Growing up in the small town of Aurora, Utah, I learned the power of prayer. We lived on a cattle and dairy farm, and our animals were essential to our livelihood. We knew each of them by name, and whenever one of them got sick, my father always prayed for it. Once when a cow named Old Blue became bloated with air in her stomach, my father knelt right there in the field and offered a prayer for her. Old Blue recovered.
At a young age, I had many responsibilities on our farm. When I was nine years old, one of my summer jobs was to keep a herd of 12 cows and 12 calves in the pasture. Unfortunately, they loved to push over our fence and gorge on the sweet alfalfa in an adjoining field. On one of their escapes, they got into an empty canal some four to five meters deep. I knew the canal would soon fill with water, drowning the trapped cattle.
I couldn’t move 24 cattle up the canal’s steep banks, and I didn’t know how else to save them, so I knelt and prayed for help. I was impressed to drive the cattle down the canal to another man’s property. I questioned the wisdom of this, because I didn’t know the property or its owner and I didn’t want to get stuck between even steeper banks. I obeyed the Spirit, however, and soon found a section of the canal where the cattle could climb out easily. And our neighbor didn’t mind. When I told my mother, she said I had been inspired by Heavenly Father.
During these years, I attended Primary with 11 other boys and 4 girls. My Primary teachers had a profound effect on my life. One teacher, Sister Georgeanna Johnson, had a firm testimony and expected us to come to Primary with our scripture-reading assignments completed. She insisted that we be well-dressed and clean and that we not cause trouble. From her I learned that each of us was special and different and that we were blessed to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sister Johnson took responsibility for us and would have been heartbroken if one of us had disobeyed the Word of Wisdom.
Sister Beth Curtis, another Primary teacher, encouraged us to come to Primary reverently and thanked us when we did. She stressed the importance and honor of being worthy to hold the Aaronic Priesthood. All of the boys in my Primary class received the Aaronic Priesthood and passed the sacrament when we turned 12.
Another influence in my life was our bishop’s wife. She was a nurse, and she taught me about the power and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood to heal the sick. She also taught me about the gift of being healed. One day while playing in a silo, my cousin accidently knocked over a rock that hit me in the head. Even before she bandaged my deep gash, the bishop’s wife asked my father and her husband to administer a blessing. My wound healed, and I didn’t have to go to the doctor.