They Left Their Hearts …
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“They Left Their Hearts …” New Era, Sept. 1979, 20

They Left Their Hearts …

Most of us have been asked musically if we know the way to San Jose, and except in a general sense, most of us don’t. A lot of good Latter-day Saints call it home, however, and this article is about some of them.

Except that it isn’t about San Jose. It’s about San Francisco. There are a lot of fun things within easy reach of the young people in San Jose—everything from beach parties, to ski trips, to camping, to sailing, to sports and cultural events, to San Francisco, which is why this story happened.

San Francisco is about an hour from San Jose, just far enough to make it adventurous and close enough to make it convenient, and that’s how the priests and Laurels of the San Jose Seventh Ward came to make the trip one bright morning.

Their first stop was the Golden Gate Park, a giant green finger pointing out of the Pacific toward San Francisco Bay. They strolled in the shade of the gigantic trees and spent an hour in the lush beauty of the Oriental Tea Garden. They could easily have spent a day seeing the Park’s other attractions, but there was a city of 42 hills and 42,000 adventures waiting for them.

They visited the Golden Gate Bridge, standing on a windswept observation point and watching the vast red span stretch away from them. The intense blue of the bay was dotted with sails, and wave-swept Alcatraz Island looked foreboding in the middle of them.

Next they visited the quaint brick buildings of Ghiradelli Square and ate their lunches on the steps of a fountain there. Then, refreshed by the rest, they ambled along to Fisherman’s Wharf, passing on the street artists who sold their handiworks and street musicians who played in the open air, glancing hopefully now and then into guitar cases and hats where people would occasionally throw money.

One man sat in the back of a pickup truck parked by the curb and played an upright piano. Another innovative fellow climbed inside a painted box and billed himself as a human juke box. People put money in through a slot, and he played a wandering trumpet for them.

They walked along Fisherman’s Wharf, talking to the fish vendors and looking at the stacks of fresh crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and other seafood. Some of it looked back at them and snapped angry claws.

After spending some time observing the long rows of docked fishing boats, they boarded a cable car and rode up the steep hills to Chinatown. They walked up and down the steep streets lined with exotic buildings with upturned roofs, neon signs in Cantonese and English, and shops filled with the pungent aroma of unfamiliar foods.

By then the sun was getting low, and knowing the way to San Jose very well, they returned home.

Although San Francisco and San Jose are very nice places to know the way to when that’s where you want to go, these fine young Latter-day Saints also know the way to somewhere more important. They know the way home to their Father in Heaven, and they all bear testimony of their dedication to him and of the truthfulness of the gospel. When it was suggested, tongue in cheek, that it isn’t really possible to live the gospel fully outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, the whole group rose up in righteous indignation and explained almost simultaneously that there is no better place in the whole world for being a true Latter-day Saint than in San Jose, California.

They know the way in San Jose.

Photos by James Christensen