“My earliest recollections are of a very protected family life in the suburbs of Dortmund, Germany. We had about ten acres of partly wooded land around our house, and we played a lot in the garden and the forest. My father was a very caring, loving, understanding man. He built us a little playhouse with a thatched roof.
“There was no television, of course, so my four sisters and I learned to use our imaginations. I had a little toy train on rails, and I imagined myself right into the locomotive. I was the engineer. I experienced everything that he would experience. Little bits of cardboard became a big tunnel. And the lights! I couldn’t wait till it became dark so that I could light the little lamps on the train. The whole world came into that room.
“I also loved to read. My favorite books were fairy tales. I read all the tales of the brothers Grimm as well as of Hans Christian Andersen. The stories took me to another world, another age—to a time of kings and queens and princes and princesses.
“We had a radio that was kept locked in a chest. When my father came home and he had the time, he would take his key, unlock the chest, and take the radio out so that we could all listen to it. One of my favorite activities was listening to that little box that music and voices came out of.
“When I was growing up,” Elder Busche continued, “there was a more formal relationship between parents and children than there is today. We were educated very strictly. For instance, when it was dinnertime, it was dinnertime. We had to wash our hands, make sure that our shoes were clean, and be sitting at the table. It was unthinkable that anyone would be late. Father and Mother would talk about the activities of the day, but we children were not allowed to speak unless we were asked a question.
“Even though they were strict, we knew that our parents had great love for us, and a deep, personal interest in our well-being. I remember that one night I had an inflammation in my knee. My father kept telephoning doctors until he found one who was willing to see us in the middle of the night. Father carried me to his car, and we drove for about an hour to get to the doctor’s. I will never forget my father’s tenderness that night and the closeness that I felt with him as he showed his concern and love for me.
“I was twenty-eight years old when I joined the Church, and I wanted to have my father’s permission. I went to him and asked for his blessing, and he said, ‘Let me think about it.’ The next morning, he said, ‘I have two questions for you. Number one: Have you really investigated this church?’
“‘Yes sir.’ I answered.
“‘Question number two: Are you really convinced that it’s true?’
“I said, ‘Yes.’
“‘Then you have to be baptized,’ he replied. ‘If you are convinced that something is right, you must do it.’
“His integrity was a strong influence in my life. I personally believe that everything has its roots in honesty.
“When I was six years old, I had an experience that is very important to me. I’m afraid that I didn’t come out of it as a hero—exactly the opposite. Most of the time we’re not heroes. We are learning, progressing, correcting our mistakes. This incident really taught me about the consequences of dishonesty. In Germany at that time, if teachers wanted to send information to parents, they sent home a letter. Such a letter was always sent in a blue envelope, and so it was nicknamed the ‘blue letter.’ A blue letter always contained bad news! I must have done something wrong at school, because I got a blue letter. I put it in my school bag, and when I got home, my mother asked, ‘What’s wrong with you?’
“I lied. ‘Nothing. Nothing’s wrong.’
“She said, ‘Well, I see by the tip of your nose that something’s wrong.’
“That made me angry and very defensive, so after lunch I went into the living room and opened up my school bag and put everything on the desk. I must have been careless, because the blue letter fell out. My mother immediately saw it and asked, ‘What’s that?’ I tried to grab the envelope and hide it, but Mother had already picked it up and was opening it.
“I will never forget the feelings of pain that came over me while she was reading that letter. To make a mistake is one thing, but it isn’t a really serious mistake if you admit it, ask for forgiveness, and make a commitment not to do it again. But to try to hide a mistake, hoping that nobody will find out, that’s a serious mistake.
“And so the lie caused me much more sorrow than the original mistake. I can’t even remember what was in that blue letter, but I still recall, in vivid detail, the awfulness of lying to my mother.
“My message to the children of the Church is this: Parents are not perfect. Yet they have the right to be forgiven, just as we do. A wonderful feeling will come to you when you can love and forgive them.
“You can make a difference in the world by making a difference in your own families. You can help your parents be better people by loving them. Love, like faith, is a gift from above. No matter how desperate and dark the situation, Heavenly Father will never forsake us. He will never leave us alone. He will always love us and help us to love others.”