Well, hello. And good afternoon, everyone. What a wonderful day we’ve had so far, yeah?
Of all the honors that I’ve been given at this conference, to present in front of you, this, for me, is the greatest honor because this is a friend of mine who I get to bring out to stage. You see, in 2009, I had a fireside that I had the opportunity of delivering to a youth group. I asked a young group of girls-- I said, who’s the person that I need to listen to in order to understand the best way to communicate to youth?
Because my hero growing up was a guy named John Bytheway. Some of you love John. And, of course, John is one of the great master teachers.
These young ladies said to me-- when I asked, do you know John Bytheway? They said, we love John Bytheway, but you’d probably like Hank Smith, too. I said, who’s Hank Smith? And they were floored that I didn’t know who he was. Eighteen albums later, talks for youth-- and this is one of the top-selling artists in our entire culture.
In my opinion, he’s one of the most important speakers for families, for youth, and for us to be inspired by in the entire world. I’m so pleased to welcome to the stage a man who is a newly published author, one of my favorite speakers, a hilarious and wonderful guy, and a family man first. Please welcome to the stage, youth speaker and one of my favorite people, Hank Smith.
Thank you. Wow. Wow. Oh, it is wonderful to be here. I am actually here at RootsTech.
I’ve got to be honest. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. I know we have RootsTech. And I would see it happening, and I thought, oh, I want to be a part of that.
And when John did it-- John Bytheway, who Jason just mentioned, is a good friend of mine. And he was here a couple of years ago. And I thought, oh, that’s so great. I wish I could do something like that.
And then the call comes. The last summer, they call, and they say, we’d love for you to be part of RootsTech. And you’re so excited.
And then and then you have to prepare a talk. And so you start thinking, oh, I got to prepare this talk. I got to prepare this message. What should I do? And you’re not really scared because it’s a long ways away.
And then it gets closer. The year actually turns. It’s January, and you’re thinking, wow, this is the same year that I have to stand on the RootsTech stage.
And then it finally comes, and you’re here and back stage for the last hour. I’m a nervous eater. And there’s a lot of food back there. And so I’m quite full.
I am so excited to be here. I can’t tell you what an honor it is to be standing in front of you at RootsTech. Here’s what I thought I’d do today. I thought we might celebrate families.
As I was approached to speak at RootsTech, I was asked, what would you feel comfortable talking about? And I said, I love families. I’m all about families. And they said, great. Celebrate family.
So here’s what I want to do. We’re going to celebrate families present, past, and future. Because that’s what family history is about. It’s not just about the past. It’s about the present, and it’s also about the future.
So let’s talk present today. I’m going to show you how my family began. Can I show you how my family began? This is my wife and I here.
Here’s my wife and I. It was the turn of the century, the year 2000. And my wife and I, we got married.
Now, we have some families here. Who’s here with their family? Let me see if you’re here with your family.
Wonderful. We have many watching at home with their families. OK.
Moms and dads, do you remember when it was just the two of you? Do you remember that? It was just the two of you. And what did you do with all your time?
Do you remember thinking to yourself, I’m so busy? And now the you of today looks back at the you of so many years ago and says, you’re not busy. You don’t even know what busy is yet.
And then you had that first child-- if you’ve had a baby-- anybody had a baby in here? Who has a child in their family, at least one? Who has one of those?
We had our first baby. There she is. Let me show you a picture of her. That’s our baby right there.
She is our perfect oldest. Who here is the perfect oldest? Do we have a perfect oldest child? [CHEERING] That’s you. You’re the perfect oldest child.
We have what I would say the perfect oldest child. This is her. She got a little older.
Let me move this forward a little bit. There she is. We got a little older. And here we are with our one baby.
Now, those of you who are the perfect oldest, you might not remember this. But there was a time when it was just the three of you. It was just the three of you. Your parents actually argued over who would get to feed you, who would get to put you to bed, who-- right? They would argue over these things.
And now on the fifth or sixth of your siblings, they’re going, somebody feed it. Somebody put that one to bed. But there was a time when that’s all we did, is we clung to this baby. We took pictures of this baby every five seconds.
And we thought, since we were really good at this having children thing, let’s have another child. And so here he is. For the longest time, we didn’t know if he had a neck.
He was a big baby. His older sister was not that much bigger than him. She was excited to have a little brother.
Let me see if I can show you this one. There she is right there. She’s excited to have a little brother.
How many of you have little siblings? Let me see the little siblings in here. Yeah. Some of us have little siblings.
Now, let me see how many of us have little siblings right now that they live with. So let me see my young friends that are here. Little siblings that they live with? And how many of them, you adore those little siblings? Let me see those hands stay.
Whoa, what happened? What happened? Where’d those hands go? Absolutely.
We had this second baby, and now our life changed dramatically. Moms, dads, do you remember this moment, when the second baby came? You perfect oldest child, did you notice that there’s not as many pictures of the second child as there is of you? That’s because now, the person who used to hold the camera is holding a baby. And we just don’t get to take pictures.
I’ve noticed the second child always shows up in the back of the first child’s major events. The first child’s getting baptized and the second child’s in the back [INAUDIBLE]. Birthday, second child’s in the back, [INAUDIBLE]. That’s me.
He is our second child. He’s also our sensitive one. Who’s the sensitive one in their family?
Is anybody the sensitive one in their family? It’s OK to point them out if they’re sitting next to you. The sensitive one, the one that cries a lot, the one that’s just sensitive-- that’s my second boy. He is a little bit sensitive.
He quickly got big. Let me show you. He got bigger than her. Oh, let me go one back.
