I’m a farm boy. My family raised cotton, alfalfa, and grains. As a boy I learned that growing cotton requires a certain type of weather. When the weather is too wet and cool, cotton plants grow very fast and spend all their energy growing branches and leaves. But if the weather is hot and the cotton plant has just enough moisture, the cotton balls will grow.
One year when I was a teenager, it had been quite a cool spring with lots of rain. Dad could see that the cotton plants were growing very fast and that he would have a problem meeting his financial obligations if the weather continued in the same pattern. He went to the bank and borrowed some money. Then he took me with him to our bishop’s office and prepaid his tithing for that year, even though it looked like the crop might not be very good. Immediately after he paid his tithing, the weather changed and got very hot. We had a large crop, and Dad met all his financial obligations. Needless to say, I was born of goodly parents who taught me to live the gospel by example.
During one family home evening when I was a young boy, my parents put three banks and six little jars in the middle of the table. They announced that my two brothers and I would each receive an allowance of 50 cents per month. They taught us how to calculate 10 percent of our money to pay our tithing. We each took a nickel and put it in our tithing jars. Then my parents taught us to save and to plan for the future. They asked us to save half of our allowance for our missions and for college, so we each put a quarter in our savings jars. That left us with 20 cents to put in our banks. We could spend that money however we wanted.
In that one simple lesson, my parents taught many principles about faith and tithing, planning for the future, and saving. By the time I was 19, I had added to that basic beginning and had saved enough to pay for my entire mission, plus two years of university studies. I’ll repeat, I was born of goodly parents.
My great-grandfather Harry Payne was one of the original settlers in my hometown of Virden, New Mexico, a tiny farming and ranching community. Twenty-one families left Mexico in 1912 and joined together to buy property in southwestern New Mexico. They divided the property into 21 different farms. Great-grandfather Payne really liked one particular piece of property. It already had a house on it, while most of the other pieces of land did not. To decide who got each piece of property, the settlers decided to draw pieces of paper out of a hat. My great-grandfather’s son-in-law could not attend the drawing, so he asked Great-grandfather Payne to draw for him. As my great-grandfather went up to draw, he thought, “The paper I draw with my right hand will be for me, and the one drawn by my left hand will be for my son-in-law.” The paper he chose for his son-in-law was for the land he so dearly wanted. His paper was for a piece of land with rocky ground. Nobody but he knew which hand he had chosen for his son-in-law. Still, he put aside the temptation to keep the land he wanted. He felt the sacrifice was worth being true to oneself. He and his sons hauled away rock for many years as they lived on the rocky property.
As I think of the faith of these wonderful ancestors of mine, it reminds me of my need to be worthy and my desire to be tied to them as an eternal family, generation upon generation.