My father was my best friend while I was growing up. He had a great influence on my life because of the way he treated my mother. I never, ever heard him speak a cross word to her. He treated me and the rest of our family with the same kindness.
He often took me fishing. We also worked together at our family’s sawmill. After working hard all day, we sometimes went on evening picnics. Spending time working and playing together created a real family bond.
My father was the great-grandson of Charles Shumway, the first convert to the Church in our family. The missionaries found him living in the state of Wisconsin and shared the gospel with him. He was so happy that the next day, when he went to the sawmill where he worked, he told his coworkers what the missionaries had told him. One big man did not agree with his message and beat him up. He crawled back home, wounded.
When he had healed, he told his family, “I have to go find out if Joseph Smith really exists and if there really is such a thing as a prophet, like those missionaries told me.” He traveled to Nauvoo, and when he got there, yes sir, there was a prophet.
He returned home for his wife and family, headed toward the Mississippi River, built a raft, and floated back down to Nauvoo. For the rest of his life, he followed the prophet and tried to do exactly as he was directed. Under the direction of Brigham Young, he led the first company of Saints across the Mississippi after they were driven out of Nauvoo. He came into the Salt Lake Valley with Brigham Young on July 24, 1847. Later, President Young asked him to settle in Arizona. He did, and that’s where my family has stayed ever since. Thanks to my great-great-grandfather who accepted the gospel, my great-grandfather, my grandfather, my father, and I have all been active members of the Church.
The Lord has always put an emphasis on the family. Deuteronomy 6:7 reads, “And thou shalt teach [the gospel] diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of [it] when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” This scripture shows how my mother and father taught us. As we sat in our house, we studied the scriptures and had family home evening. While we “[walked] by the way” (or gardened or fished), my dad always talked to me about the gospel. When we lay down at night, I remember my mother and father telling us bedtime stories from the Bible. And when we “[rose] up” in the mornings, we always started the day with family prayer.
I believe that family home evening is the most important meeting a family can have. If your family will hold family home evening, you will form bonds of love for each other and for Heavenly Father.