Elder Lynn A. Sorensen’s call to be a General Authority was something he could not have imagined as a young boy growing up in the rural area of Murray, near Salt Lake City. “I can remember the first time that I attended general conference as though it were yesterday,” he reminisced. “I was just a young boy, and my wonderful parents brought me to the Tabernacle so that I could have a spiritual experience early in my life. We sat in the balcony to the left of the podium, and I could look directly down at the General Authorities. It was a great thrill for me to see President Heber J. Grant for the first time. I particularly remember how he sang the hymns with enthusiasm and how uncomfortable the hard wooden benches were to sit on. I remember looking at the upholstered individual seats occupied by the Tabernacle Choir and deciding that some day I would sing in the choir and have a comfortable, reserved seat for conference. Sitting in the red General Authorities seats was not what I had in mind at all.”
According to Elder Sorensen, his mother was “a very sweet, humble, sensitive person, and we had a lovely home life. My father was a master cabinetmaker who took great pride in his craft. There are many monuments to his woodworking abilities. Not long after he married, he was chosen to install all the woodwork in the new Cardston Alberta Temple. Then, when I was about six, we had a chance to go with him as a family the summer that he installed the woodwork in the Mesa Arizona Temple.”
Elder Sorensen remembered that some of the happiest times that he had were the summers he spent with his cousins on his uncle’s farm in Idaho. “Three of us boys, all about the same age, slept in an old bed out in the orchard under an apple tree. It was there on the farm that I learned to milk cows, thin beets, and weed potatoes. We were allowed to help thresh the peas when the big steam threshing machine came to our farm. Some people thought that that was hard work, but I thought that it was fun—and I still like to ‘farm’ in my big garden in Salt Lake City when I can.”
The oldest of five children, Elder Sorensen remembered that “just surviving during the Depression was a challenge. We always had food on the table, but we had a minimum of clothing to wear. The very first job that I had was folding newspapers once a week. I folded papers all day for twenty-five cents.”
Elder Sorensen loved sports and excelled in football, basketball, and baseball in high school in Salt Lake City. As a younger boy, however, he played baseball with the neighborhood boys in an open field, with a black friction-taped ball, a few gloves, and one old bat. “My mother wanted me to learn to play the piano,” Elder Sorensen said, “and she persevered for about six months, but she had a hard time getting me to practice, especially when I wanted to be out playing baseball. However, I had enough musical training so that when I was in the mission field, I could play about fourteen or fifteen hymns. I wish I had practiced more!
“I remember the excitement of being chosen as a crossing guard in sixth grade and how cold it was walking in the snow all the way to the school on the hill when I was in seventh grade. My biggest challenge was applying myself in school. I was more interested in sports and other things. Then, in junior high school, I was stimulated to learn so that I gained a balance in my life. I was able to pull up my grades and earn a scholarship.
“Serving a mission in Brazil was a great turning point in my life,” declared Elder Sorensen. “When I was twenty and had just completed two years of college at the University of Chicago on an academic/athletic scholarship, I had doubts about my going on a mission. When I returned home that summer, Mom said to me, ‘Well, now you can prepare for your mission.’”
Elder Sorensen told his mother that he had changed his mind and didn’t think that he would serve a mission. “I’ll never forget the hurt look on Mom’s face,” he recalled, “after I told her my decision. She didn’t scold me, but afterward she privately cried and prayed.
“I didn’t go back to school in Chicago that fall. With the help of Mom and Dad and a wise and understanding bishop, I accepted a mission call to Brazil and left for South America in 1940.
“It wasn’t very long after I arrived in the mission field and began studying the scriptures regularly that my testimony really began to grow. Since then it has never wavered but has grown stronger. I’m grateful to the Lord and my parents for guiding me at that very important crossroad.
“Children, listen to your parents. They love you more than anyone else does, except your Father in Heaven, who has an even greater capacity to love. If you follow their good teachings and example, you will always be happy that you did. And remember to follow the counsel and guidance of Church leaders, particularly your bishop.”