He quickly got bigger than her. Right, there. There they are.
Now we have the perfect oldest, and we have the sensitive one. And we thought, let’s have another baby. So we had another baby.
This is him. I showed him just barely. Here he is. There he is.
Except he never looked like this. He mostly looked like this. Let me go back. There he is.
That’s how he looked. This is when his mom is in the room. And this is when anybody else is in the room. He adores his mom.
Now, I love this little boy. This is my little Elijah. And I love that Elder Nelson talked about that name this morning.
This is my little troublemaker. Does anybody have a troublemaker in their family? You might point them out if they’re sitting next to you, the troublemaker.
Yes. He is my troublemaker. And it’s really hard because he’s right next to the sensitive one and that makes an interesting dynamic. Because he loves to cause trouble.
I honestly think the Lord marks the redheads. I think He’s like, this one is a troublemaker, and He gives them red hair. Because He lets us know, this one is a little bit feisty.
So there we had our perfect oldest child. Where are you, again, perfect oldest child? Where’d you go?
And then we had our second child, and sensitive one. Who’s the second child and the sensitive one? There you are.
And then we have our third child, our troublemaker. Who’s that? Let me see that.
We had our troublemaker. And we thought, you know what would be great? If we had another little girl.
Because we had a little girl and we had two little boys. And we thought, we need to have another little girl. Because this would be very symmetrical, and I like symmetry.
Girl, boy, boy, girl-- perfect. We can be all done. We’ve wanted four kids. And so here is our little girl that we got.
It was not a little girl. There was no little girl there at all. I remember telling my oldest, my daughter, that we were going to have two more boys.
And she said, we already have two boys. And I said, I know. And she said, why would God do this to me? I said, to you? What about me?
Here’s another one of them right there. They are cute. That one on the right, he had to learn how to take pictures. Because right now, he just looks terrified. Let me show you.
Every picture this kid takes, it’s just-- this is his seven-month-old picture right there. He just looks terrified. For a long time, we thought he was Megamind. Now, he has since grown out of this, almost.
No. Having twins is a lot of fun. Twins changed our world.
Twins changed us. Is anybody family here with twin family? Anybody have twins in the family?
Oh, this changed us entirely. We were brand-new parents again, having twins. Now, I’m going to say something here that I hope it’s OK. But twin parents, we can always tell when people don’t have twins. We can always tell because of the way you talk to us.
We’ll be in the grocery store and we’re pushing-- we have two babies right here, the exact same faces, the exact same clothes. And you can always tell if someone has twins. Because if they have twins, they walk right by you and say, it gets better, and then they just keep going. Because they know right now, you’re not sleeping. All you’re doing is taking care of babies.
Well, if someone doesn’t have twins, the first thing they say-- now, these are people with lots of education. These are people that speak many languages. And the first thing they say when they see two babies with the exact same clothes, with the exact same face, they say, [GASPS] are those twins?
And the first thought that comes to your mind, because you’re not sleeping a lot, so you’re a little bit angry, a little bit ornery-- and you’ll say-- you’ll think in your head, what else could they be? How else could I possibly answer this question? We found this one. It looked just like this one, so we thought we’d keep it. No. No.
And then they always say the same things. Where’s my twin families again? Where’s my twin moms? Who’s moms with twins or triplets?
They always say the same thing, don’t they? They say, I always wanted twins. And that’s just cute. It really is cute, isn’t it? You just smile and nod.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You love having these children. You’re so happy. But at the time, you’re kind of wishing they came separately, years apart. And so you don’t want twins at the time.
And so it’s almost like saying, you have diabetes? Oh, I wish I had diabetes. You’re just like. You can have mine. You’re really tired.
And then they always say the same thing. Twin moms, are you with me? They always say the same thing on the way out.
They say something like, well, it looks like you have your hands full. It’s like oh, thank you. That’s so cute.
All right. So our little family of two-- moms and dads, do you remember when it was just the two of you? Do you remember that-- has now turned into the seven of us. Take a look. Two of us now to the seven of us.
And that one twin, and he grew out of that. He’s over there on the left. And he doesn’t look so shocked anymore. I think he’s gotten used to the fact that he’s in our family.
So here these years passed by, and our little family of two has turned into our little family of seven. And we are loving it. The reason I start this way is because I sometimes-- I get a chance to meet with a lot of LDS teenagers. And they’ll say something like this to me.
We’ll talk about the future. Are you excited to get married? And they’ll say something like, oh, I am never getting married. I am never having kids. I’m going to travel.
And I think that is so, so cute. But I feel bad for that person. I feel bad for that person. Because what they’re saying is they want to miss out on the greatest part of life.
The greatest part of life is being a dad. I get to do some pretty cool stuff, I think. My job allows me to do some pretty fun things.
Guess where I’d rather be. Guess where we’d all rather be. At home with our families. Watching little people grow up is my favorite place to be.
So never, my young friends, never be one of those teenagers that says, I am never getting married. I’m never having kids. I’m going to travel.
God did not say, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the traveling of man. Immortality and eternal life of man through what? Through families, through families.
Will you turn to your family and just smile at them, just have a moment of smiling at them? No punching, no hitting, just a nice smile at your family. Because this is what it’s all about. Families are what it’s all about.
So I thought instead of just showing you pictures-- they actually don’t stay like this most the time. It was shocking that everyone looked at the camera and smiled at the same time. This is probably the one time it’s ever happened.
I thought I might show you the real them. So I had the RootsTech people come to our house and shoot a video of us. I want to show you how they are.
I want to introduce you to my family. This is my daughter, Madeleine. She’s our oldest and our built-in babysitter and absolutely perfect.
