94965_000_005Surely the Lord God will do nothing, until he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7, footnote 7a).
I have always been strongly impressed with the importance of following the leaders of the Church. We do have a prophet. I have often thought about what President Ezra Taft Benson once said was the secret of missionary work: “Work, work, work!”
The oldest of four children, I learned as a boy on a small farm near the town of Escalante, Utah, how to work. When I was about two years old, my father was called to serve a mission. When I was three, I helped my mother by carrying in wood and chips for the stove and by helping tend the animals. Later, I drove the cows to pasture in the morning and brought them back in the evening. I also helped harvest a large garden, fruit trees, and grain and alfalfa fields. My father had several thousand sheep, and I helped care for them as they grazed in the mountains or desert.
When I was seven or eight, I wanted to earn some money. I found some old bottles of shoe polish and decided to set up a shoeshine stand. I thought I was going to make my fortune. But I had to set up my stand in the attic of a granary, near the back of a lot, and, because of the isolated location, not one customer ever came. For another project, I gathered worms and sold them to fishermen for ten cents a dozen.
If we are willing to work, we can accomplish many things. When I was about thirteen, some of my friends and I decided to organize a Boy Scout troop. We couldn’t find a leader, and we really wanted to go to the Jamboree that was held by a lake many miles away. We found a ride to the Jamboree and won the award for the best camping skills, even without a leader!
I have always loved music. When I was young, we had dances at church. When I was about twelve, my grandfather bought me a trombone. For many years I played trombone in jazz dance bands.
One of my favorite hymns is “Because I Have Been Given Much” (Hymns, no. 219). As a member of an area presidency in the Philippines, I once attended a stake conference in the Philippines just a few days after a bad typhoon. Many of the members’ homes had been destroyed, and I wondered if they would come to the conference. But the Philippine Saints filed into the chapel with smiling faces. In that meeting, they sang “Because I Have Been Given Much.” I marveled at their faith and devotion.
I have found faithful members and leaders of the Church in many areas of the world. I am grateful for faithful parents and Primary teachers who help children prepare to become the faithful leaders and members of the future.
I know that the gospel is real and that prayers are answered. I graduated from high school and enlisted in the navy in the middle of World War II. I was on board a ship that was part of a large group of ships. Kamikaze pilots were trying to destroy my ship and others by crashing their airplanes into the ships. My grandson Adam once asked me what I did at such times of extreme danger. There was no place to run or hide. “All I could do was pray,” I told him. “That was a good thing to do,” he answered.
Children ought to learn to pray. I’m impressed that children can learn to pray even as they are learning to talk. I have a very young grandson who, at the age of two, gave sweet, humble prayers that I know Heavenly Father answered.
I have known the reality of answers to prayers. When our son was about thirteen, he was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. He had to stay in bed for six months. Because he couldn’t go to school, tutors came to our home. When he wasn’t getting any better, we had a family fast and prayer and then took him to a specialist. The doctor pronounced him well. Although because of the disease, he had been confined to bed for six months, our son stood up then and walked to the car and has never had another problem with his legs.
Heavenly Father loves us very much, and so does his Son, Jesus Christ. Because of this love, Jesus is sometimes called the Good Shepherd. When I was a boy, I was a shepherd myself, and it was hard work. The sheep in my father’s herd seemed stubborn and hard to control. When I was grown up, I went to the Holy Land where I watched another shepherd with his sheep. He spoke to them and led them. They followed him because they knew his voice. We can trust and follow our leaders and our Savior, Jesus Christ, even as the sheep followed their shepherd’s voice.