Once you were his friend, you never lost
him, nor he lost you.
He has never forgotten his boyhood
chums or family members.
Our neighborhood on Fifth South, we pretty well played
in the streets.
He was a bit of an athlete when he was a young fellow.
He played basketball.
But he was a self-starter, he didn't have to be told
He was 100% when he decided to do something.
When he was going to get my bottle ready, he would put the
milk in a little old pan on the stove that wobbled and
keep putting his finger in it to see that it was warm yet.
He'd pray an awful lot, and that was one thing that we
were aware of.
He'd pray for the food, he'd pray for things that happened.
And I noticed him, many times, he would take a hat off and
say a prayer, even when he was out on the stream fishing.
When President Monson was a very young bishop --
I think one of the youngest in the Church, he was
22 years old --
he obtained a Heinrich Kaufmann portrait of the
Savior, and he has had that picture of the Savior with him
everywhere he has ever gone since.
And it's still in his office today.
He loves the Master and he follows
the path of the Master.
He walks the path of the Master.
One of his favorite scriptures probably says it best, he is
always "on the Lord's errand."
Thomas Spencer Monson was born on a Sunday morning, August
21, 1927, at the old Saint Mark's Hospital on Second
West, in Salt Lake City.
His parents, G. Spencer and Gladys Condie Monson, were of
hardy Swedish, English, and Scottish ancestry, and made a
loving home for Tom, his two brothers, and three sisters.
In 1927, there were just over 600,000 Latter Day Saints,
most of them living in the American West. Heber J. Grant
was President of the Church, and in three years the Church
would celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Tom grew up on Salt Lake City's west side, in the midst
of a close family of
grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
His grandfather, Thomas Sharp Condie, had purchased property
on the southwest corner of Fifth South and Second West,
built his own home there, and provided homes for each of his
four daughters and their husbands.
Tom was always welcome and totally at ease in any of
their homes, never feeling the need to knock.
My father did have an idyllic setting as he grew up.
He loved his relatives and everything that
they did for him.
His aunts and uncles.
It was as though he was their son as well.
His mother and father were very good people.
We loved them both.
They loved the Gospel and they have
taught it to their children.
My mother was a friendly, outgoing person.
She would talk to people on the bus.
She made friends instantly.
Being around Gladys, you know, it was what you
call a hoot, I guess.
People say, Gladys, how did you raise a son
to become an apostle?
And she'd smile and, with her own sense of humor, say, well
it wasn't easy, but I persevered.
My father was a hard worker, he worked 12 hours a day, six
days a week.
He was the provider.
He put the money aside so that we could have an education.
Sunday was my father's only day off.
I'm sure he would've enjoyed relaxing at home, but
invariably he would say, come along Tommy, let's take Uncle
Elias for a drive.
Bored in the old 1928 Oldsmobile, we would proceed
to Eighth West, to the home of Uncle Elias and Aunt
I would be waiting in the car while dad went inside.
Soon he would emerge from the house, carrying his crippled
uncle in his arms like a little china doll.
I would open the door and watch how tenderly my father
would place Uncle Elias in the front seat.
Then we'd take him for a ride around the city.
Dad never wanted any thanks for this service, but his
lesson was not lost on me.
For generations, Tom's family had spent each summer at a
small cabin in Vivian Park, in Provo Canyon.
There, along the banks of the Provo River, Tom first gained
from his uncles what would become a
lifelong love for fishing.
"I would sit on the bank for hours, " Tom recalled, "and
look at the mountainside across the river.
Those were happy years.
One summer afternoon, 12-year-old Tom was floating
on a tractor-tire inner tube down the river, towards its
swiftest part, when he heard the frantic cries of a Greek
immigrant family from the bank.
Just ahead in the whirlpools, a young lady swimmer was
disappearing under the water for the third time.
And the girl's head emerged, and I grabbed
her by the hair --
she would be about 14, I suppose -- and pulled her
across my lap, in that inner tube.
And while she cried and was spitting water, I took the
other hand and paddled her through the whirlpool and into
the little eddy and up to the bank, and then handed her to
They threw their arms around her, weeping and kissing.
Then they grabbed me, they hugged and kissed me.
I was embarrassed.
You know, no boy wants to be kissed by a lot of
older men and women.
So I quickly returned to my tube and
continued down the river.
As he thought about what had happened, "I realized," he
said, "I have participated in saving a human life.
Heavenly Father had permitted me, a deacon, to float at
precisely the time I was needed.
That day, I learned that God, our Heavenly Father, knows
each one of us and permits us to share His divine power to
At age 16, Tom was expected to forego swimming and fishing in
the Provo River and work full-time during the summer.
