I learned a lesson about honesty when I was quite young. Mother had put some money for a dozen eggs on the kitchen table. I took the money and told a friend that I had found it. We went to the store and bought candy. When Mother asked if I had taken the money, I lied. She believed me, but I had an awful feeling. I didn’t ever want that feeling again, so that experience has made it easier for me to be honest ever since.
I learned a lot of other lessons while I was growing up in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. Living in a Mormon community gave me a lot of opportunities to learn. I taught Primary when I was really young, and I played the organ in Sunday School. Our town put on operettas and three-act plays, which I loved to go to. I also participated in an elocution, or speech, class, and I took music lessons.
The Alberta Temple was just a quarter of a block from my house, and my grandparents, John and Mary Ann Anderson, lived only two houses away from mine. They served in the temple and stopped in almost every day on their way home from it.
Grandfather Anderson was our stake patriarch. He loved the scriptures, and he taught me a lot. We had a lot of fun together—he’d sing Scottish songs, and we’d dance Scottish jigs.
During the summer, the children often went swimming in the river. A wooden pier came out partway on the deep side of the swimming hole. Those of us who couldn’t swim well would enter the water from the shallow side and play there. One time I thought that I could make it out to the pier. I was wrong. I got out to where I couldn’t touch bottom and started floundering. I remember feeling a hand lifting me up. It may have been one of the older kids, but I can still feel that hand lifting me, and I think that Somebody was watching over me.
When I was a young girl, my mother, Lovina Anderson Low, told me, “You can be anything in life you want to be, Elaine, if you work for it.” She was right. Because of a heart ailment, she wasn’t well for a good deal of my growing-up years. By the time I was twelve or thirteen, I was taking care of the home—doing the washing, baking bread, and doing quite a bit of the cooking. Mother taught me the pattern for managing seasonal things: I canned fruits and vegetables in the summer, and I helped my father put carrots and potatoes in the storage pit in the fall. Sometimes I felt like I was asked to do too much, but I learned to do what had to be done.
Nature has taught me valuable lessons too. I’ve always loved being in the outdoors, and I love backpacking. One time, several years after I was married and had children, my husband and I and our four sons were on such a trip. We hiked two 12,000-foot (3600 m) mountain passes in one day. I remember thinking, How many more steps? Well, I can take twenty-five steps. I counted twenty-five steps, then repeated the process again and again.
Another time we backpacked in Glacier National Park. It was snowing, and the wind was blowing. I couldn’t go ten steps without stopping to rest. I don’t know when I’ve ever been so tired. Finally we were headed for a tunnel, and that was what gave me strength. I kept looking up at it and thinking about how warm it was going to be inside it.
Achieving any goal is a lot like backpacking. You get there by looking toward your destination and taking one step at a time. You have to dream and then work hard. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t achieve your goals right away. Often it takes a long time. Sometimes you can’t even anticipate what the end result may be—you can’t possibly dream all the things the Lord has in store for you. You just do what you have to do, and you do your best.