“Should I Sacrifice My Dream?” Ensign, Jan. 1999, 66–67
One afternoon near the end of my advanced training in the U.S. Army, I was called to the orderly room. There a sergeant waited. He said he was visiting Fort Jackson to recruit soldiers who wanted to become part of the Old Guard. Was I interested? Was I!
In April 1986 I arrived at Fort Meyer, Virginia, to start my training. I learned that the Old Guard provides ceremonial support to the president of the United States and important government installations, including the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. I became increasingly drawn to the possibility of becoming one of the distinguished sentinels who kept their reverent vigil at the tomb, so after six months I began investigating the possibility. However, I faced a major roadblock. The duty description required that soldiers serving at the tomb be infantrymen; I was an administrative clerk. Still, I very much wanted to become one of those who paced in silence to honor those who lay in the tomb.
With help from a former sergeant of the guard from the tomb, I arranged to meet with the current sergeant of the guard—the one individual who could make or break my dream.
“At ease,” the sergeant said. “So you, a clerk, want to be a sentinel?”
“There have been thousands who have gone through the two-week tryout but only 250 who wear the badge as a permanent part of their uniform.”
“Yes, Sergeant, but I feel I have what it takes.”
“All right. Report here at 0600 a week from Monday.”
“Thank you, Sergeant.”
I had one week before beginning the fulfillment of a long-held dream. Would the Lord sustain me in my effort? As I counted down the days, a number of concerns began to assail me. Chiefly, I would have to miss my Church meetings every other Sunday for two years—something I felt uncomfortable doing.
I went to the Lord and poured out my heart concerning this opportunity. On Tuesday I went to the temple. I also sought counsel from my bishop, stake president, and friends, who all felt I would make the appropriate decision. Finally I went to the Lord in prayer: “Heavenly Father, this is a great opportunity and fulfillment of a dream. I feel strongly about pursuing my desire to become a sentinel. However, I feel that missing my meetings to do this is not in my best interest. Please help me make the correct decision.”
Wednesday night I went to bed still unsure about what I should do. Thursday evening the telephone rang. It was President Farnsworth of the Mekong Branch—a branch for Asian people who lived in the area. “Could you stop by my office this evening? I would like to talk to you.”
What could the president of the Asian branch want with me?
Later, I entered President Farnsworth’s office. The president shook my hand and then said, “Brother Gruenewald, we’ve been searching for quite a while for someone to work with our young men. We would like to call you to be the teachers quorum adviser in the Asian branch.”
I did not know what to do, so I explained my situation. President Farnsworth suggested I think things over and get back to him. On Friday morning I found myself once again in the temple, pondering what to do. As I sat there, a thought formed in my mind: You asked me to help you make the correct decision. You have been given what you need to make that decision.
Yes, I had been given what I needed, and I knew what I would do. Recalling how influential my own advisers had been in my life, I called President Farnsworth and accepted the call. On Monday at 0600 I reported to the sergeant of the guard that I would not be training as a sentinel after all.
Shortly after beginning to serve in my calling in the Asian branch, I met a young man from Vietnam named Baouk Tu. He had been in the United States for a year, and the sister missionaries were teaching him the gospel. After Baouk had been coming to our quorum meetings for about a month, I received a phone call one day from the sisters telling me Baouk wanted me to baptize him. Later I participated in the baptisms and confirmations of two more young men, doubling the size of our quorum.
How thankful I was at that moment that I had listened to the Spirit and had come to the branch. Though some sacrifices we make may seem great at the time, the rewards can eventually outweigh any feelings of loss. And when I thought about it, I realized the Lord had heard my prayers: I was one of His sentinels, watching over His children and walking in reverence with other honorable men.