“Friend to Friend,” Friend, June 1981, 6
Elder Asay grew up in the farm community of Monroe, Utah, where his mother and father were both schoolteachers. He recalls: “Our family always had a cow, some pigs, and a large garden. We were pretty self-sustaining when it came to milk and butter and vegetables, and we always stored a lot. We also had a large orchard that covered almost half of a country block.
“Before we were old enough to hustle our own jobs, Dad made an agreement with the four of us boys that if we would work with him—put in a good morning of work that he had planned for us—he would play with us in the afternoon. So after four to six hours of real hard work, Dad, who was an athlete, taught us how to play basketball, baseball, and other sports. In fact, he helped us build a track so we could run on it.”
Elder Asay’s father always hoped that his sons would become athletes. The boys were taught how to shoot baskets, throw balls, jump, and pole-vault in the training facilities their father had built for them in the orchard. “I was a pole-vaulter in high school,” Elder Asay remembered, “and won the state championship one year. I’d go home and work out in my father’s orchard because the facilities we had built were better than those at the high school.”
In the summertime, Elder Asay and his brothers spent some time with their father on the mountain range. He was a forest guard with the U.S. Forest Service each summer, and the boys loved to go with him. This was another ideal time for teaching and training. “We spent a lot of time in the canyons and the parks, repairing, painting, clearing trails, and doing other things for the Forest Service. It was great to be together out in nature,” Elder Asay recalled.
One such learning opportunity took place one day in a park where they were all working together, repairing some tables and benches at one of the camp picnic facilities. “My brother, who was about twelve at the time, found a full pack of cigarettes. And Dad must have seen him stealthily put it into his pocket. He called us together and asked him what he had picked up. My brother pulled the cigarettes out of his pocket. Dad said, ‘Open the pack.’
“Dad instructed each one of us to take one, saying, ‘Put it in your mouth and see how it tastes.’ Very quickly he had four spitting boys on his hands. Dad asked if any of us had liked the taste. We all said no. Then he told us to remember this experience, and added, ‘Tobacco doesn’t taste good, it isn’t good for you, and it isn’t in accord with God’s law.’
“We made a pact then and there that we would never touch cigarettes again.”
Elder Asay has many fond memories of farm work during his childhood. One summer he had a job tromping hay. The hay was stacked loosely on a wagon, and he would climb on the stack, settle the hay, and put it in place so the stack could be high and yet would balance. On the last load, at the end of the day, they would keep it on the wagon and ride with it into town.
One particular day the last load was stacked really high as Carlos and the others rode into town. “Moving up the lane,” Elder Asay related, “we hit some pretty deep ruts, and the load shifted. There was a slope, and as we made a turn from the lane up onto the highway, one of the Jensen brothers, who was driving the team, said he didn’t know if the load would stay on the wagon. Brother Jensen asked me to move to the rear of the load so that if it shifted and tipped over, I would be able to slip off the back. But when I got midway onto the load, the wagon tipped and I was thrown some distance onto a rock pile. I remember landing on my shins and then all the hay came down on top of me. My legs were bruised and bleeding.
“Hay is heavy and I thought I was going to suffocate, but somehow I remembered there was a fence close-by. So I started to crawl toward it, knowing that if I could reach it, I could climb up out of the hay. My progress was slow, but as I came up to the top of the fence, I saw the Jensen brothers frantically looking for me. It was a miracle my life was spared.”
Elder Asay never aspired to be a General Authority. It was the furthest thing from his mind when he was called to serve in that capacity. But he does recall that one time when he was a small boy in Primary, he was asked to memorize the names of all the General Authorities in the Church, starting with Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, David O. McKay, and so on. He remembers asking himself the question, What if you were one of them? What if you were ever to be in those circles? He recalls that the feeling was quickly gone and he shrugged it off. Years later, when he was called to be a General Authority, he reflected back to that time in Primary.
“Avoid the slippery paths of youth and prepare yourselves in all things for whatever opportunities come along,” is Elder Asay’s counsel to boys and girls everywhere.