Love—the Greatest Gift We Can Give
The introduction by President Richards reminded me of the man who was introduced in California as having made a million dollars on oil in California. And after the speaker stood up, he said, “Well, that was essentially correct, but it wasn’t California; it was Pennsylvania. And it wasn’t oil; it was coal. And it wasn’t a million dollars; it was a hundred thousand dollars. And he didn’t make it; he lost it. And it wasn’t me; it was my brother.” So I’m glad you feel that way, when they introduce you. You wonder how well they know you.
While I was up at Utah State, I was the temple president at Logan, so I met a lot of young students. And one young man lamented up at Utah State,
I asked my girl to wed,
And she said, ‘Go to my father.’
Now, she knew that I knew
That her father was dead,
And she knew that I knew
The life he had led.
And she knew that I knew
What she meant when she said,
‘Go to my father.’
Now, that will take a second, but when it does, it’s pretty clever. Anyway, I’m delighted, and I’d like to start out by reading a verse by Christie Lund Coles. When you think of the struggles the pioneers made coming across the plains, and the effort, and the cold and the winter, and all that they went through, Christie Lund Coles said:
It was not worth the cost, the cynic said,
Reading the names of those who had died,
Remembering the graves of lonely dead,
Rocks piled high against the surging tide
The snarl of wind, the snow,
The unrelenting beat of sleet and rain,
The fangs and claws of wolves whose hungers
Know no pity.
Not worth the price of blood and pain?
Yet we who stand beneath the valley’s arch
Green as an Eden of another day
Watching each temple spire rise
Like a torch of truth, of verity
To guide men’s way.
We travel on the path they laid.
Thank God they found of worth
The price they paid.
I’d like to address my remarks in that direction, that the price they paid was love. And I look back on them; I love them. I may not meet them even in eternity, but I think I will. And my heart will be filled absolutely with love for them. So that’s what I’d like to direct my remarks today, to the subject of love.
It’s interesting—love is the greatest gift, I think, that we can give. It’s absolutely essential to Christmas, and it’s essential to our anniversaries, and different holidays. It’s a very important thing. And without love there’s no redemption. There’s no Atonement. There’s no plan of salvation, and no Savior. Love is a divine gift of God, and shines brightest in righteous souls and in great and noble souls.
There’s a quote I have on my desk, and it’s the only one I’ve had there, I think, in all the years that I’ve been a general authority and as a temple president, and then back home, and it’s on my desk at home. It’s not by one of our apostles or prophets, which you think it might be. It’s not in the Bible or in the scriptures. It’s by John Ruskin, I believe, and I’ve had it there for at least thirty years. “I believe that the test of a great man is humility. I do not mean by humility the doubt in one’s own personal power, but really truly great men have the curious feeling that greatness is not in them, but through them. And they see the divine in every other human soul and are foolishly, endlessly, incredibly merciful.”
I guess I’d like to measure up to that someday, but it’s always there to remind me. It’s one of those great gifts. Jesus prayed in the 17th chapter [of John] that these might “be one,” as we, Father, and filled with that same love (see verse 21). To the sinner or transgressor, love is hope. To the sad and the lonely, love is warmth. To the frustrated and anxious, love is soothing. To the depressed and weary, love is rebirth. To the overburdened and the unappreciated, love is a soothing balm. To those who stray from the Church and family, love is welcoming them back home. And to those who never seem to quite make it, love is peace. To the sick and the despairing, love is healing. In courtship, love is virtuous. It is respect, fulfilling, romantic and rewarding.
President Packer—he’s the only one I’ve ever heard say this—he said, “Romance is deeply and significantly religious.” And romance is an expression of love. He said romance is essential to exaltation—I think not only at your age, but I think it’s essential at our age. Romance doesn’t—should not—die during the years.
Love is justice. It’s mercy. It’s forgiveness, and unconditional. It’s gentle, it’s soft, it’s kind, it’s sympathetic, and comforting and sincere. Love is the noblest expression of charity. I think charity covereth a multitude of sins, and I think love is the noblest expression of charity.
Love is what motivates the servant/leader. I’ve given several talks about the servant/leader, and tried to qualify for that particular title, to be a servant/leader. I think I’m better at being a servant than I am a leader, but I believe it with all my heart that it’s something.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, [man] will have discovered fire.”