I call her Maddie.
You call her Maddie. We call her Maddie. This is my son Mason. Mason has been a travel partner of mine lately. And he’s our guy who is-- he loves to share, and he’s just super sensitive.
This is my third child. This is our boy Elijah. I call Elijah my troublemaker.
I think the Lord marks the redheads. He says, this is kind of a crazy spirit. I’m going to give it red hair. So that’s what He did with this one.
So we had a baby girl and we had two baby boys and we wanted to have a baby girl. And so we decided to have one more baby, and we got two identical baby boys. This is Rockwell over here. Rockwell, can you say hi?
And this is Steel. Can you say hi?
Rockwell and Steel are four years old. And are you fun? You’re fun? Are you cute?
You are cute.
All right. I am almost guilty of idolatry in my life because I have the most beautiful, incredible, wonderful wife in all the world. This is my wife, Sara. And she runs this whole show.
This is us. Everyone say hi to the camera. Say hi.
Awesome. That’s them live and in person. All right. I thought I might share with you one thing.
We’re going to celebrate the present really quick, so I wanted to help your family. So this is one way we’re going to help your family. We have a little term in our family that we use.
Because I don’t know about you, but my children never fight. They never argue, they never have any sort of problems with each other when they’re asleep. But when they’re awake, they seem to fight a lot sometimes.
And I see other people at church, and I think, their children never fight. What’s wrong with our children? But then I look over, and I think, they probably think the same thing about our children, because they’re sitting here under threat that if they aren’t good, then they’re going to get in big trouble.
So we have a little term that we use in our house, and it’s called fight nicely-- fight nicely. Because for years, I told them not to fight. And then I finally gave up on not fighting. And I said, listen, you’re going to have to learn to fight nicely. And they said, what’s fighting nicely?
Fighting nicely in our house means that you can fight. You can state your opinions. You can be upset. You can even use your eyes to be angry.
But you can’t do a few things. A few things are out of bounds. And I’m the ref.
A few things are out of bounds, like destroying another person’s personal property. That is out of bounds. Like calling someone a name-- names are out of bounds. Like touching someone who does not want to be touched-- that is out of bounds.
Turn to your family and tell them, we are going to fight nicely. Tell them, we are going to fight nicely in our family. Fighting nicely means you can use your words, and you can use your feet to leave the room, but you can’t use your feet to hurt someone else.
Now, we have another little term that we use. I wanted to show it to you. Now this was kind of funny how this worked out. Because I said to the RootsTech team, I said, can I bring a bag of chips? And I brought this up here.
And they said no. No brands. So here is our non-branded chips. We have no idea what this is, no idea. These are nacho chips.
All right. So here’s what we use in our family. You might have heard this before from me if you’ve ever heard a talk from me before. And here is what this works like.
We’re going to call this guy Nacho. Nacho’s in your family. Isn’t he cute? He’s the shortest one in your family. He’s tiny, tiny Nacho.
And you’ve got to be careful in the house with Nacho because older kids, have you noticed-- there’s little kids around and if you go around too quick around the corner, you kick one and send him into the wall? So don’t do that. Don’t do that. You’ve got to be careful with little Nacho around and your other little siblings.
All right. So sometimes we say things to our siblings because we want to maybe hurt their feelings. And we think they’re going to be fine, so we say something-- let’s say Nacho’s in our family.
And I’m just not feeling good about myself or I’m upset, I’m ornery, I haven’t eaten all day. And I turn to him and I say, hey, Nacho. What? You got a lot of saturated fat.
Now, I want you to listen very closely to what happens inside of Nacho. I got my microphone right here. So listen very closely. Inside of my little sibling. [CRUNCHING]
Nacho’s been hurt. But guess how he looks on the outside. He looks the exact same, a non-branded bag of Doritos-- I mean, a non-branded bag of nacho cheese chips. And he looks the exact same. So we think Nacho’s what?
Nacho’s fine, right? He’s fine. So I can say those type of things to him.
So I say, hey, Nacho. What? Mom says you cause kids diabetes. I’m going to tell everyone to stay away from you. [CRUNCHING]
Nacho’s been hurt again, but how does he look on the outside?
He looks the exact same. He looks fine. Nacho is fine. So we say something else to him. Why can’t you be cool like Cool Ranch? [CRUNCHING]
Nacho, why can’t you wear blue? What are you, a Utah fan? Where’s Reno? [CRUNCHING]
And inside, how does Nacho feel? He’s crushed. Nacho is crushed. But on the outside, he’s fine.
See, I want my little children to see, and I hope that you see in your family, that when you say something mean to your sibling, though they look the same, they don’t feel the same inside. They’re hurt inside. Now, I know you don’t want to walk up to your sibling and say, you need to stop hurting my feelings. Because you just don’t want to say that.
So we came up with a phrase in my house that you can use in your house. Whenever someone hurts one of my children’s feelings and they hurt him inside, but they can’t tell on the outside, they turn to them and say, dude, don’t crush my chips. Turn to the person next to you and say, dude, don’t crush my chips.
Turn to your sibling and say, dude, don’t crush my chips. Don’t crush my chips. That means you’re hurting me on the inside. You’re hurting me on the inside, but you can’t tell.
And I need you to stop. I need you to stop. All right. I’ll put these away for now, these non-branded chips.
All right. We are going to move now-- we talked about the present, celebrating the present and who we are and the family that we have. But let’s talk about the past.
Let’s talk about celebrating the past. I want to do that by telling you a story about this book. So I’m going to tell you this from the mind of a 16-year-old.
