I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have a testimony. Ours was a home of faith and prayer. We grew up in an atmosphere where spiritual experience was considered commonplace.
One time when I was young, my friend and I had climbed up on top of a concrete water tower. It was probably ten or twelve feet tall, and the ground below it was covered with huge boulders to prevent the soil from eroding. As I was playing, I stepped over the edge. I felt myself being lowered to the ground, and I wasn’t hurt. That was one of the first inklings I had that there is Someone watching over us.
My father was a great teacher. He taught great lessons by his example. When people in need came into town, they would often go to the newspaper office to ask for food or money. My father had an arrangement with a restaurant up the street, and he sent these people there for a meal.
One day a man came to the offices and said that he was a painter. My father agreed to pay the man to paint our barn. Father called and told the owner of the paint store to give the man some paint and Father would pay for it.
The man painted the barn and left town. Later the paint store owner called and told Father that the man had taken too much paint for one barn. I guess he intended to sell the extra paint to someone else and make more money. Father didn’t become angry or upset. He said, “Well, we have our painted barn, and somewhere that man knows that there is someone who was willing to believe in him.” My father could always sleep at night because his conscience was clear.
When I was growing up, we had a buckskin mare that got loose and ran with the wild horses in Skull Valley. Sometime later, a man who caught and sold wild horses called us. He had recognized the mare, and he returned her to us. After we got the mare back, we noticed that she ran with her head down—a horse can only survive in the desert by running with its head down, watching for gopher holes and barbed wire. If a horse stepped into a gopher hole and broke its leg, then predators would get it.
There is a lesson in this experience. The Lord has arranged for you to have parents and leaders who can see the pitfalls and difficulties that can create problems for you. They can see the problems that you will be facing as you grow up. If you are willing to listen to their advice, you can avoid harm.
One of the best ways you can become stronger in your faith is by learning the history of your own family. Look for evidence of the Lord working in your family. Learn who has gone before you and how God has blessed them.
Even if you are the first member of the Church in your family, you can look for how your family laid the foundation for you. Also, when you become a member of the Church, the history of the Church becomes part of your own heritage. The experience of Joseph Smith seeing the Father and the Son becomes part of your heritage. When you hear these experiences being told, the Holy Ghost can make you feel just as though you had been there too. Thinking about these experiences is a way of keeping your faith strong. Then you can pass on your own spiritual heritage to those you teach and to your own children and grandchildren when the time comes.