He got a job at Burton Lumber and Hardware Company,
unloading boxcars of cut lumber in 100-degree
At this time, America had entered World War II and US
combat efforts were not going well overseas.
It was during this bleak time that stake patriarch Frank
Woodbury placed his hands on 16-year-old Tom Monson's head
and conferred a truly
prophetic patriarchal blessing.
"You shall be indeed a leader among your fellows," the
"Seek the Lord in humility to guide and direct you in the
high and holy callings unto which you shall be called."
In 1944, Tom enrolled as a freshman at the
University of Utah.
Shortly after, at a university dance, Tom first saw the young
lady who would become his wife.
Tom had taken a girl from West High and they were dancing to
the popular song "Kentucky," when Frances Johnson and
another young man danced by.
"I caught a glimpse of her," Tom said, but he didn't see
her again that evening.
About a month later, while waiting for the street car at
13th East and Second South, he saw Frances and another girl
They were with a grade school acquaintance of Tom's named
Tom walked up to Paul and said, "Hello, old friend, how
are you?" It worked.
"As I said goodbye," Tom recalls, "I quickly took out
my student directory and underlined the name Frances
Beverly Johnson." That evening, Tom called her and
arranged their first date.
As my mother was contemplating, is this really
the man that I want to marry?
It was cute as my mother shared with me how her mother
said, you look at the way Tom takes care of his grandfather.
Because my father did love his grandfather, and he would
shave him and he would get his clothes ready.
Any man that takes care of his grandfather the way Tom takes
care of his grandfather will be a wonderful husband.
And that became a big selling point in my father's favor.
Tom and Frances' first date was to a dance at the
Pioneer stake gym.
More dates followed.
But as spring turned to summer in 1945, Tom realized his days
as a civilian were numbered.
On October 6, 1945 Tom went to the train depot in Salt Lake
City to ship out for basic training in San Diego as a
member of the United States Naval Reserve.
Among those saying goodbye was John Burt, a member of the
bishopric who handed Tom a copy of
the Missionary Handbook.
"I'm not going to mission," Tom protested.
"Take it along, " Brother Burt said.
"It may come in handy."
Upon arriving in San Diego, Tom had his first taste of
"The naval base seemed to stretch
for miles," Tom recalled.
"I'm convinced the training was designed to toughen us, as
well as humble us.
One night, before returning home for Christmas leave, Tom
and his fellow sailors were lying on their
bunks, nearly asleep.
Suddenly a man in a nearby bunk, Leland Merrill from
Murray, Utah, said, "I'm sick.
I'm sicker than I've ever been." Tom suggested he go to
the dispensary and have a doctor look at him.
Merrill said he would be kept for observation and not
allowed home for Christmas.
The moans increased.
Finally, Merrill said, "Monson, aren't you an elder?"
The time was 2:00 AM.
Tom had indeed been ordained an elder prior to
enlisting in the Navy.
Merrill said, "Will you give me a blessing?"
I thought to myself, I've never given a blessing.
I've never received a blessing.
I don't know that I've ever seen
anyone receive a blessing.
And then I remembered, I've got something in that sea bag
that might help me.
And I dumped the gear on the deck and took out that
And I went into the cubicle where the night light was
shining and I read how you administer to the sick.
And then I went back there and gave him a blessing.
And when I said amen, he was purring like a
kitten, sound asleep.
The next morning, as we assembled to the march off to
get on the buses to go home for home leave, Leland Merrill
said, "Monson, I'm glad you hold the priesthood." And I
said, "I'm glad I do, too."
I was just very grateful for the priesthood and to have
friends that were watching out for me.
I guess it must have made quite an impression on Tom
because he's remembered it all these years, and so have I.
In 1946, the war had ended and Tom returned home.
Two years later, he graduated with honors from the
University of Utah, with a degree in Business.
Turning down job offers from Standard Oil of California and
Procter & Gamble on the east coast, he chose to work for
the Deseret News as assistant
classified advertising manager.
In the meantime, Tom and Frances' relationship had
grown and deepened.
Finally, Tom went to Davis Jewelry and selected a the
diamond engagement ring to surprise Frances.
After hiding it at home, he carefully
planned a special evening.
On the night he determined to become engaged, Tom brought
Frances to the house.
As soon as she entered, Tom's youngest brother Scott blurted
out, "Tommy has a ring for you, Frances." "I was very
irritated to have my surprise exposed," Tom remembers.
Tom and Frances were married in the Salt Lake Temple for
time and eternity on October 7, 1948.
Thus began one of the truly exemplary
marriages in the Church.
My mother is the other part of my father's success story,
because she's been supportive of him in
everything that he has done.
