Sunday, March 30, 2014

Our Identity as a Disciple of Jesus Christ

Linda K. Burton
Relief Society General President

from the General Women's Meeting
March 29, 2014

"... Our true identity is that of a disciple of Jesus Christ. ...  Think what a gift it is to give our gift of daily discipleship to the Lord, declaring in word and deed, 'Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.'

...  I love the women of the Church.  I have seen your strength. I have seen your faith.  You have something to give and are willing to give it.  You do this without fanfare or publicity, drawing attention to the God we worship, not to yourselves, and with no thought of what you will receive. That's what disciples do."

Watch her full address here and be inspired!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Safety Depends upon Following the Prophet

From Harold B. Lee, October Conference 1970

We have some tight places to go before the Lord is through with this church and the world in this dispensation, which is the last dispensation, which shall usher in the coming of the Lord. The gospel was restored to prepare a people ready to receive him. The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand. There will be inroads within the Church. … We will see those who profess membership but secretly are plotting and trying to lead people not to follow the leadership that the Lord has set up to preside in this church.

Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet, “as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4–5). There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).

... Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow the ones whom the Lord has placed to preside over his church. He knows whom he wants to preside over this church, and he will make no mistake. The Lord doesn't do things by accident. He has never done anything accidentally. And I think the scientists and all the philosophers in the world have never discovered or learned anything that God didn't already know. His revelations are more powerful, more meaningful, and have more substance than all the secular learning in the world.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sept. 15, 1979: The Role of Righteous Women

Given at the women’s fireside held September 15 in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Latter-day Saint women twelve and older met in 1,500 locations worldwide to listen ...  Since President Kimball was hospitalized at the time of the conference, his message was read by his wife, Camilla E. Kimball. 

Click here to watch the full address on

"Among the real heroines in the world who will come into the Church are women who are more concerned with being righteous than with being selfish. These real heroines have true humility, which places a higher value on integrity than on visibility. Remember, it is as wrong to do things just to be seen of women as it is to do things to be seen of men. Great women and men are always more anxious to serve than to have dominion."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Letter from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to "Ordain Women" Organization

Salt Lake City -- News media are reporting today on a letter from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent to a women’s group called “Ordain Women” regarding plans the group has to demonstrate for female ordination at the Church’s worldwide general conference. In response to multiple requests from news media, the Church has provided a link to the entire letter. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Story of Healing After Tragedy: My Shattered Heart Made Whole

Please listen to this beautiful talk by my sister, Gina Ashby, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.  This talk details the main components of her journey to heal after the suicide death of our older brother, Brian, in 1999.  Her message is one of hope, faith, learning, and growth.  Her courage will inspire you!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Walking on Water

My husband was out of town one night several years ago, and as I was putting my oldest son to bed, who was just 3 years old at the time, I thought I would tell him a story from the scriptures to help him settle down and relax.  The story that came to mind was when Peter tried to walk on water to meet Jesus, who was coming towards them in the middle of the sea.

I had thought "tried" was the right word until that night.  Then it occurred to me that Peter had walked on water.  Peter had walked on water.

That was an amazing moment.  We might not be too impressed by Jesus walking on water, because we already know he had been healing people of all manner of illnesses and infirmities, and, plus, he was half-God.  Being a literal son of God the Father in the flesh, he was naturally endowed with special, sacred powers and abilities.  So, of course he could walk on water if he needed to or wanted to.

What struck me was the realization that someone as completely mortal as myself was recorded as walking on water.  Suddenly that seemed to imply something about myself.

Matthew describes that he, Peter, and other disciples were sent by Jesus out onto the Sea of Galilea in a ship to sail to the other side.  In the meantime, he would disburse the crowd that had gathered and then go up into the hills to pray by himself (Matthew 14).

Unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, the disciples on watch -- and perhaps everyone was awake anyway with how "contrary" the winds were -- noticed a figure coming towards them, a figure that was walking across the billowy waves unphased.  Fear filled their hearts as they believed it was a spirit approaching, but when Jesus called out to them and revealed his identity, Peter replied, "Lord, it if be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water" (v. 28).

Peter had witnessed numerous miracles of healing at Jesus' hands.  He knew that Jesus had some very special powers and abilities.  And having spent so much time with him, listening to him and learning from him, Peter knew that Jesus was a man without guile, full of compassion and kindness, someone who was completely trustworthy.  Even -- could it really be so? -- the promised Messiah!

Verse 29 continues, "And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus."

We know the rest of the story; that Peter broke his concentration on the Savior and began to notice the wind and the waves, and his faith wavered, allowing fear to impede him and almost drown him.  Peter then called out to the Lord to save him as he began to sink.

