Friend to Friend

From a personal interview by Lawrence Cummins with Elder L. Aldin Porter of the First Quorum of the Seventy, currently serving as second counselor in the presidency of the South America South Area

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    Elder L. Aldin Porter

    “One of my earliest recollections is that of putting canned goods on the shelves in my father’s grocery store after they had been priced. I didn’t think that I was helping much, but I remember Dad saying, ‘Every can that you put up is one that I don’t have to put up.’ I also distinctly remember being baptized by my father in the Blackfoot River that ran through a neighbor’s farm near our home. I was confirmed immediately afterward on the sandy riverbank.

    “That little store of Father’s was a great place for us children to learn. I had an older sister and a younger sister, and they helped in the store too. Father kept the store open twelve hours a day, so I would often stop there on the way home from school to help him until suppertime. Mother kept the books, and on Thursday nights the whole family helped prepare the chickens that we raised to sell as fryers and broilers on Fridays and Saturdays.”

    Elder Porter remembers that his father was a very busy man, both at the store and with his Church callings, “But I could always get him to stop for a minute,” he said, “if I asked him a question about the Church. He often sang while he worked, and although he wasn’t a jolly man, he was pleasant and showed a calm acceptance of whatever happened.

    “One evening I came running panic-stricken into the house after hearing a realistic radio program at a neighbor’s about the end of the world. When I told Dad about it, he looked up from his newspaper and said, ‘Son, that’s not the way it’s going to happen.’ And I simply replied, ‘Oh.’ And all my concern washed away because of my confidence in my dad and his knowledge of the scriptures.

    “Dad studied the scriptures all his life, and so did his father. I remember visiting Grandfather just before he died, and he was reading the Book of Mormon. He said to me: ‘I believe I have read it forty times.’ Every time he read it through, he made a mark inside the book’s back cover.

    “I first learned about the Church welfare program in Dad’s store, where a part of the back room served as the pickup station for needy Church members. The welfare program had just begun, and supplies were meager—a few sacks of flour, some potatoes, several grapefruits that were usually withered. There were eight or ten food items, and that was all. I often remember Dad saying, “That isn’t good enough’ as he filled the welfare sacks to be picked up. Then he’d add to the sacks some of his own commodities from the front of the store. He taught me a great deal about giving.

    “One day when I was about nine, Mother and Dad were on their way to a Church meeting and their car was struck by a train at a railroad crossing. Dad was unhurt in the accident, but Mother had one lung punctured and suffered many cuts and broken bones. The Latter-day Saint doctor who attended her shook his head and said, ‘She just can’t survive.’ But a member of our stake presidency gave her a blessing that she would recover. Soon the pain subsided, the lung healed, and the broken bones knitted together perfectly. Mother was born with a slight curvature of the spine, and afterward she good-naturedly teased, ‘If the Lord was going to mend my broken bones, surely He could have straightened my spine too.’

    “Mother was very kind to us as we were growing up. She was the healer and bandaged all our hurts. When my dog and best pal, Freshie, was hit by a car and when my horse, Goldie, died from brain fever, it was Mother who comforted my shock. And it was Dad who explained about life and the hereafter. They were a wonderful team.”

    Recalling another childhood experience, Elder Porter says, “I remember talking to Dad one Easter after our Primary lesson on the Crucifixion. I told him that I didn’t think that the Crucifixion had hurt Jesus very much because of who He was and His ability to perform miracles. Dad looked at me, got up, went to the bookcase, and returned with the Doctrine and Covenants. Then he read to us—very carefully—from section 19, verses 15 to 20. He told us that Jesus suffered more than we can ever imagine, that His sacrifice was for all who would ever live, that the price of true love is very high, that we should always be grateful for what Jesus did for us, and that the Savior’s supreme and selfless sacrifice was a blessing above all others.

    “I’ve never forgotten the lesson that Dad taught us around the dining table that day. And if I had to choose one scripture that means the most to me today, that would be the one.”

    Elder Porter says that “children by their natures have faith. The Lord planned it that way, I’m sure, because children cannot usually see the purpose for many things. If I’ve had a blessing in life, it’s that I’ve had parents and teachers and priesthood leaders whom I’ve had faith in. I’ve rarely resented their directions, because I learned that they can save us much sorrow if we are obedient to their counsel.”