When I was growing up, my father kept a cow to provide milk for the family. When my father decided I was old enough, it became my job to milk the cow. Every morning and night I would go out carrying two buckets—an empty one for the milk and one with some grain. The grain was supposed to keep the cow busy while I milked her, but I could never milk as fast as the cow could eat the grain.
I remember one cow in particular who didn’t like me at all. She always seemed to know when the milk bucket was almost full, and at that moment she would kick the bucket over and run off. She destroyed all of my hard work in a flash. With my hands aching and my eyes burning with tears of frustration, I would return to the house with an empty bucket.
One day, Dad came to my rescue. He put a rope around the cow’s leg and tied it tight to a post so she couldn’t kick or run away. At first she fought against the rope, but after a while I didn’t even need to tie her leg to the post. I could just throw the rope on the ground by her back feet, and she would stand quietly until I picked up the rope and let her go.
I learned a great lesson from this. If we keep the commandments when we are young, we will train ourselves to stay close to our Heavenly Father, just as the rope trained our cow to stay close to the post. Then when we have temptations or difficult times in our lives, we will automatically respond by choosing the right. Instead of feeling restricted, we will be thankful that God gave us commandments to keep us in the right place.
Other experiences I had as a boy taught me that the Holy Ghost can help us stay close to Heavenly Father. I had a friend named Ralph who was a few months older than I was. We went to school in a one-room redbrick schoolhouse, and Ralph and I would walk there together. One day we talked about his recent baptism and confirmation. He told me how clean he felt when he was baptized. I asked him what it was like to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and he said, “It’s like a voice that whispers in your ear, teaching you the truth.” I never forgot Ralph’s explanation. I wanted to have what my friend had.
Later, after I was baptized and confirmed, I attended a banquet where President George Albert Smith was invited to speak. After the banquet, my dad and I stood in a long line to shake President Smith’s hand. When my turn came, President Smith looked down at me, took my hand, and spoke to me. I don’t remember what he said, but I will never forget how I felt. The Holy Ghost testified to me that he was a prophet of God.
I am grateful for the Holy Ghost. When we obey the commandments, the Holy Ghost dwells with us. He purifies us and teaches us the truth, and this helps us stay close to our Heavenly Father.