What a story from Elder Soares’ youth taught Primary children during the Friend to Friend

It’s not every day a Primary child has the opportunity to visit a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in his office at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City. 

During the Friend to Friend broadcast on Saturday, Feb. 20, two young “field reporters” took the virtual audience inside Elder Ulisses Soares’ office to ask him a question about making covenants with God at baptism.

“Some of us have already made those covenants and some of us will soon. What advice do you have for us about keeping these promises?” they asked the Apostle. 

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to children in his office for the Friend to Friend broadcast on Saturday, Feb. 20.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to children in his office for the Friend to Friend broadcast on Saturday, Feb. 20. Credit: Screenshot ChurchofJesusChrist.org

To answer their question, Elder Soares illustrated a story from his childhood — with the help of an animated 11-year-old Ulisses. 

One day, Ulisses’ mother gave him money to go to the store and buy some fruit. On his way home, he realized he had more money in his hand than he started with. The lady behind the counter had made a mistake when giving him change for his purchase. 

“I thought, I can give the correct change back to my mother and I can keep the extra money to spend however I want,” said Elder Soares, as an ice cream cone flashed in a thought bubble above his animated head. 

“But then I remembered what my bishop taught me. I knew that to keep my baptismal covenants, I needed to be honest. When I had this thought, I felt the Holy Ghost.”

So young Ulisses walked back to the store and returned the money. “Choosing the right during this moment gave me the strength to make many, many other correct choices and keep my promises to my Heavenly Father,” he said. 

In this historic event designed for children and hosted by children, the virtual audience of Primary boys and girls, parents and leaders sang songs, colored pictures, played with rocks, “traveled” around the world to hear stories and listened to special messages from President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Soares and the Primary general presidency. 

As the first Face to Face-style event for children, the Friend to Friend originated in three languages — English, Spanish and Portuguese — with native-speaking hosts. The event’s segments were designed to be watched over and over again and discussed throughout the year at home and in Primary. 

The Prophet’s message to children

With more than 100 great-grandchildren under the age of 12, President Nelson has a special love for the Primary children around the world. 

“We’ve learned some important things today, haven’t we?” he said in a video segment toward the end of the broadcast. “We have been reminded that each of us is a beloved child of God. Please remember that fact. If you never forget that one pure truth, you can face any problem with faith and courage.”

The way to find true joy in life is to walk always on the Savior’s covenant path. “Just think of the light and love you can bring into the world as faithful followers of Jesus Christ,” President Nelson said. 

President Russell M. Nelson shares a message with children ages 3 through 11 as part of the Friend to Friend program that premiered on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
President Russell M. Nelson shares a message with children ages 3 through 11 as part of the Friend to Friend program that premiered on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

He reminded his young audience that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. The Lord can use you — yes, each of you — to do His amazing and important work.”

Some “small and simple things” that can make a big difference include helping someone in need, learning and living the teachings of Jesus Christ, sharing testimony of Him, keeping His commandments and preparing now to go to the temple.

“When you do any of these things, you’re helping Heavenly Father to gather His children back to Him,” President Nelson said.  

“My beloved young friends, I am so very proud of each one of you. I know that Heavenly Father is watching over you. He loves you very much. And so do I.”

‘Helping like Jesus’

Earlier in the broadcast, the child hosts “visited” Tahiti with a costume change and beach backdrop to introduce a 9-year-old boy named Raiarii. 

A few years ago while visiting his grandmother, Raiarii met her friends Kali and Mia. When Kali and Mia started joining Raiarii and his grandmother in their scripture study, Raiarii helped explain the scriptures so they were easy to understand. 

Raiarii was getting ready to be baptized and told Kali about it. Then the missionaries began teaching Kali and Mia about the gospel. Raiarii was able to attend their baptism. “I am so happy that Kali wanted to follow in Jesus’s footsteps,” he said.

Last December, Kali and Mia were sealed in the Papeete Tahiti Temple. 

Raiarii, middle, from Tahiti, is pictured with his friends Kali, left, and Mia in front of the Papeete Tahiti Temple. Raiarii’s "Helping Hands" experience was shared during the Friend to Friend broadcast on Saturday, Feb. 20.
Raiarii, middle, from Tahiti, is pictured with his friends Kali, left, and Mia in front of the Papeete Tahiti Temple. Raiarii’s “Helping Hands” experience was shared during the Friend to Friend broadcast on Saturday, Feb. 20. Credit: Screenshot ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Raiarii’s “Helping Hands” experience is featured in the February Friend magazine. Introduced in January, each month’s magazine will feature a story of a child who served their family or community, along with an invitation from the Primary general presidency to “help like Jesus.”

“Children, you can be helping hands all around the world,” said Primary General President Joy D. Jones during the Friend to Friend. She then gave several examples of boys and girls who have been serving like the Savior. 

“I invite you to notice someone who needs help. Then say a prayer and make a plan to serve them. Heavenly Father will help you along the way. …

“Boys and girls, please remember how much we love you, and how much Heavenly Father loves you. We can’t wait to see you all again soon in Primary,” President Jones said. 

Primary General President Joy D. Jones talks to 10-year-old Payson Inkley during a dress rehearsal Jan. 21 in Provo, Utah, for the Friend to Friend event.
Primary General President Joy D. Jones talks to 10-year-old Payson Inkley during a dress rehearsal Jan. 21 in Provo, Utah, for the Friend to Friend event. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Friend to Friend event concluded with a virtual children’s choir singing an arrangement of “I’m Trying To Be Like Jesus” and “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, participated in the Portuguese version of the Friend to Friend, while Sister Cristina B. Franco, second counselor, spoke in the Spanish broadcast.     

The broadcast will be archived on face2face.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, the Latter-day Saints Channel, Gospel Media and Gospel Library and may be streamed or downloaded. It will be available for viewing in additional languages in coming weeks.