I live in Argentina, which is one of the greatest cattle-producing countries in the world. Driving across the famous Pampa to attend conferences, we pass miles of deep green pastures extending as far as the eye can see, filled with vast herds of peaceful, grazing cattle.
I love cows. As a boy I used to milk them by hand, feed them, herd them, and ride them. They are one of the most useful animals that our Father in heaven has given us. From cows we get our nourishing milk and cream. From these we make milk products like ice cream, butter, buttermilk, and a great variety of delicious cheeses.
President Kimball says that he developed strong muscles in his hands from milking cows, making it possible for him to shake hands with thousands of people. It is a thrill to shake hands with President Kimball. His grip is strong and firm. He looks you in the eye and smiles at you. You feel his love and know that he loves all of God’s creations … the people and the animals and the beauties of the earth.
President Kimball once said that milking cows is like doing church work; no matter how hard we work today, we have to work again tomorrow. He was telling us to get used to work and to work hard all our lives.
Our Father in heaven likes work too. He told Adam and Eve and all of us that we must work all the days of our lives to earn what we eat. When the Israelites were out in the desert without any food and there was no water for raising crops, the Lord provided a heavenly food called manna. But even so, He required the children of Israel to work for it. The Lord told them to go out each morning and gather enough manna for one day. If they disobeyed and gathered more than enough for one day, it would spoil. This way they had to work every day, except for the Sabbath. On the day before the Sabbath, the people were to gather sufficient for two days, so they wouldn’t have to work on the Lord’s holy day.
I remember a story about cows that was told many years ago by one of our church leaders. He said that he had a city cousin who came to their farm to stay with them. This city cousin didn’t know where milk actually came from. He thought it just came in bottles. When the family told the boy that milk came from cows, he didn’t believe it. Then when he saw the cows eating green grass, he felt sure that they couldn’t turn it into white milk! But when milking time came and he saw streams of white milk coming right from the cow, he was confused.
After the cows were all milked, it was time to feed the calves. He watched in amazement as one of the boys put two of his fingers in a calf’s mouth so it would start sucking. Then the boy put his hand and the calf’s nose right down into a bucket of warm milk. The calf got its milk by sucking on the fingers submerged in the milk bucket.
About this time it suddenly dawned on the city cousin what was happening. “Hey, now I understand!” he said excitedly. “You put it into them when they are little, and you take it out of them when they are big!”
Well, most people understand that it isn’t quite that simple, but this story serves as an example from which you can learn. Your parents and teachers put a lot of training, teaching, and helping into you, and the day will come when the Church and the schools and the businesses and the government will need to get it all back out of you.
We are depending on you to become the great leaders of tomorrow. You could be the greatest generation that has ever lived upon the earth. When you have finished school and are older, you may be able to accomplish more good than any other people in history.
The next time you think of cows, think of their contribution to our lives. I pray that you will learn to appreciate all of the Lord’s great creations that were made for our benefit and joy.