One of the things that The Book of Mormon has helped me with is having a perspective on life and the adversities that I face. There are some chapters that talk about a group of people called the Jaredites. They were present at the Tower of Babel and they prayed and asked that their family’s language would not be changed. The Lord blessed them and guided them to the promised land. They had to do a lot of preparation and worked in faith to accomplish the task. The trip was long and dangerous, and every detail in the whole voyage can be compared to our journey in life. There are times when it seems that things don’t let up and the wind doesn’t stop. It seems hard and not worth the struggle. But when the Jaredites dealt with such problems, they saw that the wind they experienced was blowing them towards the land of promise. It was helping them to get where the Lord wanted them to be. Their example has helped me in times of trials because they continued to sing praises to the Lord and thank Him for all that they had been given. They never ceased in their praising.
Three months after my twins were born, my church leader called me in and asked me to be a Blazer Scout leader. With twelve children, I was totally overwhelmed. I didn’t say “no” immediately because my son Wid was asked to be my assistant scout leader. When my husband Dean asked me what was wanted, I sarcastically said, “I wonder what I’ve done wrong. Can you believe it? He asked me to be a scout leader for twelve eleven-year-old boys.” Dean surprised me by saying, “Well, that sounds like fun. You’ve never had that calling in the church before.” I was mad, and it took me a whole week to humble myself and ask the Lord if this was truly inspired. On Friday, with a Sunday deadline to give my answer, I knelt in prayer and the answer came loud and clear, “1 Nephi 3:7: I will go and do . . . .” I chuckled as I thought, “Well, Heavenly Father isn’t asking you to go get someone’s brass plates, but just to take twelve little boys and prepare them to receive the priesthood and scouting skills and values.” It was one of the most exciting and rewarding opportunities I’ve had in my church. Serving five years in that position, I worked with all four of my sons and each of them earned their Eagle Awards. We made diamonds in Dr. Tracy Hall’s laboratory, toured the Provo Utah LDS Temple before it was finished, and re-enacted Ute Chief Sowiette’s defense of the Provo Fort. I am indebted to the leader of the other twelve boys in our ward. She became a wonderful mentor and friend. I testify that whom the Lord calls, he qualifies.
Sixty years ago, as a young man twenty years old, I was fulfilling a Church assignment that I found to be very challenging, and I was somewhat discouraged. One evening as I read The Book of Mormon, I came upon this verse in Moroni 10. Having received this exhortation, I decided to test it, and prayed somewhat as follows: “Lord, this work I have been called to do is very hard and I feel discouraged. Nevertheless, if I can be assured of its truth and value, I will persist.” At that moment, I felt filled with a Heavenly light that affirmed to me the truth of The Book of Mormon. From that moment, through all these sixty some years since, that experience has sustained and blessed me and given me the courage to persist.
This passage has served me well as a husband and father. Early in my marriage, as I pondered these verses I came to realize how much Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ loved children. I sensed that in essence, children were entrusted to parents with the heavenly expectation that parents would teach them correct heavenly principles and be good examples. The rearing of children required my very best effort as a father and a husband. This was a partnership shared with my dear wife of fifty plus years, as well as deity. Yes, it has been challenging at times, but so rewarding. And these verses and experiences continue to bless us as we reach out to our thirty-two grandchildren.
I grew up in a home where the Gospel of Jesus Christ was taught and lived by example by my parents, five older siblings, and extended family. I remember on Sundays lying outside on a blanket next to my Mom as she read scriptures aloud to me. Mother and her siblings also liked gathering on Sundays to discuss the scriptures. As a child I was encouraged by my Sunday school teachers and parents to memorize many scriptures that have stayed with me all my life.
At the age of 15 while attending junior high school I chose to take “release time” from school for religious study called “Seminary.” Our teacher challenged each of us to read The Book of Mormon from cover to cover and to pray and ask Heavenly Father if it is true. That day we read together as a class in the Book of Mormon from Moroni 10:4-5.
This passage of scripture hit me hard. I accepted the challenge and read in my bed each night. It seemed to me that I felt happier each day and I found myself reading earlier in the evenings. My personal prayers became more intimate and I listened and felt the promptings of the still small voice of the Holy Ghost more noticeably. Even the discussions on The Book of Mormon in class became more meaningful to me because of my preparations the day before.