President Harold B. Lee said, “I know that there are powers that can draw close to one who fills his soul with love.” What powers? All those things I’ve already mentioned above. I think President Nathan Eldon Tanner kind of had a three-word formula for life when he said, “Love each other.” How simple.
The Prophet Joseph said, “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity.” In the Topical Guide if you look up love, there are three column pages of references to love. And then President Faust said, “The golden pathway to happiness is the selfless giving of love.” Isn’t that a marvelous thought, in just a sentence?
In Proverbs there is a wonderful statement. It says, “Love covereth all sins” (Proverbs 10:12). I haven’t changed that. That’s exactly as it is stated. “Love covereth all sins.” How much power is there in love, if that is true.
You remember that when the Savior was in the home of Simon, and then I guess a very sinful woman came in and bent down and kissed His feet and bathed them with her tears, and took the tresses of her hair and wiped His feet and then anointed them with a special ointment. And Simon, seeing this, thought, “If he’s who he claims to be, why wouldn’t he recognize who this woman is?”
The Savior, perceiving his thoughts, said, “Simon, if a debtor owes fifty pence and another one five hundred pence, and the person to whom they’re in debt frankly forgives them both, who will love the most?”
And Simon says, “I guess he who is forgiven the most.”
And He said, “Thou hast rightly said.” And He said, “Because she loved much, she is forgiven” (see Luke 7:36-47).
Would you remember that? Because she loved much, she is forgiven. It doesn’t say she repented and all these other things, which are important. But He said, “Because she loved much, she is forgiven.”
Neal A. Maxwell said love is never wasted. It might not be reciprocated, it might not be appreciated, but it is never, never wasted. And Neil Armstrong, standing in Jerusalem on the ancient temple steps, and the guide that was there said to him, “Mr. Armstrong,” or to the group at least, “Where you’re standing right now is where Jesus stood two millenniums ago.”
And Neil Armstrong said, “I would rather be standing on these steps at this instant than standing on the moon.” I think that’s a dimension of his love for the Master, and ought to be ours as well.
There’s a little verse that goes:
The man who wants a garden fair,
Or small or very big,
With flowers growing here and there,
Must bend his back and dig.
The things are mighty few on earth
That wishes can obtain.
Whatever we want of any worth
We’ve got to work to gain.
It matters not what goal we seek
Its’ secret here reposes:
You’ve got to dig from week to week,
To get Results or Roses.
(“Results and Roses,” by Edgar A. Guest).
I think the same principal applies with love. You’ve got to give love over and over again, and remember, as Elder Maxwell said, it’s not wasted. I love the quote where Jacob worked seven years for Rachel, and he said, “They seemed…but a few days, for the love he had [for] her” (Genesis 29:20). Isn’t that a great statement? And I think a lot of you will feel the same way.
I think President Monson will be known as the compassionate prophet. There are three references to having a heart like unto God’s own heart—I think two are in Samuel, and one in Acts. And it describes David as having a heart like unto God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22). I think after almost three millennia, we have another prophet who has a heart like unto God’s own heart—President Thomas S. Monson. He is an amazing person.
I was in a temple meeting one day, and we were just finishing the meeting, and other the direction of President Hinckley, President Monson said, “Vaughn, we’ve just cleared a man in St. George to have his blessings restored. He is in the hospital and he’s dying. We’d like you to get down there as quickly as you can and, if possible, restore his blessings. He would like to go to the temple again before he dies.”
I got out of the meeting, went right the following and got an airline ticket, flew to St. George. The stake president picked me up, [and] we went to the hospital. Here were all the family gathered around the bed, and I thought, they really are expecting him to pass away. I excused everyone, I interviewed him, and when I was finished I felt that yes, he was ready. I restored his blessings. I had the family come back in for the restoration. After I had restored his blessings, we had a prayer in the room with the family. Then I left and went back to Salt Lake.
I heard that they took him to the temple in St. George the next day to an early morning session, on a gurney. He went through the entire session on the gurney, then they took him back to the hospital and he died a few hours later. It was interesting, President Monson called up and said, “Vaughn, did you get that blessing restored that I asked you to?”
