The broad fields surrounding Minneota, Minnesota, stretch off into the distance as far as the eye can see. In the spring, farmers plow the black soil and plant soybeans and corn. In the summer, the fields are green; in the fall, they turn brown before giant combines harvest the crops. But this southwest corner of Minnesota has a new kind of crop that is growing all year. It is a generation of Latter-day Saint children growing up in the Church.
Rachel Cheadle (7) and her brothers and sisters, Joseph (10), Jacob (9), Sariah (5), Ruth (4), and Sam (1) are a part of this new generation. Their father, Aaron, grew up in the Church in a small branch in Alexandria, Minnesota, and their mother, Laura, was baptized when she was a college student in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
Rachel’s favorite things to do are sing, jump rope, and swing as high as she can. “Rachel has been singing since she could make noise,” her mother said. She loves to sing for the Primary children’s sacrament meeting program.
Recently Rachel had the opportunity to teach the gospel through her singing. The branch in Marshall, Minnesota, where the Cheadles go to church, decided to perform a special musical concert of church hymns and narration for their friends who were not members. Brother M. Michael Suzuki, professor of choral music at Southwest State University in Marshall, was the director, and Rachel and her brother Joseph were the youngest members of the choir.
In the concert, Rachel sang a solo of “I Am a Child of God.” She was especially happy that all four of her grandparents and also her great-grandparents were able to come. A lot of other people were there as well, but Rachel wasn’t afraid to sing in front of such a large audience. “I thought it was fun to sing in a big choir.”
“I Am a Child of God” is Rachel’s favorite song, and her favorite family activity is family home evening. She likes to listen to her mom’s lessons and sing songs with her family while her dad plays the piano.
All of the Cheadle children have jobs to do. Rachel’s chores are to make her bed, pick up the living room, put away clean laundry, wash the dishes, and set the table. In the summer, everyone helps in the garden and in processing what they grow.
Rachel’s favorite garden job is pitting the bush cherries. Her favorite thing to eat from the garden is corn. Last summer, however, the Cheadle’s did not raise a garden. They spent the summer in Virginia while Brother Cheadle was in training with the Army Reserve at Fort Eustis, Virginia. This was especially exciting because they lived by their cousins in Virginia Beach.
School is fun for Rachel, but she doesn’t like to get up early for it. “I could sleep until lunchtime,” she said. Usually Rachel is the first one finished with her work in class. “Then I get to help my friend Marcella. She doesn’t speak much English, so I help her. When she finishes her work, I get to put a star on her paper.”
All of the Cheadle children have names with special meaning for them. Joseph was named for the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Jacob for Nephi’s brother Jacob in the Book of Mormon. Rachel is named for Rachel in the Bible, and Sariah for Lehi’s wife. Although Ruth’s name is in the Bible, she was named for her great-great-grandmother, Ruth Blood, who is still living. Sister Cheadle was in the Chicago Illinois Temple, and she read in Alma 3:6 about “Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.” That is why their baby, Samuel, is called Sam. His parents want him and Jacob and all their children to be “just and holy” men and women.
“We wanted to name them for someone they could look up to,” Brother Cheadle said.
Rachel and her brothers and sisters have been able to tour both the St. Paul Minnesota Temple and the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple. Rachel likes to tell her friends about the temple. “When I talk about the temple, they ask what it is and I tell them. I tell them that inside, it looks pretty and that when you go there, you can really feel the Spirit.”
Soon the big combines will go back into the fields around Minneota to harvest another crop of soybeans and corn. But the best harvest coming from this area is that of faithful boys and girls like Rachel and her brothers and sisters, who are growing up strong in their testimonies of the gospel and their love for Jesus Christ.