You are nearly a young man. Where did the time go? We remember you as a tiny baby, looking like a twin to Uncle Spencer. Now you prepare to receive the priesthood. A lot of responsibility and blessings come with the priesthood, but your parents and primary teacher will teach you about all that.
When I write these letters, I try to imagine myself at your age. What advice to my eleven-year-old self might have made a difference, might have helped me make better choices, might have made me happier? Probably, my biggest childhood regret is not living up to my intellectual potential. In my family, education wasn't valued much; we spent our evenings watching television. Apathy was the attitude toward homework from both parents and children. As a convert to the gospel of Jesus Christ, I didn't understand that gaining knowledge is a commandment.
"be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms," Doctrine and Covenants 88:78-79.
Not only does Heavenly Father expect us to feast upon His word to gain spiritual wisdom; we are to learn history, government, science, literature, languages, mathematics, logic, and all academics generally available at school. Even after we are too old for school, He expects us to keep gaining secular and spiritual knowledge and wisdom.
We can either follow this commandment as part of the way to be happy, or we can ignore it according to our free agency. However, we will reap the consequences of all our choices, good or bad. It's so interesting how scientists study this and that, which always prove the word of God (well, some scientists are paid by designing men to lie about data, but that's a different story) Studies that support this commandment tell us people with active minds, keen interests, and good education have more happiness than those who settle for mindless entertainment (TV, video games, surfing the net, etc). Those with strong religious beliefs and active family life have more success and satisfaction, too. In short, an engaged mind makes for a happy life. So...if you have a bad attitude about school and homework, decide to change it now. Make learning a game and become a math or science or history whiz. Do the same with scripture study. I hope you experience, as I now have, that learning makes life more meaningful, interesting, and exciting.
Coyotes remain a huge problem. Papa put in a dog door. One morning Dash was out on the patio, while I was studying my scriptures at the kitchen table. Madly barking, Dash bolted into the kitchen. As she continued her unquietable barking, shaking, and growling, I heard a scream. Looking out the window, I saw what made Dash so upset. Three nearly grown coyote pups
chomped on a rabbit. Needless to say, I shut the dog door until the stream of golfers started coming by the fence. Golfers scare coyotes, so we don't see coyotes and golfers at the same time. A couple days later, Papa and I were out walking at dawn. We saw the pups and two full-grown coyotes. When I saw them eying Dash and creeping our way, I picked her up. Some other people walking on the other side of the street came over and helped run them off. Even though I wish we could find a way to relocate these menacing pests, I think coyotes are beautiful creatures.
We've struggled with what to send you for your birthday. You are moving past the age of toys. Snap circuits are likely too easy now. We hope you enjoyed those experiments. Even though I never did homework, I loved building batteries and mixing chemicals in school. So did Papa. I looked and looked for a chemistry set, but they simply don't make good ones anymore. Probably, a couple science experiment books won't be as thrilling as unpacking a cool chemistry set. However, if you give them a chance, they will be as fun and interesting as one of the sets back from the 1970s. Plus, we sent The House of Sixty Fathers, a very exciting story that you will love; everybody I know who has read it utterly enjoyed it. Did you like Watership Down as much as we hoped you would?
Cole, we hope this year is your best one yet, full of fun, learning, happiness, and good health. We hope you make good choices to ensure a bright future.