Many women of faith influenced me as a boy—especially my mother and my grandmothers. Although Grandmother Dickson died before I was born, my father told me that, when she was newly married, she accepted a mission call with her husband to New Zealand. I admired her courage and faith. I was fortunate to spend time with Grandmother Baird, who was happy and kind. My mother spoke of the hard work and fun of growing up with eight brothers and sisters in Grandma Baird’s tiny home in Cowley, Wyoming. The family had little money but lots of love. These women and others helped me learn that happiness comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
My mother brought that happiness into our home. She didn’t scold us very often—but she reminded us quite a bit. One day my brother and I decided to hike with friends to the lookout tower on “Mount Peak” (Pinnacle Peak), a small mountain near my home in Enumclaw, Washington. The trip took much longer than we had planned. As it began to get dark, I suspected we were really going to be in trouble when we got home. But when we walked in the door, all Mother showed was relief. She reminded us to always let her know where we would be, and we tried very hard to be responsible after that.
One summer we hiked with family members into Crow Basin, high in the Cascade Mountains. My mother loved to hike and fish. She made life fun! So it didn’t surprise me on that outing when Mother joined in a horse race. My brother Lynn and I watched from the side as the horses galloped across the meadow. Suddenly, one of the horses tripped and fell down. Through the big ball of dust and commotion, someone shouted, “It’s Helen’s horse!”—my mother’s.
My brother and I ran toward the fallen horse. We were the first to reach Mother. She was unconscious and covered with dust. I thought that she was dead. My father assured me that she was going to be OK, but it was many days before she felt well enough to travel home. At eight years of age, I hadn’t thought much about what my mother meant to me. That experience increased my gratitude and love for her.
Like my mother and my grandmothers, my wife, Delores, is a woman of faith. She has never complained about our Church assignments. In 1978 our six little daughters were all under age 12. We accepted a call to preside over a mission in Mexico, leaving behind our home and the year’s supply of food she’d worked hard to store. A few weeks after we accepted the mission call, she told me, “I think our seventh child is on the way.” Delores had no idea what medical care might be available in Mexico, or what having a baby in Mexico might be like. Many years after this experience, she told me that as we were leaving for Mexico on the airplane, she looked at our six beautiful daughters. Silently, she prayed that when we returned home in a few years, each of those six seats would be filled. We came home with eight children—each a blessing from the Lord. Delores likes to say that when we put the Lord’s work first, He blesses all our other work too.
Children, you have a wonderful opportunity to learn from the women in your lives. Listen to their counsel. Watch what they do, the way they treat others. Help them as you can and remember to express your love and thanks. I am grateful to Heavenly Father for the influence of women of faith.