Wednesday, February 6, 2008

President Thomas S. Monson and the Canada Toronto Mission Connection



One of our CTM mission leaders has finally become the 16th President of the Church. It is a great moment for the members and missionaries in Canada who have a great love for Thomas S. Monson.

On Sunday, February 3, 2008 Thomas S. Monson was selected as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was announced on Monday, February 4, 2008. Thomas Spencer Monson was born on a Sunday morning, 21 August 1927, in Salt Lake City. Thomas S. Monson did not have a chance to serve a full-time mission as a young man since he enlisted during World War II in the Navy in 1945-1946.



He recalls of that time: "During the final phases of World War II, I turned eighteen and was ordained an elder one week before I departed for active duty with the navy. A member of my ward bishopric was at the train station to bid me farewell. Just before train time, he placed two books in my hands. One was a popular satire in which I took interest. The other was entitled The Missionary Handbook. I laughed and commented, “I’m not going on a mission.” He answered, “Take it anyway—it may come in handy.”

It did. In basic training the quartermaster instructed us concerning how we might best pack our clothing in a large sea bag. He advised: “If you have some hard, rectangular object you can place in the bottom, your clothes will stay more firm.” I suddenly remembered just the right rectangular object: The Missionary Handbook. Thus it served for sixteen weeks.

The night preceding our Christmas leave our thoughts were, as always, on home. The quarters were quiet. Suddenly I became aware that my buddy in the adjoining bunk, a Mormon boy, Leland Merrill, was moaning in pain. I asked, “What’s the matter, Merrill?” He replied, “I’m sick. I’m really sick.” I advised him to go to the base dispensary, but he answered knowingly that such a course would prevent him from being home for Christmas.

The hours lengthened, his groan grew louder. Suddenly he whispered, “Monson, Monson, aren’t you an elder?” I acknowledged this to be so, whereupon he asked, “Give me a blessing.”

Suddenly I became very much aware that I had never given a blessing. I had never received such a blessing, I had never witnessed a blessing being given. My prayer to God was a plea for help. The answer came: “Look in the bottom of the sea bag.” Thus, at 2:00 a.m., I spilled the contents of the bag on the deck, took the book to the night light, and read how one blesses the sick. With about forty curious sailors looking on, I proceeded with the blessing. Before I could stow my gear, Leland Merrill was sleeping like a child.

The next morning Merrill smilingly turned to me and said: “Monson, I’m glad you have the priesthood.” His gladness was only surpassed by my joy. (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980, pp. 244-245).

In 1948 he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Utah and became associated with the Deseret News. He also married Francis Beverly Johnson in the Salt Lake Temple. On the 7 May 1950 at at the age of 22 he became a bishop in the Sixth-Seventh Ward in Salt Lake City. In June 1955 he was made a counselor in the counselor in the presidency of the Temple View Stake.



In the 1993 mission presidents' seminar Elder Monson told of going on his pre-mission preparation: "He described the seminar as "the best training in the world," and promised the new mission presidents and their wives that "you will fall in love with the membership of the Church wherever you are."

He contrasted this training seminar with that of 1959 when Sister Monson and he were called to serve in the Canadian Mission in Toronto, Canada, with only three weeks' notice.

"Sister Monson was ill, expecting our third child. . . but about three weeks later we were on a train going to Toronto, Canada."

In the 1989 mission presidents' seminar Elder Monson said of the call: "He promised the new leaders that their devotion would "make a big difference in the lives of your missionaries."

President Monson was accompanied to the seminar by his wife, Frances. In his remarks, he reminisced about the time he and Sister Monson were called with about three weeks notice to leave their home and move their small family to eastern Canada where he served as mission president.

After his call was received, "I came home in the middle of the day. It was snowing outside. [His wife] asked 'What are you doing home?'

"I said, 'We've been called to preside over a mission.' She had to sit down. . . . We were on our way in three weeks. That's all the preparation we had.

