David Whitworth of Richmond, Kentucky


David Whitworth of Richmond, Kentucky

What do rabbits, postage stamps, and children’s music have in common? They are some of the things that have helped nine-year-old David Whitworth to save for his mission.

For nearly two years David raised Harry, then Jule, two Angora rabbits. Angoras need their loose fur plucked frequently, and David plucked the soft, fine fur and sent it to his grandmother in New Mexico. She paid David for the fur, which she combined with wool on her spinning wheel to make soft yarn for knitting.

He saved most of his rabbit money in a special missionary bank that his Uncle Tim made for him one Christmas. The bank looks like a brown leather book, and it sits on the bookshelf; but it is really made of wood and is hollow.

Although Harry and Jule died recently, David plans to get more Angora rabbits as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the savings in his missionary bank grows. Before the family’s recent move from California to Kentucky, his older sisters, Erin (16), Shaunda (14), and Katie (12), paid him for helping them deliver newspapers on their five routes. Now he gets paid for helping his parents in two small businesses that they run from their home. He helps his dad put postage stamps in vending machines, and he helps his mom with office work, booths, and workshops in her business of selling children’s music.

Besides saving money, David prepares in other ways for his future mission. He is learning to be responsible and dependable. He can cook a whole meal when asked, is learning to sew, and takes his turn at washing dishes and other household chores. He can even change the diapers on his two-year-old sister, Maryvonne!

Missionaries do not sleep in late, and David has learned to get up early: On school days, the family is usually awake by 6:00 A.M. so that everyone can eat, dress, have prayers, and read the scriptures before the bus comes at 7:15. During the summer, they get up at 6:00 A.M. to help in the family’s large garden for an hour before Dad leaves to work in nearby Lexington.

David is also following the prophet’s counsel to learn a second language. In California, David was in a bilingual classroom. At his Kentucky school, his mother teaches Spanish twice a week to David’s class and to the classes his brothers, Josiah (5), and Jonathan (7), are in.

David works hard in school. He is a member of his school’s Academic Team, which competes with teams from other schools to give the fastest correct answers to questions on many subjects. And for a special school project, he recently typed and illustrated a science fiction book that he wrote called “Survival in Z-P.”

David also has plenty of time for just having fun. He likes quiet activities like reading, drawing, and chess. And he enjoys basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, Cub Scouts, and exploring the small woods around a clubhouse built in the hollow behind the family home.

If you ask David what he wants to be when he grows up, he’s likely to answer, “A missionary, a dad, an artist, a baseball player, and a cartoonist—maybe.”

[photo] Photos by Kathleen Pederson Whitworth, Karin Adams, and Leona Merrill Whitworth

[photo] 1. Pitching hay with (and at!) his father

[photo] 2. Earning money by scrubbing a stamp machine for his father

[photo] 3. Playing baseball with Jon (pitching) and Josiah (catching)

[photo] 4. David and Harry

[photo] 5. Examining lichens with Jon (in brown jacket) and Josiah (in white sweater) in the woods behind their house

[photo] 6. With Jon and Josiah at their clubhouse

[photo] 7. Adding to his missionary fund

[photo] 8. David on slope behind his house, wearing wool-and-angora cap knitted by his grandmother