When I was a young boy, our garage and the neighbor’s garage were about five feet apart. The neighbor’s garage was very old and dilapidated, and some of the boards were breaking. I, on occasion, would climb onto our garage and jump from one garage to the other and play on top of them. My father had told me, “Stay off the garages,” but I didn’t. One time when I was playing on them, I jumped from our garage and fell through the roof of the neighbor’s garage, scraping my back and legs badly. Because I had been disobedient, I foolishly decided not to tell anyone that I had hurt myself. I went in the house and washed the scrapes and scratches as well as I could, but I couldn’t reach the ones on my back to put antiseptic on them or even wash them clean. I bore the burden of pain, worry over infection setting in, and guilt for several days while the healing process took place. I learned that when you are disobedient and don’t repent, you often have to carry your burdens all by yourself!
My father was in the stake presidency in our small farming community, Preston, Idaho, and General Authorities visited our home quite often. When I was eleven years old, President George Albert Smith came to Preston to participate in a Boy Scout function. He had breakfast in our home, and he told our family of a spiritual experience that he had had. He said that when he was a young boy about my age, he had a great desire to know if there was, in fact, a God. He believed the story of Joseph Smith going into the Sacred Grove and seeing the face of and hearing the voice of Heavenly Father. For several years, President Smith said, he prayed every night that God would answer his prayers to tell him whether there was a God. After several years of earnest prayer each night, he heard the voice of the Lord say to him that indeed there was a God. This answer was in response to his faith and his perseverance. I have always remembered that story. It taught me both faith in prayer and the importance of taking our pleadings to the Lord.
I was the only boy in a family with four girls. My sisters spoiled me, and I loved it. I worked very hard, though, in my father’s dry cleaning plant and on farms in the surrounding area. I was also very involved in sports and participated in several sports in high school, my favorites being basketball and football.
I was sixteen when my six-year-old sister, Marcia, contracted polio during the epidemic of the early 1950s. Our family was devastated—she had an acute case, and it was feared that she would be severely paralyzed. When people came down with polio, they had a very high temperature. Until the temperature went down, the degree of paralysis increased. Doctors, family members, and the patient watched and waited by the hour for that temperature to drop.
When she became ill, Marcia was sent from Preston to Pocatello, Idaho, a larger city with better medical facilities. The rest of us decided to have a family fast, and we started it immediately. I was a junior in high school. That particular day, my school was playing a very important football game. I thought fasting might make me too weak to play well, but I chose to fast anyway. I played the best game I had ever played.
Marcia’s temperature went down that day, and the paralysis stopped progressing. She spent a lot of time at a rehabilitation center in Boise, Idaho, and was away from the family for several months. She received many priesthood administrations for her health, and a lot of prayers were offered in her behalf throughout her ordeal. She recovered from the polio and the paralysis. Medical authorities said that she would never have children, but she has three children and has lived a very normal life. We know that she has been blessed by the Lord.
Another time when prayer was significant in my life was when I had just graduated from high school and was working on a ranch in Idaho. I worked with two other fellows who were involved in athletics with me but who were at that time not very active in the Church. They went off in the evenings and did things that I didn’t want to do.
That left me with a lot of time alone. For six to eight weeks, I was mostly by myself after dinner so I began to study the scriptures. There were no computer games and no television to distract me, and soon I began to love the scriptures. I could hardly wait to finish work and get back to my reading. Scripture study, coupled with prayer, really made my testimony grow. I recommend that everyone be alone with his scriptures for a while.
President David O. McKay once told me, “Remember who you are.” When I read about Moses’ vision in the Pearl of Great Price, I learned that God spoke to him, calling him “Moses, my son” and told him that he was “in the similitude of mine Only Begotten,” Jesus Christ. (See Moses 1:6.) Heavenly Father was giving Moses a lesson about who he was—and us a lesson about who we are.
Shortly after that vision took place, Satan came along and called Moses “son of man” (instead of “son of God”) and told Moses to worship him. Moses knew the difference! He told Satan, “I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?” (See Moses 1:12–13.)
Know that each of you is a child of God. Learn who you are by being obedient and by learning about Heavenly Father. He is there to help you at all times.