So go back with me. It’s the 1900s. I had a curly mullet because that was really in in the early ’90s. Does anybody have a curly mullet?
Anybody have a mullet? Anybody way back have a mullet? You’re not admitting it, are you? There’s so many people not raising their hand. So I had this curly mullet.
And there was an interesting thing that happened in our town. Our two high schools, our two rival high schools, got split. They got split in half. And they took a third of this school and a third of this school and put them together in a new school.
Imagine taking your rival school, a third of it, and a third of your school and then putting them together in one school. It was really hard for us, especially at 16. All these people I used to hate, I had to love. And all the people I used to love, I had to hate. It was a very confusing time.
Now, I needed to make some new friends. And so I had a couple of friends that came with me to this new school. And we decided we were going to go over to meet some new people at a get together that this one friend was having.
Now, I didn’t know this young man at all. But my parents kind of understood. I went in and I said, can I go to this party? Can I go over there?
And they said, well, what’s it like? What’s he like? What’s his parents like? We don’t know this family. And I said, I don’t know him either.
And they understood. The situation was kind of unique, where we needed to meet new people. And they said well, just-- they gave me a big speech, which is what parents should do. They told me about watching out for certain things.
And so I said, OK. And my friends came and picked me up, and we went to this new friend’s house. It was a big house. And I’d never been there before. And most of the people there, I didn’t know-- I recognized from school, but I didn’t know them.
And so we’re walking in with me and my friends, and we were trying to be socially adept and to have some fun and meet some new people. And I think one of my friends saw someone he knew, and so he followed her. And one of my other friends saw SportsCenter on TV, and so he went that way. And I was left by myself. It reminds me of most of my high school.
But I was there by myself. And I wandered around a little bit, and I ended up in the kitchen with a group of guys about my same age. And they were all in there talking.
And I didn’t know them, but I knew their faces. And they were having a great time. They knew each other really well.
Well, as I’m standing there and I’m trying to fit in-- do you remember being 16? Do you remember trying to fit in? Lots of nodding, lots of yeah, yeah. Just scared that you’re going to do the wrong thing at any time, right? I got to make a good impression here.
Well, as we’re sitting there talking-- we were talking for a few minutes. And I’m just trying to really fit in and make friends. One of these guys, I think he owned the house, he went over in the kitchen. Hey, there’s a kitchen right here.
He went over into the kitchen, and he got what looked like-- now, I had never seen anything like this. But it was a carton with a handle, a cardboard handle. And it had red bottles inside of it, six red bottles inside of it. And he got that out, and he set it on the counter and he started handing everybody one.
And I didn’t know what it was. And I want to fit in. And he took one of these red bottles, and he slid it down the counter. And I was at the end of the counter.
He slid it down the counter and just out of reaction, I didn’t-- someone throws a ball at you-- I put my hand out to catch this red bottle. And as I grab it, I look at it to see what it is. And it’s alcohol.
So I look down and I thought, how did this happen? I’ve been here all of five minutes, and I have alcohol in my hand. I thought that-- this was not in the Church videos they showed you in seminary. This is not how it’s supposed to happen. I didn’t realize.
And so I had this alcohol in my hand. Now, I was kind of shocked there, like, oh, no. I’m in this bad position.
And my first thought was, my dad will ground me forever if someone-- good thing we didn’t have camera phones in the 1900s. Because someone takes that picture and sends it to my dad, I am dead forever, forever-- dead, dead. He would have me put the bottle on top of my head, and he would shoot it. It’s not going to happen.
So I’m holding this bottle thinking, how am I going to get out of this? Now, stop right there. Pause right there. And go with me three weeks earlier.
I was in my bedroom listening to music when the same dad of mine walks in, and he brings in this book, this exact book. He brings in this book and he says, you should read this. I’m 16 years old. And it says the Warren and Mary Tye, A Family History.
And I sat that down. And he opens it up for me, and he says, take a look at this. I’m 16 years old. And this is a lot of black and white. And I was like, thanks, dad-- whatever I need to tell him to get out of my room-- as I’m looking through this.
And he said, no, no. This is going to be really good. And I was thinking in my head, Dad, I am never going to read this. It’s just not going to happen.
And I like the pictures. But most of the pictures of those pioneers-- I’m 16 years old. I’m going to get into my 16-year-old head. All I looked at and saw was very unhappy people.
I’m like, nobody ever smiles in these pictures. Sometimes you can’t even tell who’s grandma and who’s grandpa, right? So that’s what was going through my head.
And he said, no, no, no. This is really good. And he opened up this page right here, this exact page. I’ve had this for 20 years, this same book.
He opens up to this page, and he shows me this picture down here. Can we get that? Can we get that right there?
He shows me this picture right here. And he said, this is your great-great-great-grandfather, Hans Rassmussen. And this is your great-great-grandfather, Bent Rassmussen. And I said, oh, that’s pretty cool.
And he started telling me this story. He said, when Hans joins the Church in Denmark, he starts losing social acceptance. He was doing very well. He was actually very wealthy, a millionaire in the 1800s in Denmark.
But he ends up joining the Church and that his business contacts and his social contacts start distancing themselves from him. Well, he has quite a bit of money and most of the members of the branch don’t. And they want to migrate. They want to go to Utah.
So he starts funding trips to Utah, funding trips to America. And these are expensive trips that people go on, hoping one day, I’ll pay you back, Hans. And he probably said, don’t worry about it.
And eventually, Hans and his family decide they’re going to leave their homeland and they are going to go to America. They have twins. Did I show you that? I didn’t know at the time that that would be impactful for me, but it sure is now.
