I grew up on the beautiful island of Oahu. My family lived in a house next door to the Honolulu Stake Tabernacle. The grounds of that majestic building were my backyard—separated from my home by a little canal.
When I was five years old, President David O. McKay came to speak at a meeting in the tabernacle. That day, my mother had just returned home from the hospital with my new baby sister and could not go with us. But she dressed my older brother and me in matching suits and sent us to the meeting. My father was in the stake presidency, so he had gone to the meeting early. My brother and I walked over the canal and into the tabernacle and sat down on about the twelfth row.
President McKay just looked like a prophet. When he gave his talk, I felt the stirrings of the Spirit inside me, feelings that I had never felt before. Then the congregation sang a hymn:
Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?
Now is the time to show.
We ask it fearlessly:
Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?*
As we sang those words, I wanted to stand up and say, “I am! I am on the Lord’s side!” Ever since I was a child, I have felt that I always want to be on the Lord’s side.
Growing up in Hawaii, I had many friends from different countries—Japan, China, Korea, Samoa, Tonga, and the Philippines. One of my best friends was Czechoslovakian and African-American. I grew up using chopsticks and practicing the Japanese tradition of taking my shoes off at the front door. We all shared our different foods and traditions, and we all accepted each other.
Growing up, I loved sports. When I was a teenager, I played basketball and baseball and ran track. But I always knew that I would never play or practice on Sunday. When you know that you are on the Lord’s side, decisions like this are clear. So when my team was scheduled to practice or play on Sunday, I never begged my parents to let me play. I simply told the coach that I wouldn’t be able to participate. My decision was easy to make because I knew I wanted to be on the Lord’s side.
When you love the Lord and feel grateful to Him, then obeying Him is not a burden. It is a blessing, because every time you obey, you become closer to His Spirit. When you stay on the Lord’s side, you will be blessed as you can be in no other way.
When I was young, I never wondered, “Should I go on a mission?” I always knew that I wanted to serve a mission, and I was called to be a missionary in England. Very early in my mission, I had a very important decision to make. I had to decide just what kind of missionary I was going to be. Was I going to be a really good missionary? Would I follow every rule and always do my best? Or would I just follow most of the rules and do my best some of the time? I decided that I wanted to be a really good missionary. Every day I got up at the time we were supposed to get up, or even a little early. Every day I studied the missionary discussions and the scriptures. And every day my companion and I tried to not miss any opportunities to talk to people about the gospel.
I have always found that when we do the little things correctly, the Lord gives us the strength to accomplish big things. One day my companion and I were walking to an appointment when we both got the feeling that we should go another way. After we changed directions, we noticed a man walking toward us. He was wearing a Brigham Young University sweatshirt. We stopped and asked him about it.
He said that his sister had traveled across the United States. She had stopped in Provo, Utah, and bought him the shirt at the BYU campus bookstore. Neither he nor his sister was a member of the Church, and he knew nothing about it or BYU. My companion and I were able to teach this man and his wife about the gospel and baptize them. Meeting this man was not a coincidence. The Holy Ghost guided my companion and me to meet him. Because we were following the rules and keeping the commandments, we were able to hear the still, small voice.
Even as a young child, you have the ability to feel the Holy Ghost. It can give you comfort, protection, and peace. Then, after you are baptized and confirmed, you can have the gift of the Holy Ghost and feel it consistently. When you are at school or with your friends and someone wants you to do something you know is wrong, have the courage to walk away. Learn about the life of Jesus Christ so that you can love Him more.
Always follow your parents and the teachings of the Church. You might not always understand the reasons for some rules or commandments, but if you will follow them—even in the little things—you will have more strength to do big things. You will be closer to the Lord’s Spirit so that you can be guided and protected. And you will have the great blessing of knowing that you are on the Lord’s side and that He is on yours.