I grew up in Rexburg, Idaho. We didn’t have much money, so we always made our own toys. I had the finest herd of stick horses in the Snake River Valley. We also made our own flipper guns. We carved them out of pieces of board, then cut pieces of rubber out of an old inner tube and attached them with clothespins. We made our own stilts. I learned to be a pretty good swimmer in the irrigation canals near my home. In the winter, when there was lots of snow, we made sleds to slide down the hills. We never knew that we were poor, because we had so much fun.
I had a great mother. She was a hard worker and a woman of great faith. My father was never active in the Church, so we never had family prayer, scripture reading, or family home evening. But my mother taught and encouraged my two brothers, my sister, and me. We three boys all served missions.
I have very fond memories of Primary. Not long ago, I spoke on the telephone with one of my Primary teachers, Sister Ellen Genta, now age eighty-five. Sister Genta taught a class of nine or ten of us boys for three years in a row. We all knew that she loved and cared about us. In those days, Primary was held after school. When Primary was over, Sister Genta often took us outside and played softball with us. I also loved the Primary songs, although I was not a very good singer.
The boys who lived near me were a very good influence on me. Two of them have grown up to be mission presidents. One of them has also been a temple president, and the other one—Elder F. Melvin Hammond—is a General Authority. The examples of my friends and my older brother were very important to me when it came time for me to go on a mission.
After I finished high school, I worked at a meat market to support myself and help support my family. The Korean War was going on, and each ward could send only a certain number of young men on missions. One day while I was working at the market, I sat down to rest for a few minutes. I was alone, and the Spirit came over me and told me that it was time for me to commit to serve a mission. The next Sunday I told my bishop that I wanted to do so. He said that the quota for missionaries from our ward had just been increased by one. I was that one. Because I listened to the Holy Ghost, I was able to serve a mission, and my mission was the turning point that has led to everything else good in my life.
While I was serving my mission in Argentina, I had an experience that tested my willingness to do what the Lord asked me to do. I was serving in Trelew, a very small town in a very remote area of southern Argentina. I had flown to Buenos Aires, the capital, for a mission conference. I had been having severe pains in my side, so while I was there, I went to see a doctor. He said that my appendix was very inflamed and that I should stay near a hospital in case I needed to have my appendix removed.
After I saw the doctor, I went to the mission conference. Elder Henry D. Moyle (1889–1963) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was the visiting General Authority at the conference. He gave me a blessing. In the blessing, he told me that I would be fine. He said that I should not stay in Buenos Aires, as the doctor had recommended, but that I should return to Trelew as soon as the conference was over.
The next morning, I boarded the plane and returned to Trelew, and my appendix never bothered me again. In fact, I still have it. This experience taught me that when our prophets speak to us, we can trust them and follow what they say.
One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon is 1 Nephi 3:7 [see top of this article]. I have a great love for the Book of Mormon. I enjoy reading it. I also love missionary work. I enjoy talking to people about the gospel.
When I returned from my mission, I went to Ricks College, where I met my wife, Jill. She grew up on a farm near Rexburg. I remember one time when I went to pick her up for a date, another young man was coming to see her, too. She was on a hay wagon, tromping down a big pile of hay. Jill’s father gave us each a pitchfork and challenged us to see who could get to the top of the pile first. I won!
Jill and I have always had family scripture reading. Generally we had scripture reading at 6 A.M. Our children would come to the table half asleep, and we sometimes wondered what they were learning. But years later, our second daughter, Mindy, came to visit us after she had children of her own. She attended church with us on Fast Sunday and bore testimony that of all the experiences she had in our home, family scripture reading was one of the most important to her.
The Savior loves you dearly. As a child in your family, you can bring a lot of love into your home. You can be a peacemaker. Your example is very important to those around you, and you have great power. Ask your mom and dad to pray with you. Ask them to read about the Savior with you. Share with them what you’ve learned in Primary. Sing the Primary songs at home.
Heavenly Father loves you. Thank Him for what you have and ask Him for help in doing what is right. Even if you sometimes feel alone, you can know that He is always there. If you have the Holy Ghost with you, you can know that all is well.