“Invitation to Disaster,” Liahona, June 2010, 39
Shortly after I began my mandatory service in the Brazilian army, I was selected as corporal over a dozen men. Unfortunately, my 12 young soldiers seemed to have the lowest standards in the barracks. I came to discover that they were or had been involved in drugs, theft, sexual immorality, and other serious sins.
Rather than allow myself to be influenced by their low standards, I took advantage of every opportunity I had to share the gospel with them. For example, during breaks or when we were cleaning rifles together, I talked to them about the gospel. I thought they would make fun of my standards and ridicule me, but they listened and came to treat me with respect. However, despite my efforts to teach them gospel doctrines, they didn’t change their attitudes or behavior.
Our time in the army finally ended, and on our last day as soldiers, the men invited me to celebrate with them at a small ranch. “Corporal, you have to come to our party,” one of them said to me. “You aren’t going to insult us by not showing up, are you?”
I was about to accept the invitation so as not to insult them. But the thought came to me that their party standards would be contrary to my Latter-day Saint standards. I remembered what I had been taught in seminary about not going to places where the Holy Ghost would not go. Despite their resentment, I told the group that I wouldn’t be attending. I said good-bye and headed home.
Months passed before I again saw one of the soldiers from that group. What he told me made me grateful that I had skipped their farewell celebration, which featured lots of alcohol. While under the influence, the men had begun throwing alcohol on each other. Then, as a joke, one of them threw a match on his buddy, who was so badly burned that he died a few days later. As a result, all of the participants at that party faced criminal charges related to his death.
Had I attended the party—even without drinking—I would have been in the same predicament. That incident would have followed me and could have hindered my future. I mourned for the young man who had died, but I was grateful that I had followed the promptings of the Spirit and the counsel of Church leaders.