Do you like to work? When I was a boy growing up in Sandy, Utah, my three brothers and I learned to work hard. My family had a big garden, and my father always planted much more than our family could ever eat. He gave corn, tomatoes, and other vegetables to our neighbors. When they offered to come pick the vegetables, my father said, “Oh, no. My boys will pick them and have them ready for you.” My brothers and I learned to get up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning to weed the garden and pick the vegetables while it was still cool. I still get up very early in the morning.
We also worked on the neighboring farm, doing a little of everything. We herded cows, thinned and topped beets, and picked cherries. I even remember vaccinating chickens! Many years later, when I was having a medical examination, the doctor said that I was in very good health except that I had a virus in my lungs that was not a human virus. It was a virus that chickens have. I’ve been teased that maybe this is why I like to get up so early—like chickens do!
Dad got us a job mowing the lawn of our meetinghouse. We used an old push lawn mower. At that time, the Church was just beginning to buy power lawn mowers. But my father, who had a calling in the stake, said, “We don’t need a power mower. My boys will take care of it.” Some parts of the lawn were very thick and hard to mow, so we attached a rope to the front of the mower. One brother pulled on the rope while the other pushed the mower. People laughed as they went by and saw us doing this, but it worked!
Before I went on my mission, my Grandfather Bateman gave me a blessing. In that blessing, he said, “Now, boy, you go out and work hard, and the Lord will bless you.” I am glad that I had learned as a boy to work hard.
As boys growing up, we had lots of fun along with the work. Near our house, there was a hill of beautiful white sand that we called Sand Hill. We loved to roll down that hill. We also liked to explore the riverbank and hunt for flint arrowheads in some old caves where Native Americans used to live. I had a very nice collection of arrowheads.
We loved to visit Grandma and Grandpa Bateman in West Jordan, Utah, too. In wintertime, we went sledding on their big hill. One time we went sledding on my uncle’s prize sled. As we went down the hill toward the irrigation canal, we bounced off the sled, and it landed in the canal. Grandpa had to divert the irrigation water out of the canal so we could find the sled. When we got back to the house, we were cold and wet. We warmed up by the stove while Grandma laid our clothes out to dry.
Back in those days, we had Primary on a weekday afternoon. When it was our birthday, we brought one penny for each year of our age to donate to help the children at the Primary Children’s Hospital. We dropped our pennies in a specially decorated box while we sang:
Five pennies make a nickel,
Two nickels make a dime,
Ten dimes will make a dollar,
How we’ll make it shine.
It’s for the crippled children
Who cannot walk or run;
Who have to lie in bed all day,
And cannot join our fun.*
As a child, it touched me that we could help children who were sick. I still like to sing this song, and I have taught it to my children.
Sometimes people will ask me, “When did you first know that the Church is true?” Looking back, I don’t think I ever didn’t know that the Church is true. My parents had always taught us the gospel. They taught us to talk to Heavenly Father in prayer. I’ve always done that, so I’ve always felt protected. I know that Someone has been watching over me throughout my life, even when I didn’t realize it at the time.
One day, we went camping with some friends, and we were riding horses. I was leading one of the horses up an embankment to tie it to a stake. My foot slipped and I fell down, and the horse walked over me without stepping on me. Someone who saw what happened was amazed that I wasn’t hurt at all, but I know that Heavenly Father was watching over me. I know that He is watching over you, too.
My favorite scripture says, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” (D&C 84:88.)
I want you to know that Heavenly Father is watching over you, too. He knows who you are. He is aware of you and your potential. He loves you. Always talk to Him. There’s no problem too small to talk to Him about, and there’s no problem too big to talk to Him about.
Sometimes you may make wrong decisions. But even then, don’t stop talking to Heavenly Father. The Savior paid for our sins if we will repent. Don’t ever feel that you have made too many mistakes. Keep praying to Heavenly Father always, and He will guide you throughout your life.