They have twin baby girls. They get on the boat, and they go to America. They end up in New Orleans, and then they take another boat up the Mississippi River. And they stop in Iowa, where they join the Hodgett Wagon Company, which was with the Martin Handcart Company.
And they cross over to Utah. And on their way across, one of those baby twins passes away. Now, when I was 16, that didn’t mean a lot to me, but it sure does now.
Well, they get to Utah, and they meet President Brigham Young and shake hands with him. And he says, Rassmussen family, we have an assignment for you. They didn’t even have a chance to unpack. He said, you need to go down to Ephraim, Utah.
And so Hans and his-- he took his wife and his children and they went to Ephraim, Utah, where, when they finally get there, they have no money. They went from very wealthy, doing very well in Denmark, and here, they have no money. They, in fact, live in a cave. They live in a dugout cave until they can earn enough money to build a house.
Well, I said, thanks, Dad. That’s a great story. I didn’t think too much of it.
And go back with me to that house now. So there I am in the house and I’m holding this alcohol. And I thought to myself, why am I holding this alcohol? This is a bad idea. I need to get out of here.
And I’ll be honest. For my youth friends that are here-- let me make sure you totally understand something. I knew there was no way I was going to drink this-- no way. But I was surprised at how awkward-- I wanted to get out of this situation without looking like I was-- that I was looking weird, that I was odd. I wanted to be cool and get out of this situation at the same time.
So I’m thinking through this. But in the course of all this, who comes to mind than my great-great-grandfather? That picture right there comes to my mind. Because my dad had just told me that story just a little time previous to that.
And it comes to my mind. And of all the places-- in my mind, my great-great-grandfather is looking at me. And he’s got his arms folded, and he’s looking at me at this party. And behind him is his cave.
He’s looking at me and he’s like, I lived in a cave. You can do this. And I thought, you’re right. I can do this.
Now, here’s the awkward part. During this whole thing where I’m thinking and like, what’s going to happen? What should I do? The entire group had noticed I hadn’t said anything and that I was just staring down at this bottle.
So pretty soon, I look up, and the entire kitchen full of teenagers has gone and they’re all looking at me. And now I’m going. And I thought, I need to say something.
I need to say something. I’m going to say something righteous. I’m going to say something righteous and then music’s going to play.
And then we’re all going to go on missions together. Watch. Just like the video in seminary, right? This is going to be great.
So I got to say something. And I can feel it coming. It’s going to come out, or either that or I’m going to throw up all over everybody. And they’re all staring at me.
And I said-- it’s the first thing I thought of, OK? Don’t judge me. I should have said something better. But I looked at these six souls, and I looked at my drink, and I said, I like orange juice. I said, I like orange juice. [APPLAUSE]
Don’t clap. This was my moment of glory. This was my moment to show my grandfather-- all the guys in the room, they went, huh? And the guy who handed me the drink went, huh? Even my great-great-grandfather in my vision went, huh?
I said, I like orange juice. And one of these kids, he said, oh. And he looked at the guy who handed out drinks, and he said, get this boy some orange juice.
And that kid walked over and he took the drink out of my hand. And I remember feeling very relieved. He took that and he handed me some orange juice, which I drink way too fast and spilled down the side of my mouth. And I said, I really need to go.
And I left, and I found my friends and I said, we are leaving. There’s alcohol here. And they said, there’s alcohol here?
And I said, yeah. I was holding it. They’re like, you? You drank alcohol?
I said, no. Of course, I didn’t drink alcohol. My great-great-grandfather was there. Come on.
We got to go. And we left and we went home and we had a good night. And we stayed a long ways away from that house for a long time because that’s not something that we wanted to be a part of.
Now, I know this is going to seem cheesy and trite, but my youth friends kind of love cheesy. And so let me go just a little bit cheesy. It’s almost as if-- and I know it’s not true. But it’s almost as if my great-great-grandfather reached his hand through the centuries, grabbed that drink, and pulled it out of my hand.
I like to think that way. Now, I know it probably didn’t happen that way. But I like to think that he reached through the centuries and he said, this is not us, this is not our family, and he took it out of there. [APPLAUSE]
Oh, you’re kind. I wonder what would have happened? What would’ve happened if I wouldn’t have thought of him and if my dad had never told that story?
What if my dad never tells me that story? What if that never happens? It’s almost as if when we learn about the past, we gather strength for the future.
Well, as now I’m in the position of my dad, I am choosing what stories get retold. I am choosing, for my children, what stories are going to stay with you? What stories are you going to keep and pass on? This is my place now, as I’ve taken the role of dad and he is now grandpa.
And so I thought I might share with you one-- and this might be a little bit selfish since this is going to be recorded and then my children can have it. I thought I might share with you a story that I want to make sure that my children get. And it’s in our family. It’s not my side of the family. It’s my wife’s side of the family.
When I met my wife’s father, I didn’t know I was meeting the happiest person who has ever lived. Now, he’s not the type of happy where he’s super hyper and happy. Does anybody have someone in their life, and if they’re sitting next to you, you can just let them know, who they just make you feel good when they’re around? They just are good and pleasant and happy and positive?
Do you have one of these people in your life? Some of you are like, how come you’re not pointing at me? Point at me right now.
That’s him. I had no idea that he and I would become very good friends. And he told me a story that I want to make sure my children know. And here it is.
He grew up in a little town called Richfield, Utah. Anybody? [CHEERING] Richfield, Utah. He grew up in Richfield, Utah.
And in Richfield, Utah, there was a little dairy there called the Ideal Dairy. Anybody know it-- the Ideal Dairy. And he said, growing up in Richfield was the ideal-- dairy-- the ideal childhood. He said, I just-- anybody have an ideal childhood, they just look back and think it was awesome, it was wonderful? And he had one of those.
