President Eyring, Elder Christofferson remember their fathers

Published: Wednesday, June 12 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Elder D. Todd Christofferson speaks during a session of general conference in April 2013.

LDS Church

Sundays were for archery.

Kim Boger's father, David Stepp Sr., lived by this rule religiously. Whether it was a competition or just a practice, Sundays were a hallowed day.

That was of course until Stepp received a call to be a member of his Arizona ward's bishopric.

The hitch was that though Stepp lived the standards of his Mormon faith, he hadn't attended his congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for years.

When Boger was 16, however, the call to serve came.

"I think it shocked the whole congregation," Boger said. "But he accepted and has had a super strong testimony ever since."

Boger said that it was practically an overnight transformation when her father accepted the call to serve.

"My mother was floored that he accepted the calling. He grew leaps and bounds immediately," Boger said.

She got emotional when she recounted how much his change meant to her.

"What an amazing thing it was to have my father honor his priesthood, have a testimony and give our family blessings," she said. "It was an amazing transformation of my father."

Stepp was later called to serve as bishop of the LDS Church's Show Low 1st Ward. Through his service, his whole family witnessed a transformation of love.

To this day, his daughters speak of this transformation fondly and say they are grateful for the changes made that allowed their father to take a more involved and active role in their lives.

Stories like Stepp's are not uncommon. Fathers throughout history and across the globe continue to inspire the lives and hearts of those around them through quiet and simple sacrifices, often touching the ones closest to them — their families.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve recounted a story about his father in the October 2006 priesthood session titled "Let Us Be Men." Elder Christofferson remembered how his father's service toward his mother exemplified what it meant to be a husband and a father.

Following a difficult surgery to remove cancerous tissue in her neck and shoulder, Elder Christofferson's mother still found it painful to move her right arm.

A year after the surgery, Elder Christofferson's father took his wife to an appliance store to look at a new machine called an Ironrite. The Ironrite was a machine operated from a chair that pressed clothes, alleviating the physical strain of the daily chore.

After Elder Christofferson's father purchased a machine for his mother, she became upset, wondering how they would come up with the money for it.

"Finally Dad told her that he had gone without lunches for nearly a year to save enough money. 'Now when you iron,' he said, 'you won't have to stop and go into the bedroom and cry until the pain in your arm stops,’ ” he said in his general conference talk.

Neither mother nor son knew of the father's sacrifice.

"Now that I know, I say to myself, 'There is a man,’ ” Elder Christofferson said in his talk.

Examples of sacrifice have proved time and again to be poignant moments in the lives of children who witness the goodness of their fathers.

In a 1990 BYU fireside, President Henry B. Eyring, then first counselor in the LDS Church's presiding bishopric, spoke of his father's painful sacrifice to magnifying his calling.

His father, Henry Eyring, suffered severe pain from bone cancer in his hip. But Henry Erying did not let it hinder his work in his corner of the kingdom of God.

"Dad was the senior high councilor in his stake with the responsibility for the welfare farm. And assignment was given to weed a field of onions, so Dad assigned himself to go work in the farm," President Erying, now the first counselor in the First Presidency, said during the fireside.

His father never conveyed how difficult or painful the work was to his son, but the older Henry Eyring's selfless service also impacted those who worked with him in the fields that day. Their report of his father traveled back to his son.

"(A man I talked to) said that he was weeding in the row next to Dad through much of the day. He said that the pain was so great that Dad was pulling himself along on his stomach with his elbows. He couldn’t kneel."

President Eyring said in his address that everyone who came into contact with his father that day said his father smiled and laughed and was pleasant to be around while they worked.

The lessons from the onion patch continued.

After spending the better part of the day weeding, his father discovered that his freshly unearthed weeds had been sprayed two days earlier and would soon be dead.

"Dad just roared," President Eyring said. "He thought it was a great joke on himself."

President Eyring later asked his father how he could have made a joke out of such a trying situation.

"I wasn't there for the weeds," Henry Eyring told his son.

Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com Twitter: emmiliebuchanan

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