Since the first day of our marriage, it was just a
We didn't question whether we feel unhappy that he was gone
all the time or working so hard.
So we just sort of grew up with that.
We still do.
The wife of a member of a bishopric or a stake
presidency has a little different life than others.
You're away from them a lot to meetings.
And some social events have to be foregone because of a
meeting here or a blessing to be given there.
But I have never, in our entire marriage, have heard
Anything I had to do in the Church, she
always sustained me.
At the time of their marriage, Tom was serving as the
Sixth-Seventh Ward clerk.
One morning, he sat silently taking minutes while the
bishopric discussed the lack of success with the young
people in their ward.
Presently, the young clerk said, "Excuse me brethren, but
may I say something about the MIA and the youth challenges
in this ward?"
He then delivered a profound summary of not only what was
wrong with the youth program, but what could
quickly make it right.
Then realizing he may have been presumptuous, he said,
"Forgive me, I think I've said too much," and excused himself
to take role in the elders quorum.
He was no sooner out the door than the bishopric looked at
each other and said, what are we waiting for?
They immediately called him back, released him as ward
clerk, and called him to be the superintendent of the MIA.
Within months, the Sixth-Seventh Ward youth
program, with its committed young superintendent, was
drawing more people to MIA than sacrament meeting.
The Lord prepares his leaders when they're young.
And if there was ever a good example of that, it's with
Thomas S. Monson.
He was always different from the rest of us.
I believe he was a born leader.
He had energy that is beyond belief, and enthusiasm that
was just contagious.
He has a presence, when he walks into the room, that
people look up to him -- because he is a big man, and
they do look up to him --
but they look to him for guidance in every situation.
It wasn't long before the new MIA superintendent was called
by Bishop John Burt to serve as his Second
Counselor in the bishopric.
When Bishop Burt was called a few weeks later to serve in
the Temple View stake presidency, Tom was certain
that a ward member serving on the high council would be
Bishop Burt's successor.
"To my amazement," Tom said, "the call came to me."
Here he was, 22 and 1/2 years old, serving a ward which had
more than 1,000 members, including 85 widows, and one
of the largest welfare loads in the entire Church.
Bishop Monson chose men much senior to himself as
"We were installed on Sunday, May 7, 1950, a fast day," Tom
remembers, "and immediately set to work." The old
Sixth-Seventh ward chapel had begun refurbishment under the
previous bishopric with the painting of its exterior.
Bishop Monson followed this with extensive interior
renovation, including the installation of new benches.
Ward members gladly provided the labor.
Tom remembers, "With the redecoration of the building
and the rejuvenation of spirit, the ward literally
Sacrament meeting attendance doubled, then quadrupled,
completely filling the building.
A large part of the congregation was elderly.
"I had a love for the older people," Tom said.
"These were good people who loved the Lord and kept his
commandments." Even after his release as bishop, Thomas
Monson continued to take a gift and visit every one of
the 85 widows of the ward, every Christmas, for as long
as each lived.
It's interesting that he has been able to speak in every
funeral for those 85 widows.
That's an almost impossible feat, given our travel, given
our committee assignments, the other things that come in the
life of a general authority.
But with the hand of the Lord upon him, he was able to do
that for each of those widows who had so requested it.
On a winter night in 1951, young Bishop Monson responded
to a knock at his door.
A German Church member from Ogden announced his family was
coming from Germany and would live in the
He asked if the bishop would go with him to survey the
apartment he had rented for them.
On their way, the visitor, Karl Guertler, told Bishop
Monson that he had not seen his brother
Hans for many years.
Arriving at the corner of Fourth South and Second West,
the two ascended a staircase.
"It isn't much," brother Guertler said, "but it's more
than they've had in Germany." As Bishop Monson surveyed the
cold, uninviting apartment, he recalls, "I was heartsick.
I thought, what a dismal welcome for a family that has
endured so much." Tom did not sleep well that night.
The next morning, in ward welfare committee meeting, one
of his counselors asked, "Bishop, is something wrong?"
And I told the committee members of my experience.
It was as though the spirit of the Lord just enveloped us.
And they said, what can we do about that, bishop?
Edward Eardley, the group leader of the high priests,
spoke up and said, I'm a master electrician and I have
We'd like to rewire that place.
And I have contacts with those who sell refrigerators and
those who sell stoves, and I'll get one donated.
A new one of each one of those.
And then another person spoke up, namely a painter,
contractor, brother Bowden.
He said, I'm a contractor for painting and I can get my
paint less than wholesale.
And my crew and I will paint the house.
And then that wonderful relief society president said, relief
society women do not like empty cupboard shelves.
We will fill them.
And we went about doing that, we had two weeks to do it.
