Of course, Nicole and Luwana are just two of the thousands of LDS youth in Australia. Many other young Latter-day Saints are also building bridges here, based on gospel foundations firmer than rock. Here’s what they are saying:
“We should concentrate on building the strongest bridges with our families, because we want to be with them throughout the eternities. We should spend time with them, get to know them better, do things for them, and show love and appreciation for them.”
Simon DeGaris, 16 Sydney, New South Wales
“It’s amazing when you start to realize that the things your parents have been saying all along are right. A lot of the things they used to say to me I just took for granted. But as you get older you realize that more of the things they have said are right. You find yourself saying the same things to other people.”
Larissa Jeffrey, 17 Sydney, New South Wales
“In a Church video, Heavenly Father’s Plan, they showed a bridge being built. It had pillars, made of things like repentance. But the keystone of the bridge was faith and testimony. I thought of my dad, who’s not a member, and of my brother, who was struggling at the time. I turned to them and started building bridges.”
Rebecca Munn, 16 Alice Springs, Northern Territory
“Each time you serve another person, it’s like adding another brick in the bridge. Eventually, it becomes a full bridge, a strong relationship with the person you’re serving.”
Emily Kuhn, 12 Darwin, Northern Territory
“In Young Women, we made quilts and baby clothes to be given to a support agency for pregnant mothers who are having troubles. We cleaned up used clothing and ironed it. Just the other day we gave everything to the center, and the lady in charge was so enthusiastic, it made us feel like we wanted to do more.”
Rochelle Glass, 17 Rochedale, Queensland
“One way to build bridges is to reach out to the less active, to talk to them and invite them back to church. Find a way to meet them, like at school. Tell them you miss them and need them. Stick with it and be genuine. It might be just what they need.”
Sonja Forster, 15 Mt. Isa, Queensland
“All my friends at school know I’m a member, they know what I believe in, and they know my standards. They expect me to be the goody-goody. One of my friends said, ‘I want to know more about your church. What do you believe in?’ So I told her about Joseph Smith and how the restored Church began.”
Davina Nieuwenhuizen, 16 Sydney, New South Wales
“Being at seminary is just that extra hour a day when you’re able to learn more about the gospel, and to be with other Latter-day Saints and socialize with them as well. Then you’re a little bit stronger and throughout the rest of the day you have the Spirit with you so you don’t have to stay strong all on your own.”
Gabriel Caballero, 17 Sydney, New South Wales
“Seminary builds a bridge you can cross into the mission field. In the mission field, you have to stand up for what you believe. Seminary helps you understand what the gospel really is and how to tell other people what you believe in.”
Martin Forster, 16 Mt. Isa, Queensland
“Reading the scriptures is like building a bridge. You start on a solid foundation. You read them and find things that sound true. Then you come to church and learn more about them, and you keep building and learning. It strengthens you, like the cables on a bridge strengthen the bridge.”
Israel Samaseia, 13 Sydney, New South Wales
“Reading the scriptures is an important part of our lives because it helps us draw closer to Heavenly Father and to have his Spirit to be with us as we do daily things in our lives. Reading the scriptures helps me to understand what will bring true happiness in my life.”
Lissa Sarafian, 15 Sydney, New South Wales
“At a testimony meeting I kept thinking, Am I going to get up? Then the Spirit hit me really strong and I bore my testimony. After the meeting I was just outside, and this girl came up to me and said, ‘I’m not a member of the Church, but now after hearing your testimony, I want to be baptized.’”
Rosie Mitchell, 17 Cairns, Queensland
“You build a spiritual bridge back to your Father in Heaven by learning how to get back to him. That means you must study and live his word. In fact, the bridge home is already there. The Savior provided it through the Atonement. He can help us, but he can’t make us cross it. We have to do that on our own.”
Donald van West, 16 Mareeba, Queensland
It isn’t always easy to reach out, to cross a chasm, to prepare a way for others. But bridges make it possible. And LDS youth in Australia are building such bridges, brick by brick, cable by cable. In the process, they’re making a remarkable discovery: Bridges are for two-way travel. They allow us to reach out to others, but they also allow others to reach out to us.
Brick by Brick
Be genuine. There’s no substitute for honesty. It’s the most solid foundation to build a bridge on.
Pray often. Guidance from Heavenly Father can lead you to those who need your friendship most.
Consult others. Parents and Church leaders, as well as peers, can help you build relationships with others.
Be patient. Allow others to be themselves, even if it means some extra understanding and consideration from you.
Listen. Good communication is key to a good relationship, and listening is key to good communication.
Look for the best. Don’t find fault or make fun of those around you. Remember the Golden Rule.
Share the gospel. Both members and nonmembers can benefit from your testimony, and you can benefit from their insights and understanding.
Follow Christ. When you are faced with a challenge in a friendship, think about what the Savior would do.