Dressed in a khaki vest with pockets and a matching safari hat, a young explorer welcomes Friend to Friend viewers and invites them to join in exploring a trail that will teach about the covenant path. She strolls down the animated forest trail, hops over a log and arrives at a small stream. “Water? Why did the path lead me to water?” she asks.
In the next scene, two child hosts on a brightly colored rotating set begin talking about baptism — the first ordinance on the covenant path.
During the remainder of the 25-minute broadcast aired on Feb. 19, the Primary general presidency — President Camille N. Johnson, Sister Susan H. Porter and Sister Amy A. Wright — join the hosts and explorer to help children learn more about baptism, the Holy Ghost and the sacrament.
“I want you to know that Heavenly Father loves you,” President Johnson told Primary children worldwide at the conclusion of the event. “He sent you to earth with a special purpose. As you follow the example of Jesus Christ, you will be blessed with strength to stay on the covenant path, even when it gets hard. And as you make covenants and follow Jesus Christ, you can love and serve others and remind them that they are loved by their Heavenly Father too.”
The second Face to Face-style event of its kind, the Friend to Friend originated in English, Spanish and Portuguese and included interactive activities, videos and songs focused on the covenant path.
Similar to the 2021 Friend to Friend, this broadcast is made of shorter segments designed to be resources for parents and Primary leaders to use over and over again. It is now available on the Church’s website and on the Gospel for Kids YouTube channel for on-demand viewing.
‘Exploring’ the covenant path
After learning about baptism, the explorer continued down the trail, ducked under a vine and arrived at a fire. She explained that the gift of the Holy Ghost is sometimes referred to as “baptism by fire,” and the Holy Ghost purifies and lights the way as one repents. Her forest path suddenly became brighter.
Back on set, President Johnson appeared on a television to talk with the hosts about the role of the Holy Ghost and how to recognize Him.
“Sometimes the Holy Ghost speaks to you in a still, small voice,” President Johnson said. “It can be as simple as an idea in your head. Often it’s a happy or peaceful feeling. The Holy Ghost lets us know that something is true or good by giving us that peaceful feeling. And sometimes the Holy Ghost warns us by giving us feelings of uneasiness or caution. He can prompt us to act to keep us safe.”
The hosts took viewers to the craft room to make a journal for recording stories about experiences they have had with the Holy Ghost. A guest artist led the children in drawing a sunset on the cover. Images were shown of children around the world displaying their drawings.
The explorer returned to the screen, admitting she had been stumbling along the path and running out of energy. On the trail she met Sister Wright, who offered her water and snacks. They read a scripture about Jesus being “the bread of life” and discussed the importance of taking the sacrament every Sunday.
Sister Wright said: “The sacrament gives us the chance to think about Jesus Christ and to renew the promises we made at baptism. … By taking the sacrament we show that we accept the sacrifice the Savior made when He died for us.”
The hosts on set emphasized that following Jesus takes daily practice, just like learning anything new. To demonstrate this principle, Sister Porter played a simple version of “I Am a Child of God” on the piano. She explained that with help from parents and teachers, she learned how to play a more complex version. She then performed it for the children.
“After you get baptized and promise to obey Heavenly Father’s commandments, you’ll make mistakes and not be perfect at it,” Sister Porter said. “But we can pray to Heavenly Father, ask Him to forgive us and help us change. Like practicing the piano, we must practice keeping our covenants.”
She continued: “It’s important that we take the sacrament each week, repent and make our baptism covenant again. Doing so helps us continue to receive the Holy Ghost and become more like Jesus.”
The event concluded with President Johnson appearing on set via television once again to review what children learned about baptism, the Holy Ghost and the sacrament. “The covenants and promises you make with Heavenly Father will bless you and your family and friends,” she testified.
In the final scene, the explorer arrived at a view of the sunset, out of breath. “Just like this hiking path, staying on the covenant path takes effort,” she said. “But it’s worth it. … I can’t wait to show you what comes next.”
Comments from hosts and parents
Eleven-year-old Anthony Parker, one of the English-speaking hosts, told the Church News during the filming that he hopes those who watch the Friend to Friend feel the Savior’s love.
“I hope it helps people, not just adults but kids also,” Anthony said. “That’s why I kind of think it’s [hosted by] kids, so other kids around the world also know that they could feel the Holy Ghost too.”
Alice Cartwright, 7, the other English-speaking host, said the Friend to Friend can help children learn to better recognize feelings from the Holy Ghost. “It is a still, small voice that tells you the right things to do,” Alice said.
Melanie Cartwright, Alice’s mother, expressed gratitude for uplifting gospel-related content with hands-on activities, like the Friend to Friend. “I hope that it gets kids really excited, feeling like they have a knowledge of the covenant path and know what that means,” she said.
Cartwright also commented on what she hopes children worldwide see in the event. “I really hope that they know that they belong, and that there’s a place for them, and that they’re needed. Also that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a fun, happy, positive environment for them to be a part of and that it connects them to friends all over the world, who believe the same things and are learning and experiencing the same things they are.”
Lori Parker, Anthony’s mother, added: “I hope that watching this and even rewatching this there will be opportunities for them to see how they can use their talents, and that the gospel and their lives are all interconnected.”
The February Friend to Friend is one of three Friend to Friend events this year. The other two are scheduled for July 16 and Nov. 5.
The Primary general presidency has compiled a list of 22 resources to help the children learn the gospel in 2022. Find it here.