Three children of the Goodman family of Sandy, Utah, were killed in an automobile accident a few weeks before Christmas last year. As I attended the funeral for these children, my heart was touched by the outpouring of love and support from the Goodmans’ ward and stake. More than 1500 people attended the funeral. They are a remarkable family, and the children were remarkable. The twelve Goodman children and their parents have sung together in many parts of the world, sharing their message of love and the importance of the family. Three other family members were seriously injured in the accident. The Goodmans said that the outpouring of love and kindness from others helped them through this tragedy. The love and help that the Goodman family received is an example of people following the Savior’s teaching: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
In the midst of all the suffering of the pioneer handcart companies are numerous examples of Saints who, through their actions, showed great love for the Savior. One of these was a young English girl named Emily Wall, who had come across the plains with her brother, Joseph. They had been promised that they would live to come to the Salt Lake Valley. That faith sustained them through all the terrible sufferings they endured. Their mother had given each of them extra pairs of shoes to wear during the journey, and they gave most of those away to Saints who had no shoes at all.
Partway across the plains, Joseph, who was then eighteen, fell sick. The leaders of the group felt that they would have to leave him behind—not because they were cruel but because they simply could not stop and wait for him to get better. To do so would endanger the lives of everyone in the group. They said that if Joseph got well, he could catch up to the company. Emily said, “I can’t leave him. We have both been promised that we will live to get across the plains, so I’ll put him in the handcart and I will push it myself.” So fifteen-year-old Emily, with the help of another girl, pulled the heavy handcart for three days while Joseph recovered. Soon he was able to get back on his feet, and the two of them proceeded as part of the Martin Company.
Emily later married a man she met at Devil’s Gate after the handcart company was rescued. The couple had twelve children who followed the example of their mother’s faith and obedience to the Lord’s commandments.
Showing love to the Savior by keeping His commandments does not have to be a big thing. Little acts of kindness demonstrate our love as much as grand efforts. Many years ago, two unmarried women took a neighbor’s children to Primary each week. At that time, Primary was held on a weekday afternoon. The children lived in difficult conditions, and their parents were not active in the Church. The Primary sisters washed the children’s faces, combed their hair, tidied or washed their clothes, and mended the torn knees of their trousers. As a result, the whole family began to change. The oldest boy went on a mission. When he returned, he married a fine Latter-day Saint girl who herself had been a missionary. He is now serving as a bishop. One of his sisters also served a mission. The family is now fully active. They were always good people, but they needed a little help. That whole family was changed for eternity because two dear ladies cared enough to take those children to church.
African Latter-day Saints are special people who openly show their love for the Savior. There is a unique spiritual nature about the African Saints. They love Christ. They love the scriptures. They love the prophet. They are obedient. They are eager to learn. They need only be taught to understand. They have been prepared for these last days in the Lord’s vineyard. I can remember going to a district conference in West Africa when it was extremely hot—110° F (43° C) and very humid. Everybody was suffering from the heat. Afterward the children came up to me with big smiles, offering me bananas, plantains (a type of banana), yams, and many other fruits of the season just because they love people. It touched my heart.
Alma the Younger speaks about receiving the Light of Christ in our faces: “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14.) I see that question answered in President Gordon B. Hinckley’s face. I see in him a man purified by age and wisdom and determination and faith and consecration. I see in his face the Light of Christ because he has earned it.
This shouldn’t be thought of as something unique to prophets. Anyone can have the Light of Christ who pays the price for it. The price you have to pay is the price that all righteous men and women pay—a life totally dedicated to Christ and His cause. A life of keeping the commandments every day and enduring to the end. A life of doing the thousand little acts of goodness and kindness that change us and make our faces show who we really are—divine children of our Heavenly Father. Harold B. Lee said, “The gods we worship write their names in our faces.” And in truth that is so.