Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy said that his mother was left to raise her four children alone when his father died at a relatively young age.
Speaking in the Sunday afternoon conference session, he said, "I understand in a personal way the great influence of mothers."
He quoted President James E. Faust: "There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation" (April 1993 general conference).
Drawing upon his experience as a rancher, Elder Foster told a story of a cattle drive where he rode behind keeping track of stray calves.
"Because it was so hot," he said, "the little calves kept running off into the trees to find shade. My thoughts turned to the youth of the Church who are sometimes distracted from the straight and narrow path. I also thought about those who have left the Church or who may feel the Church has left their heart, while they were distracted. I though to myself that a distraction doesn't have to be evil to be effective — sometimes it can just be shade."
He continued, "After several hours of gathering up stray calves, and with sweat running down my face, I yelled to the calves in frustration, 'Just follow your mothers! They know where they're going! They've been down this road before!' Their mothers knew that even though the road was hot and dusty now, the end would be better than the beginning."
When the cattle arrived at the corral, three cows paced nervously at the gate; their calves were missing. Elder Foster and others found the calves in the shade back up the road, but the calves resisted them.
So they rode back to the corral and got the mothers.
"The cows knew exactly where to go to find their calves," he said, "and led them back to the corral as I had expected."
Then he said that because of agency, "some of our loved ones may stray for a season. But we can never give up. We must always go back for them — we must never stop trying."
He concluded, "My mother assured me that if I stayed on the road of truth, even when it seemed hot and dusty, even when there were distractions, the end would be better than the beginning."
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