He said, I’d always been a very happy child. In fact, he said, I think it annoyed my father a little bit, my positivity and my happiness. Because every once in a while, he’d give me a couple of dimes and he’d say, take your brother down to the Ideal Dairy and get some penny candy.
Now, I need to explain to anyone who’s under 30 what penny candy is. They actually had candy way back when, in the 1900s, that would cost one penny. I know. You’re like, what is this?
They also had phones that were attached to the house. All right. So it was very primitive.
Now, he said, there was one of these days on one of these trips to the Ideal Dairy that I was picking up groceries with my mom. He said that I’m standing there at the Ideal Dairy and I’m waiting for the groceries. And he said the little doorbell rang on the door. And he turned and looked. And he said, in walked a girl about my age.
And he said, I’d seen her before but I had never really noticed her before. I’d seen her before, but I’d never really noticed her before. And he said, I was finally, for the first time-- here he is seven, eight years old. He sees this girl walk in. And you can almost put yourself there in the Ideal Dairy as she walks in.
He said, I was just struck by this girl. I said, were you in love? He said, no. I was eight.
He said, but I was just struck by this girl. He said, I don’t know why, but I just was wowed by this girl. And she walks in. And she’s the exact opposite of him, very shy, very much, I don’t want to talk to anyone. And he is very open, very gregarious.
And I said, did she know you were staring at her? And he said, oh, yeah. But she wasn’t about to look over. And she came up to the bar stool, she came up at the stand and asked the cashier, I’d like to have five of those and six of those and seven of those.
And he said, coming right up, miss. And he put the candy on the counter, and she took the candy. And the whole time, this eight-year-old boy is just staring at her, the entire time.
Well, the groceries came. And he took the groceries and said thank you and went out to the car. And he said, it must have been noticeable because my mom said to me, who was that little girl you were studying in there?
And he said, I wasn’t studying any little girl. And she said, OK. Sure.
And the years go by. And he said, I kept my eye on that little girl. We never talked. I never had the courage to talk to her.
But I kept my eye on her. Because we lived in a small town so occasionally, we were at the same school, occasionally in the same class. He said, I kept my eye on her.
Fast forward into the high school, they’re still the same, these two people. He said the girl was very studious, loved school, loves getting good grades, but very shy. And he said, me, on the other hand-- he said, I loved school, but all the homework kept getting in the way of all this fun we were trying to have.
He said that he was the one in the coconut bra in the play. I’m trying to think of what play that is. South Pacific. He was the one that’s the class clown. And she is the studious one.
Well, he was in his counselor’s office one day, and the counselor said to him-- his name’s Rod, the boy I’m talking about. He said, Rod, who are you taking to prom? And he said, oh, I don’t go to those type of dances. I’m going hunting.
And the counselor said, oh, that’s too bad. I think every girl deserves to go to prom. And he said, I’d never thought of that. Some things never change. I’d never thought about that.
He said, do they really care about going to these things? Maybe they do. Maybe I should ask someone. But who would I ask?
And he thought, I’ll ask Marlene. Marlene was the little girl from the candy store who he’d always watched but never talked to. He said, I’ll ask Marlene.
So he called her. This is back in the day where you didn’t have to spend $5,000 to ask someone to a dance. You just had to call them up on the phone, the phone attached to the house.
So he calls her up, and he says, Marlene, this is Rod Savage. Wondering if you might go to the dance with me. He said, she was speechless. She didn’t say a word.
I talked to her later and she said, I didn’t know who he was. So she’s doing this with the phone, talking to her mom. Who is Rod Savage? And her mom’s going, I don’t know. And he’s there like, she hasn’t said anything.
And she said, well, OK. I’d love to go to the dance with you. And he said, that’s great. I’ll pick you up right at this time. Be ready to go.
Then he hangs up the phone. He thinks he’s done his duty. And she said she spent the next four days searching the school for this guy so she could know what he looked like.
They go out on that date. Now, he said something magical happened on that date. She had had a harder childhood than he had had.
He had the ideal childhood, and she did not have the ideal childhood. She wouldn’t want me to go into specifics about it, but she did not have the ideal childhood. So her childhood created this very reserved, very studious, very respectful girl, where his childhood had leaned to this more gregarious and fun.
And he said, something magical happened when we went on this date. She laughed harder than she’d ever laughed in her entire life. He said, that was my goal, to make her laugh. Wouldn’t it be a great goal for our young men, when they go out on these dates? I just want to make sure this girl has a fun time, a fun and safe time.
Well, he said, she started getting me to think about school. She said, where are you going to college? He said, I don’t know.
She said, don’t you ought to think about that? And he said, I will if you want me to. Sure.
And so he said maybe he started thinking about the future. He said it was a perfect match, so we went on another date a few weeks later. We went on another date a few weeks later.
And they never went on another date with anybody else ever again. Out of high school, these two get married in the St. George Temple. And they decide to start a life together. They start a family.
Now, they keep their same personality traits. When we get married, we’re still the same people. And she said, he is just too hyper. In fact, on their honeymoon-- you’ll like this story. On their honeymoon, he went down and played in the pool. And there were some kids there, and they really had a good time.
So a couple hours later, they came knocking on the hotel door. She answered. And they said, can your son come out and play again? And she said, your friends are here. He said, hey, guys.
Well, they decided to start a little family. And they started a family, and they brought this baby home. And his name is Justin.
They bring this baby home. He’s two days old. Everybody’s done this. You bring the baby home, two or three days old.
