The ocean waves lap at the TV reporter’s feet and sprays of water sting his face while the stiff, strong wind of the fast approaching Hurricane Irene pushes him forward. One hand clings to a pier post and the other grips his microphone, Nate Eaton does his best to not lose his footing as he warns viewers of the fury to come. This is not the first challenge the Mormon broadcast journalist has faced in his career or life.
Eaton was born on April 14, 1981, in Canton, Ohio, and moved with his family to Utah when he was about 3 and grew up south of Salt Lake.
“I was born into the church, and all of my family are members (of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints),” Eaton said. “I was baptized when I was eight in West Jordan. I come from a great family — two brothers and two sisters. I am right in the middle.”
As a youth, Eaton had a plan of wanting to serve a mission and he followed through on that desire.
“I served in Brisbane, Australia, on my mission from November 2000 to November 2002. When I started attending Ricks (College), I fell in love with the gospel and knew I really wanted to serve. I have always been active in the church and wanted to to repay the Lord for all the blessings he has given me.”
Serving a mission was the biggest adventure I've ever had, Eaton excitedly explained.
The young missionary had been out a year and no baptisms had occurred. The work was hard and discouragement was a challenge.
"I was transferred to a new area with a brand new missionary," Eaton said. "One night after a dinner appointment, we didn't have anything planned and we decided to go visit a part-member family whom we had never met. We showed up unannounced, and the nonmember father invited us in. We learned he was a professional tennis player and had received the discussions several times but wasn't ready to commit. We spoke with him, and we felt prompted to give him Elder (M. Russell) Ballard's book, 'Our Search for Happiness.' He drove us home and left the country on a tennis tour."
When the investigator returned, he called the missionaries with an announcement that he was ready for the discussions.
"We went over and taught him (investigator) for about six weeks before he was baptized," said Eaton. "Over the course of our discussions, I asked him why he decided to get baptized now. He said Elder Ballard's book was the determining factor. This taught me the importance of following the Spirit. Had we not visited him that one night after our dinner appointment, he would have left the next morning for his tennis tour... we would not have met him ... he would not have read the book ... and he wouldn't have been baptized. I am still really good friends with this wonderful man, and he is still strong in the church."
As a boy, Eaton began watching the news, recording weather segments and then pretended to be a weatherman in his garage. It was a sign of things to come.
His career began at KIDK 3, a CBS affiliate in Idaho Falls. He was hired by WRIC in Richmond, Va., in 2009.
Another dream came true when Nate Eaton and Erica Nalder were married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 23, 2011.
“I love being married!” exclaims Eaton. “I love coming home every night and having the most amazing woman in the world waiting for me. Sometimes Erica even gets to come with me to cover a story or meet some fascinating person. ... we are loving it.”
The Eatons are in the Manchester Ward. Eaton has served in a variety of callings, including as a ward clerk, gospel doctrine teacher, in an elders quorum presidency, as ward activities chairman and as a Sunday School and Primary teacher.
“I know the plan of salvation is real,” he said, “and can't imagine where in the world I would be without the gospel.”
Becky Robinette Wright is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Virginia.