No Sundaes on Sunday
When I was a child in Samoa my friends and I never seemed to get tired of swimming. It was our favorite thing to do. I remember that as a four-year-old I even wanted to go swimming with my friends on Sunday after Sunday School—as if there weren’t enough hours for playing together in six days a week. But I was reared in a good Latter-day Saint home, and I recall vividly how my wonderful mother worked with me to keep the Sabbath day holy.
Mother solved the problem by directing me toward the scriptures. Knowing how much I liked to show off by reciting from books, she asked me how I would like to learn to read and recite passages from the scriptures. I jumped for joy at the opportunity, so she said to me, “All right, I’ll meet with you every Sunday after dinner to help you learn passages from these two books”—she held up the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
The first passages I learned to repeat from memory were the Ten Commandments and the first Psalm. Then I learned to recite the story of Lehi’s family from the Book of Mormon. Naturally, the more I learned, the more the principles contained in these scriptures became a part of my life—something that was strengthened by the example of my parents, who lived the gospel very faithfully in our home. By the time I left home for college in 1962, the teachings of my parents were well planted in me.
I first went to the Church College of Hawaii (BYU—Hawaii) and remained there after my mother passed away on 2 April 1964. (My father died when I was very young.) My mother fully supported me financially, and her death left me destitute.
Several months after her death, I became very discontent with college and my life in Hawaii and subsequently requested relocation to another campus. Since my brother, Tu’ualofa, was living in Tempe, Arizona, at the time, I was encouraged to apply to Arizona State University. My application was accepted, and Tempe became my new home for a year.
In 1966, I felt a desire to move to Salt Lake City and pursue my education there. Upon arriving in Salt Lake, I investigated LDS Business College and became very impressed with its curriculum. I decided to pursue my studies there but had only $30 to my name. Fortunately, arrangements were made for me to attend school and pay my tuition in installments during the first quarter. So I had to find a way to earn money.
During my first week in Salt Lake City, I must have walked thirty long blocks each day searching for part-time employment. Most of the businesses I contacted needed full-time employees, but I left my application at several places for possible part-time work. To my surprise, within a few days I had a number of offers to choose from. Unfortunately, all of the jobs required me to work on Sundays, beginning in the afternoon. This meant I would miss sacrament meeting every Sunday.
I pondered the matter very carefully. I needed the money very badly; yet to work on the Sabbath would mean breaking one of the Lord’s Commandments I had learned to obey even as a child. I knew that if my parents were living, they would not allow me to take any of these jobs. So to help me make the right decision, I sought counsel from a good friend. “I have never in my life worked on Sunday,” I told him. “It disturbs me to think I would miss church. I don’t want to break the Lord’s commandments.”
“I am sure the Lord is aware of your needs,” he said. “If it’s the only kind of job the Lord has given you at this time, perhaps you’d better take it.”
Somehow I felt uncomfortable with this counsel. “Do you really think the Lord will excuse me if I work on Sunday and miss sacrament meeting?” I asked.
“I’m sure the Lord is mindful of your needs,” he said. “Right now you need work to meet your financial needs. I suggest you take the job.”
So I decided to work as a cashier at an ice cream store. The following Saturday I went for instructions and was asked to start work the following Wednesday. But on Monday afternoon, I was back in my friend’s office.
“I don’t think it’s proper for me to work on Sunday,” I told him.
He looked serious. “What are you planning to do then?” he asked. “The payment on your tuition is due pretty soon.”
After some discussion he again urged me to take the job, and I told him I would think about it. But I still was not comfortable with his counsel, and on the way home I decided that the only thing I could do was take my problem to my Heavenly Father. No one else seemed to understand how deeply I felt about this commandment, which I had lived all my life.
So, alone in my room I knelt and prayed to my Heavenly Father. In detail I told him my problem and said that I wanted to do his will in all things. Then I expressed my faith in whatever his answer would be. Afterward I felt very relieved, as if a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I picked up my books and went to class, feeling completely happy and at peace.