And Rod said to Marlene, this baby needs a tour of our house. And she said, he’s two days old. And he said, it doesn’t matter. He needs a tour.
He’s asleep. It doesn’t matter. Let’s go on a tour. And he took this baby on a tour of the house, every room, every picture, every faucet.
This is not a small tour. This is a long tour of the house. And she followed behind watching.
And he said, this is the family room. This is where we’re going to have family home evening. And then he said, this is the TV room. This is where we’re going to watch John Wayne together. We’re going to watch the Cowboy.
And then this is the kitchen, and this is where we’re going to have this cookie jar filled all the time. And this is the bathroom, and this is the bedroom. And oh, and he just took him through the whole house. And she rolled her eyes and followed the tour around the house.
Well, you ever had something like that become a tradition in your house, something that you just did once, thinking, oh, this will be funny, and then all of a sudden you thought, we ought to do that again? And we ought do that again? And all of a sudden, it becomes a family tradition, the tour.
So when they had their next little baby, she went on a little tour. Her name’s Amy. And she went on the tour of the whole house with little two-year-old Justin right behind, giving the tour.
And he said, this is your brother Justin, and he’s going to take good care of you. Aren’t you, Justin? And this little two-year-old nods.
And then the next baby comes, little baby Colton. He got a tour. And then the next baby comes, little baby Josh. He got a tour.
And then their perfect child came, their only normal child, Sara, who I married. And she got a tour of the house. And then another little girl came, little Kate, and she got a tour of the house. But then they didn’t have any more children, so the tour went on a hiatus for a while.
But then Justin had a baby. Justin got married and had a baby, and everyone rejoiced because the tour was back on. And the little grand baby-- now, by this time, I was there. I’d married into this family.
And Sara said, we’re going on a tour of the house. I said, we’re what? She said, we’re going on a tour of the house with this brand new baby.
I thought, the baby’s asleep. I did the same thing Marlene did 20 years ago. The baby’s asleep.
She said, just do it. Let’s go. Anybody have in-laws they think are a little weird, but they go with it anyway? Anybody have them?
All right. So I went on this tour, and I got to know the house really well. I know where the piano is now, and every sink, every faucet, and every picture.
And he would use the tour as a teaching tool. He’d say, this is your Uncle Hank. And Uncle Hank is going to take good care of you, aren’t you Uncle Hank? And I’d, uh-huh.
I still text that kid. He’s 18. And I say, how are you? He’s like, why are you texting me? I’m like, it was on the tour.
So all of my kids have been on the tour. All of the grandkids have been on the tour. The twins got to go on a double tour, as he held them both. And Rod has always been this powerful influence for good and positivity and just a genuine good feeling of upliftment whenever you’re around him.
Well, about six months or so after we had our baby twins, we had a phone call. Anybody ever got a phone call that changes their life forever? Who’s had one of those, a phone call that changes everything? And we got one of those. We got a phone call that changed everything.
We were out to dinner, my daughter’s birthday. We were out to dinner. And my wife picks up her cellphone. And you could see her visibly change. You could see her feelings visibly change as she’s taking in this information.
She hangs up the phone and says, can we go? And I said, sure. Sure. Kids, let’s go.
We haven’t eaten yet. Oh, we’ll go to McDonald’s. Let’s go. Everyone, we’re going to McDonald’s.
No branding. We’re going to McBurgers. All right.
So I said, what’s going on, when we got in the car? And her mother had called to let her know that she had just had some tests done, and she had stage 4 liver cancer. And from that moment on, everything changed. The doctors weren’t very optimistic. And that lack of optimism proved to be accurate, when 10 months later, Marlene, the little girl in the candy store, was on hospice care.
My wife said that-- she went down that weekend to visit her parents and to see her mom maybe for the last time. And she said, the kids were all there, and we were all just sitting. And she said, my dad was trying to be his positive self, his happy self. But you could tell he was struggling.
She said that the hospice nurse came over to Rod. And he said, Rod, judging from her vital signs, it looks like it’s going to be very soon. So why don’t we get her into bed for the last time? She was in a wheelchair there with the family.
And he said, OK. And he starts to wheel this wheelchair back down the hall when he stops. And my wife said he said something to the hospice nurse. And the hospice nurse responded with sure, sure, whatever you want to do.
And he turned to his children-- and moments of faith like this have to be recorded. They have to be passed down. He turned to his children, and he said, let’s take Mom on the tour.
And my wife said he wheeled her around. And he went first to the living room. And she was somewhat conscious. And he knelt down in front of her, and he held her hand and he said, 47 years of family home evening. How did you put up with this group?
And then he took her into the TV room, and he knelt down in front of her and he said, Marlene, how many shows have we watched together in here? How many hours have I rubbed your feet? And then he took her into the kitchen. And my wife said they all went with him, and they all followed on the tour.
And he knelt down and he said, Marlene, we’re in the kitchen. 47 years-- you are the greatest cook on the planet. And my wife said, my mom smiled as if to say, you liar.
And then she said the kids backed off as they went to the bedrooms. And he knelt in front of her and he talked about each individual child and all the investment she had put into each one and how great they had become. Now, they’re not all perfect, except for one. But they’re all good people. And it’s largely because of her.
And then he said, my-- well, I asked him later. I said, what were you thinking at this moment? And he said, she’s just so great. I couldn’t let her last day be sad. Yes, it’s sad, but it had to be-- look at this incredible life. And my wife said she saw her dad pick up his bride, laid her in her bed, and knelt by her for the next few hours until she passed away.