    "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
    And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased" (vs. 31 and 32).

Experiencing and witnessing this, everyone that was on the ship came and worshipped Jesus saying, "Of a truth thou art the Son of God" (v. 33).  Who can walk on water?, they must have reasoned.  Only a divine being could do that!

But, Peter did.  We don't know how many steps he took or how far from the ship he got, but his faith was powerful and incredible and resided in a mortal man's heart and mind!  So, what about me?  This sacred experience tells me that, like Peter, though mortal from both parents, I'm not doomed to fail.  My spirit was created first by Exalted Beings, therefore, it is within me to succeed.  My flesh might be weak, but it can learn.  I can gain experience in the times I fear and fall, and have the Savior's hand stretched out to me to lift me up.  I can look back and realize that I did make progress during my up times, and I can have confidence that I can keep going forward.

Not only that, but that I can overcome major obstacles.  I can.  I can.  The atonement, that beloved enabling power, is the "can" in "I can" and makes all things possible for me.  I might not ever need to walk on water during my life, but I have many challenges and weaknesses that I desperately want to rise above and walk confidently over.  I realize how often I limit myself because I think something is too hard or I am too weak or it's just not possible.

I limit my access to the atonement (Christ's power) and also discount the power endowed upon me (in small measure at birth when I came with the light of Christ, and then in great measure through temple covenant making).

In remembering that Peter walked on water, I am taught that I can overcome any obstacle -- if I just refuse to doubt the power given to me from God through Jesus Christ, my Savior.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Power to Avoid Deception: Faith that is Never Blind

From time to time I hear, or read, someone posing questions such as: "How do you deal with the changes in Church policy and doctrine?  What do you do when you receive personal revelation that conflicts with what the prophet says?  What if you've fasted and prayed about something and received a powerful, spiritual witness to do something different than what the prophet says?"

In responding to these questions several possible scenarios come to mind:
  • Ignoring personal thoughts and questions in order to do what the prophet says, no matter what.
  • Being unsure of Church teachings, but concluding that prophets are trustworthy, and deciding to follow their counsel anyway.
  • Actively searching for answers, by turning to friends, scriptures, Church leaders, prophets and apostles of different dispensations, then to God in prayer, and adjusting personal thoughts and opinions to match spiritual confirmation and accepting prophetic direction.
  • Actively searching for answers by seeking out like-minded people, looking for authority figures who preach doctrine similar to your thoughts, becoming entrenched in philosophies of men and eventually distrusting and ignoring prophetic direction.
  • Becoming apathetic towards religion because of the confusion, disappointment, and discouragement experienced while participating, and completely disengaging -- perhaps even trying to draw people away with you.
There are probably many more scenarios, but these few will suffice for now.  Perhaps they can all be defined by how personal v. prophetic revelation are balanced against each other.  How much weight does a person give to each item on the scale, in each scenario?

One person may assign very little value to his/her own ability and responsibility to seek out their own confirmation or revelation concerning any particular issue.  Another may try to find a more even balance, believing that whatever the Spirit tells them is as canonized as General Conference and scriptures.  Another may believe that prophets are to be followed, but only as far as personal conviction to outside beliefs will allow.

As I examine all these possibilities and the potential long-term, as well as short-term, ramifications on my own life, there are certain conclusions that result.
  • Personal revelation doesn't supersede revelation from God to His anointed spokesmen.
  • There is no such thing as blind faith.
  • Examining the nature and roll of 'authority' can lead a person safely through conflicting beliefs and opinions, until he/she finds a satisfying resolution.
  • Satan is as real as God is and he is actively working to deceive the children of God.
Personal revelation doesn't supersede revelation from God to His anointed spokesmen. 

So far as I can tell, there aren't any accounts of personal revelation superseding the teachings of the prophets.  Even in the case of Nephi killing Laban in the opening chapters of the Book of Mormon, Nephi was living under the Law of Moses and Laban had attempted to kill Nephi and his three older brothers, as well as had stolen all of the family's material wealth, and likely was involved with plots to kill his prophet father, Lehi.  Under the Law of Moses, Nephi may have been absolved of guilt and even been justified, though Nephi personally shrank back and wished he wasn't given this commandment.

If this holds true, then prophetic revelation and teaching holds more weight on the scale than personal revelation insofar as there is tension or conflict between the two.  If a person believes they are being granted by the Holy Ghost exemption from any law of God, then the person needs to take a second look at his/her conclusions and evaluate whether he/she is, in fact, receiving revelation from God and not a deception from the Adversary.

