The Noblest Calling in the World

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Devotional Address Given at
Brigham Young Unversity–Hawaii

May 5, 2005
Glade and Donnette Tew
Professor of Accounting
State of Hawaii Young Mother of the Year 2004

Bro. Tew: Brothers and Sisters, Aloha. We are humbled and grateful for the opportunity to share some time with you this morning. As I finished my mission and my degree at BYU, I moved into an apartment complex in Murray, Utah and started working as an accountant.

Sis. Tew: As I finished my mission and my degree at Southern Utah University, I moved into that same apartment complex and started teaching first grade. I was assigned a wonderful home teacher. He came very faithfully every month, then he started coming every week, then he came over every day. So I decided to keep him.

Bro. Tew: We were married and began anticipating having a family. After a year we started seeing doctors and after two and a half years we filled out our adoption paperwork with LDS Family Services.

Sis. Tew: After five years, we were given a wonderful gift, our first daughter Jessica. I finally got to be a Mom. Now we have four adopted children, ranging from ages two to twelve.

Bro. Tew: Brothers and sisters, we know that "[t]he family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to this eternal plan." The Proclamation on the Family also states that "[a]ll human beings " male and female " are created in the image of God." We recognize the divine role of the man. We know and our prophets continue to teach us of the eternal role of the Priesthood and fathers in God's eternal plan for families. Today, however, we have chosen to honor God's final creation, woman, including her role as mother or potential mother. The Proclamation states that each girl and woman "is a beloved . . . daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny." We have chosen to honor the mothers in our lives, the sacrifices they make, the love they share, and the devotion they give to that which is good. We want to recognize the wonderful role that mothers have in our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness.

Sis. Tew: Heavenly Father has given women the natural instincts to mother. I know firsthand that you don't have to give birth to a child to have those mother feelings. We realize that not everyone has a wonderful relationship with their mother. And there are many other women who can influence our lives, whether they be grandmothers, single or married women, with children or without. Women who are not our own mothers can have some of the greatest influence on us. The scriptures and our latter-day prophets have taught us of the great influence of mothers.

Bro Tew: From the beginning, Eve recognized the role of family in God's plan: "Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption," (Moses 5:11). As Mary was told by the angel that she would be the mother of the Son of God, she humbly replied, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38).

Sis. Tew: Women who are not mothers also show qualities of spirituality, love, and faithfulness. Mary left the chores of the moment to listen to her Savior. With precious ointment, she knelt and washed Jesus' feet. Her sister Martha believed in Jesus before He raised Lazarus from the dead, stating, "Yea, Lord I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." (John 11:27).

Bro. Tew: I am constantly in awe of the angelic Lamanite mothers and their incredible faith. Their sons believed in the faith of their mothers. Two thousand stripling warriors, with no battle experience, but also with no fear of death, fought one of the most incredible battle victories in recorded history.

Sis. Tew: President David O. McKay said, "Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life."

Much of that good influence comes from simple words and acts that may at the time seem small or even mundane. And yet "[O]ut of small things proceedeth that which is great." (D&C 64:33) Today, we recognize and applaud those small and simple things done by the mothers in our lives that added together result in great things.

Bro. Tew: President Hinckley has spoken often of his wonderful mother. On one occasion he said:

"My mother died 65 years ago. She died while I was a student at the University. I went on a mission after that. It was in the bottom of the Depression. Money was terribly scarce. My father had a lot of property, but all that he was getting out of it was tax notices—no income from it. We discovered that my mother had established a savings account with the nickels and dimes and the quarters she got in change when she bought groceries, and that spelled the difference that made it possible to cover my expenses in what was then the most costly mission in all the world."

Her small change saved a little at a time made a big difference!

Sis. Tew: My mother growing up really struggled with reading and so school was hard for her. She determined as she got married that her children would not have the same struggles. She started to read out loud to us. I have wonderful memories of curling up on the bed with my mom and sisters as she read out loud the Little House on the Prairie books. We didn't know that my mom wasn't a good reader. Because of that small act, all nine children in our family enjoy reading. And now her grandchildren are benefiting. We recently read the Little House Books to our children and then took them to DeSmet South Dakota to see The Little Town on the Prairie. Our children are also learning to love reading. As the poet says,

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold,
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.
(Strickland Gillilan, "The Reading Mother")

Bro. Tew: Many years ago after I had moved away from home and graduated from college, but before I met Donnette, I called my parents to tell them that I felt I had not really accomplished anything notable in my life. My mother wrote down a list of things from my life she thought were notable. My father added to the list; then they mailed it to me. After I read the list, I said, "That's right. That has happened. And so has that! Maybe there have been lots of worthwhile events in my life after all." My parents say that my optimism improved after that. I have watched the fervent prayers my mother has given in my behalf. I know that those prayers continue even when I do not see them. I feel of their strength, and sometimes today when I have something difficult to deal with, such as preparing for this devotional, I ask for my parents' prayers because of the strength I feel from them.

