When I received the news of the passing of President Thomas S. Monson I felt such a range of emotions. He was gone, the leader that had been our prophet for a decade and an apostle for half a century. A true servant of the Lord, he was at all times on the Lord’s errand. I can hear the sweet tenderness in his voice as he told stories to teach us about gospel principles, and the conviction with which he testified of God and Jesus Christ.
His love and devotion to his dear wife Francis is inspiring; what a sweet reunion they surely had as President Monson passed through the veil to be reunited once more with his eternal companion.
I His ministry was so far reaching (traveling throughout the world to share The Lord’s word) yet he was known and loved for ministering to the one. I couldn’t help but reflect on the day that he ministered to me personally and how much it would mean to me, a young married LDS girl living far from home.
Derek and I were married shortly after my return from my mission to Russia. And less than a year after our marriage we moved to San Diego where Derek would pursue a PHD at UC Sand Diego and I would begin a Master’s degree from San Diego State. Those were happy times. We had no money but we had each other. Moving away for school was a sweet adventure but because Derek was so busy with school and his calling, I longed for a friend. Being so fresh off of a mission, I had a strong desire to share the gospel with those around me. We were given many opportunities to share the gospel, some of them well received and others not so much. I was missing my parents and siblings as I tried to learn to become a good wife to my new sweet husband. I didn’t want to admit that being far from home had made me feel a little lonely.
I began serving in the San Diego Temple as a receptionist. This calling brought me great joy. One day there was an announcement that President Monson of the first Presidency would be speaking at a special fireside for temple workers and their spouses. I was so very excited to listen to a servant of God and maybe even get a chance to meet him! As we pulled up the the large double-Chapel stake center in Vista, California, I realized just how many people would be attending his talk. We had to park quite far away and hike over to the church before entering and finding a seat. As we entered the building we both realized that we would not be sitting anywhere near where President Monson would be speaking. In a very small and crowded overflow room we listened to President Monson speak fondly of his days living is San Diego in the Navy. After his message, I asked Derek if I could try to catch a glimpse of President Monson in the main chapel. He agreed and waited patiently for me in the foyer. As I approached the stand I saw a mob of people, not in an orderly line as you sometimes see when waiting to greet a special visitor, but more like a crowd of fans huddled around a stage during a rock-concert. How was this mayhem ever going to lead to my interacting with President Monson? Not knowing what else to do I joined the mob in hopes that I could at least make eye contact with President Monson before he left the chapel. He reached out his hand and began shaking the many outreached hands. There was no order it it, it almost reminded me of a crowd of people huddled around the Savior with His disciples trying to shield him from the chaos.
Suddenly President Monson reached out his and and shook mine! I was lucky enough to shake his hand! What a treasure I had received! I couldn’t understand why this sweet experience was leaving me a little empty. I realized what a gift it had been to have touched President Monson’s hand but because of the chaotic situation he had not made eye-contact with me. Silly as it seems, I did not feel I had truly met this giant of a man without having an actual moment with him face to face. I tried to feel grateful for the gift I had received and not to feel bad for what had been lacking.
In the tenderness of that moment I imagine I may have said a prayer that went something like this: “Heavenly Father, I am so blessed that I was able to be here this evening and that I was able to have this moment of standing here in this place where thy servant stands and that I was able to be a part of this adoring group that could feel thy love through this humble servant. How I would long for him to see me, that I would feel known of him and of Thee.....” After lingering there a few more moments President Monson stopped what he was doing and took a single Moment to look up from what was certainly an overwhelming crowd. As he paused he turned his face toward me and gave me his warm signature smile we all love. The spirit testified to me of God’s love for even the lowliest person that he would inspire His servant take a moment from his busy life to acknowledge one so insignificant in the world!
I know with out doubt that Thomas Spencer Monson was a true prophet of God and that he wore himself out in doing God’s will and being on his errand. He witnessed to me that day to the truth of the words he so often spoke: “Never let a job to be done be more important than a person to be loved.” People. People are God’s work and glory, and so it was for President Monson. He always ministered to people. Or in my case to one person, for one moment, a moment I shall never forget for my mortal life. May we all live close to the spirit as did President Monson so that we too can be on the Lord's errand if ever we are called be.