"Off we went and it was the most lovely three years anyone could have." ("Missionary force, membership must cooperate," Church News [Saturday, July 4, 1998]: 4).

Among those who gave him brief instructions was Elder Harold B. Lee, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, who told him, "Whom God calls, God qualifies." President Monson continued: "Chapter by chapter, the Lord just takes you by the hand and gives you answers to your prayers. And when you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help."

From 1959 to 1962, Tom Monson had the privilege of presiding over the Canadian Mission, with headquarters in Toronto, Canada. When Thomas Spencer Monson arrived in Toronto in May 1959 with his wife, Frances, and their two young children, Tom and Ann, he was the youngest mission president the mission had ever had. He was 31 years old, one of the youngest mission presidents in the Church. The Canadian Mission then consisted of Ontario and Quebec. The mission covered a very large geographical area, with no stakes and few adequate buildings. Under his direction in 1960 the first stake was created in Canada. It was the 300th Stake of the Church. The first stake in eastern Canada was formed from the Toronto and Kitchener Districts. It was the first Canadian stake outside of Alberta, and members from all over Ontario and Quebec attended to celebrate 130 years of Church growth in central Canada. The second stake was created under the Mission presidency of M. Russell Ballard with Elder Monson presiding.



Francis M. Gibbons said: "At Deseret Press, Brother Monson helped President J. Reuben Clark Jr. prepare his manuscript Our Lord of the Gospels for publication. They met regularly for months in President Clark’s office. The relationship that developed between them was almost that of father and son. When Thomas S. Monson was called to preside over the Canadian Mission, he took Frances and the children to visit President Clark. As Frances was expecting their third child, the Monsons said it would be named after him were it a boy. When told the child would be called Clark, the president urged, “Don’t be afraid of ‘Joshua Reuben.’ ” When Clark Spencer Monson was born in Toronto, Canada, the parents informed President Clark by wire. He responded with a classic letter (a Monson family treasure) addressed to the baby.

President Spencer W. Kimball regarded Thomas S. Monson as “truly a ‘do it’ man,” meaning one who acts promptly and resolutely. He also acted buoyantly and with unbounded optimism, qualities that typified his work as mission president. His main focus was the missionaries. He quickly learned their names, taught and counseled them regularly, and encouraged each one to become his best self. Such caring avoided early departures from the field or disciplinary councils. No missionary who served under President Monson received a dishonorable release or returned home before completing his service. Such leadership was reflected in the achievements of the missionaries during his tenure when converts per missionary and convert baptisms climbed sharply, fueling an aggressive program of erecting Church buildings.

A highlight of the Monsons’ mission was the creation of the Toronto Stake, the 300th stake in the Church. It occurred during Elder Mark E. Petersen’s tour of the mission. Elder Alma Sonne, Elder Petersen’s companion, questioned why the Sunday services could not be held in the large school auditorium used on Saturday. “The crowd that my husband has in mind assembling would not fit in this building,” explained Frances. She was right. More than 2,200 people filled the Odeon Carleton Theatre to overflowing, perhaps the largest gathering of Latter-day Saints in Canada to that date. Waitresses in nearby restaurants were perplexed that a non-caffeinated drink was the diner’s choice of beverage until they learned the Mormons had gathered.

William Davies was called as the first president of the Toronto Ontario Stake when it was organized in 1960. At that time, he worked closely with the mission president, a young man named Thomas S. Monson, who was instrumental in preparing the way for the organization of the stake.

While in Toronto, President Monson became acquainted with a prominent Canadian businessman, N. Eldon Tanner. Returning to the mission home after meeting him for the first time, Tom said to Frances, “This man is destined to be a member of the Council of the Twelve.” As we know, N. Eldon Tanner also became a member of the First Presidency, ably serving four Church Presidents during almost two decades. The first meeting of these two men takes on added interest when it is known that the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles created on 4 October 1963, when N. Eldon Tanner was sustained as a member of the First Presidency, was filled the same day by Thomas S. Monson. A mutual admiration always existed between them."

