I was born in Salt Lake City, and my father had pioneer ancestors, so you might think my family was very active in the Church. But my mother did not become a member of the Church until shortly before I was born, and my family did not attend church very often when I was a child. I remember attending Primary a few times, and we sometimes went to sacrament meeting and Sunday School.
When I was very young, my family moved to southern California. Our property had an orange orchard, where we loved to play. When my family invited other families over for barbeques, we played games of hide-and-seek with dozens of children.
In elementary school, I knew only one other LDS boy. I attended a Scout troop that was sponsored by another church, the Society of Friends, or Quakers. It was a wonderful troop. Our leader was an expert on history. From experience, I learned that Heavenly Father loves all people of all faiths.
Just before I entered sixth grade, we moved to a new house. A few boys at my new school made fun of me, called me names, and wouldn’t let me play ball. When I told my dad about it, he said that instead of getting mad and trying to make those boys as unhappy as they had made me, I should try to make friends with them. So I invited them to come over and do something at my house. Neither of them could come, but from then on, they were my friends instead of my enemies.
When I was about eleven, something wonderful happened to my family. My parents decided to start going to church. A few years later, my family traveled to Salt Lake City to be sealed in the temple. It was a very cold day in January, snowy and foggy. The temple was strikingly beautiful. For some reason, I remember its engraved doorknobs. I also remember walking into the beautiful sealing room and seeing my family, aunts, uncles, and family friends. It was so wonderful to have everyone there!
Much later in my life, one of my little nephews died of cancer. By this time, I had been married in the temple myself. But when that little boy died, I felt so much more grateful than ever before for the sealing power of the temple. I know that my little nephew can be with my brother and his wife again someday.
After I finished high school in California, I went to the University of Utah. I joined a fraternity, which is a kind of club for college students. Some of my fellow fraternity members kept Heavenly Father’s commandments. Others did not. It was clear to me that the ones who kept the commandments were the ones who were going to have happy lives. I knew that I, too, needed to keep the commandments if I wanted to be happy.
After my first year of college, I went on a mission to Peru. I met lots of wonderful people who were happy even though they had very few things that money can buy. They had great joy in the gospel and in the love of their families.
When I returned to the University of Utah after my mission, I began to date Kathy Kipp. Her father was a good man but not a member of the Church, and her parents were divorced. Kathy and her sister faithfully attended Primary together as young girls. Sometimes Kathy’s father wanted the family to do things on Sunday that were not appropriate on the Sabbath Day. Kathy knew that she needed to obey her father, but she went to church when she could.
When we began dating, I learned how strongly Kathy felt about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Because of her devotion, our family has always tried hard to make Sunday a special day. We don’t watch TV on Sunday or go to sporting events. We listen to sacred music, write letters, and spend lots of time talking together. Our younger children liked to read stories from the Friend and from scripture readers. As a result, we have enjoyed a spirit of peace in our home on the Sabbath.
Heavenly Father loves all children and wants them to be happy. He designed the gospel to make us happy. One of my pioneer ancestors, William Clayton, wrote the hymn “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (Hymns, no. 30). He wrote it when the Saints had been driven out of their beautiful city of Nauvoo and were looking for safety. The chorus of that song reminds us that when we do what is right, “all is well.” That does not mean we will not have any problems. But when we follow our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, all will eventually be well.