I would like to explain what honoring the priesthood means to me. In this regard, I am like many other young men in the Church who are preparing to one day worthily enter the temple and to serve a mission.
I live in Tucson, Arizona, with my parents, my brother Stephen, my grandfather Juan, and my great-grandmother Maria. As a member of the Sonora Ward in the Tucson Arizona Stake, I have enjoyed many opportunities to magnify my callings in the Aaronic Priesthood. I have helped clean yards of the elderly and others unable to take care of their homes. I have also helped clean the church cemetery and ballpark. But what has helped the most in learning to honor my priesthood was an experience I had in helping my own family.
One summer my aunt and uncle left my four young cousins with my parents. I was asked to baby-sit them much of the time. During those months, I had the interesting experience of learning how to change diapers and fix lunches as well as figure out ways to keep my little cousins from getting into trouble. The first few days were hard on all of us, but by the end of the summer, we were all enjoying ourselves and doing well. I learned to appreciate what parents have to teach their children, and by the end of the summer, I felt a greater love for my cousins than I’d ever felt before.
I learned that one of the most important ways I can honor my priesthood is to obey the Lord’s commandments and to honor my parents. I once heard a speaker say, “If we love, we obey, for the Lord said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’” (John 14:15). When I obey, I know that I am a worthy priesthood holder. The guidance that comes from my Heavenly Father is for my own good. He knows who I am and has a plan for me and for my salvation. I don’t always understand why I have to do certain things, but I know that there are eternal reasons for doing them.
There also have been times when my parents wouldn’t allow me to go places or do things I wanted to do. I have not always been happy about their decisions. But many times I have come to realize that they were right. For example, when I was younger, some of my friends were going to a “teen night” at a nightclub, and my parents wouldn’t let me go. I was upset and felt that my parents didn’t trust me. But after my bad feelings left, we talked about the temptations all around us and how my being at the nightclub would be opening the door to greater temptations. We also talked about my being worthy to pass the sacrament and about honoring my priesthood. I love my Heavenly Father and my parents, and I know that love and obedience go hand in hand.
I have been preparing myself to be worthy of the ordinances of the temple. One of the ways I have been doing this is by keeping myself morally clean. It is a major challenge in these times to be morally clean and respectful of ourselves and others. Some people think that being sexually active outside of marriage is acceptable, but the Lord has taught us that only by maintaining high moral standards will we be able to enjoy all the blessings he wants to give us. Being immoral is totally unacceptable to the Lord and to his church.
The pamphlet For the Strength of Youth gives simple guidelines that help teach us how to be worthy to one day enter the temple. My bishop challenged the youth of our ward to always keep this pamphlet with us. If he asked us to show it to him and we couldn’t, we would owe him a candy bar. I feel the pamphlet has helped us stay on the “strait and narrow path” (2 Ne. 31:18).
I began preparing for full-time missionary service when I was five years old. I remember going to church with my grandparents because my mom was not active and my dad wasn’t a member. One Sunday I came home and told my mom, “Next Sunday you have to go with me to church. My friend Juanito takes his mom and dad, and I don’t, so my friends are going to start thinking I don’t have a mom and dad.”
Well, when Sunday came, I had forgotten about it, and Mom wasn’t about to remind me. When she took me to my grandparents’ so they could take me to church, I reminded her that she said I could take her with me. She made some excuse and said she couldn’t go with me that Sunday—but maybe next Sunday. I know she said that so I wouldn’t bother her, and she probably figured I’d forget about it. But when Saturday came around, I reminded her that she had to go to church with me. I helped her pick out a nice dress to wear and took her to church that Sunday. She’s been going with me ever since.
We’ve come a long way since then. Shortly after my mom’s reactivation, we focused on converting my father. I know that missionaries in the field work in pairs, but in our home we formed a threesome: Mom, my brother Stephen, and myself. Dad didn’t have a chance! We used to talk about the children’s hymn we were going to sing in the car, and we kept reminding each other to bless our food and hold family prayer and set a good example. My dad did join the Church and is very active now. In March 1987, we were sealed as a family in the Arizona Temple in one of the greatest events of our lives. We are working hard on becoming an eternal family.
Besides working with my family, I know that I should keep the Word of Wisdom, because a full-time missionary needs to be physically fit as well as morally clean. I need to study the scriptures and attend seminary because it takes some ability to memorize discussions and scriptures and be prepared to teach the gospel. My parents have also taught me the importance of speaking more than one language because “every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own … language” (D&C 90:11).
I think my greatest asset when I serve a mission will be my ability to make and keep friends. When you befriend someone, it is much easier to teach that person the gospel. I know that I need to prepare myself spiritually and physically by being obedient to my Heavenly Father and my parents so that I can have the Spirit as my constant companion. If we do these things, I know we can overcome the temptations of the world and honor our priesthood, serve missions, and enter the holy temple.