My family and I spent a year in Price, Utah while I was teaching at the College of Eastern Utah. One of the amazing things about living in that area were the fossils. The coal mines were full of massive dinosaur footprints and I would drool every time I saw one. I was never able to obtain a dinosaur footprint, but I was recently able to buy some Eocene fossil bird tracks from the Soldier Summit area.
I just love running my fingers over the tracks and knowing that millions of years ago a bird walked along a beach and made those tracks. I’m sure that the bird had no idea that the tracks it was making would last, yet here they are sitting on my shelf.
It reminds me of an experience I had as a missionary in Brownsville, Texas. My trainer, Elder Davis, was an amazing missionary. I was constantly amazed at how easy it was for him to talk to people and how clearly he explained the gospel. I modeled everything I did after him. One afternoon we were walking down a dirt road and he was a few steps ahead of me. I looked down and saw the footprints he was leaving in the dust behind him. It was a long walk (on a very hot day) and I began to think about the effect his example was having on me as a missionary. He was a humble guy and probably would have been embarrassed if I told him how much I admired him, yet without knowing it he was leaving a trail of footprints (both tangible and intangible) for me to follow.
At one point I stopped for some reason and glanced behind me. At that moment I realized that I was also leaving tracks in the dust for those that came after me. We are often cognizant of the examples of others, but I don’t think we fully comprehend the impact of our own examples. It’s important to stop and think about our own footprints and where they will lead those that follow us because those tracks will last for generations.