The night the Guertlers came, they showed the appearance of
someone who'd shed many tears.
And all the way up the staircase to the second floor,
I remember brother Guertler saying, now it isn't much,
Hans, it isn't much.
But it's the best we could do, it's the best we could do.
And then they opened the door.
Talk about a vision.
There was a nice carpet, laid by my counselor who was a
contractor for carpet laying.
And then there was the wallpaper, all nice and new,
and the painting nice.
There was the Christmas tree, all decorated.
Absolutely everything anyone would need.
I was 15.
I was a very insecure teenager.
We had not had a real home since before the war, when our
apartment building was bombed.
So we always had to double up with other families.
And to walk into an apartment and to know it would be ours
was just beyond comprehension to us.
It was like a shock.
I couldn't believe it.
He put the key in front of me and said, you
are in your own apartment.
As we left and our little band who'd done all this work came
out onto the street, they were silent.
And they said, why is it that this will be the best
Christmas we've ever experienced?
I said, do you remember the final verse of "Little Town of
Bethlehem?" "No ear may hear His coming, but in this world
of sin, where meek souls will receive Him yet, the dear
Christ enters in." He entered into the apartment, he entered
into the lives of all who were part of that experience.
As Bishop Monson matured in his responsibilities, he
learned many lessons.
Among them, the importance of following the Spirit and
trusting in the Lord.
One night, during a state priesthood leadership meeting,
he had the distinct impression that he should leave the
meeting immediately and drive to the Veterans Hospital, high
on the avenues of Salt Lake City.
Before leaving home that night, he had received a phone
call informing him that an older member of his ward was
ill and had been admitted to the hospital for care.
Could the bishop, the caller asked, find a moment to go by
the hospital and give a blessing?
The busy young bishop explained he was just on his
way to a meeting, but he would certainly go by the hospital
Now the prompting was stronger than ever.
Leave the meeting and proceed to the hospital at once.
Bishop Monson looked at the pulpit.
The stake president was speaking.
He didn't see how he could stand in the middle of his
talk and make his way over an entire row of men.
Painfully, he waited out the final moments of the stake
president's message, then bolted for the door, even
before the benediction was announced.
Running the full length of the corridor on the fourth floor
of the hospital, the young bishop saw a flurry of
activity outside the designated room.
A nurse stopped and said, "Are you Bishop
Monson?" "Yes," he replied.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"The patient was calling your name just before he died."
Fighting back tears, Bishop Monson walked
back into the night.
He vowed at that moment that he would never fail to act
upon a prompting from the Lord.
He would immediately follow the impressions of the Spirit,
wherever they led him.
No one can understand President Thomas S. Monson who
does not understand the frequency, the repetition, of
those kinds of spiritual promptings in his life, and
his absolute loyalty in responding to them.
When I was called as a bishop, I recognized I was the
president under the priest corps and I wanted to get
every boy out.
There's one boy that never came.
And I thought to myself, I'm sitting here with the priests,
they've got an adviser.
I'll leave them to get the lesson from the adviser.
I'm going to go find Richard Casto.
And I went over to his home.
Mother and dad were home and they said he was working over
at the West Temple Garage.
So I went over to Fifth South and West Temple, and the door
was open but nobody there.
And so I started looking around, you know?
So I went around the back and there was one of these
old-fashioned grease pits.
And I looked down into the darkness and I could see two
eyes looking at me.
He said, you got me, Bishop.
I'll come up.
And he came up out of the grease pit and we had a nice
little visit there together.
And I said, Richard, we need you.
You have a way with people and I want to have every priest in
Will you come?
He said, I'll come.
And he came.
After that, I served a mission.
I was sealed to my wife in the temple.
We have five great children, two of
them have served missions.
I've served as a bishop twice.
My children have a great love for him and my wife has a
great love for him, because of what he did for me.
It's probably one of the greatest blessings that I've
ever received in my life.
During his service as Bishop, two children were born to the
Tom, in 1951, and Ann, in 1954.
Tom recalls, "We felt as though life was very good to
us, which it was."
About this time, President Joseph Fielding Smith came to
reorganize the Temple View stake presidency.
On Sunday June 16, 1955, the general session of stake
conference was held in the assembly
hall on Temple Square.
The Aaronic priesthood and bishoprics were
providing the music.
Joseph Fielding Smith stepped to the pulpit and announced
the new stake presidency.
Percy K. Fetzer, President, John R. Burt, First Counselor,
and Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor.
He then said, "Bishop Monson knows nothing of this calling,
but if he will accept it, we will be pleased to hear from
So I had to make the long walk from the choir seats down to
the pulpit, thinking, what am I going to say?
The song we had just sung concerned the Word of Wisdom.
