Stepping in the Right Time: #IAmAPioneer

July 23, 2015  - by 

It was selling insurance door-to-door that would ultimately result in the Murrays leaving their warm, island home in Jamaica for the cold, mountainous terrain of Utah. Shawn Murray’s father “wanted to create better opportunities for [his family]…not just temporally, but spiritually.” The day he walked in on two LDS missionaries the tables turned. Rather than selling insurance for a car or house, Shawn’s father learned about insurance that could secure his family’s eternal happiness—the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Six months later he was baptized and eventually called as a branch president. Looking back at his father’s example of service Shawn reflects that it has, “always meant a lot to me.” It was by his first faithful steps that the rest of the family accepted the gospel for themselves.

Shawn’s father moved to the United States in 1990 to study nursing. He was “laying the groundwork for [the Murray Family]” to give them the opportunities he worried would not be accessible to them in Jamaica. Shawn’s mother and the rest of the family remained behind for a year before joining him. It was a great sacrifice on the part of Shawn’s mother, who “left a full-time job to join [their father].” Shawn’s mother “had a great impact on [Shawn]” as he grew up. “Who I am is because of her” he says, and he attributes his spiritual foundation to her and his father’s efforts.

Shawn Murray 1
With the foundation laid for his spiritual growth, Shawn had his life all planned out: he would serve a mission at 19, be married by the time he was 24 and begin his own family around 27. It was a plan in tune with righteous desires and Shawn had no doubt that he was doing the right thing. Once he returned from his mission, he was ready to begin pioneering his future. It was instant gratification, and looking back, Shawn is grateful that “in a generation of instant gratification,” the Lord applied “delayed gratification.”

“[Shawn] met [his] wife in the Hunter YSA second ward.” He was in the upper half of the young single adult age group and most of the ward already know one another, so “[he] did a double take” when a lovely, unfamiliar face was waiting quietly in the lobby. They spoke briefly and it wouldn’t be until the next week, right before beginning his lesson in Priest’s Quorum, that Shawn would duck out for a moment to ask for Stephanie’s number. All Shawn really has to say about it now is, “Singles wards—they work!”

Stephanie’s family were also pioneers. They had moved from Ghana to the United States. “We were raised in a similar culture” Shawn says, and now they aim to raise their daughter, McKenzie, with the same trailblazing values that their parents instilled in them as the pioneers of their families. The greatest legacy Shawn hopes to leave for McKenzie and his future children is to “[provide] an educational environment for [them] to grow into the individuals Heavenly Father wants them to be.” The same way that his mother and father did, Shawn “want[s] to make that sacrifice for [his] children.”

Being a pioneer is not just taking the first steps forward, but taking them at the right time. Shawn reflects that “it is Heavenly Father who leads…he is a master architect.” Because Shawn’s parents “opened the initial door” for opportunity by moving their family, Shawn was able to follow through at the right time to pursue an education, meet his eternal companion, and be blessed with their daughter’s “sweet spirit.” As Shawn experienced in his life, Heavenly Father’s design for the roads our predecessors pave ensure they are built in the right time to for us to secure our eternal happiness.


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