In the 1993 mission presidents' seminar Thomas S. Monson shared this about his wife: "President Monson told the mission presidents and their wives to "prepare for the greatest experience in your life thus far."

He then paid tribute to his wife, Frances, for her example of service in the Canadian Mission where he was president from 1959-1962.

"Realize back in 1959 she was expecting our third child, deathly sick. We'd been in our one-and-only new home just a year and half. And I came home in the middle of the day.

"She said, 'What are you doing here?' "

"I said, 'We've been called on a mission to Canada.' "

" 'A mission? When do we go?'

"In three weeks."

" 'Do we have any training?' I said no."

Now, he reflected, "As we look back on that three-year period, she's often said it was the most treasured experience we had together. And I acknowledge that likewise."

He observed that during their mission, Sister Monson was president of the Relief Society, the Young Women and the Primary of 53 branches, and ran "that old mission home with the staff living in, and the office on the top floor."

"And we loved every minute of it.

"She said, 'I wouldn't trade that old mission home and all those missionaries and sick ones and homesick ones for the lovely mission quarters that are provided today.' She loved those missionaries and they knew it. I think she did more good than she realizes."



In 2008 Peggy Fletcher Stack in the Salt Lake Tribune says of Frances Monson's contribution as a mission president's wife: "Frances was pregnant with their third child when Tom was called to preside over the Toronto mission. She had only three weeks to pack up and plan for the move. When they arrived, the mission home needed serious renovations, yet was the center of activity for the Mormons in the area. Overnight she became the "mission mom" to more than 100 19-year-old boys far from their home. New ones arrived every week and she would cook meals for them.

Yet Frances loved it, Dibb says.

Last year for their 80th birthdays, Frances and Tom met with eastern Canadians gathered in Salt Lake City.

"My mother told them how grateful she was to be part of something important," Dibb says. "She enjoyed serving them all."

In the 2006 mission presidents' seminar Thomas S. Monson shared ways his wife helped discouraged missionaries: "President Monson shared his wife's "special formula" to help missionaries who were discouraged. "Such a missionary would be invited to stay a few days at the mission home, eat at our table, and enjoy some special treats which Sister Monson would cook. Within the mission home, Sister Monson had a small cupboard where the baptismal clothing was kept. She would ask the discouraged missionary if he would help her with a little project—-namely, painting the inside shelves of this cupboard. She kept a gallon of ivory-colored paint on hand for this purpose. The elder would remove the baptismal clothing from the shelves, wash the shelves, let them dry, and then would apply a coat of paint. While waiting for the paint to dry, he would stay a few more days and then would return to his proselyting area, renewed in spirit and ready to resume his labors." President Monson continued, "Of course the cupboard never did need painting, but it saved many missionaries." ("Preaching the gospel is the greatest of duties: President Monson says rich blessings await mission presidents and their wives," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 2006]: 6).

Jeffrey R. Holland wrote even as a mission president Tom Monson had time for his kids: "The Monson’s oldest son, Tom, said he hardly ever had free time with his dad during those demanding years in the Canadian Mission (the Monsons had three days in three years when they ate alone as a family, exclusive of missionaries or other mission guests). Nevertheless, every night before young Tommy went to bed, he would go upstairs to his father’s office and whatever his dad was doing would be put aside in deference to a game of checkers. “In its own way, that memory is as sweet to me as the one I have of my father flying all the way to Louisville, Kentucky, years later to give me a blessing against the pneumonia I had contracted during my military basic training there,” Tom said." (Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Thomas S. Monson: Man of Action, Man of Faith, Always ‘on the Lord’s Errand’,” Ensign [February 1986]: 10).

Two of his children remember his sharing his time with them even when he was busy as mission president. "Daughter Ann said some of her fondest memories came from “hearing him tell of the special inspiration he had in calling a patriarch or of the faith-promoting experiences he had interviewing missionaries.”