"Have courage, my boy, to say no.
Have courage, my boy to say no." And I said, "My theme
today is, have courage, my boy, to say yes.
And I do so with my heart and soul."
Along with increasing Church responsibilities, Tom was
progressing in his career as well.
In 1953, he was named assistant general manager of
Deseret News Press.
I don't know of anybody that Tom Monson dealt with that
didn't love him.
All of us in the automobile business and in the real
estate business came to know and to love this good man.
He just had the ability to reach out and touch hearts.
In 1957, Tom and Francis built a new home for their family on
a one acre lot in the suburbs near Salt Lake.
The move to a full acre on the outskirts of the city seemed
like paradise to the young family.
Then on February 21, 1959, Tom was summoned to the office of
Stephen L. Richards of the First Presidency.
Thinking this meeting concerned the General Handbook
of Instructions currently being printed, Tom was
unprepared for what followed.
President Richards called him to serve as President of the
He indicated he should take a leave of absence from his
employment and be prepared to depart in three weeks.
When Tom returned home, he found Frances lying down, ill
from the pregnancy of their third child.
When I told her, there was no question about
what she would accept.
When we told our children, our son Tommy said, oh
boy, when do we go?
We said, in about three weeks.
He said, great, when do we come back?
We said, in about three years.
The reality of what was happening became clear.
I can still remember the cold, snow-filled day that I rented
a truck and we took our furniture from our dream home
and prepared to leave Salt Lake City.
It was an emotional day for Frances and for all of us.
I noted that she stroked the doorjamb and there were tears
in her eyes.
We withdrew the children from school and then took the train
The young family arrived at the mission home at 133
Lyndhurst Avenue and immediately embarked on a tour
of the very large mission.
"Then we realized," Tom said, "that all the responsibility
of presiding over the entire Canadian mission now was
squarely upon our shoulders."
He looked younger than half the missionaries in the field.
He was thin and very athletic.
He played basketball, he had played
basketball with the elders.
And we sensed in him a kind of a green missionary.
Someone who --
not that we'd ever think of taking advantage of him -- but
we thought, well we have had six months on this mission,
President, and there are some here that have
been out two years.
And we thought we could maybe teach him.
We were dead wrong.
On October 1, 1959, Frances gave birth to their third
child, Clark Spencer Monson.
President Monson recalls, "It was nice for the missionaries
to have a new baby in the mission home.
It seemed to bring a touch of their own families closer to
133 Lyndhurst Avenue was a busy place to
raise a growing family.
With missionaries coming and going, the Monson family
rarely had dinner alone.
Each night, when it was about my bedtime, he would invite me
into his office, or I would knock on the door and go into
And he would pull out a checkerboard that he kept in
one drawer and lay it out on his desk.
And I would sit by his desk and we would play checkers for
10 or 15 minutes.
And that was something that was my time only with him,
that I appreciated very much.
Spurred on by their young mission president, the
missionaries began to be more productive.
Convert baptisms increased.
The building program gained momentum.
"I was pleased with our progress,"
President Monson said.
"An attitude of success permeated the mission."
In August 1960, Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Quorum of the
Twelve came to Toronto to organize the Toronto stake,
the 300th stake of the Church.
The general sessions of this special stake conference were
held in Toronto's Odeon Carlton Theatre.
Every one of the 2,249 seats were filled.
It was the largest percentage of members in attendance at a
stake conference anywhere in the Church.
I remember there was lots of excitement in the mission
because it was the first stake that was
organized in eastern Canada.
And he announced that day who were to be
the different leaders.
And when he got up and announced that I was to be the
I'd never heard about it.
stake primary president, I was a little bit shocked, because
So when we met after, he said, I knew you'd say yes.
And it was just thrilling for us as missionaries to be there
and to know that we're finally a stake of the Church.
After three years of labor, President Monson received a
letter of honorable release from the First Presidency.
As we departed Toronto, we left a little of our hearts in
this beautiful city.
The memories, ever dear, have been retained.
Shortly after returning to Salt Lake City, Tom was named
general manager of the Deseret Press.
He was now responsible for the largest printing plant west of
On Thursday afternoon, October 3, 1963, Tom was working at
his office when a call came from Clare Middlemiss,
secretary to President David O. McKay.
After coming on the line and exchanging pleasantries,
President McKay said, "Brother Monson, could you visit with
me some time?" After a positive response, President
McKay said, "Could you come to the office now?"
Placing everything aside, Tom drove to Church headquarters,
where he was ushered into the office of President McKay.
He had me sit next to him on a chair at the side of his desk.
Then with a great emotion he said, "Brother Monson, with
the passing of President Henry D. Moyle, I'm named Elder
Nathan Eldon Tanner to be my Second Counselor in the First
And the Lord has called you to fill his place in the Council
of the Twelve Apostles.
