Missionary moments: Eternally grateful

While attending high school in 1961 in San Antonio, Texas, we were required to arrive at school at 7:30 a.m. for band practice, one hour earlier than the normal time. But some members of the band didn't arrive each day until the normal starting time, and many of us thought that was unfair.

What a surprise to discover they were already in school at 6:30 a.m. for seminary for their church!During the following year, I became impressed by one of these youth, George Granata Jr., and his understanding of his church's beliefs. George was LDS. After two years of religious studies in my church, I knew less about my basic beliefs than George knew about his.

During the summer I graduated, George asked me to play softball with his church. I accepted, and we won both the region and area tournaments, and went to Salt Lake City for the All-Church Finals in 1962.

I began attending Church with George and his family. Often, I went home with George after Church to have dinner with the Granata family.

Increasingly, I was moved by the love in their home and the willingness of parents and children to express this love. At Church, I came to understand the basic principles that provided the foundation for the Granata family. George told me that the gospel of Jesus Christ was this foundation.

Several times, I told George, "When I get married, I would like my family to be like your family."

I wanted such a foundation in my future life, so I began investigating the Church. George baptized me on my 19th birthday in 1962, and his father confirmed me a member of the Church.

Now, 30 years later, George is a district judge in Burley, Idaho. He has four children.

I have served as a city manager in Washington and Alaska, and I now manage the Church Distribution Center in Auckland, New Zealand.

Both George and I have sent children on missions and have seen them married in the temple.

My life would have taken a different course, but for the personal courage and basic beliefs of that 16-year-old high school student, George. I will be eternally grateful to the Granata family for their love, patience and example. - Gordon W. Ryan, Auckland, New Zealand

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