I was raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My mother was Argentine and my father was English, so I grew up learning two languages. I spoke English at home and Spanish at school.
My family lived in the city, but when I was a teenager, I stayed with my uncle during the summers. He managed a cattle ranch with about four thousand cattle. In Argentina, cowboys are called gauchos. All summer I dressed like a gaucho, rode horses like a gaucho, and worked like a gaucho.
At the ranch, I was given the responsibility to ride all of the horses that were kept for visitors. I remember one horse that was very good for working with cattle but very tough mouthed. That means that he did not respond very well to the bit. It was difficult for a rider to control him. One day, I took him out first thing in the morning. When horses go out to work, they are sometimes a little bit like we are. They don’t go out with a great deal of enthusiasm when it is so early.
I usually switched horses around midday. I had been fighting with this horse all morning, so when it was time for me to go back and switch horses, I thought, If you want to run, I’m really going to make you run! I hit him, and he took off—running at full speed! The only problem was that we were coming up on a gate made of large beams. I pulled on the reins, trying to slow him down. But I had forgotten that when horses are heading for home they are much more excited than when they are heading out. That horse was going home, and nothing was going to stop him! He crashed into the gate—but was unhurt—as I flew onto the ground.
I learned an important lesson from this experience. Most of us have been away from home. When we have been away for a while, we long to go back, just like that horse longed to be back in his stable. We get homesick. If you’ve been on a long trip, you can remember how you felt traveling back home and how much you wanted to be there. Home is where you belong.
Heaven is our real home, and we really belong with Heavenly Father. Think of how homesick you have been, and imagine how much our spirits miss our heavenly home. How exciting it will be to come back into our Heavenly Father’s presence! We should want to do everything we can to get there.
The horse I rode on my uncle’s ranch that day had to follow the right path. The ranch was enormous, around ten thousand acres, and if the horse had not stayed on the path, he could have gotten lost. It was good for that horse to go home, but he also needed to go through several gates—not crash into them!
Heavenly Father has set a path for us to follow during our time on earth, with certain gates to pass through. When I was fifteen years old, the missionaries knocked on our door. I learned that the path Heavenly Father has given us is found in the scriptures and in the words of the prophets. I realized that baptism was the first gate we needed to pass through in order to go home. Other gates are the temple endowment and the temple sealing.
If we are determined to stay on the path and pass through these gates, we will return safely home again someday.