Could you accept that calling?"
I was overcome, but finally assured him I could.
He then welcomed me to the ranks of the general
authorities and indicated this would be a most rewarding
experience, and one where my talents and energies would be
used to the maximum.
And then he instructed me that I should tell no one except my
wife, and informed me that I would be sustained at the
Friday morning session at conference the very next day.
Returning home, Tom felt little like eating dinner.
He told Francis he had some printing proofs to deliver and
asked if she would like to come with him.
They drove to the East Bench of Salt Lake City and parked
adjacent to This is the Place monument.
Together they walked around the monument, reading the
inscriptions and pondering the pioneers and their heritage.
As they returned to the car, Frances said, "What's wrong?
You have something on your mind." He then revealed to her
the sacred nature of his call.
"That night, neither of us slept very well," Tom said.
"My feet were like ice."
The next morning at general conference, Tom made his way
toward members of the priesthood
home teaching committee.
As he was about to sit next to Hugh Smith, Hugh said, "You
don't want to sit there.
Twice before, the men sitting next to me were called to be
general authorities." Tom took his seat, regardless.
It is now proposed that we sustain the following as
members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Joseph Fielding Smith, Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley,
and Thomas S. Monson.
An astonished Hugh Smith whispered, "Lightning has
struck a third time."
I pledge my life, all that I may have. I will strive to the
utmost of my ability to be what you would want me to be.
I'm grateful for the words of Jesus Christ, our Savior, when
he said, "I stand at the door and knock.
If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come
into him." I earnestly pray, my brothers and sisters, that
my life might merit this promise from our Savior.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The following week, at a special meeting of the First
Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake
Temple, Thomas S. Monson was ordained an apostle and set
apart as a member of the Council of the Twelve.
Elder Monson said, "It was one of the most dramatic days of
Major responsibilities came almost immediately.
He was named as chairman of the Adult Correlation
Committee, as adviser to the Young Men and Young Women's
Organizations, chairman of the Church Leadership Committee
and area supervisor for missionary work in the western
In 1965, assignments among the Twelve were rotated and Elder
Monson was assigned to supervise the missions of the
South Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, and
the islands of Polynesia.
During his first visit to Samoa, he visited the small
village of Sauniatu and spoke at the Church school to a
large gathering of small children.
As the closing hymn was announced, Elder Monson
suddenly felt compelled to personally greet each of the
Checking the clock, he saw that time was too short and
discounted the impression.
Then, just prior to the closing prayer, he again felt
a strong impression to shake the hand of each child.
Upon communicating this desire, both the instructor
and children were overcome with joy.
The instructor then revealed the reason for their elation.
He said, when they learned a member of the Twelve was
coming, he told the children if each would earnestly pray
and exert great faith, the apostle would be impressed to
greet each child with a personal hand clasp.
"Tears could not be restrained," Elder Monson
said, "as each of these precious children walked past
and whispered a sweet 'talofa lava.'"
The people of the Pacific Islands have such great faith.
On one occasion I had come to the President Hugh B. Brown on
an assignment to Samoa.
We were met by local members who told us of the extreme
drought that plagued the area.
The members said they had been fasting and asked President
Brown and me to join them in a supplication to our Heavenly
Father that moisture would come.
This we did.
During the general meeting at the Church school, we heard
the clap of thunder.
And soon the heavens opened and the rain descended, making
such a noise that one could scarcely hear as the rain
pounded upon the tin roof of the building.
President Brown turned to me and said, smiling, "Now that
we got it turned on, how do we turn it off?"
As we concluded the meeting, we went to the small airport.
We overheard a New Zealand pilot who just landed speaking
to one of the airline personnel.
He said, "I don't understand it.
Not a cloud in the sky, except over the
Mormon school at Mapusaga.
President Brown turned to me and said, "Go tell him why." I
During his years as a member of the Twelve, Elder Monson
made weekly visits to the stakes of the Church.
These assignments were always made by the President of the
Twelve, who announced the conclusion of their weekly
"I like this approach, Elder Monson said, "for I could then
feel that the assignments I received came from
Such was the key case in Shreveport, Louisiana, where
he experienced one of the most sacred events of his life.
The weekend of August 24, 1974, Elder Monson had been
assigned to El Paso, Texas.
Several days prior, President Ezra Taft Benson called Elder
Monson to his office.
He asked if he would mind being assigned elsewhere.
Then President Benson said, "Brother Monson, I feel
impressed to have you visit the Shreveport, Louisiana
On the evening of Friday, August 23rd, Elder Monson
arrived in Shreveport.
