7. As a husband, what is the greatest measure of your success?
That my wife loves me and I’m still madly in love with her.
We’ve just passed that threshold where we’ve spent over half of our lives with each other. She was 18 and I was 21 when we met and married. Today, she’s 40 and I’m 43. We’ll celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary in July.
I’m sometimes amazed that we married so young, but that’s just part of the culture in the Church. When a young man returns from his mission, he’s counseled to marry and start a family.
I met Keala three months after I returned from my mission; we were engaged four months after we met and married seven months after that. We were married less than a year after my mission.
I thought at 21 that in marrying an 18 year old, I would help raise her. In retrospect, that was incredibly naive. At 18, my wife had already lost her mother to breast cancer, worked and paid for her freshman year and toured Europe with BYU’s performing group, Lamanite Generation, as a member of the Polynesian section. She was poised, mature, refined, spiritual, and unbelievably beautiful.
Those who know Keala will tell you that her beauty is only enhanced and even more pronounced when you get to know her. She is an incredible human being.
8. What are the three most important things in your life and why?
1 – My Testimony
2 – My Family
3 – The Church
Testimony – There is a common practice among Born Again Christians to cite the exact date and hour they accepted Jesus and were saved. Of course, in the Church we don’t do that because our doctrine teaches that our salvation is a process, not an event.
Still, I remember the exact day and hour that I gained my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
December 31, 1981. 10pm-ish.
The fall semester of my sophomore year had just ended at BYU and I was not returning for the winter semester, for I was entering the MTC in February. I had made the decision my freshman year to serve a mission, but Coach Edwards had asked me to return and play my sophomore year because of a shortage at the running back position, before leaving.
The extra time also gave me a chance to do two things that I hadn’t yet done before my mission: get a patriarchal blessing and read the entire Book of Mormon. My blessing I received in the spring before I headed home to Mesa for the summer. But I didn’t start the Book of Mormon until fall classes began, with a goal to finish it by the end of the calendar year. I soon realized that to meet my goal, I would have to take my scriptures with me on road games. I read on the plane and on bus rides to hotel and stadiums. When I arrived home in Mesa after the Holiday Bowl, where I had opened my mission letter in front of my family and was sorely disappointed that I was being sent to South Dakota, I was still in Alma. For a week at home, I mostly kept to myself and read, while trying to reconcile that South Dakota was where the Lord needed me.
Before I knew it, it was New Year’s Eve and friends had called to make plans for the big single young adult dance. I figured I’d go have fun and enjoy my friends one last time before my mission. Around 6 o’clock as I was preparing to go, I suddenly realized that I was in 3rd Nephi and it was the last day of the year. I decided I’d call my friends and told them not to bother picking me up, that I had something to do and I’d just catch up with them at the dance.
Then, I stayed in my room and read from about 6:30 on. It was around 10 when I finally got to the final chapter of Moroni. As I read chapter 10, I read each verse out loud and deliberately. It’s meaning seemed more clear to me than the previous 300 pages that I had read. My heart started to pound and a warmth enveloped me like a blanket. When I finished, I placed the book on the bed, slid off the side and knelt, still holding the book in my hands. Then, I prayed. I asked the Lord to forgive me for my ignorance and disobedience, but I stayed home that night to finish what I had determined to do in September. Though I had not asked before, I felt I had every reason to do so now, as I had finally finished reading the Book. Would He manifest to me so that I may know of it’s divinity and truth.
Amazingly, the warmth that I had felt never really left, even as I was rolling off the bed to kneel. But at this point, its intensity increased and without warning, my eyes welled and I started to cry. As I cried, I opened my eyes because I had the sensation that someone was watching me. I looked around and no one was around. I knew, however, I wasn’t alone.
At that point, though I recognized the moment as sacred, for some reason, I didn’t want to be alone. I glanced at the clock and it was 10:30pm. I quickly calculated that I could still be at the stake center at 11-ish and as it was New Year’s Eve, I would still enjoy the evening with my friends.
The memory still makes me smile, as it illustrates the priorities of a young single adult. In the very hour the Lord revealed His existence and His marvelous truth, I was calculating how to maximize the time and squeeze in the all-important YSA New Year’s Eve Dance.
Family – I’ve already shared how I feel about my wife and children.
The Church – In adulthood, I have a growing admiration for the inspired nature of the Church as an organization, that I didn’t have as child growing up in the Church. I’m in awe of its growth, its leadership, its prosperity, its flexibility and how it is perceived.
While it has its detractors, I’m also amazed at its diverse list of admirers. I’ve heard President Bush and Senator Ed Kennedy praise us. Our success can no longer be ignored – cover stories have appeared in Newsweek and Time along with feature stories on NBC, 60 Minutes and Fox News Channel.
I feel honored in being a member of it. What an amazing blessing.
To Be Continued –