Sharing Family Heritage
September 2006

“Sharing Family Heritage,” Ensign, Sept. 2006, 8–11

Sharing Family Heritage

From a devotional address given at Brigham Young University Education Week on August 20, 2002.

Elder L. Tom Perry

The first part of August 2002 I reached a major milestone in my life. I was passing from middle age to old age with my 80th birthday. To celebrate it I decided to take my children and grandchildren on a tour of Logan, Utah, my hometown, to share with them the impact this city has had on my life.

I designated nine stops in Logan that I wanted my family to see. With each stop I selected a scripture to teach a lesson on the importance that particular location had in my life.

1. Logan High School Lesson: Live Up to Your Potential

“With some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man” (D&C 60:2).

I was very shy in high school and did not take advantage of opportunities to enlarge and build my talents. I was afraid to try. The lesson I wanted to teach my family is to live up to your potential. Don’t be afraid to try. Have confidence in yourself. You won’t succeed the first time on anything you do, but successive attempts will bring confidence and the development of new talents.

2. Logan Tabernacle Lesson: The Joy of Gospel Service

“When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

My father served in the presidency of the Cache stake in Logan for some 20 years. It seemed appropriate to stop at the tabernacle, where we held our stake conferences, to teach the lesson that Church service brings great joy and is a sure way of developing your skills in human relationships. You enter Church service with the pure intent to build our Father in Heaven’s kingdom. The Lord more than compensates you for your time and effort with blessings that increase your talents and abilities to be used in further service. It is impossible to stay even with the Lord.

3. My Father’s Law Office Lesson: Build Character, Integrity

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:10–12).

I related to my family how I had prepared myself for the banking profession. Dad was the bank attorney. From my newspaper delivery earnings, I saved enough to buy 10 shares of First National Bank stock. Dad insisted that I attend the stockholders’ meetings and vote my 10 shares. He thought that was a way of introducing me to the banking profession. A job offer came after graduation that was much more lucrative than banking. I thought I would accept the position for a few years and then return to banking. I never did become a banker. I tried to teach my grandchildren that choosing a major in college is not as important as developing integrity, ethics, and good study habits and building character as a person of faith, confidence, and industry.

4. My Birthplace Lesson: The Value of Our Heritage

“Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents … ; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good” (Helaman 5:6).

I was given the name of my father. I honored my father and wanted to retain the same values he had established. Our heritage gives us those enduring values that will be with us now and through all the eternities.

5. Old Family Home Lesson: The Blessing of Good Parents

“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father” (1 Nephi 1:1).

I tried to teach my family that the credit for the success you achieve in life really belongs to the parents who have given you a wonderful start. My father was a hard worker, a good provider, and a sterling example of service, honor, and integrity. He loved his family and made time for us in his busy life.

Mother was always there to teach and encourage us. She was a great homemaker, a careful housekeeper, an excellent manager of household finances, and a wonderful cook. How I honor and love my parents.

6. Cow Pasture Lesson: Accept the Challenge of Change That Occurs in Your Life

“That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).

We checked in at the motel. After checking in I told my family, “Tonight you will sleep in the place that used to be our old cow pasture.” This is where the motel had been built. My, how times have changed! I will always be grateful that I grew up in an age when we plowed, planted, tended, irrigated, and harvested. These activities were very important in our lives.

Future generations will have little opportunity to enjoy those same blessings we received. We live in a world of rapid change. Somehow we must find a way to hold onto the basic unchanging values and yet be ready for additional revealed light that will lead us to greater opportunities.

7. Ice-Cream Store Lesson: The Value of Traditions

“That same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy” (D&C 130:2).

Having an ice-cream cone on every trip to Logan has become one of our many traditions. More important are traditions of Church activity, Church service, family loyalty, and so forth. Special traditions we establish here with members of our family will endure. We should build traditions that will be strong in our remembrance, a remembrance that will last even into the eternities.

8. Utah State University Lesson: The Value of Taking Time to Have a Happy, Successful Courtship

“Whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man” (D&C 49:15).

I explained that most of my courtship occurred at Utah State University. Dances, ball games, walking across the campus to the library, studying in the library, attending institute classes, meeting in the halls between classes, taking special walks around the campus, and so on, all gave time to becoming better acquainted and enjoying the richness of the relationship that was being developed. It became the most important thing in my life at that time. When this time comes to you, it affects all that you do. Make it precious and special.

9. Logan Temple Lesson: The Importance of the Temple

“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

“And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

“And if he does not, he cannot obtain it” (D&C 131:1–3).

The center of our lives must be the holy temple. We must always be worthy to enter therein. If we live worthy of the covenants we make with the Lord in His house, we literally bind the Lord to give the blessings He has promised us. The Lord will fulfill His promises if we will be faithful to the covenants we make with Him.

We ended the tour later in the evening at the old Logan Ninth Ward building. We had arranged for a room there in which the family could gather. There was a presentation on my life, including pictures starting with my grandparents, parents, and on through my early life. Then there were pictures of my marriage and of the blessings of children, followed by a collage of pictures of the events we have enjoyed together as a family.

On Sunday morning we attended church in the Ninth Ward chapel. This building was constructed under the supervision of my father while he served as bishop. He was the bishop for 18 years. I had the opportunity that morning to bear my testimony of the blessings of the gospel in my life.

We then drove to our home in Salt Lake City. However, before letting the family enjoy a delicious birthday dinner prepared by my wife, I quizzed them on what they had learned. I again bore witness to the divinity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am absolutely convinced that the greatest refuge we will find in our life will be those wonderful, close associations we have with our immediate family members.

I add my witness to you. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true. It will not fail you in your life. It is the only hope for individual salvation and refuge from the storms that descend as we journey through mortality. May God continue to bless you with the desire to learn more of His ways and to be obedient to His law.

Elder Perry talks to his children and grandchildren on the campus of Utah State University, one of nine locations in Logan, Utah, where he shared with his family a scripture and an experience from his life. Opposite page: Elder Perry as a young father with his three children—Barbara (left), Linda Gay, and Lee.

Above, top row: Elder Perry’s parents, L. Tom and Nora Sonne Perry; Elder Perry as a boy. Middle row: Elder Perry as a young man (standing in the back) with his family; Logan High School. Bottom row: Elder Perry holding his nephew; Sonne family reunion in 1937. Opposite page: The Logan Utah Temple; Elder Perry in the doorway of his childhood home.