For example, I once met a woman who had come to believe that plural marriage was going to be reinstated so she and her husband decided to keep a woman who was down-and-out (and in their minds a potential candidate for a second wife) living with them in their house.  The agreement was that chastity would be observed until the ban was lifted.  But this plan failed and the original couple divorced, after which the husband married the now-mistress.  The first wife came to conclude that maybe the Spirit hadn't been telling them to prepare for a polygamous household, but to just help the second woman get back on her feet and on her way. In this tragic case, a family was broken apart as a result of putting perceived personal "revelation" above prophetic direction.

President Uchtdorf promised, "As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and as one who has seen firsthand the councils and workings of this Church, I bear solemn witness that no decision of significance affecting this Church or its members is ever made without earnestly seeking the inspiration, guidance, and approbation of our Eternal Father. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. God will not allow His Church to drift from its appointed course or fail to fulfill its divine destiny."

There is no such thing as blind faith.

I really do not believe in there being such thing as 'blind faith.'  Not at all.  What we might call 'blind faith' I would relabel 'innocent faith.'  It is innocent because it has not been exercised yet and relies on other people.  I think of young children and new converts.  There is a belief, something inside of them nudging them forward to give this Church a try, or to believe that their parents are telling the truth.  Innocent faith is based on other people's testimony and is the ideal fertile ground in which to plant the gospel seed.

However, as children or converts begin to "experiment upon the word," as Alma says, they begin to see that good things happen in their lives when they keep the commandments, or they feel happy when they are actively involved at Church.  Little by little as they gain more knowledge and understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and strive to live it, something will happen inside of them.  Some sort of challenge or trial or severe hardship will come, and suddenly they begin to reach out to God, to really know Him and His power.   Like a shaded plant, bending and reaching for the light.  Finding the light again, for themselves, makes their faith become stronger and more independent of other people.  New vision develops.

When my older brother died I found myself saying, "Now what?  Now how does this all fit into my life?  Now what does the atonement of Jesus Christ mean to me?  Now what does everything mean to me with my new eyes?"  From the ashes of my sorrow, I did experience for myself, like Alma, a restoring, healing, reconstituting power.  I was a new person, with new eyes, a new heart, a new mind.  I couldn't possibly look at the doctrines of the Church the same way any longer.  I had already established my own testimony, but now it became so much deeper.  My view had suddenly expanded and there was some adjustment to be made.  It was a painful healing process, but eventually my "joy was as great as was my pain."  Without any scientific tool to measure it, my faith became my measuring tool.  My faith had been tested, and though I faltered some at times and made some poor choices when coping with my initial sorrow, eventually I was righted up and I knew that it had come through the atoning power of Jesus Christ.

This is faith.  It is knowing without seeing, as powerfully and confidently as if you had seen.  Faith is based on experience, therefore it cannot be blind.  In this way faith can be exercised when considering the words of the prophets.  Innocent faith would cause a person to believe that the prophet is called of God because you believe that your parents or Primary teachers or the missionaries are telling you the truth.  And there is a warmth and gentle confirmation from the Holy Ghost.

But, once you start acting upon that foundational faith, and begin to have personal experiences with it for which no one else can claim responsibility, your faith matures.  Therefore, it becomes easier and easier to continue to cultivate the garden of the Word of God.  The system is in place and each doctrine, each teaching, each new program or adjustment to a program, is easier and easier to accept.  And when questions arise about any point of doctrine or practice, you gain powerful confidence that you can and will find the answer, that it will come through the Holy Ghost after searching the words of the prophets and turning to Heavenly Father in prayer. As President Uchtdorf urged, we would doubt our doubt before we would doubt our faith.

Examining the nature and roll of 'authority' can lead a person safely through conflicting beliefs and opinions, until he/she finds a satisfying resolution.

The maturing process of faith does hinge on something very important: to whom you assign the weight of authority.  So, who will you?  Who will you look to as a source of information and answers, and why?  How do they earn your trust and allegiance?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus the Savior gave us the answer!  "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20).  He also said, "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit" (v. 17).   Moroni, as prophets do, expounded on this warning system, "Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.  But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God" (Moroni 7:12-13).  And we know that we demonstrate our love for God by keeping his commandments (John 14:15).

If you can determine that the end result needs to be a belief in Christ that is accurate and can make salvation possible, then you can work backwards to figure out who or what will help you reach it.  If a person is saying that there is no sin in a certain behavior, first decide whether that person is encouraging you to serve yourself or God.  If the intent is for your own gratification, then that person is not a worthy authority figure, and you can know that they are incorrect.  Their teachings will not lead to eternal happiness and salvation.  If the motivation is to humbly serve God, according to His own teachings, then that person has something good to say.  If that person can verify the literal placement of divine authority on his/her own head, then that is the key to knowing that that person can be completely trusted.

