I grew up in Auckland, on North Island, New Zealand. I was a student at the Church College in Hamilton, and I had a lot of good experiences there. I played rugby on an undefeated team. I went to deacons quorum presidency meetings in the office of the school treasurer, who was our bishop. I learned a lot about the priesthood from good teachers who showed us how to sit in council and consider the needs of the other boys. But one of the most important things I learned was about following the Spirit.
We didn’t have seminary in those days, but we did have religion classes at the college. One year the requirement was to read the Book of Mormon. It was getting near the end of the year, and I hadn’t finished reading it, so I stayed up one night to read. That was the first time I recognized the Spirit while I was reading the Book of Mormon. Suddenly I realized that the Book of Mormon is not just a book; it is what we say it is—the word of God. I learned to associate reading the scriptures with feeling the Spirit. I also learned there is a difference between just feeling the Spirit and being able to recognize the Spirit and act upon it. Once you put that combination together, then you learn to make that your guideline for making right choices in your life.
Later, when I was 19, I was a missionary in French Polynesia, and I had to learn to speak two languages, French and Tahitian, without the benefit of the Missionary Training Center. It humbled me to the depths of my soul. I learned that missionaries did better when they would do everything they could to learn. Even though they made mistakes, the Spirit helped them. I found that without the Spirit, we couldn’t do anything. But when we had the Spirit, the languages, as well as the missionary work, started to unfold.
Still later, when I was in my last year at Auckland University Law School, I had one exam left to finish my degree. I was married with two children, working, and second counselor in a bishopric at the same time. So life was fairly busy, and I was looking forward to being done with college so some of the pressure would be gone.
At 9:30 in the morning, I went to the law library to get “warmed up” for the exam at 2:30 that afternoon. As I was sitting there studying, I looked around. I couldn’t see anybody from my class there, and I thought that was a bit unusual. The Spirit said to me, “Your exam is about to start.”
I thought, “That can’t be right, because my exam is at 2:30.”
I ignored what I had heard and carried on studying. Fortunately for me, about five minutes later the Spirit said, “Your exam has just started.” I didn’t wait for a third prompting.
I ran down to the basement of a building where a board displayed all the exam times. There it was: “Company Law, B-28, 9:30.” I met the two examiners coming off the lift—the elevator. I said, “I know I’m late; I have made a mistake. Can I still get in?” They let me in even though I was 40 minutes late for the three-hour exam. I sat down, my heart pumping. I looked at the questions and thought, “I can’t do any of this!”
So I said a silent prayer: “Heavenly Father, I’m grateful for Thy promptings. Forgive me for ignoring the first prompting, but please bless me now so that I can finish.”
Peace descended upon me. I looked again at the exam and thought, “Ah, I know that one,” and I started writing. I stopped writing when the examiner said, “Time to finish.” Later, when I found out I had passed the exam, all I could feel was gratitude.
These experiences and others like them have taught me that Heavenly Father knows us individually and will bless us if we are trying to make the right choices. In D&C 84:88 the Savior says: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
It is my testimony that He will send the Spirit to you and that if you listen, He will guide you.