I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and lived in the same neighborhood my whole young life. Then as a 12-year-old boy we moved and started a life in the country. Totally foreign to us, life on the farm was a brand new experience, but it turned out to be wonderful.
Gaining a Sure Testimony of the Holy Spirit
Interestingly, since that time I have faced similar occasions in my life when the future was uncertain and the circumstances at the time were sometimes confusing and even foreboding. But the Lord has always seen me through. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my whole life, I have attended dozens of testimony meetings where others have borne witness of the influence of the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ, which provide direction in their lives. When I was young, my father too testified of the truthfulness of the gospel. His testimony was passionate, and I knew he would not lie. Anyone that knows my father can attest to that. It was not his character to do so. So even as a child, I knew what he believed was true. I felt warmth and confidence and certainty surround me. Others would say manifestations of the Spirit would come in thoughts and impressions and as a still small voice. I felt it, but at the time I couldn’t put it into words.
I remember thinking then “Is this it? Is this warm feeling from the top-of-my-head to the tips-of-my-toes the Spirit?” Of course the words were those of a child, but the essence of my request is captured in those questions. My parents taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I felt it was right. I believed the teachings to be true, but the feeling was a frequent occurrence for me as a child in my home, and I thought then that this feeling is too good to be true.
But now after a lifetime of experience seeing its fulfillment and feeling the assurance of the gospel, I am familiar with this warmth and comfortable feeling it again and again.
Experiencing the Gospel through the Life of Progeny
Five of my children are daughters. Annually during their teenage years, they would attend girl’s camp. At church on the following Sunday, there were often talks from both the girls and the leaders regarding this week-long adventure. Naturally, I took particular interest in these reports, since my daughters and frequently my wife were involved. Well, this year was no different. My youngest attended camp with my wife, but this time I was actually able to spend the last evening with my daughter, wife, and others at girls camp. I heard all about the fun activities they had been involved in all week.
They told me about the evening when Ardeth Greene Kapp came and spoke to the young women. She’s 83-years-old now and a few of the girls thought she would be a dry speaker. But from the very moment she began presenting, the girls were captivated with stories, humor, and testimony. The Church encourages inspired leaders within its ranks, and Kapp epitomizes such a person. She was called to an ecclesiastical position as ninth president of the Young Women organization (1984–92). Exerting her gifts and skills to direct this organization, Kapp developed major elements in the Young Women program, including the revised Personal Progress book and official motto, logo, and theme. Her life experiences previous to this call primed her to lead the Young Women organization and make these contributions. Kapp herself has expressed this idea: “I didn’t recognize [how parts of my life led up to later events] until I looked back. And I thought, oh my goodness, the Lord does lead our lives.” After the meeting, my wife was speaking with Kapp’s escort. She said that while her sister had twelve children, Kapp was unable to have any children, yet she influenced the Young Women’s and Personal Progress programs more than 20-years-ago. The Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints instructs, encourages, and supports living the gospel for teenage female Church members ages 12 through 17.
The young women from our local congregations were involved in numerous other activities during the week; canoes at the water front, high adventure hikes, and the challenge course to name but a few. The adventures culminated the night I went up to camp with a faith walk, delicious meal, and testimony meeting around a roaring fire. The evening was deafening because the wind howled and the trees swayed and rustled as a result. Yet, the young women persevered and one-by-one many of the girls stood and expressed their appreciation for the gospel, love for their families, and testified of the divinity of the Savior. I thought to myself as I observed these young women how remarkable and comforting to see the caliber of these youth. Despite spending a week camping in the middle of the woods amid less than comfortable circumstances and here in the face of windy, cold conditions, these young women spent time thanking others and furthering the good all around them. This experience is a metaphor for life that will be repeated time and again in their role as mothers.
Now admittedly, I am not an attorney, and I do not practice law inside or out of the courtroom, but I believe I have seen enough hearings to know that one or two key witnesses can sway a jury and ultimately dictate the outcome of a verdict. We have seen many instances of that over a lifetime. Compare that with the dozens or hundreds, perhaps thousands of testimonies of others—including those of our young women—that witness of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord has promised us that if we will live His Word, we can know for ourselves that it is true. This week was once more evidence of that.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.