Before trying to figure out whether a teaching of the Church is true, we should first seek out and develop a testimony that God is our Father, that He loves us and wants us to be happy.  Then gain a personal witness of the saving role and atonement of Jesus Christ.  Then find out for ourselves that God has spoken to humanity through prophets in ancient day, and it will become easier to believe that He has reestablished connection through prophets today.  Build up that knowledge, and faith will attend.  Once the groundwork has been established, clear and unobstructed understanding will come about any and every point of doctrine.  At least to a point that will leave us satisfied and contented until further light is given to us from God.  I have had this experience as I searched the scriptures to understand a certain gospel doctrine.  I came away from my personal study completely fulfilled and satisfied that I could continue to trust the prophets of God today.

Satan is as real as God is and he is actively working to deceive the children of God. 

This is a truth that can absolutely not be neglected if we want to stay safe in the latter days.  At every point in time, Satan has attempted to deceive mankind.  It began in the Garden of Eden and, without ceasing, has continued until our day.  Satan has no authority from God.  And it is the thing he most craves.  He gave Eve fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil without authority.  That was the problem.  The problem wasn't the tree or the fruit.  Neither tree nor fruit was evil. In fact, they were part of God's plan. The problem was that Eve was deceived by Satan. He gave her the fruit without having any authority to do so and she partook without having any authority from God to partake.

A persistent example is sexual intimacy.  Sexual intimacy and intercourse are good and right -- when consecrated by God through marriage that He ordains (between a man and a woman).  The problem of adultery, fornication, pornography, same-sex union, etc., is that sex is employed without that authorization from God.  Popular culture today promotes unauthorized sex so that Satan can deceive the masses to partake of a fruit that has been forbidden outside of proper context.  Satan succeeds in bringing misery, disease, unplanned pregnancy, abortion, despair, self-loathing, and a loss of confidence before God.

During his mortal ministry, the Savior warned that in the last days, "many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (JST-Matthew 1:9).   The Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to the Roman saints, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:17-18).

In our day, a person will not necessarily call him or herself a prophet. But they will try to act like one.  Picking out bits of scriptures or quote prophets and present it in such a way that is flattering to the wicked and confusing to the weak.  They will seek followers to support their philosophies.  They will make "fair speeches" and deceive many.

Jesus also warned, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24).  The "very elect," Joseph Smith revealed, are "who are the elect according to the covenant" (JST-Matthew 1:22).

If any person experiences a supposed "powerful, spiritual revelation" that sets them in defiance with the laws of God, that person should eventually realize that he/she has been deceived by Satan, the Master of Lies.  It is pride and vanity that would lead people to believe that they know better than the anointed prophets and apostles of the Lord.  It is the devil who seeks to flatter them, rile them up, or pacify them.

   For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
   And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
   And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (2 Nephi 28:20-22).

The Christians under covenant -- the temple-endowed Latter-day Saints -- are the bull's eye of the target.  Satan seeks to weaken our faith, diminish our resolve, to confuse us by the fair speeches given by our own, to cause us to believe that our own minds are brighter, our own hearts are more compassionate, our own wisdom is greater than God's.  Is this not the trick that Satan used in the premortal world?  It is a very successful one; he led way one-third of God's spirit children.

For us to be safe and keep this estate, as we did in the spirit world, it is imperative to resolutely put complete and full trust in God our loving Father, in His plan of salvation and happiness, in His chosen and anointed Savior Jesus Christ, and to believe that He meant what He said, "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" (D&C 1:38).

We can do this by exercising our faith, putting the gospel to the test, submitting in humility to all the will of the Father and finding out for ourselves that His "yoke is easy and [His] burden is light" (Matthew 11:30) by comparison with the heavy chains that Satan seeks to bind us with.

We can do this by repenting and discovering the marvelous power that the atonement of Jesus Christ makes available.  Being clean, free, light, happy, illuminated, and full of confidence rather than doubt or vanity, are the delicious fruit that invariably come when living in the truth, light, and way of our Savior.  Keeping the commandments and being true to baptismal and temple covenants will bring greater power to recognize deception and willingness to do God's work, rather than making our own gratification the goal.  

