Not only will the upcoming Friend to Friend be the first Face to Face event for children, it will also be the Church’s first prerecorded broadcast originating in three languages.
This historic event designed for children and hosted by children — and produced in English (including American Sign Language), Spanish and Portuguese with native-speaking hosts — will air on Saturday, Feb. 20. President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Primary general presidency will participate.
Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, even learned some Portuguese for her speaking part in that language’s broadcast — after six days of practice and rewriting the Portuguese script with sounds she could pronounce.
During the recording, when Sister Harkness struggled to pronounce a particular word, a young 5-year-old host stepped in.
“I will never forget her voice or her face when she turned to me and helped me pronounce this one word. It was a hard word for me to say, but what a sweet offering of service,” recalled Sister Harkness in a Church News podcast episode released Feb. 9.
“What a blessing it was for me to feel Heavenly Father’s love for these children, these beautiful children that speak Portuguese, and to try to communicate that love to them in this beautiful language.”
Though Sister Harkness’ Portuguese wasn’t perfect, “it doesn’t matter so much that we do things perfectly,” she said. “It does matter that we are willing to try.”
Sister Harkness said the Primary general presidency hopes the young viewers of the interactive Friend to Friend event will see the examples of other children around the world that have served like the Savior — and know that they too can follow Him by helping others “in small and simple ways.”
Episode 17: Primary general presidency counselors give a sneak peek of the Friend to Friend event for children
Sister Harkness’ experience was one of many insights the Primary general presidency shared in the Church News podcast about the Friend to Friend and what children, parents and Primary leaders can expect. The event will be available beginning on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 11 a.m. MST on ChurchofJesusChrist.org, YouTube, the BYUtv app and other media.
What to expect
In a recent video invitation on social media, Primary General President Joy D. Jones encouraged parents, leaders and children to invite their friends and neighbors to participate. “Come and join us for this event because you won’t forget it. It’s going to be a wonderful experience to connect with children all over the world.”
As children learn about the Savior, “it will be so much fun because they are going to draw together, they are going to sing songs together,” President Jones said. “They’re going to listen to special messages from our Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, and Elder Soares is going to tell a wonderful story from his youth.”
Elder Soares told the Church News he is excited about the event because it involves children and talking about their future. “When I think about this event, I think of my children who can take this marvelous opportunity to use this material to teach my young grandchildren,” he said.
He continued, “Just the fact that we are holding something specifically for the children is an indication in and of itself of how much the Lord and the leaders of His Church love the children. This year has been very difficult for these kids due to various lockdowns, attending classes online, etc. So this is something very refreshing.”
Parents are encouraged to watch the event with their children at their convenience — during the live broadcast, during home evening, on Sunday or at another time. The event is made up of short segments designed to be watched over and over again and discussed throughout the year at home and in Primary.
“One of the benefits of watching together as a family could be engendering great gospel-centered conversations,” Sister Harkness said.
During the event, the Primary general presidency will announce the new app for children that will include digital coloring of Scripture Stories coloring books, Scripture Stories videos and music.
Music is one of the many parts of the Friend to Friend that Sister Cristina B. Franco, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, is excited about. “I love the [Children’s] songbook. I love what music brings to our hearts and how we can feel the Savior’s love.”
Recognizing the struggles many families have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, “I think in the hardest times of my life, one thing that has really helped me has been the music from Primary. Just listening to it and going through the lyrics and knowing that Heavenly Father is there and He listens to our prayers has lifted me like no other songs have.”
Sister Franco, who was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, will be speaking in her native language in the Spanish recording of the event.
A focus on service
Sister Harkness said the presidency hopes that children watching the Friend to Friend see that they are part of a group of children worldwide trying to follow Jesus.
“We hope and expect that they will feel the Spirit when they watch and listen to the messages in the broadcast. Most of all, we hope that they will feel God’s love for each of them in their lives and know that they matter to Him. And they also can make a difference in the world where they live.”
As children strive to make a difference in small and simple ways, Sister Franco said, “they will experience for themselves that when we serve others, we are serving our Savior, and the joy that we feel in our hearts is immense.”
This timely theme of “helping like Jesus” is also a focus for the series of invitations issued by the Primary general presidency in the Friend magazine this year. The Friend magazine is now available as a global publication in 148 countries and in 48 different languages.
The Primary general presidency acknowledged the help of all involved in making the Friend to Friend possible. The idea for the event came long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sister Harkness added.
“Yet isn’t it interesting how the Lord prepares everything we need for the particular time we’re in. And this is surely an example of that. This Friend to Friend will be able to reach children in their homes, right where they are with their families, where they are learning and living the gospel in a way that is unique and special for our particular time in Church history.”
The Friend to Friend event can be viewed any time after the initial broadcast on Feb. 20. It will be archived on face2face.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, the Latter-day Saints Channel, Gospel Media and Gospel Library and may be streamed or downloaded.
Beginning March 13, the event will be available for viewing in Cantonese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Cebuano and Tagalog.