The next day was filled with meetings at the stake center.
During a break, Stake President Charles Cagle
apologetically asked if Elder Monson would have time to give
a blessing to a 10-year-old girl afflicted with cancer.
Her name was Christal Methvin.
Elder Monson asked if she would be at the conference or
if she were in a Shreveport hospital.
President Cagle barely whispered that Christal was
confined to her home some 80 miles from Shreveport.
Elder Monson examined the schedule,
even his return flight.
There was simply no time.
An alternative plan was made to remember the young girl in
the public prayers at stake conference.
On that basis, the schedule of meetings resumed.
When we were informed that Elder Monson could not come,
we were deeply disappointed.
When the tumor had spread to the lungs and the brain, we
had decided that we wanted to take Christal to Salt Lake and
have her given a blessing by a general authority.
We looked at a picture of the general authorities and we
looked at a picture of Elder Thomas S. Monson and we showed
crystal this picture.
And she looked at it and she said, he looks
like a very nice man.
I think he's the right one.
We never made that flight to Salt Lake due
to her health situation.
We knew that she could not make the flight.
We informed her that it wasn't going to happen.
Her response was, well if I can't go to Elder Monson, then
surely he can come to me.
When we learned Elder Monson was going to come to our stake
conference, we were elated because we thought our prayers
But when we heard that he couldn't make the trip on
further south to see us and give Christal a blessing, we
didn't know what to think.
But we did the only thing that we knew to do, and that was to
place it in the hands of the Lord.
And so, as a family, we knelt in prayer.
As the Methvin family prayed, the clock in the stake center
showed 7:45 PM.
Elder Monson was sorting his notes, preparing to step to
the pulpit during a leadership meeting, when he heard a voice
speak to his spirit.
The message was brief.
"Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them
not, for of such is the kingdom of God."
Elder Monson made a decision.
The meeting schedule was changed.
He turned to Bishop James Serra and asked him to leave
the meeting and advise the Methvins.
And while we were praying, the phone rang and Bishop Serra, a
bishop in one of the wards in Shreveport, informed us that
Elder Monson would be in our home the next morning.
And that he asked us if we would fast with him and he
would be there to give Christal the blessing.
I've been in hallowed places, even holy houses, but never
have I felt more strongly the presence of the Lord than in
the Methvin home.
Christal looked so tiny, lying peacefully on
such a large bed.
I gazed down on a child that was to ill to rise, almost too
weak to speak.
So strong was the spirit that I fell to my knees, took her
hand in mine, and said simply, "Christal, I'm here." She
whispered, "Brother Monson, I just knew you would come." I
looked around the room.
No one was standing.
Each was on bended knee.
A blessing was given, a faint smile crossed Christal's face.
Her whispered "thank you" provided an appropriate
Quietly, we each filed from the room.
Four days later, as Christal's name was remembered in the
prayer circle of the First Presidency and Council of the
Twelve, the pure spirit of Christal Methvin left its
disease-ravaged body and entered the paradise of God.
I bear witness that Jesus of Nazareth
does love little children.
He listens to their prayers and responds to them.
The Master did indeed utter those words, "suffer the
little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for
of such is the kingdom of God." I know these are the
words he spoke to the throng gathered on the coast of
Judea, for I've read them.
I know these are the words he spoke to an apostle on
assignment in Shreveport, Louisiana, for I heard them.
He and I we're leaving to go to a large meeting and
suddenly he saw a woman, a young girl, and her family in
need, and felt immediately to attend to that and let the
meeting start without us, if necessary.
The people of Europe and the people of the world are
grateful to have a leader with these wonderful talents.
A man who focuses on the one but has a heart
for the whole world.
I remember standing with four or five German saints in the
cold and rain on a hilltop, overlooking the city of
Dresden, and rededicating the land.
As I offered the prayer and spoke the words, "May this be
the dawning of a new day for the Church in this land," we
heard a rooster crow in the valley below.
The church bell begin to chime and suddenly I felt warmth on
my hands and face.
I opened my eyes to see that the clouds had parted and a
ray of sunshine engulfed the tiny point where our small
We knew it was a confirmation from our Heavenly Father that
the prayer was heard and would be answered.
One of the wonderful blessings and pronouncements he made was
that the members in East Germany will have all the
privileges of all the membership around the world,
including the temples.
And through his efforts, following through with meeting
with political leaders, the Freiberg Temple came and
blessed the people in a marvelous and wonderful way.
If it weren't for Brother Monson, there would be little
for our saints in this part of Europe.
The president has given everything to those people,
including the shirt off his back.
I mean it, I've seen him give away his shirts and his suits
to those destitute saints in eastern Europe.