His son Thomas said, “Every night before I went to bed, I would go upstairs to his office, and whatever he was doing, he would put aside, and he would play me a game of checkers. That is one of the sweetest memories I have of my father.”

In the October 2006 General Conference "President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, reminisced about his service as president of the Canadian Mission beginning in 1959. While presiding over the mission headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, he met N. Eldon Tanner, a prominent Canadian who would later serve in the Church's First Presidency. One day, he asked the future-President Tanner why the roads in western Canada remained intact during icy winters, "showing little or no signs of cracking or breaking, while the road surfaces in many areas where winters were less cold and less severe developed cracks and breaks and potholes."

President Tanner replied: "The answer is in the depth of the base of the paving materials. In order for them to remain strong and unbroken, it is necessary to go very deep with the foundation layers. When the foundations are not deep enough, the surfaces cannot withstand the extremes of weather." ("Three guidelines," LDS Church News [Saturday, October 7, 2006]: 11).

President Monson related that over the years he has thought often of that conversation and of President Tanner's explanation, "for I recognize in his words a profound application for our lives. Stated simply, if we do not have a deep foundation of faith and a solid testimony of truth, we may have difficulty withstanding the harsh storms and icy winds of adversity which inevitably come to each of us." ("




The LDS Church News when reporting the 2007 new mission presidents' seminar related the following about his mission: "A former mission president in Toronto, Canada, President Monson told how, during this service, he became well-acquainted with each missionary, knowing his or her home town, the parents' names and what his or her father did for a living. On occasion, he would go into the nearby woods to pray for his missionaries. "There was a lot I needed to know," he said. "I knew each missionary was the pride of his or her parents. I sought to know how to bless them."

Thoughtful gestures also bless the families as they know their missionary child is loved by the mission president. He told how his wife, Frances, sent cards to the mothers of each missionary for Mother's Day, and how much those were appreciated. ("Set spiritual tone:President Monson draws from wealth of experience to instruct new leaders," LDS Church News [Saturday, June 30, 2007]: 5).


photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps

Later in the day Julie Dockstader Heaps in the LDS Church News summarized Elder Monson remarks at the MTC to a group of missionaries about his admiration for his wife's help while serving in the CTM mission: " During his address, President Monson recounted when he served as mission president in eastern Canada. At the time of their call, he and Sister Monson had two small children and were expecting their third. He described it as a "glorious experience" helping young missionaries "have the full measure of the blessings of the Lord in this particular foundation period when you get closer to the Lord and learn more how to get along with people and how to present the truth of the gospel than in any other way."

President Monson acknowledged Sister Monson's contributions during that mission. "She had overwhelming responsibilities that she handled magnificently. She was a friend to every missionary." (" Missionaries are called of God:'Army of the servants of the Lord' are acting out of divine authority, LDS Church News [Saturday, June 30, 2007]: 6).

Jeffrey R. Holland wrote about Tom Monson's mission:"The early career in advertising sales and management at the Deseret News (of which he is now the president and chairman of the board) and later the Deseret Press (of which he was to become general manager) was interrupted by service as president of the Canadian Mission from 1959 to 1962. The mission covered a very large geographical area, with no stakes and few adequate buildings.

“He had a dramatic impact on that mission,” remembers former missionary F. Wayne Chamberlain. “Here he was, younger than some of the full-time elders. But the minute he arrived in Toronto he was in charge. In one quick tour of the mission he knew every missionary’s name and many of the members. He lifted everyone, everywhere he went—-he completely energized the entire mission. With what I saw there, I truly believe he could have become the successful chief executive officer of any major corporation in the world.” Needless to say, the work of the Church flourished in eastern Canada under this young president’s direction."

In the 1993 mission presidents' seminar Thomas S. Monson told them how to teach missionaries to work in an area: "Part of transferring is to teach missionaries to work in an area, not through it. "I had an elder over in Kitchener, Ontario. He wrote a letter to me: 'Dear President, we tracted out Kitchener. What do we do now?'