That same afternoon I received a call from the manager of a large store downtown. I had applied to the store for employment some weeks before, but hadn’t heard from them. I learned that I had passed their math test with a high score, and they wanted me to replace one of their sales clerks who was leaving. I could start work the very next day after my morning classes, and I would be working six days a week, Monday through Saturday.
I hung up the phone and ran to my room overwhelmed with tears of joy and gratitude. Again I went down on my knees to thank my Heavenly Father for his goodness. Instead of allowing me to break one of his commandments, he had provided another job.
After my prayer, as I sat quietly on my bed, these words formed in my mind, as if I were reading large printed letters: “REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY, TO KEEP IT HOLY.” The message was repeated to me.
Now I knew for myself that the Lord does not make compromises when it comes to his commandments. I know without a doubt that the Lord can and will provide a way for us to meet our personal needs in a pleasing and righteous manner before him. Nothing is impossible with the Lord.
Don’t Grieve for David
David was our first child, a healthy, normal-looking boy with beautiful, bright blue eyes and a smile that could melt your heart. As any young parents would be, we were thrilled with our new son and brought him into a home full of love. I remember how I would hold him and look at his darling little face as I dreamed of myriad bright futures for him. Mostly, I hoped that he would have a good, happy life and possibly accomplish some good in the world.
It was not until David was about six months old that we suspected anything was wrong. As anxious young parents, we watched with growing concern as the months passed, and realized that our little boy was not sitting up well when he should have been. We also noticed that he did not pick things up and put them in his mouth, as most babies do. But he was a happy child and very alert. He smiled and cooed and his eyes would light up with a show of excitement whenever anyone spoke to him.
Our pediatrician told us he was just a little slow; all examinations showed that he was in excellent health. But there were times when I would get the strong feeling that something was wrong—that I would not always have him and must enjoy every moment I had with him.
The day came when all my fears were realized. When David was about a year old we took him to a specialist and learned the heartbreaking news: “symmetrical mental retardation,” the doctor said. “Nothing can be done. Just take him home and love him.”
I’ll never forget that awful day. My husband and I drove the forty-five miles from the doctor’s office in silence. I didn’t really cry much then—not outwardly—that came later, and later, and later—more times than I could ever count. I kept saying to myself, “No, it can’t be true. It can’t be true!”
But it was true. The x-rays, the electroencephalograms, the blood tests were all normal, yet for some unknown reason David was not developing normally, and only by some great miracle would he ever do so.
We prayed for such a miracle. We asked for priesthood blessings. But as time went on and there was no change, we began to understand that there must be a reason for David’s being the way he was, and we knew we must learn to accept it. But still, I grieved for him. My mind could accept his condition, but my heart could not.
David’s condition was the first real sorrow I had known, and it took me a long time to reconcile myself to his experience in mortality. But as I read the scriptures, I learned that there is a blessing sent from God in every burden of sorrow. I have tried to think of David in that light. Though at times his condition was very difficult to bear, he truly was a blessing in our lives. David could not express himself very well—we’re not sure how much about the world he understood—but he could say “I love you,” and the glow of his smile and the warmth of his strong hug told us many things that words don’t always say. Through him I learned what it means to love as a child loves; in his innocence, David loved everyone. People were drawn to him by his love and sweetness, in spite of his differences, his awkward gait, his slow way of doing things.
Our David is no longer with us. At the age of nineteen, David unexpectedly passed into another world, where I believe he is busily engaged in doing the things he could not do here. Free of his own limitations of body and mind, he can now serve the Lord with all his talents in teaching the gospel of love—that great work for which David had such a great capacity.
We miss our son, but we do not grieve for him. Our work is now for ourselves and the rest of our family, who must go on in the struggle for eternal progression. We rejoice in the knowledge that David has gone to be with the righteous, and that in some ways he has gone to better circumstances, even with all the love we gave him. And what could be better than the love we gave him? Only the glorious and eternal love of God.
Elder Melvin J. Ballard once said, “We cannot always understand the plan of the Almighty—the thing that seems like a disaster is often a blessing in disguise.”