  And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
  Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
  And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
  For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live (D&C 84:19-22).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stories of Faith: Myrtle Wilcox Paul

My great-grandmother, Myrtle Wilcox Paul, wrote a letter when at age 93 that detailed some of the main events of her life. Her life was very adventurous, including her parents' mission call to Samoa in 1911, as well as her own missionary call to a separate island at age 15.  Here are two stories from her life; the first from her childhood in Canada and the second from her mission in Samoa.
Myrtle was the second oldest daughter, photo from 1910/11

I was born in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, October 3rd, 1897, daughter of David Eugene and Anna Elizabeth Layne Wilcox. When I was eight years old I was baptized in the river by Jacob Scott.

... I want to go back to the years 1910 and 11. One event that happened during that time changed the course of our lives. It has to do with a prairie fire. In the summer the prairie grass grows tall and becomes a fire hazard. Warnings are posted and a severe fine occurs if anyone is responsible for a fire. One day my father had some trouble with some of his machinery. He took it to town to the blacksmith shop for repairs. Mother was sewing and became very nervous with it. She kept fussing about dad being gone so long.

Suddenly she folded the sewing and said, “.. let’s go for a walk.”  As we stepped outside, we saw father and others coming toward our place as fast as the teams could bring them. As we turned the corner of the house, a few Indians were coming, some on foot, others on ponies. Father was a good friend to the Indians speaking their language fairly well. He worked for the Cardston Mercantile Company. He was always very honest with the Indians when they came to trade and treated them with respect. They felt he was a good friend and respected him. They turned livestock loose and carried everything they could onto a strip of plowed land. We became aware of smoke in the air and instinctively knew it meant prairie fire altho’ we could not see it yet. It was very frightening.

Mother ran into the house, called my two younger sisters, Lula and Ruth, and had them hold out their arms which she loaded with clothes telling them to run to the nearest neighbors.  Poor frightened little girls. I can still visualize their terror stricken faces as they ran, stopping a moment to look back, then running on again, stopping only long enough to pick up dropped clothing.

Fortunately father had started to dig a well and there was some water in it. Also early that morning he had hauled several barrels of water from the river. A couple of large tin tubs were filled with water and tho’ only eleven years old, I was given gunny sacks along with the others, told to dip the sacks in the water, go out behind the hay stacks and beat the grass down with the wet sacks. We kept this procedure up for hours, more water being hauled as needed.

Our place was in the direct path of the fire as it burned on and on. Suddenly we missed father. “Where’s Dave?” the men were asking. No one seemed to know where he was. One of the men ordered the tent to be taken down. As they started to do so, father stepped from the tent and told the men to leave it alone. “It must come down”, one said, “go ahead, Dave is upset.”  Calmly father told them again to leave the tent alone. There was something in his voice that compelled them to do as he said. He quietly directed where to concentrate their efforts.

Well, our place was saved. People coming out after the fire just could not understand how it escaped. There stood our house, tent, barn and hay stack right in the middle of miles and miles of burned prairie grass. It was beginning to get dark and the fire was sweeping on endangering other farms. Father and all the men left to help those still in the path of the fire. Mother and us girls were left with the responsibility of being guardians, going out every little while to put out any flames or sparks that might flare-up with our wet gunny sacks. We made our pilgrimages all night long afraid to go to sleep.

Father returned as daylight was breaking. The neighbors did not fare as well as we did losing some stock and a barn. Their home was saved. We asked father why he had ordered the men to not take down the tent. He said that when it looked like the place couldn’t be saved, he went into the tent, knelt down and told his Heavenly Father that he had invested everything he had into that piece of land, if it was His will to take it, he would not question, but if it could be saved, he pledged his time and efforts in serving the Lord. He told his Heavenly Father that he would accept any and all calls to serve. He was soon put to the test. Before the year ended he was called on a mission to the Samoan Islands and to take the family with him, which was my mother, sisters LaVera, Lula, Ruth and myself Myrtle (Melita). ... The prairie fire incident gave me my first real testimony of the power of the priesthood in faith and prayer.

I wish to share my testimony with you. I have one you know. Like Nephi of old I was blessed to be born of goodly parents who taught me in the ways of the Lord. I just seemed to grow up with this testimony of mine - my constant companion. It is firm and precious to me as a Pearl of Great Price.

I didn’t have a miracle or a revelation. It was all the good things of life rolled together into a testament that confirmed the truth of the gospel. I found that living its teachings and ideals has brought a way of life that is rewarding in spite of adversities, sorrows and heartache.

Myrtle "Melita" Wilcox Paul
Concord, California 1990

The second story was related by my great-grandfather Earl Stanley Paul, another missionary in Samoa who would later marry Myrtle in Utah, and is an example of her strong spirit and courage, which I think was likely inspired by her parents' examples.