Our family had a large irrigated farm, in combination with a dry farm and a dairy farm, in Lewiston, Utah. Throughout my childhood, our family prospered and enjoyed many of the good things life has to offer. But when I was in my early years of high school, we had some financial problems. We suffered a year of severe drought followed by two or three more dry years. Our crops were a total failure. At this same time, many of our crops were infested with new insects. All the farms in the area were affected, and many other farmers were having difficulties. Mortgage payments that had not been met the previous years mounted and some farmers lost their homes.
At this time my oldest brother, Eldred, was serving as a missionary in Germany and had to have a specified amount of money sent to him each month. As children we knew that we were experiencing financial problems, but we did not realize the extent or the seriousness of them.
One evening in the spring, my father and mother called the family together for a family council. We sensed the seriousness of it immediately. We gathered in our front room, and Father took charge. Calling the family to attention, he said that we were meeting about a very serious matter and asked Mother to open with prayer. He then told us of our financial difficulties. It is the only time that I remember hearing a full disclosure of our financial standing. He listed our assets, our liabilities, our expected income for the year, and our essential minimal family needs, and he showed us that our income could not possibly meet our requirements. Prior to the meeting he and mother had met with the banker who held the mortgage on the home and had worked out a plan whereby the home could be saved from foreclosure. We would have to pay the interest payment each month until fall and then make a larger payment with our cash crop in November. The monthly milk check had to cover these interest payments as well as provide the money to be sent to our missionary.
Mother and Father presented two options to us as a family. First, we could let the bank take over our home, find some place to live, and continue to run the farm. Second, we could meet these monthly interest obligations with nothing left over for other family expenses. Through the summer we could not buy clothing, we could spend no money on recreation and almost nothing on gas for the car; in fact, it would be difficult to get food staples needed to supplement our garden produce. Since the payment in the fall would leave us again with no extra money, we would have to continue this tight economy for at least a year, maybe more.
After presenting our problem, Father asked each of us to express our thoughts. He wanted us to be part of the decision making. Each of us in our turn answered that we would like to save our home, and we all pledged ourselves to sacrifice our wants; even the smallest children said they would not ask for anything that was not absolutely necessary. Mother and Father said that they wanted the same thing that we wanted, and with tears in their eyes thanked us for being such good, cooperative children, and also thanked us for the hard work that we had done on the farm.
After the decision was made, we all knelt together and Father said a prayer. He thanked the Lord for our many blessings and asked his help in carrying out the plans we had made that evening. We felt that the Lord would indeed help us if we would do our part. That night our love for each other was surpassed only by our love for our Heavenly Father. I had a lump in my throat that would not go away as I prayed fervently for help in carrying out my part in the plans that we had set.
In the following years and through the Great Depression, as we struggled to get an education, to serve our church, to maintain our ideals and our standard of living, I had many occasions to reflect upon that family council and the tremendous impact for good that it had upon me. I accepted the difficult times with the assurance that our entire family was working together toward a common goal—and we were succeeding.