My personal testimony of the mission of Jesus Christ was strengthened as I read of Him visiting his followers in the Americas after His Resurrection. After finishing the last chapter of The Book of Moroni in The Book of Mormon, I knelt and prayed to ask if The Book of Mormon was true, and the feeling came over me that I had already been given that assurance. I never doubted it, nor doubted that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and restored his Gospel in its fullness to the earth.
It has been more than 45 years since those days in junior high school, but those feelings I felt at that time have been confirmed and enlarged many times over as I have read and reread The Book of Mormon all my life. I love feasting on the scriptures and I feel its influence in my life each day.
When asked about my Mormon Faith, my initial response is always the same. I passionately embrace the concept of an Eternal Family. Many of our beliefs are taken on faith. That is, I do not have a perfect knowledge of their validity, but I strongly believe them to be so. While I may not have a “perfect knowledge” of a family that lives on eternally, I do have such a knowledge of the temporal impact in my life.
The Book of Mormon teaches and reminds me to be a more loving, supportive and understanding spouse and parent. Love for my family is not just something in which I “believe,” but rather a tangible emotion I can grasp with certainty and conviction. Love for family drives my hope and bridles my selfishness. Family brings love, faith, joy and fulfillment into every aspect of my daily life.
While I may not have a perfect knowledge of Heaven, I am blessed to have a perfect knowledge of Family here on Earth. For me, it is everything.
As a young mother, I watched some of my children express doubt because their prayers were not always answered immediately or in the way they wanted. I, myself, felt that God’s love for me was manifest in the blessings I received at His hand. So when trials came along, and lasted a long time as they often do, I had the feeling that I had displeased my Heavenly Father in some way and was not worthy of the blessing I badly needed. Then I read, again, the counsel from these two great prophets and I realized that my children and I both needed to learn that hope and faith always precede the miracle. Answers to prayer, and especially miracles, do not happen in order to prove our faith is justified. I told my children that asking for blessings to prove there is a God makes faith unnecessary, and that is not the way God operates.
I know God is there and hears my prayers and loves me, weak as I am. I have learned that “no” is an acceptable answer to a requested blessing. Thanks to Ether and Moroni, I continue to have faith that Heavenly Father’s wisdom is greater than my own, and that is what I now share with my grandchildren.
Years ago, I found my boys wanting to go to the mall to play arcade games with their hard-earned money. I was distraught thinking it was such a waste of both time and money. I was searching for a good reason to help them make a better choice. While reading my scriptures, I opened the Book of Mormon and glanced at the above verse.
Instantly, I felt this thought was an answer from heaven to my prayer. Later, the discussion with my boys laid the groundwork for helping them make worthwhile and satisfying choices, choices that made them feel good about themselves and gave them opportunities to use their money wisely.
This same scripture is one I remember when my choices seem unclear. When my direction is pointed to Christ and I am feasting “upon that which perisheth not,” my ability to make better choices increases and “I delight in fatness”, being filled with things that God would want me to do. That is when I truly feel God’s love and blessing in my life.
I feel comfort knowing that Heavenly Father has designed this life so we might know joy. In our pre-mortal life He presented this plan where we each would have our own agency. It is a scary thing to most of us, because we knew we would make mistakes, affecting not only our own lives but also the lives of others. We knew that it would cause something called misery, and by knowing the bitter we would also know the sweet. Lucifer fought against this plan and took one third of our brothers and sisters with him. When I have been in the depths of misery, or a loved one is having a hard time, I take courage knowing that we are experiencing this wonderful plan to bring joy into our lives. By experiencing misery from our own hands, the hands of others, or even from natural occurrences, we know the bitter and it makes the joy that Heavenly Father wants us to experience a glorious thing.
This verse is important to me because it tells me that if the Lord asks me to go or to do something, then I should be obedient and listen to the Lord. My family was deciding whether to move to the U.S. or to stay in Vietnam. We were living in Vietnam at the time. We had a hard decision to make, so my parents went to the temple to pray and ask if we should move to the U.S. or not. The Lord gave them the prompting to go look for a house in the U.S., so they went and looked at different houses. When my Mom came into the house we are now living in, she said that we were going to get this house. My parents went back to the Provo temple just before we went back to Vietnam. They were comforted and decided we would move back to the U.S. Now we live in the house my Mom said we would buy. If I listen to the Lord and do as He asks of me, then I will be blessed in many ways.