"Kitchener. A city of 80,000."

"I wrote back, 'Dear Elder, Happy to hear you have tracted out Kitchener. Now if you will teach and baptize the people in Kitchener.' And that was that."

His daughter Ann was a good member missionary as a child, President Monson recalled: "Many have come into the Church—or at least have come to know and respect the Church—because someone made the effort to reach outward. I share with you a treasured family experience which had its beginning back in 1959 when I was called to preside over the Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto.

Our daughter, Ann, who is in the audience today, turned five shortly after we arrived in Canada. She saw the missionaries going about their work and she, too, wanted to be a missionary. My wife demonstrated understanding by permitting Ann to take to class a few copies of the Children’s Friend. That wasn’t sufficient for Ann. She also wanted to take with her a copy of the Book of Mormon so that she might talk to her teacher, Miss Pepper, about the Church. I think it rather thrilling that just a few years ago, long years after our return from Toronto, we came home from a vacation and found in our mailbox a note from Miss Pepper which read:

Dear Ann:

Think back many years ago. I was your schoolteacher in Toronto, Canada. I was impressed by the copies of the Children’s Friend which you brought to school. I was impressed by your dedication to a book called the Book of Mormon.

I made a commitment that one day I would come to Salt Lake City and see why you talked as you did and why you believed in the manner you believed. Today I had the privilege of going through your visitors’ center on Temple Square. Thanks to a five-year-old girl who had an understanding of that which she believed, I now have a better understanding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Miss Pepper died not too long after that visit. How happy our daughter Ann was when she attended the Jordan River Temple and performed the temple work for her beloved teacher to whom she had reached out so many years ago. (Thomas S. Monson, “Guideposts for Life’s Journey,” 2007 BYU Devotional Address, 13 November 2007, Provo, UT.: BYU University Press, 2008).

In June 1991 at the rededication of Cardston Alberta temple President Thomas S. Monson said: "`This land, this temple district, is filled with faith and marked with love,'' he said. ``The men and women I have known from Canada have taught with power and authority. I pay tribute to all of those who have gone before and paved a way to follow. I think it's nice having a temple anchoring the eastern part of Canada in Toronto, and one anchoring the western part of the country, in Cardston." (Mike Cannon, "ALBERTA TEMPLE `WASHED, POLISHED' FOR ITS SESSIONS OF REDEDICATION," LDS Church News [Saturday, June 29, 1991]: 3).


President Thomas S. Monson, with his wife, Frances, attend Canadian Mission reunion Oct. 4, 2007. As a birthday gift, missionaries who served under him presented them a painting of the mission home in Toronto, Ontario. Photo by Gerry Avant.

Gerry Avant in the LDS Church News wrote about a 2007 CTM mission reunion where President and Sister Monson were honored by their missionaries and friends:

"When President Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Sister Frances J. Monson, entered a downtown Salt Lake City hotel's banquet hall Oct. 4, time and distance seemed to vanish for them and the 350 people who had gathered for a Canadian Mission reunion. Toronto, where the mission had its headquarters, seemed not so far away and, while many pages have come and gone from calendars over the years, memory made it seem just a short time ago that they were serving together as missionaries.

President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, presided over the Canadian Mission from 1959-1962. He and Sister Monson were guests of honor at a dinner meeting that served a dual purpose: a missionary reunion and a celebration of their 80th birthdays this year, his on Aug. 21 and hers on Oct. 27.

Missionaries who served in the Canadian Mission commissioned a watercolor illustration of the mission home and presented it to President and Sister Monson as a joint birthday gift.

President Monson reflected on his call by President Stephen L Richards of the First Presidency to serve as president of the Canadian Mission. He and Sister Monson had just three weeks to prepare to leave for Canada. They traveled by train with their two young children, Tommy and Ann; Sister Monson was expecting their third child, Clark, who was born several months later in Canada.

