I walked into sacrament meeting late that Sunday, and as usual sat on the back row. I didn’t know it at the time, but when I walked out of that meeting I would be a different person. It wasn’t just an ordinary meeting—it was the missionary farewell for my brother who’s a year older than I am. He was the fourth one in my family to go on a mission, so it was nothing new to me, but I was closer to Chuck than the others.
Though I’d been raised in the Church, I never really had a desire to go on a mission like my brothers had. My plans after high school graduation were set, and I didn’t see how I could take two years out of my social life, my roofing business, or from my motorcycles to go on a mission.
As the speakers in the meeting started talking, I thought about how much I would miss Chuck. We’d grown up together. In fact, we’d shared the same bedroom until just a year before when he had moved into mom’s sewing room because I wouldn’t keep the room clean. We’d worked together almost every day of our lives since I was six years old, and now we owned a roofing business together. But all of a sudden he’d be gone. In two days he’d be in the MTC learning Spanish, and then on to Spain for two years to teach the gospel.
I left my daydreaming as I heard Chuck’s voice come over the loudspeaker. He was always a joker and started this talk with a joke that had everybody laughing. Then he talked a little about Spain and what his mission would be like. Then for a few seconds everything was quiet and Chuck’s face clouded with emotion. And he said, “I want to talk to my little brother Dean for a few minutes.
“Throughout my life I’ve done everything I could to make my brother proud of me. I’ve always kept the Word of Wisdom and been the best person I could. And as I accept this call to serve the Lord on a mission, I hope that he’ll be proud of me.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He had been trying to make me proud of him? As I sat there with my girl friend, for the first time since I was a kid tears filled my eyes and I started to cry. And the Holy Ghost bore witness to me of the importance of my brother’s mission.
As Chuck talked, I thought back on our lives. He’d never taken a drink or touched a cigarette. He’d lived a life of purity and honesty unequaled by anyone else I knew. I’d never known him to tell a lie. He’d always lived a Christlike life and been a good example of a member of the true church of Jesus Christ. Then I thought back on my own life and how I’d fallen short of his example. He’d never put me down for my shortcomings, though. Sitting in that sacrament meeting, I made a promise to myself that I would someday make my brother proud of me.
It’s been a year and a half since that meeting, and I have not forgotten the promise I made. I have turned my life around and am now serving a mission for my Heavenly Father—the best decision I have ever made in my life. As I kneel every night in prayer, I thank the Lord for the great examples I have had in my life, like my brother, who have had the courage to live the teachings of the Church and act like the sons and daughters of God that they are. I pray now that I can be that same example to others.