I said, “It’s done, President, and he’s been to the temple this morning.”
And President Monson very humbly said thank you. I thought, that’s the kind of person President Monson is. He does have a heart like unto God’s own heart. Remember he used to talk about the 87 widows that lived in his ward when he was a young bishop, 22 [years old]? And all through the years until the last one died he took them a stewing hen or a box of chocolates or something during the holidays.
And there was a 15-year-old girl killed just a couple of weeks ago, you remember, skiing? And the morning of the funeral, which was last Monday—a week ago yesterday—they had the funeral, and just as the funeral was about to start, the side door opened up and in walked President Monson with his wife. I thought, “Of course. That’s what President Monson would do, be there when someone needs him.”
His wife had said, “Where are you going this morning?”
And he said, “We’re going to a funeral.” I guess he explained to her what the funeral was on the way.
And then do you remember the story about Crystal Methdin. He’s told it two or three times, and it’s a marvelous story of how the Lord moves to make things work and happen in his kingdom.
We were in an accident up by Afton, Wyoming. We were going about 65, and two horses were running at us about 25 miles an hour. Pretty heavy collision, and they came right through the windshield on my side of the car, both of them. Anyway, they flew us to LDS Hospital and I was in surgery. President Monson was just coming home from a trip, and he got off the plane and instead of going home, which I’m sure he wanted to worse than anything, but he came straight to the hospital and sat for an hour and visited with our family. Later on I said to President Monson, “If you’ll do that again, I’ll go through the accident again.” And I was serious. But he has a marvelous attitude and a wonderful love for people. He is the compassionate prophet, and has a heart like unto God’s own heart.
Oliver Goldsmith said, “The greatest object in the universe, says a certain philosopher, is a good man struggling with adversity; yet there is still a greater, which is the good man that comes to relieve it.”
I guess that’s where President Monson qualifies.
My wife is an adopted daughter, and she has a brother that was also adopted at infancy. And then, there was a little boy who was about six, and he’d been in about half a dozen or a dozen different homes, and no one wanted to keep him. So they said they would give him a try. Merlene’s parents tried taking care of this Robert, Bob, for a couple of months. Finally the mother said, “I can’t handle him. He’s got to go back to the orphanage.”
And her father said, “He’s not going back to one more orphanage. He’s going to stay with us no matter what happens.” Well, it wasn’t easy. He was in the detention center up in Ogden for a period of time. He went into the Army. He became an alcoholic, and he had some real serious problems. He came home and married. They adopted this little boy and took him into their home.
It was really interesting. Over the years, after he had married and then divorced, he wanted nothing to do with the family. I think he was too humiliated and embarrassed. His mother died, and the day of the funeral I got up early. I said, “Merlene, I’m going to go find your brother Bob and I’m going to get him to the funeral if I have to drag him there. He should be there.”
So I got one of my suits and a pair or shoes and stockings and a white shirt and a tie, and then I climbed in the car. This was about 8:30 in the morning, and the funeral was at noon at a Russon Brothers Funeral Home up on, I think, 2nd East. So I drove down to where I knew his former wife lived. I went in and I said, “Hello. I’ve got to know where Bob’s address is. Do you know what it is?”
She said, “Yes.”
I said, “Will you give it to me?”
And she said, “No.”
I said, “His mother’s funeral is today. I’ve got to take him to the funeral.”
She said, “No, I’m not going to give it to. I promised him I wouldn’t, that I wouldn’t let the family know where he lives, and I will not do that.”
I thought, surely for a death I’d get it. I talked for a half an hour, as hard as I knew how to beg and plead. I would have done anything to get the address. And she said no.
There was another lady living with her, and I said, “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you tell her, and she can tell me, and you’ll be able to keep your word.”
She said, “I think I can do that.”
So she told the lady, and the lady wrote it down, and then she came and handed me this little note. I said, “That’s where he lives?”
And the lady said, “Yes,” and Helen nodded yes. So it was on Southgate Avenue. I drove down State Street. I know where the Southgate Shopping Center is at 38th South and State. I drove from 33rd to 45th, and I couldn’t find a Southgate Avenue. I drove around for about half an hour. I thought, surely there must be a Southgate Avenue. So I stopped a policeman, a patrolman, and said, “Do you know where Southgate Avenue is?”
