One of the great spiritual events in our family occurred in the life of our youngest daughter, Barbara, who was born with a defective heart. Then five months after she was born, she had heart failure and was taken to the hospital. Because she had a very serious type of heart ailment, the doctors had given up on her. Our bishop and I administered to her.
After that blessing, I had a total peace about her. Even though Barbara became very ill with pneumonia and went into a relapse, I knew that she was going to be all right.
She was in the hospital almost three months. At that time, although she was recovering from her problems, I could see that she was losing her will to live, and I was prompted to take her home, even though her doctor was very much against it. When we got home and laid her on the couch and the children all gathered around her, Barbara broke into a smile, her first in months. Taking care of this critically ill baby was a great concern to my wife, so this good doctor came to our home about every two days and checked her.
There have been very few cases of children with this type of defect who have lived into their teens. Barbara was blessed with amazing health, even though her heart wasn’t functioning normally. She took piano and swimming lessons, enjoyed limited activity in sports, and attended college. She actually had fewer health problems than the rest of the family, and she is now twenty-nine years old. There is no doubt in my mind that this resulted from our faith in the Lord and in the power of the priesthood and from following the promptings of the Spirit.
Another great spiritual influence in my life was President N. Eldon Tanner, who served as a counselor in the First Presidency. I first met him when he was my branch president and I was in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He wrote my parents a beautiful letter about me, which my mother kept and which I found after she died. He was very considerate of those of us who were in the air force.
When I moved to Calgary, he became my stake president. He had been the minister of mines and resources in the Alberta Provincial Government and had resigned from that position and gone into private business. A transcontinental pipeline was being planned, and it would be very expensive. The people who were going to finance it were reluctant to risk their money. They said, however, that if Eldon Tanner was the president of the company, they would be happy to put their money into the project. When President Tanner went to the project’s first meeting, he was told that the board meetings would be on Sunday. Eldon Tanner said, “Not if I’m president.” He explained his Church obligations and his belief in Sabbath observance. So the board of directors changed their meeting to another day. President Tanner was president of that company until he was called to be a General Authority. He was a spiritual giant, a wonderful model to pattern my own life after.
It’s important for young people to decide what kind of person they’d like to be, whom they’d like to be like, what they’d like to accomplish, and how to reach their goals for going on a mission and getting married in the temple. If they set goals early, they will be able to fulfill them. If they don’t set goals, they might not do these things.
Obedience is very important. If we’re obedient to the counsel given to us, even though we don’t fully understand it, we will be blessed, and as we get older and are baptized and study the gospel, we will understand. All the blessings of the Lord come through obedience. It is a key principle of the gospel.