A few weeks later, he and I were in a car, and we were driving together. And my kids, my children-- you know how young children are. They didn’t really realize the impact this had had on Grandpa. They didn’t really figure out all that was happening.
And so they’re talking to Grandpa, telling him, Grandpa, guess what my teacher did? And Grandpa’s doing, he is really? That is amazing. That is wonderful. I can’t believe your teacher did that.
And I want to turn to my kids and say, Grandpa doesn’t care. He’s pretending to care. Some of you are like, Grandpa pretends to care? Yeah.
I wanted to say that, but I didn’t. And finally, I said, guys, do you want to play on my phone? So I threw my phone back there. And they’re like piranhas, [INAUDIBLE].
And I turned to him as we kept driving and I said, hey, how are you doing this? And he said, how am I doing what? I said, how are you up and going? Aren’t you supposed to be curled up in a fetal position in a dark room refusing to move? And he said, I don’t think so.
And he said, well, I’ll be honest. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever-- and I could possibly imagine. He said, I feel like half of me is gone. He said, I still reach for her hand.
He said, I still go to text her. He said, the other day I saw something funny on TV, and I turned and yelled, hey, Marlene, you have to come and see this. And I saw him kind of [INAUDIBLE] build up.
And he said, But you know, Hank, I’m a happy person. I’m a happy person. I’m a cheerful person. And that’s not going to change. If I need to live without her for a little while so I can appreciate her more when I get her back, I can do that.
That story needs to be told. My children need to tell that story to their children, and they need to tell that story to their grandchildren. But it depends on us telling those stories, making sure they’re told, making sure they’re recorded, making sure that they’re passed down in a way that will make them compelling, in a way that makes them feel-- that draws the actual feeling of the story out. We need to commit to making sure those stories get passed down.
Oh, I have a picture of them. Can I show them to you, Rod and Marlene? Where’s my remote? Here it is right here.
Do we have that for them? I think I have one. There they are right there.
Well, with my last few minutes, can I tell you just one last story? You can probably tell I’m into stories. I like stories. And I find myself-- if on my headstone, it says, he was a storyteller, I would be happy about that. So let me finish with one story.
I don’t share this story very often. It’s about my hometown in St. George. I grew up in St. George.
And do we have some St. George friends here? Oh, you can-- you always know the St. George friends. They don’t own a coat. They come up to northern Utah, and they think, what is this place? We need to go back home.
I had a dream once-- I’m not a dreamer. We all have different spiritual gifts and dreaming is not my spiritual gift. My wife’s a dreamer. She’s the visionary.
She says, you’re the worker. I’m the queen. I’ll get the vision. You do the work. And so we have our team, and this is the way it works.
Well, but one night, I had a dream. And it was a very vivid dream. And I thought, I need to write this down. I need to tell Sara. And so I woke up, and I said, Sara, I had the craziest dream.
And she said, tell me about it. And I said, well, I was back home in St. George and my little daughter and I, little Madeleine-- she was back little again. She had grown up, but she was little again. And there we were up in the cliffs of St. George where we used to play.
But I’m a dad now. And I don’t like my daughter getting too close to those cliffs. I didn’t mind getting close to those cliffs when I was a kid, but she sure shouldn’t be close to the cliffs.
And so I turned to her, and I said, hey, Maddie, come away from the cliff. And she smiled at me because she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She just smiled at me. Because sometimes our children don’t sense danger.
Let me tell you a conversation my daughter and I had the other day. And if you’re 17 or under here, you need to remember this story. She said, why do you do these things? Why do you make me put this-- and she was arguing about something that I was making her do.
And I said, because your brain’s not fully developed. And until it is, I’m your brain. And she thought, that makes sense.
And there she was. And she didn’t realize that she was close to danger and I did, as the parent. And I said, Maddie, get away from that cliff. And she just smiled.
So I said, Maddie, get away from the cliff. And I took a step towards her, and she took a step back. And I stopped, and I said, hey, hey. Don’t move.
Now she’s close to that edge. I said, don’t move. So I went to take a step forward. And she put another foot back, and now she’s on the edge. That foot would not land on solid ground.
Now, if I knew this was a dream, I would have just run and caught her and flown. But I didn’t know it was a dream. I thought this was real.
And so I’m looking at her. And I had a distinct impression that I could do one of two things. I could either do what I wanted to do and everything inside of me was screaming to do, which is what? Run to her, grab her, and keep her safe.
Or I could do exactly what I didn’t want to do but might work, which is I could take a step back. But if I take a step back, what if she goes off? I won’t be able to get to her if I don’t take a step forward.
But in this dream, I thought, what should I do? What should I do? And it was a long moment when I finally said, OK, I’ll do it. And I took a step back. And she took a step forward.
So I took another step back, and she took another step forward. So I did exactly what I wanted to do at that point, which is get her away from the cliff. And I turned and I ran. And then I woke up from this dream, and I went to tell Sara about it.
Now, remember, Sara’s the dreamer. And I told her about this dream. And she said, that is amazing. You know what that means, don’t you?
Because I’ll be honest, in my head up to that point, I thought I’d had some really spicy food. And so I just responded with, yeah. Yeah. Why don’t you tell me what you think it means, and I’ll see if it’s the same as what I thought it meant?
And she said, well, it means that you have a tendency to be a lot like your dad and do a lot of forceful parenting, where maybe something inside of you is realizing that’s not going to work on her and you’re going to have to-- instead of force, you’re going to have to lead.
I remember saying, oh, that’s exactly-- that’s exactly what I thought, almost word for word. So can I leave you with that parting thought? Embrace the past, present and future. Celebrate them all.
And don’t force. Learn to lead. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.