He said, “It’s the first block past 27th South.” I hadn’t gone back that far, so I drove back to 27th South, and I got onto Southgate Avenue, and went to the address—this isn’t exact, but something like 78 East Southgate—and there was a 72 and an 84, but no 78. And I thought, she’s tricked me.
So I sat in front of the house, and I thought “78. I wonder if he lives in the garage.” So I got out of the car and walked out in the back, and lo and behold, here is a garage, a double garage with a little door on the side. And I could hear a television going on inside. So I walked over and knocked on the door, and no one answered, and I knocked again and no one answered. So I just tried the door. It was unlocked, so I walked in.
And here was a floozy sitting on the couch. You can’t believe the horrible mess and clutter, the way that apartment looked. I’ve never seen anything like that in my whole life. And she was just sitting there watching television. She said, “What are you doing here?”
And I said, “I’ve come to get Bob.”
She said, “Get out.”
I said, “I need to talk to Bob.”
She said, “Get out of this house.”
So I went into the bedroom to see if he was still in bed, and he wasn’t in bed. So I came back and said, “Please tell me where Bob is. I’ve got to get to him.” And then I said, “His mother’s funeral is today at noon, and I’ve got to get to him.” It was getting late; by this time it was almost quarter to 11:00. I said, “I’ve got to get him and take him to the funeral.”
And that woman who was sitting there on the couch, the tears gathered in her eyes, and she told me. She said he went to a job marketplace up on 7th East, told me where it was. So I drove up there and I went in, and there were a lot of men standing around. I couldn’t see Bob, so I went to the man and said, “Have you had a Bob Miner report to work today?”
He looked down at his list and said, “He’s at Coca-Cola, down on West Temple and 13th South.” I drove to West Temple and 13th South. I went in and said to the man who was the manager, “I’ve come to get Bob Miner to take him to his mother’s funeral.” I said, “I’ll pay his wage—I’ll pay anything you think he’s earned, plus I’ll pay him for the full day’s wage, if you’ll just let me take him with me.”
He said, “Elder Featherstone, I know you. You can go take him, and we’ll pay his full wage for the day.” So I went and found him, and thought, “If he resists, I’m going to drag him out of there.” I’d been working pretty hard.
I went and found him, and I said, “Bob, I’ve got a suit in the car, a white shirt and a tie and a pair of shoes and stockings. Your mother’s funeral is today in less than an hour, and I want you to go with me.”
He said, “Okay.” So we went out and got in the car, and we went to his mother’s apartment and he showered and cleaned up, put on his white shirt and tie and the suit I had given him, and the shoes and stockings. And then, about quarter to twelve—the funeral is at noon—we drove up to the Russon Mortuary. As we pulled up to the driveway, Merlene was standing out in the porch. I couldn’t see her face, but I knew that she knew there were two of us in the car, and I knew she cried. We went out and parked in the back, came around the front again, walked up the steps, and Merlene burst into tears and she hugged her brother Bob. And Bob hugged her, and then Carl, the other brother, came and hugged him.
And we went in and they had the family prayer. I was supposed to speak at the funeral. Just before I got up to speak, I thought, “Merlene’s mother would love me for doing this, for having Bob here to this funeral. And it seemed like but a moment for the love I had for Merlene’s mother.
I came home one night, some years back, and it was about 11:30 at night, and I had just been—I was exhausted. As I walked in the door, without hardly greeting my wife other than a quick kiss, I said, “I can’t handle one more problem.” That was kind of a clue to her—don’t tell me what the kids have done this weekend. And so I said, “I can’t handle one more problem.”
And she said, “Well, that’s too bad, because Joe Irvine called”—Joe Irvine, I went to grade school with him, in the first grade I started with him. I’d known him for fifty years.
I said, “What does he want?”
She said, “Here’s his phone number. It’s at the University of Utah Medical Center.”
So I called up and I said, “Joe, this is Vaughn Featherstone.” There was some sounds muffled—I knew he was emotional.
He said, “Vaughn, can you come up to the University of Utah Medical Center? My daughter is dying and she needs a blessing.”
