All-Star Dad

My dad is 6′8″ (203 cm) and is a great basketball player! His interest in sports started when he was young. Every chance he got he was out playing with neighborhood and school friends. There was always a ball in his hands or a ball at his feet.

In high school, he made the basketball team all three years, always working super hard. Because of his efforts, he was offered basketball scholarships to several colleges. He accepted one from a junior college and played for two years.

He was then offered basketball scholarships to some major colleges. That’s when he had to make one of the hardest decisions of his life—either to accept one of the scholarships or to go on a mission. He tells us he decided that he could always play basketball, but if he didn’t go on a mission then, he would probably never go. So he turned in his mission papers and was called to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He worked hard for the Lord and loved it.

When he returned he played for BYU–Hawaii for one year, then decided that he wanted to move back home. He met and married my mother, Caroline, and our family now consists of four children. He loves us dearly and is happy about the choice he made. He still loves to play basketball with his children.

My dad is my hero. If it weren’t for the choices he made, our family might not be the same. He had the chance of a lifetime but chose the route that would lead to eternal happiness. I love my dad, and I am so happy he went on a mission and got married in the temple. He will always be an all-star in my eyes.

Amanda Wallin is a member of the Enterprise Second Ward, Enterprise Utah Stake.

It’s Hard to Forgive

A few months after I started seventh grade, one boy began teasing me and picking on me. He was so mean. It got to the point where I just wished a plague would hit him so he’d be wiped off the earth.

About three months later, he came up to me and asked for forgiveness. I said no and walked away. I didn’t trust him. I felt that even if I said yes, I’d be lying.

Then one of my teachers moved my seat, and I ended up sitting by him in that class! In band, the director moved me next to this boy’s section. Since he was first chair, I sat next to him in band too.

I was so upset. I could not understand why Heavenly Father was doing this to me. I wondered what Heavenly Father was trying to teach me. What did I need to learn?

One Sunday I attended a bishop’s youth fireside. It was on forgiveness and trusting others. One of the scriptures shared was Doctrine and Covenants 64:10 [D&C 64:10]: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”

I immediately realized what Heavenly Father wanted to teach me, and I knew what I had to do. I had to let go of my pride and forgive, as well as ask for forgiveness for being stubborn and prideful.

Forgiving, as well as asking for forgiveness, is hard. It can be extremely hard when it’s forgiving someone you’re not sure you can trust or someone who has been mean to you. However, forgiving, no matter how hard, is important.

I felt a lot better after I forgave. It was like a burden being lifted off my shoulders, like making a new friend and losing an enemy.

Amanda Denison is a member of the Visalia Third Ward, Visalia California Stake.

Soaring above Trials

When I feel weary or scared, I think of my great-great-great-grandmother Margaret Ann Griffiths Clegg.

At age 16, she stayed one last time with her favorite relatives. She planned to meet her family at the train station the next morning, ride to Liverpool, England, and board a ship for America.

But she overslept.

“I did not know what to do,” she said. “My father, brothers, and sister were on that train and leaving me behind. Oh, it was terrible!”

She arrived in Liverpool late that night, wandered the streets, and asked strangers to help her find her family. At last, around 1:00 a.m., she peered through the window of a house and saw familiar faces. “I tell you, I was happy,” she said. “It made my father sick, for he thought he would never see me again.”

After five weeks at sea and a train ride to Iowa, she and her family set out across the plains. Members of the Martin Handcart Company “would sit around the campfire and sing and were as happy as larks,” Margaret said, “till the snow caught us.”

Then there was little singing. Instead, Margaret watched as friends, overcome by cold, hunger, or illness, slumped over dead. “All we had to eat was four ounces of flour a day,” she said. Soon “the snow was so deep we could not go any further.” Both her brothers died before reaching Salt Lake, and her father died the day after he reached Salt Lake.

Although Margaret lost family and friends, she didn’t lose hope. She married and lived happily. Later she received an interesting birthday gift from her family: an airplane ride. They wanted to say that she had traveled by every mode of transportation, including train, boat, handcart, wagon, automobile, and airplane.

It strikes me that while lost on the Liverpool streets or trapped in the snow, Margaret could never have guessed what her future held—that one day she would fly.

Grandma Margaret’s example reminds me to have faith. With the Lord’s help, I too can soar above trials and receive the blessings He has in store for me.

Typhoons and Trials

In our family there are only three of us, my younger brother, my mother, and me. My brother and I decided to prepare ourselves to go on missions. We had to save our money because my mom did not have any money to help us.

A lot of trials came to us. One day a typhoon in our province caused a big coconut tree to fall down on our house, and our small house was destroyed. My brother and I used the money we had saved for our missions to rebuild our house. We had to start saving our money again.

A few months later I contracted malaria. I had to go to the hospital, so my mission money had to be spent again.

Discouraged about saving for a mission, I prayed to God and fasted to overcome the trial. Then our Father in Heaven helped me, and I was able to earn the money I needed.

One of my favorite scriptures is a simple verse: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (3 Ne. 13:33). That verse is very encouraging to me. I have overcome trials and challenges in my life because of my faith and desire to go on a mission.

My brother and I are both serving missions now. I know God helps His children if we do His will.

Percival Tommy is a member of the Roxas Branch, Puerto Princesa Philippines District.

I Am Not Ashamed

In my school one day my class was talking about religion. My teacher asked me to read something about the Church that I knew wasn’t true. At that moment I remembered a verse in the scriptures: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16).

My teacher again asked me to read. I replied that I wouldn’t because the passage spoke many lies. I then took advantage of the opportunity to explain and teach the truth about my beliefs.

After passing through that difficult situation, I felt a warm peace in my heart. Thanks to the scriptures, I learned to defend myself in the world.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Sam Lawlor; photograph by PhotoDisc

Luis Ubaldo Padilla Ortiz is a member of the Coro Second Branch, Falcón Venezuela District.