Sis. Tew: One mother was having a horrible experience with her unruly son. He was doing everything wrong. She prayed for guidance and felt the answer was to tell her son that she loved him. For several days she thought about this, but because of his behavior she could not bring herself to say, "I Love you." One evening as she was downstairs doing laundry she walked by his room and saw that he was asleep. She thought, I can say "I love you" when he is asleep. She crept into his room and told him how happy she was that he was her son, and how much she loved him. It felt so good that she continued every night. As he would fall asleep she would go in and tell him how much she loved him. After several years he began to turn his life around, became active in the church, and began to prepare for a mission.

One day a neighbor came by to ask this mother for advice. She was struggling with one of her children. This mother tried to cheer her up. She said, "Just be patient and he will come around." The son overheard this conversation and said, "Mom, tell her the truth." "What are you talking about?" "Tell her how you came into my room every night and told me how much you loved me. I always pretended to be asleep and I would wait for you to come downstairs and tell me you loved me before I would fall asleep. That is what made the difference."

Something as small as saying "I Love you" changed a young man's life.

Bro. Tew: There may be other women, not our mothers, who have given us mother-like love. Are there any such special women in your lives, a grandma, an auntie, a teacher, a friend? Although I have not seen my third grade teacher in over 30 years, I still exchange letters with her every year. She is now long since retired. I tell her our family news. She cheers me on, just like she did in her classroom many years ago.

Sis. Tew: While growing up in the small town of Parowan, Utah I was the only girl my age in my ward. I had a young women's leader that went out of her way to be my friend. She had an incredible influence on my teenage years. I am so thankful for her watching out for me during that time.

Bro. Tew: Years ago we moved to Oklahoma so that I could attend graduate school. While there, a wonderful Relief Society sister showed care for us. Like most student families, money was tight, but twice a year we would get into our car to drive 1000 miles to see our family in Utah. As we got our car loaded up to go on our trips, she would bring over an ice chest full of food to last the journey. She was a second mother to us as we lived far from our own parents. We still feel close to her because of the small and simple acts she did for our family.

Sis. Tew: Here at BYUH, Sister Shumway is a mother to over two thousand students. Many of you have been in her home and treated as one of the family. As part of the American Mothers organization, she has organized a local mother mentoring program, so that young mothers here at BYUH can be personally mentored from an experienced sister in our community. The simple things that she does make a big difference.

*(Joseph F. Smith Picture with quote)

Bro. Tew: President Joseph F. Smith said, "In my childhood . . . I was instructed to believe in the divinity of the mission of Jesus Christ. I was taught by my mother, a Saint indeed, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he was indeed no other than the Only Begotten of God in the flesh, and that, therefore, no other than God the eternal Father is his Father and the author of his existence in the world."

Sis. Tew: Later, an orphaned 15 year old Joseph F. Smith was called on a mission to Hawaii. On Moloka'i, he became seriously sick with fever for three months. Lovingly, he was nursed along by a dear Hawaiian sister, Ma Mahuhii. Decades later, when President Smith visited Hawaii as part of its first jubilee celebration, Bishop Charles W. Nibley recorded the following:

Bro. Tew: "I noticed a poor, old, blind woman tottering under the weight of about 90 years, being led (into the meeting house where the Saints were gathering to greet President Joseph F. Smith.) She had a few choice bananas in her hand. It was her all—her offering. She was calling 'Iosepa, Iosepa!' Instantly, when he saw her, he ran to her and clasped her in his arms, hugged her, and kissed her over and over again, patting her on the head saying, 'Momma, Momma, my dear old Momma!' And with tears streaming down his cheeks he turned to me and said, 'Charley, she nursed me when I was a boy, sick and without anyone to care for me. She took me in and was a mother to me!'"

Sis. Tew: We can get overwhelmed when we think of the contributions others make. However, great acts are really the culmination of lots of little things. It is amazing how incredibly busy my life as a young mother can be with: carpooling, lessons, homework, meal preparation, and so forth. I have a quote on my fridge from a conference talk by Sister Julie Beck that helps me when I'm feeling busy and wondering if what I do day after day makes a difference:

"That young mother will build faith and character in the next generation one family prayer at a time, one scripture study session, one book read aloud, one song, one family meal after another...

"To nurture and feed them physically is as much as an honor as to nurture and feed them spiritually. She is not weary in well-doing and delights to serve her family, because she knows that 'Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.'" [D&C 64:33] (Julie Beck "A Mother Heart," Ensign , May 2004)

Sometimes we have a tendency to want to be super women. When we aren't perfect we take our bug nets and catch those imperfections and dwell on them; we compare ourselves with others and allow our weaknesses to bug us and become so big that we forget the good things that we do. Sister Hinckley wrote a book called "Small and Simple Things." In it she says:

"We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are.  Don't dwell on your failures, but think about your successes."

Bro. Tew: BYU-Hawaii, with its gospel-centered mission, recognizes the divine nature of families and the eternal role of parents. The sign at the front of our campus says, "Come to learn; go forth to serve." The majors you have chosen provide a solid education including training for careers; but they also prepare us for the greatest career of all—that of parents. As you listen to the following subjects that are taught on campus, think about how they can be used to strengthen our families:

. . . Music (To help our children learn to play the piano and to conduct the singing in family home evening)

. . . Accounting (To know how to balance a checkbook and fill out tax returns)

. . . Exercise and Sports Science (To keep our children healthy and coach little league teams)

. . . Biology (So we can identify the bugs our children bring home and explain the food chain for a school project.