I said, “When?” I was hoping he would say, “In the morning.”
He said, “Tonight.”
I said, “Of course, Joe, I’ll be right there.” I said to Merlene, “Will you go up to the hospital with me, up at University of Utah Medical Center?” And she said “Of course,” and we climbed in the car and rolled up to the University of Utah Medical Center, spent probably 15 minutes looking for the right room. My wife just waited in the car. I finally found the right room, the family were there, and we gathered and had a prayer. Joe and I went in to administer to his daughter who was in the ICU, and I still didn’t know anything. Then we went back and had a prayer with the family.
I got back in the car and we drove back home, about 1:30 in the morning. I wasn’t tired anymore, I wasn’t exhausted anymore. I thought, “I walked tonight where Jesus walked.” I felt that wonderful, sweet love from Joe and his family for doing something like that. They released his daughter from the hospital the next day.
I remember once when President Benson, I had the privilege of talking to him, and I heard that he loved the poem, “A Real Man.” I told my family, “When I die, if you feel like I’m worthy, on the grave marker would you put ‘Here lies Vaughn J. Featherstone, a man.’ You don’t have to put anything else. If I measure up—if any of the family doesn’t think I’ve measured up, don’t do it, but if you do, just put ‘A man’ in quotes.” That’s about the highest tribute you could pay to me.
So I’ve left that word with my family. If you go by my grave and there isn’t one of those, then you know I didn’t measure up. If there is, they fully felt pretty good. Anyway, President Benson loved this. Run yourself through a test:
Men are of two kinds, and he
Was of the kind I’d like to be.
Some preach their virtues, and a few
Express their lives by what they do.
That sort was he. No flowery phrase
Or glibly spoken words of praise
Won friends for him. He wasn’t cheap
Or shallow, but his course ran deep,
And it was pure. You know the kind.
Not many in a life you find
Whose deeds outrun their words so far
That more than what they seem they are.
There are two kinds of lies as well,
The kind you live, the kind you tell.
Back through his years from age to youth
He never acted one untruth.
Out in the open light he fought,
And didn’t care what others thought
Nor what they said about his fight
If he believed that he was right.
The only deeds he ever hid
Were acts of kindness that he did.
What speech he had was plain and blunt.
His was an unattractive front.
Yet children loved him; babe and boy
Played with the strength he could employ
Without one fear, and they are fleet
To sense injustice and deceit.
No backdoor gossip linked his name
With any shady tale of shame.
He did not have to compromise
With evil-doers, shrewd and wise,
And let them ply their vicious trade
Because of some past escapade.
Men are of two kinds, and he
Was of the kind I’d like to be.
No door at which he ever knocked
Against his manly frame was locked.
If ever man on earth were free
And independent, it was he.
No broken pledge lost him respect,
He met all men with head erect,
And when he passed I think there went
A soul to yonder firmament
So white, so splendid and so fine
It came almost to God’s design.
(“A Real Man,” by Edgar A. Guest)
I loved President Benson. Love is a great motivator, and I’ve loved him. He said when the Second Coming takes place that the flag of the United States of America will still be flying over this country. He was a great patriot, a great prophet, and a great leader, and a wonderful soul.
I remember once when we were in the mission field and we came home for April conference, and [our son] Joe said, “I’d like to get married in June, and I’d like you to do the sealing.”
I said, “Joe, I can’t—I’m a mission president. Even the general authorities who are mission presidents don’t come home between October and April, only at October and April.”
And he pondered long, and said, “Well, I’ll wait until October.”
I said, “Joe, please don’t do that. You’re ready to get married; get married. And I think I can get any one of the Brethren you’d like to have do it, to do it.”
So I tried to encourage him, and he said, “No, I’m going to wait for you.”
So about August I got a letter from the First Presidency, “Those general authorities who are serving as mission presidents will no longer come home for October conference, only at April conference.” I carried that letter around for three days before I dared call him. Finally I called Joe and I said, “Joe, let me read you a letter.”
I read the letter, and there was a long silence on the phone. I said, “Who would you like to have perform the sealing?”
He said, “Maybe Elder Packer.”
I said, “I think that would be wonderful. Do you want me to call him, or do you want to call him?”
He said, “I’d like to talk to him.”
So I said, “Great.”
So Joe called Elder Packer, made an appointment. And Elder Packer said, “Why doesn’t your dad do it?”
And he said, “Well, he read me a letter that he’s no longer invited home at October conference.”
So that afternoon, in the Twelve meeting, President Packer said he was going to do our son’s sealing, and President Kimball said, “Why doesn’t Vaughn come and do it?”
And Elder Packer said, “Because of a letter the First Presidency sent out, President Kimball, under your signature, that they would no longer come home at October conference.”
And that sweet, beloved man said, “You know, hasn’t Vaughn had pneumonia?”
They said yes, and he said, “Don’t you think he ought to come home and be examined by our doctors here in Salt Lake? And by the way, while he’s here he can do the sealing for his son Joseph.”
And then I remember another experience when I was just young. You won’t have lived long enough to know this, but—well, we might have a couple here—the old washers, they were independent and you plugged them into the wall. And when you wanted it to stop, you unplugged it. And it had a wringer and the wringers were electric. You had to fill the water up by taking buckets of hot water out of the sink and pouring them into this washer. And we couldn’t afford washing soap, so we would just take pieces of Ivory soap and make little shavings, and then that would become the suds when they finally dissolved and you would wash the clothes in that. And after you washed the clothes, you would wring them out and then you’d put them in a clear water rinse. Another tub was there that you had with warm water, and then you’d run it through the wringer again, and then you’d run it through another rinse which had bluing in it. Have any of you ever heard of bluing? Anyway, it had bluing in it.
And so I did the wash, and I think, I can’t remember any of my brothers being asked to do it—I think the only one my mom asked was me, to do it. My memory could be faulty, but I don’t remember anyone else doing it. I got pretty good at it, and it would take about three or four hours by the time you ran each batch through that system I’ve said. The washer had a hose on it, and you’d empty it into the buckets, and then you’d hang it back up, empty the bucket again and just keep doing that until it was empty. You’d fill the washer up and do the coloreds—the whites first, and then the colored, and then all the heavy overalls and things. And then you’d take them out and hang them on the clothesline to dry, with clothespins. We had about six or eight clotheslines, and I’d fill them all up with clothes. And it took, I guess, three or four hours, probably more than that. But it seemed but a moment, for the love I had for my mother.
I commend that to you. I think love is a wonderful thing. It needs to be expressed, especially to our mothers. I remember once when President Hunter told us in the temple about a little boy, and I’d heard of the little boy and actually seen him, and I thought he was about eight or nine, but President Hunter said he was twelve. He looked like he couldn’t have been more than eight or nine. President Hunter said that this little boy’s father was standing by the bed at the hospital, and he said, “You know, son, we don’t have much money left, we’ve spent all these years, we’ve spent”—he had leukemia, I believe—“money on the hospitals and medical expenses. We don’t have much, but we would like to give you a going away gift.” Everyone knew he was going to die within a week or so. And he said, “You tell us anything that you would like, and if we can possibly afford it, we’ll buy it for you as a going away gift.”
The boy thought for a moment, and he said, “Can I just shake hands with the prophet, President Hunter?”
The father said, “President Hunter is not well. He doesn’t come to the office every day, and when he does he has this little motorized wheelchair. And…can’t you think of something else you want?”
The son said, “No, I just thought I’d like to shake hands with the prophet before I die.”
The father said, “I’m sorry. He’s sick, he’s not well. Everyone in the Church would like to shake hands with President Hunter.” And then the father stood there and he thought, “Why not? My son is dying. At least I can ask.”
So he called Don Staheli, the prophet’s secretary, and he said, “Brother Staheli,” and he told him what I’ve told you. He said, “Do you think President Hunter would mind coming and shaking hands with my son?”
And Brother Staheli said, “Let’s find out.” Next thing you knew, this father was talking to President Howard W. Hunter on the phone, and President Hunter said the father told him everything that had happened, and what he would like to do.
And he said, “Of course, bring the boy down.” So they brought this boy down to Church Offices on a gurney, and they wheeled him into President Hunter’s office. President Hunter in his little motorized wheelchair wheeled out around from behind his desk, went over to the boy and kissed him on the forehead, shook hands with him, talked to him and then went back. He said they talked for about an hour, and then he gave this boy a blessing. And then President Hunter said this, “And he was a sweet little boy.” I could just feel the love he had for this wonderful little boy that all he wanted was to shake hands with the prophet.
Then one other that is past most of your time. There was a day when we used to pay building funds. Eighty-twenty, the Church paid twenty percent and the members paid eighty. Then it went to seventy-thirty, then to sixty-forty, then to fifty-fifty, then reversed. And finally it went down to two percent, and now it’s nothing. We don’t pay for any of the buildings, except through our tithes and offerings. But I remember when we had just moved into the Valley View Sixth Ward, and it was two or three days after Christmas. Our bishop called first, and came to see us. He sat down in the chair—first he walked through our house and he said, and we’d only lived there a few months, maybe three or four months, and he said, “Is this the same carpeting that was here when you moved in?”
I said, “Yes, we couldn’t afford new carpeting.”
And he said, “What about this furniture?”
I said, “It’s all our used furniture, yes, Bishop.”
He went around the house, and said, “Are these the same draperies, or did you buy new ones?”
I said, “No, these are the same draperies. We couldn’t afford new draperies.” I said, “What can I do for you, Bishop?”
He said, “Come in and sit down.” We went in and sat down in the living room in two chairs we had bought from a family that were selling some nice wing chairs up on the Avenues. I thought they were nice chairs, and they were pretty good. They were only thirty dollars apiece, so we bought those two wonderful wingback chairs. He sat in one, I sat in the other and Merlene sat on the couch, and he said, “I’ve just had a meeting with our stake president, President Rex Reeve, and he wants us to raise so much money before January 1st.”
This was about the 27th or 28th of December. If I had $35.00 in my bank account, it would be amazing. I had no collateral, I had no savings, I had no insurance. I didn’t have anything except the down payment that I had put on the home. And I thought, “Well, if we have to, we’ll sell our home and get the down payment and pay the building fund.” Anyway, I said, “Well, Bishop, how much do you want?”
He said, “I’ve selected a handful of people who have enough faith to pay, and I’m leaving that decision up to you.”
I said, “Bishop, don’t do that. You know how much you need, and you tell me, and we’ll get it for you. Whatever it takes, we’ll get it for you.”
He said, “No, I’m leaving that entirely up to you.”
I thought for a minute, and I thought, “Well, maybe we could get so much. I don’t have any collateral. I don’t know if they’ll give me a signature note for this much.”
And I was about to say that, and he remembered he said he’d selected a handful of people who had enough faith to pay. So I doubled that figure, and I was getting a little emotional. I thought, “I hope I can borrow that much.” I was about to speak, and then I remembered, the Lord said he would open up the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing we could not contain. So I doubled that figure. I said, “Bishop, would so much be all right?”
I was on the verge of tears, and when I said that much he just openly wept. The tears streamed down his cheeks. When my wife got over the shock, she wept, and I was weeping. I knew as we sat there without saying a word that the bishop loved me with all of his heart and soul, and I loved him with all of my heart and soul. I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything.
Next day I went down to the bank and I said, “I’ve done something foolish. Our bishop came to us and asked us for money for the building fund, and I’ve committed to this much. It has to be a signature loan; I don’t have any assets, I don’t have any collateral. I need to borrow this money.” It was so urgent, I’ve got to get it. I had to make them say yes.
He looked at me for a long moment. He said, “Well, Mr. Featherstone, there are some things more important than collateral, and I think you have them. Of course we will give you the note.”
I went back and gave the check to the bishop that night, and I don’t ever remember paying it back. We did, but it wasn’t a difficulty, it wasn’t a burden. So I commend you to…I think love is one of the great blessings in life. In the D&C 133, the Lord says, “Now the year of my redeemed is come; and they shall mention the loving kindness of their Lord”—the loving kindness—“and all that he has bestowed upon them according to his goodness, and his loving kindness, forever and ever” (verse 52).
And I promise you His love will be extended, and can we extend our love to all around us—those who need it most, who probably deserve it least, they still need our love, and we can do it. I testify to you this is the only true and living Church, and loving Church, of Jesus Christ on the face of the earth. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.