He says they're used, old ones that he's going to throw away
anyway, but all those looked brand new to me.
During his years in the Twelve, one of his most
important assignments was serving as chairman of the
Scripture Publication Committee.
Over many years, Elder Monson supervised an exhaustive
process involving hundreds of scholars, designers,
technicians, and printers, which eventually resulted in
new editions of all four standard works of the Church.
Thomas S. Monson had a unique qualification for that.
He was a printer and he knew paper, texture, binding.
He was the one that went back and forth to England to check
the publications and so we had Bruce McConkie and myself and
him that worked through those years to accomplish that.
Really a great endeavor, equal to almost anything I know of
that's happened in my lifetime.
In 1979, as President Monson was touring the Cambridge
plant, he looked at one of the press lines and pulled a sheet
from the end of the press and saw what was a mistake, an
important column rule had been omitted.
Cambridge was amazed that they hadn't found it, but he did.
And he was there to correct what could have been an
omission of some significance.
In addition to his apostolic labor, Elder Monson has been
called upon to render significant
civic duties as well.
He served as a member of the Utah Board of Regents, the
governing body for higher education in the state.
He has also served for decades on the National Executive
Board of the Boy Scouts of America, and as a member of
President Ronald Reagan's Task Force for Private Sector
Individuals are served not 6,000 at a time or not 13
million at a time.
They're served one by one.
I was at breakfast this morning with three brothers
who had lost their father.
One of them mentioned Brother Monson.
He said, he's my favorite, he just inspires me.
This is a 16-year-old boy.
He always considers himself our really good friend.
I think something that always makes me laugh is a quote by
Elder Faust. He once said that if he could kind of start
over, he'd like to come back as one of President Monson's
I had overheard my grandpa saying coming to my grandma
like, we need to make more memories for the children.
And my grandma would always just roll her eyes and be
like, oh no, what has he got up his sleeve now?
In June 1985, Elder and Sister Monson traveled to the German
Democratic Republic for the long awaited dedication of the
For me, the dedication marked the completion of 17 years of
service to the membership of the Church and the German
The completion of the house of the Lord in that setting is a
The tremendous faith of the members, coupled with the wish
of God's prophet, caused the barriers of man and
governments to collapse before the mighty will of a divine
Following the dedication, Elder and Sister Monson flew
to Frankfurt and participated in groundbreaking services for
the Frankfurt, Germany temple.
Next stop was Stockholm, Sweden, where Elder Monson
hosted the King and Queen of Sweden at the open house of
the new Stockholm temple.
President Hinckley described this week, which witnessed two
temple dedications and a groundbreaking for a third, as
the most significant week in the history of
the Church in Europe.
It was indeed such, as well as one of the most significant
periods of my life and ministry.
On November 10, 1985, after 22 years of service in the
Council of the Twelve Apostles, Thomas S. Monson was
called by President Ezra Taft Benson to serve as Second
Counselor in the First Presidency.
Nine years later, he was called as Second Counselor to
President Howard W. Hunter, and in 1995, as First
Counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley.
President Monson has made a tremendous contribution to the
Presidents of the Church that he has served.
He's a wise counselor, he knows the Church.
He knows the organization, he knows the needs of the people.
And so when he would give counsel, it was always very,
very much on target.
On February 3, 2008, Thomas S. Monson was ordained and set
apart as the 16th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of
His impact can be seen now that the mantle of the prophet
has fallen on him in even a greater and
more marvelous way.
I've seen it, I can testify of that.
I have seen how he has changed from a marvelous man to the
prophet of God.
He has been guided, he's been led, he's been prompted, he's
He's had all those experiences that a prophet has to prepare
one to speak in the name of the Lord, to be the President
of this Church and to guide the destiny of the kingdom of
God on earth.
He's all he should be, to be President of the Church.
Particularly, he isn't some of the things you shouldn't be to
be President of the Church.
He's absolutely without guile.
He came from an ordinary family.
He's an ordinary man that's done extraordinary things.
I've time and time again seen the spirit of
God come upon him.
Both in the capacity to bear testimony of the Savior and to
know what God would have him do.
And he has a complete commitment to do whatever he's
inspired to do for the Lord.
I have a testimony of this great work in
which we are engaged.
I don't know when I first obtained it.
I think it came step by step, from goodly parents.
I've always had a testimony.
The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting
and act upon it and later find out that it was the
fulfillment of someone's prayer or someone's need.
I always want the Lord to know that if he needs an errand
run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him.
I'm so grateful for His example, and
that's who we serve.
This is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I honor that name, I honor this church.
The work is true.
That I testify of that truth from the depths of my soul and
would say, may God bless us, every one, in the name of
Jesus Christ. Amen.