My parents became active in the Church when I was three or so and have never faltered since. They have lived as examples for all six of their children, filling our home with love. I am not afraid to talk to them about anything concerning life and the gospel.
We live in the mission field, and that means I’m asked a lot of questions by people who are unfamiliar with the Church. Ever since I can remember the Church has taught us that nonmembers will watch us to see if we live our beliefs. That statement is so true. I was called “The Mormon” in my high school of 1,500 students, and people did watch. But I found it easy to say, “No, thank you. I don’t drink.” This usually brought a gasp, followed by my introducing them to the Church. Keeping the Word of Wisdom is only difficult when you make it hard on yourself. Everyone is going to be tempted, some more than others. I’ve never had any problems with alcohol, smoking, or drugs; there’s been no desire even though all my friends have used one or all of these. I’m convinced that these are habits formed by those ignorant of the damage they do to themselves or those who know but feel a taste of maturity in the decision they make to do these things. In my hometown Saturday night is uneventful, and drinking and drugs become an exciting way out.
When the only LDS guy for a hundred miles around is your brother, you have a few problems. I’ve dated several nonmembers, and some of them have had the first few missionary discussions. But none of the boys I’ve dated has been baptized, even though some made promises. It isn’t a good thing to get involved with them because you only get hurt.
I was the Laurel president in our Young Women class—I was also the only class member. It’s difficult for a teacher to hold a class discussion with one person, but you really get to know your teacher, and she is often an important influence in your life.
I know young people at home who would give their eye teeth to have a youth conference at BYU or to hear the prophet speak. Of course, our youth conferences were always fun. It took two or three stakes to have enough young people to make up a good conference, but we met so many new people and did so many new things.
I love the Shreveport Louisiana Stake and all the many people who make it the close-knit stake it is. You can go there and find a clean, comfortable atmosphere. It’s the greatest thing to be able to associate with friends your age who believe and live the way you do.
There was great growth and maturation in my family from the time my father was called to be branch president until he was released. Great blessings came to our family. My father was out of work and planning to move when they called him to the presidency, and he decided to stay. We lived on our food supply for six months. Now he has a job that keeps him at home where his family and church need him.
When a father is called by our Heavenly Father, the whole family is a part of that calling. It’s a rare and choice experience to see your father grow as I have. I wouldn’t trade those three years for anything.
The gospel has become such an important part of my life that it’s hard to express all I feel toward the Church, because it has given me so much. It has given me a purpose, goals, security, and has taught me a way of life that makes me glad to be alive. It has given me opportunities to exercise my talents by giving me positions and responsibilities. It has given my life meaning, and I’m grateful for a chance to share this joy with others.
My first goal in this life is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ so that I’ll be worthy of all the Lord has promised his children. Everything I have or will have, everything I am and am trying to become, all the aspirations that have come true in this life, I owe to my parents and the Lord. They have given me the foundation of my life, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ.