I am so thankful for the blessings the Lord has given to our family. I am grateful for being raised by parents that were committed to the Lord and consecrated their lives to serving others. My testimony is built on the truths of the Gospel, but is supported by the actions taken by my parents (Emmett and Jackie Smith) when I was growing up. Since Mom and Dad were converts to the Church, they knew what it was like to NOT have the Gospel. Because of this, they were committed to follow the living Prophets and ensure all of their children enjoyed all of the blessings available to us. I remember feeling the spirit testify of truth - even at a young age. While I had many faults growing up, I always knew and felt the truth of the Church and the Gospel.
I was grateful to receive a call to serve in the Canada Toronto Mission and while there the roots of my testimony grew deeper and deeper. I had the opportunity to walk the streets that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young walked during their ministry. My testimony grew dramatically while there. On one occasion I was teaching the discussion on the Atonement to an investigator. In the course of the discussion I felt an overwhelming feeling that the Atonement was meant for me as well and felt for the very first time an understanding of that doctrine. I will always remember that day.
A few weeks after returning home from my mission I was asked to participate on the leadership council at the Glendale Community College Institute of Religion. As a part of that assignment I attended a leadership summit in Prescott Arizona with the other colleges and university leadership councils in Arizona. While there I met Gayla. She and I started dating and were married in May of 1980. Being married in the Temple and the life we have lived since then has been the capstone of my testimony. The full circle of my parents conversion and another tender mercy of the Lord was to marry the daughter of my fathers best friend (Claire Gardner), the man who introduced him to the Gospel, and performed his baptism. I am eternally grateful for that legacy in our family.
My testimony of the Gospel is intertwined with Gayla, our children, their spouses and our grandchildren. With each of them there is a story of the Lord bringing them to our family and how they have added to the testimonies of Gayla and I. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to serve in the Church and help others in some small way with their own testimonies. I know that God lives and Jesus is the Christ. I am grateful for the Prophet Joseph and his ministry. Through him the Church was restored and the Book of Mormon translated for our day. I have studied it's pages and found through it the joy that comes through the scriptures.