Friendly Light

by Don O. and Catherine Thorpe

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It’s amazing how far the light from one flashlight will reach.

“What’s that book?”

Kaylan Miller was curious to see what her friend April Leach was reading, particularly because she was reading by flashlight.

“It’s called the Book of Mormon,” April replied. “It’s part of our scriptures.”

Kaylan already knew April, knew she was a good person and a good friend, knew she came from a good family, knew she and her family were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She and April had been close since they were in first grade at elementary school. Even though April moved away for a couple of years, “we were still friends,” Kaylan says.

A Flash of Light

Now April was back in Pebble Beach, California, and Kaylan was excited to see her. Their parents had agreed that Kaylan could stay over at April’s house. And April was comfortable enough with her friend that she did what she did every night before going to sleep—she read her scriptures by flashlight.

April, now 15 (so is Kaylan), explains: “When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to get out of bed to turn off the light, so I started reading in bed with a flashlight. I just never got out of the habit.”

Watching her from across the room, Kaylan was curious. “Read some of it to me, okay?”

And April did. She read some of her favorite verses of scripture out loud. The words—about the Savior, about faith, about prayer—left Kaylan feeling she had found a new source of light. She thought a lot about what April had read, about the book subtitled “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”

A Gift So Right

A little while later April presented Kaylan with a gift—her very own copy of the Book of Mormon. April had written her testimony next to the title page inside. The reading continued, alone and together. They discussed stories and passages, trading favorite verses back and forth.

The light April now shared with Kaylan was much more than illumination from a flashlight. It was the friendly light of her love for the restored gospel and her love for the Lord Jesus Christ. And for Kaylan, that light continued to grow and grow.

“I felt at home with April and with her family,” she says. “I felt comfortable and natural with them. It was like a second home to me.” The rest of the family includes parents Michael and Jill and two brothers, Michael, 17, and Jason, 10.

Growing Delight

“I noticed some special feelings between members of her family,” Kaylan explains. “They’re wonderful and genuine. They always made me feel like I belonged. They had a different atmosphere in their home than I had felt in any other home of any of my other friends. I guess that feeling helped the gospel and its message about families to make sense to me.”

April’s example also said a lot. “She’s different from most of the other kids I’ve known, too,” says Kaylan. “She’s always friendly and happy, but most of all she’s sincere and honest. I really like her. Her whole family’s example gave me hope for the kind of life that I want.”

“Kaylan began asking questions about the special feelings in our home and what caused them,” April explains. “I tried to explain why the family is so important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I suggested she talk to the missionaries.”

In the meantime, Kaylan kept reading the Book of Mormon and kept finding answers to many of her other questions about the Church. Though she already understood many things from her conversations with the Leach family, she listened intently as the missionaries taught her. She became more and more excited and wanted to join the Church. She talked to her parents, and they gave permission for her baptism.

Quite a Sight

That was more than a year ago. Today Kaylan is a strong member of the Church who is letting her own light shine, in more ways than one. She was chosen as a princess for the Pacific Grove Feast of the Lanterns, a festival with a pageant that reenacts a story about a Chinese princess and her sweetheart, who is a commoner.

The festival and pageant take place at night on a small beach at Pacific Grove. People come from miles around to join in the festivities, and long before the pageant begins the beach is crowded elbow to elbow with people carrying small, lighted paper lanterns. As darkness gathers, the beach is aglow with hundreds of multi-colored lights. Then the pageant begins, and Kaylan steps forward to play her part.

It is an enjoyable evening, and the lights are a big part of the show. When the pageant is over, fireworks burst and blaze in the darkened sky.

A Happy Night

Kaylan talks about her friend April’s light and how it kindled her own. “Now I want my friends to know how much the gospel means to my life,” she says. “I want to share it with them, just like April shared it with me.”

It is a night alive with light, light much brighter than the flashlight by which April reads her scriptures. It is a night when there are many lantern bearers, each eager to share light with all who will receive it. It is a perfect night for April and Kaylan to remember the friendly light that they have shared with each other, the light of truth.

They know that it is a light that will grow “brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).

Photography by Don O. Thorpe

April (opposite page, left) and Kaylan were already good friends. But April’s unusual way of reading the Book of Mormon put their friendship in a whole new light.

Kaylan was selected by her community as a princess for the annual Pacific Grove Feast of the Lanterns. But thanks to April, she is ready to step forward and let her light shine in a different and far more powerful way.