Friend to Friend


I love my patriarchal blessing. I carry it with me wherever I go, and I read it often for guidance and direction in my life. You can look forward to getting the needed recommend from your bishop or branch president and then receiving your own blessing.

Our patriarchal blessings come from a loving Heavenly Father through an ordained patriarch and contain special and specific counsel for each of us. We don’t always understand our blessings when we get them, though. Sometimes it takes years before we see the fulfillment of some parts of the blessings. But if we read them, pray about them, and strive to follow the counsel and advice Heavenly Father gives us in these sacred blessings, we will receive extra help and guidance.

One sentence in my patriarchal blessing thrilled me: “You will be called to preach the gospel in the world.” I had a lifelong desire to serve a mission, and so when I heard that sentence, I felt that I would have that opportunity.

When it was time for me to serve a mission, the United States was involved in a war and only a few young men were actually allowed to serve missions. The rest were expected to serve their country in the war if they were drafted.

At that time, all prospective missionaries were interviewed by General Authorities as well as by their local Church leaders. I went through the interview process, and because of that sentence in my patriarchal blessing, I thought I would be called on a mission. I was terribly disappointed when I was notified that I was required to serve my country instead.

I often thought about that sentence in my patriarchal blessing. When and how will I be called to preach the gospel? I asked myself. Today, of course, as a General Authority, I am preaching the gospel all over the world. I can see now how that promise is being fulfilled. But when I was younger, I often wondered.

At times in our lives, we may wonder how the Lord will keep His promises. Sometimes it is hard to see things from His eternal viewpoint, and we start to question why He does certain things and why certain things are happening to us. We must remember that Heavenly Father is perfect and that He loves us very much. We should always trust in Him, and He will lead and guide us into happiness.

One of the ways Heavenly Father helps us find happiness is through righteous parents and Church leaders. They see things differently than we do, and we must listen to them and obey them.

Once a group of young men went to a lake. They took a bow and 10 arrows with them. After all the arrows had been shot and had fallen harmlessly into the lake, one boy decided to swim to the middle of the lake to retrieve the last arrow. He dived in and headed toward it. He got it and then turned back to swim for shore. By this time he was extremely tired. His wet clothing weighed him down. Holding the arrow in his hand made swimming very difficult. He began to fear he might drown, and he called out desperately to his friends for help.

“Put your feet down and walk to shore,” they called back to him. He couldn’t see things clearly, but his friends, who were looking at things from the shore, knew he was in shallow water. All he had to do was stand up and he would be safe.

Our parents and Church leaders often can see things we can’t. If we listen to them, their guidance will help us reach the shore safely. Being obedient is crucial to our safety and protection.

Living honestly is also important in our lives. Once, when I was in charge of a huge project in Italy, the people I worked with encouraged me to do something dishonest. “Everyone does it,” my coworkers said. “It’s just the way things are done.” Maybe what they were saying was true. But I refused to do something I knew was wrong. We decided together to do the honest, right thing, and our project was successful.

You will have many chances in life to cheat, lie, or do something else you know you shouldn’t. Sometimes others will encourage you to make wrong choices. It may seem like everyone is doing the wrong thing and you are the only one choosing the right. You may be tempted to go along with everybody else.

Remember that you will always, always be blessed for choosing the right. Heavenly Father knows the decisions you make, and He will strengthen you and support you during difficult times. He loves you very much. Your parents and your Primary teachers and leaders love you too. Have faith in them and be obedient, and you will receive great blessings.

[photo] Background photograph by Jed A. Clark

[photo] At age 6, with his sister Evelyn Anne.

[photo] About age 10, wearing his favorite childhood haircut.

[photo] As an 18-year-old university student (left) with his cousin Bevan B. Blake.

[photo] With his wife, Connie, at a family reunion.

[photo] Elder Hancock today.