In Alma 27:27, there is a phrase which has intrigued me for some time. As Mormon quotes from the records before him, he describes the Lamanites who had been converted by Ammon (of the arms) and his brothers as:
…perfectly honest and upright in all things…
These folk were former enemies of the Nephites and had been the cause of much misery for those who were followers of Christ. Yet, when they saw the light themselves, their nature changed in such a way that they were completely honest and unwilling to do anything that might be regarded as sinful. Many even went so far as to give up their lives rather than take the chance they might be guilty of murder through defense of the same (Alma 24:21-23).
Years later, these same repentant enemies, now accepted members of Nephite society, were considering violating the covenant they had made (no warring with others) to assist in the defense of their neighbors and friends. Helaman, a warrior Prophet to these people, encouraged them to maintain the covenant rather than risk the judgments of God (Alma 53:10-15). Let me quote what happened next:
But behold, it came to pass they had many sons, who had not entered into a covenant that they would not take their weapons of war to defend themselves against their enemies; therefore they did assemble themselves together at this time, as many as were able to take up arms, and they called themselves Nephites. And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives…(Alma 53:16-170)
Now, listen to the description Helaman shares about these wonderful young men he comes to call his “sons”:
And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him. (Alma 53:20-21)
Notice how the goodness of these young men is described in the same way the character of their parents is shown. The boys had become what their parents had sacrificed to be. I doubt any of the parents were perfect (in fact I’m sure that is not the case) but they did all they could to create the proper atmosphere for growth in their families and the results were all they had hoped.
Teresa and I have been blessed with five exceptional children who have given and will continue to give us great joy. They are not your normal children: they are truly touched by God and given abilities and desires that are righteous in nature. And the four who have chosen mates have reached into families founded in the same principles so that the traditions of goodness will continue.
Our hope is that a small part of the goodness they have become is a reflection of the foundations we tried to build in our home. As we watch them with their own children, we see many of the same practices and teachings that helped them find their own faith in Christ and His work on earth. But we also see an extension of those things to a greater level than we were able to achieve.
We are confident that each of these special souls was called and set apart to become great leaders in the Kingdom of God. I don’t mean leaders like Prophets or Apostles, but leaders like Scoutmasters and YW Presidents and Primary teachers. That is where the real leading is done in this life. And that is where the changing of hearts takes place.
We have our own “army of Helaman” growing right before our very eyes. What a joy it is to see such strength coming from all the work and sacrifice given through the years. Thank you all for who you have become and who you are yet to be.