One of my nephews came to visit last month. He brought his wife and their three boys. They just wanted to get out of town. I think they wanted to be around Gaye for a day or two but she was in Ohio helping our kids there get ready to sell their house. So Neph and his family came anyway. We had a nice visit. The house is pretty much back to a state of order, too.
Several years ago Neph contacted us and said he would like to come and live with us for a while. He was caught in a situation that was not to his liking but he didn’t know how to get out of it. He was failing in high school, he was caught in activities that he didn’t like but didn’t know how to stop, and he could see that his life was not headed where he wanted to go. We welcomed him with open arms and with some inalienable rules to be followed.
- You be honest. Mistakes can be corrected and courses can be changed, but honesty is absolutely required.
- You follow our house rules. We don’t smoke or use alcohol or drugs. Period.
- You go to school and do your best at your studies.
Neph promised to follow those rules and soon he arrived at our house. His hair was done in the hit-man style of short on the sides and long on top, pulled into a pony tail. That was a style none of our boys had ever tried. He had a little ear pin in one ear, and he smelled of tobacco. But he was pleasant to be around and we wanted to be of assistance where we could.
Our girls gently made fun of his hair and the next day it was all cut off. We were off to a good start. The ear pin also came out. A week later he announced quietly that he was finished with smoking. Alcohol had not been a problem.
The summer he arrived, and before school started up, we had an Area Conference of the LDS Church in Pocatello. Neph was only a couple of weeks in our home and still trying to get things stabilized in his life. The conference was presided over by President Faust of the First Presidency of the Church. There were others visiting with him, but he was the presiding authority. I was in the choir, so I was not sitting with my family. The meeting was two hours long, held in the Holt Arena on the ISU campus. One side of the bleachers was filled and there were chairs on the football field. Several children went down to sit on the carpet and be closer to the speakers. There were some good talks given and the music was up to high standards.
The choir sang “Our Savior’s Love” by Crawford Gates. It has a powerful message of hope and love. President Faust was the final speaker. I think he gave a good talk, but what I really remember is how he closed the meeting. He said he might not be in the area again and he wanted to leave his Apostolic blessing upon us. He then proceeded to pronounce a blessing on every person there, but in a very deliberate and orderly manner. He blessed the little children and the young parents who were struggling to get their education and start their little ones on the right path. He blessed the older people who had retired and needed help with some issues connected with being on the downslope of life. He blessed the young single adults who were trying to resolve critical issues as they dealt with the challenges of their time. He blessed the families that were well established in careers and social activities common to that age group. And he blessed the youth, those who were struggling with negative peer pressures as they moved along the path. Hold to the Rod, was the counsel he gave them, and he promised that they would receive guidance and direction from their leaders and especially from The Holy Ghost as they kept their promises.
Neph had actually dropped out of high school, but he was failing every class anyway. He enrolled in our local school and started to get cranked up in his studies. At first it was hard but he stuck with it and shortly he was bringing home good grades. He went to seminary class and was interviewed for advancement in the Aaronic Priesthood to catch up with his peers. He had some great Young Men leaders and the boys in our ward made him a part of their circle.
He graduated and decided he would like to serve a mission. In the LDS culture a Church mission is really the final step in making a boy into a man. Life skills are learned there that are not gained in any other way. The missionaries learn to focus on a very difficult task. They get outside their own problems and comfort zone as they gain testimony of God’s love for His children. They get to step off the merry-go-round for a couple of years as their compass bearings are established for the rest of life’s journey. So he sent in his papers and received his call to a mission in California. His mission president would be Val Clarke, on of my closest friends during high school in Rexburg. Sister Clarke was from my own ward and we are third cousins, once removed. Gaye and I were confident he would be in good hands.
The mission service was completed well and Neph decided he wanted to go to college. He headed for Ricks College in Rexburg where there is a strong LDS influence that affects every aspect of life. He returned to his home in Colorado to report his mission. There he met the girl who would become his wife. He transferred from Ricks to Colorado, was soon married, and was getting very good grades as he prepared for dental school. He was accepted, has graduated, and is now a practicing dentist beginning on what will be a great career and opportunity to serve mankind.
So how was this young man able to turn his life around? It took a lot of work on his part and a lot of prayers on the part of his parents and of his Uncle Dad and Aunt Mom. (He calls me Ken but Gaye is Aunt Mom to him. His kids call us Grandpa and Grandma.) There were some struggles and a couple of brief re-sets along the way. But I am convinced that one of the key factors has been the blessing of President Faust in Pocatello. God honors His servants. When lives are opened up to the influence of The Holy Ghost those lives are blessed. When we make honest effort to be obedient to the Rules of the Journey we make ourselves available to be blessed by our loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. Love is the most important power in the universe.