Friend to Friend: Spiritual Experiences

“Friend to Friend: Spiritual Experiences,” Friend, May 2005, 8

Friend to Friend:

Spiritual Experiences

They shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost (1 Ne. 13:37).

Elder James M. Dunn

I spent my early childhood in Pocatello, Idaho. The most significant event at that time was World War II. My first memory in life is of being at the train station in Pocatello one night with my mother and three brothers, watching a troop train with my dad onboard pull out of the city. I felt a powerful sense of loss and sadness.

My dad was away serving in the navy for two years. During that period, my mother was raising four little boys at a time when shoes, tin, gasoline, and anything made of rubber were rationed. Even if you had money, you still needed coupons to buy anything. It was a tough time, yet I think as little boys we didn’t really notice any losses, except for our dad.

My parents had five sons and one daughter. I was the third son. My brothers and I liked to make up games. We would find dirt piles to play in, catch pollywogs along the ditch banks, and play night games like kick-the-can. I became very attached to my brothers. As we got older, we did many other things together. We built an underground hut, and we often played neighborhood football games.

My oldest brother was a good businessman. He organized his younger brothers into doing all kinds of projects, such as selling ice cream and candy and picking up Christmas trees after Christmas. As children we had a lot of fun thinking up activities to do. And our parents always kept us busy doing jobs and chores. They taught us good principles in our home.

I’ve been blessed to be around good people my whole life. My parents were very good people in every way. They were outgoing, happy, and positive. Others loved to be around them, including my friends and my brothers’ friends. They were great parents, and they encouraged us to do our best. Education was very important to them, as were culture and good manners.

I loved Primary. I had 100 percent attendance. In those days we went to Primary on Wednesdays after school. The sisters who led the Primary and taught us songs really stand out in my mind. I’ve always had a special, warm feeling for those sisters. They were good to us children.

I love the scriptures; I read them every night. What I love most about them is that they teach us how to live to please God. I can’t imagine what society would be like without the scriptures. What we know about how we ought to live comes from the scriptures.

I remember walking home from church alone the day I became a deacon. I didn’t know much about the Holy Ghost then, but He bore witness to me as I walked home that I held the holy priesthood and that it was very important. I’ve never forgotten that.

Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ love you very much. Children are pure and close to Heavenly Father, and you can have incredibly powerful spiritual experiences, just like my experience as a deacon walking down the street. If you will remember these spiritual experiences throughout your lives, they will serve as a very strong foundation for future spiritual growth.

Ration books were used to buy scarce items during World War II.

Opposite page: Garry, Billy, Mother (Melba), Jon, Father (Billy), and James in 1945

Left: At age 9 (right) with his brother Jon

Middle: Elder Dunn at age 20

Right: Elder Dunn with the Garcia family, whom he baptized in Montevideo in 1962