. . . English (To help children write papers and learn to love literature).

And so it goes with the other classes at the university.

Sis. Tew: One mother told me recently "I have used something from every class I ever took in college in my parenting." I am thankful for the degree I have in Elementary Education. It has been a blessing as I help our children with their school work and volunteer at the school. How wonderful it is to be a mother! As I grew up in a large family the thing I wanted most was to be a mother. It did not happen the way I expected. There were years when I wondered if I would have the privilege of being a mom. I feel honored and humbled that Heavenly Father and four birthmothers have given me the opportunity to do the most important work of being a mother.

Bro. Tew: President McKay said: "The noblest calling in the world is motherhood."

President Benson said, "No more sacred word exists in secular or holy writ than that of mother. There is no more noble work than that of a good and God-fearing mother."

Sis. Tew: The 5th commandment tells us to honor our father and mother. We live in a time when the family is being attacked in so many ways. What can we do to honor our mothers? President Hinckley has said: "Teach your sons to honor womanhood. Teach your daughters to walk in virtue."

Bro. Tew: As a way of honoring the women in our lives, may I suggest that we follow their example by doing the small things in their behalf? Let's do those routine things on a regular basis to honor the mothers and potential mothers of our lives. As a young high school student, for example, I remember many times seeing a young man student stand and hold the door open for quite awhile so that a large number of young women students could enter. As I remember, the girls always seemed very grateful to be treated that way and the boys always seemed very pleased and willing to do it. Although that tradition does not happen as much these days, a few weeks ago we had a very interesting experience at a dinner for wives and husbands in the Laie North Stake. Each of the wives was asked to tell how she met and married her husband. It was amazing how many of the wives chose to mention in their stories how their husband-to-be opened the door for them. It was a "big deal" to them as they told their stories. May I suggest that each of us find simple and daily ways to show honor to the mothers and potential mothers in our lives.

Sis. Tew: I believe that one of the greatest ways we can honor our mothers is the way we live our lives. I know as a parent that there is nothing that makes me happier than watching my children make good decisions and right choices.

This is expressed in a poem by Will S. Adkin

Bro. Tew:

While walking down a crowded
City street the other day
I heard a little urchin
To a comrade turn and say

Sis. Tew:

Say, 'Chimmey, lemme tell youse,
I'd be happy as a clam
If I only was de feller dat
Me mudder t'inks I am.

She tinks I am a wonder,
And she knows her little lad
Could never mix wit nuttin'
Dat was ugly, mean or bad.

Oh, lot o' times I sit and t'ink
How nice, 'twould be, gee whiz
If a feller was de feller
Dat his mudder t'inks he is.

Bro. Tew:

My friends, be yours a life of toil
Or undiluted joy,
You can learn a wholesome lesson
From that small untutored boy,
Don't aim to be an earthly saint
With eyes fixed on a star
Just try to be the fellow that
Your mother thinks you are.

Bro. Tew: Brothers and sisters, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the family plays an eternal role. Let us support each other in the divine destiny of the family, for as our prophets have said, "The [greatest] work you will ever do is within the walls of your own home." (President Hinckley referring to words of President Harold B. Lee)

Sis. Tew: Our youngest son Spencer is two-and-a-half years old. He's quite attached to his mother and usually doesn't go too far from my side. One time while we were watching our other son play a basketball game, Spencer left me to play with his sister in the field next to the court. I was surprised but happy that he was being independent. Half way through the game Spencer came running up to me and said, "Mom, I'm Home!" We were nowhere near our house, but we realized that to him, "Home is where the Mom is." We visited my parents' home in southern Utah this past summer and even though it is the home I grew up in, it didn't feel like home, because my mother wasn't there. My parents are serving a mission in England, but I know that if I could walk into their flat even though I've never been there before, that I would feel at home because I also feel that "Home is where my mom is."

Bro. Tew: Whether we live in a palace or a simple cabin, home is the place to learn the great lessons of life. Abraham Lincoln's early homes were simple cabins. He learned the lessons of life from his beloved step-mother. He said of Sarah Bush Lincoln, "All that I am I owe to my angel mother."

Sis. Tew: Watch with us as we pay tribute to the angels that watch over us.

[Slide show accompanied by "An Angel To Watch Over Me" by Sally DeFord]

Sis. Tew: I would like to publicly thank my mother. She taught me the gospel and also taught me homemaking skills that have helped me be a better mother. I would also like to thank my Heavenly Father for the honor of being a mom. I have a testimony that Jesus is the Christ and that his gospel has been restored to the earth.

By living the gospel it will help us to get back "home" to our heavenly parents.

Bro. Tew: Thank you, women who fulfill mother roles in our lives. I am eternally grateful to my mother, and to all women, who fulfill their God-given roles by the love and kindness they share. I bear testimony that our Heavenly Father's plan is a family plan. His plan is a plan of happiness. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.