Spending one-on-one time with Grandpa, listening to stories that teach the gospel and lessons of life — that is what it is like to read Elder Robert D. Hales' new book, "Return: Four Phases of Our Mortal Journey Home."
The 425-page book, Elder Hales' first and one he spent 15 years developing and writing, will go on sale Tuesday, June 8.
Elder Hales' book is not a compilation of previous talks. It's personal, practical advice combined with selected teachings and experiences from his years as a general authority, including some never-before-told stories.
The volume is organized into four phases of life: the Decades of Preparation, the Decades of Decision, the Decades of Serving and Pressing Forward, and the Decades of Serving and Enduring to the End.
"There are a few key steps we need to take now and throughout our lives in order to have all the blessings our Heavenly Father has promised us," Elder Hales writes in the introduction. "I also wanted to reassure my brothers and sisters that living the gospel is a process, like walking down a path."
Elder Hales continues: "But to know the path itself — that winding lane through the valley, the bridge across the stream, the narrow trail leading to the rugged mountain peak, the sweeping vista — requires a friend who has walked the path before. As I have had such friends in my life, this book is an expression of my friendship for you. It provides an eternal perspective of this journey."
Elder Hales has been a member of the church's Quorum of the Twelve since 1994. He received his call as a general authority in 1975.
Before "Return With Honor" became a common phrase in the church, it was the crest and motto of the 308th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. The words were displayed on the side of then-Lt. Hales' F-100 aircraft. The Air Force jet fighter pilot later used the phrase in a 1977 general conference address. It is one of many flying anecdotes Elder Hales draws on to illustrate doctrines taught in the book.
The apostle tells about signing a contract with a semiprofessional baseball team that played on Sundays, but he gave it up to follow the counsel of his stake president.
Among other gems in the book, Elder Hales offers dating advice and qualities one should seek in an eternal marriage companion. He shares lessons learned from his days at Harvard Business School and from his professional career. He also passes on advice about raising a family and how to serve faithfully in the church.
Each chapter is summarized with a list of "checkpoint" questions that summarize key points and help the reader analyze his or her progress on the path to eternal life.
"These are offered to bless fellow travelers as they hold to the rod and stay on the path to the end," Elder Hales writes.