They were met in Toronto by President J. Earl Lewis and his wife, Leah, who had served for three-and-a-half years in Canada. Some missionaries who served under President Lewis also attended the reunion with their spouses.

When President and Sister Lewis left, President Monson said, he realized that he had responsibility of presiding over the entire provinces of Ontario and Quebec which, at that time, had six member districts, 55 branches, more than 5,000 members and 168 missionaries. He was just 31 years old; he said he felt the weight of that responsibility on his shoulders.

"I went out behind the mission home at 133 Lyndhurst Ave. I got down on my knees...and I poured my heart out to Heavenly Father. I said, 'I will give this mission everything I have, but I have just one wish—-that I'll not lose a missionary.' That wish was fulfilled."

As he looked over the missionaries and their spouses at the reunion, President Monson said, "I like the quote, 'God gave us memories that we might have June roses in the December of our lives.' Some of our missionaries have had their Decembers and have passed on. I've grieved over each one. I rejoice in your accomplishments. I grieve in your sorrows. I'm your mission president. I don't forget you, and I hope you'll never forget me, and my dear wife, who is the epitome of what a mission president's wife ought to be."

President Monson said that he wanted "to have the finest mission in the Church. And I think we did." He delighted the audience when he held up his report to the First Presidency, dated Jan. 15, 1962. In the report, he listed three objectives the mission had determined to achieve:
1. Appoint and train local members in leadership positions, thereby relieving full-time missionaries for proselyting.
2. Initiate and direct an adequate chapel building program.
3. Improve missionary effectiveness.

As a measure of success, President Monson reported that in 1959, 57 percent of the branches and districts had missionaries presiding over them. At the end of 1961, all the member units had local leaders.

He spoke of some of those leaders, such as Irving Wilson, president of the St. Thomas Branch, who decided that if the branch were to move from its rented hall to a new chapel, they would need people to help build the meetinghouse. President Monson quoted President Wilson, who said, "We ought to have a building designed by a Mormon architect; and since we don't have an architect who is a member of the branch we need to convert one." President Wilson looked in the Yellow Pages under "Architects," and invited one to learn about the Church. He did the same so that the branch would one day have a Mormon builder, a Mormon mechanic, a Mormon brick mason, "a Mormon this and a Mormon that," President Monson said.

Five or six organists played at the first meeting held in the new chapel, President Monson said. When he asked President Wilson where the organists came from, the branch president replied, "We baptized them." He had done the same thing with musicians as he had with people in the building trade; he found people with musical talent or interest and invited them to Church where they learned of the gospel.

President Monson recounted incidents involving various missionaries, always calling them by name.

"I had the best missionaries," he said.

Earlier in the program, Sister Monson was presented a bouquet of yellow roses by Vaughn Pulsipher, representing the "Monson missionaries." He paid tribute to Sister Monson, noting that they appreciated her down-to-earth approach and her welcoming them into the Monsons' home, "making it our home as well."

On behalf of fellow missionaries, Robert Warnick read an open letter to President and Sister Monson. In part, the letter stated: "Through your words and actions, you have both shown us how the Lord expects that we will behave in this brief sojourn on earth; and, in spite of our failures, most of us are striving to live up to the examples you set."

The letter thanked President and Sister Monson for many things, including, "Remembering our names, telling our relatives that we were wonderful missionaries, speaking of your love for Canada in your talks, continuing to attend mission reunions, listening to us when we speak to you, visiting us when we are sick, responding to requests for counsel, letting us know by your actions that you are still in love, reminding us that 'He whom God calls, He qualifies,' devoting your lives to the Lord, attending the funerals of our companions who have returned home, proving an example and, again, remembering our names." ("Time vanishes: Pres. and Sister Monson reminisce with former Canadian missionaries," LDS Church News, [Saturday, October 20, 2007]: 4].

Steve Fidel of the Deseret News on February 5th 2008 spoke with former CTM Missionaries who related their impressions of their missions: " Upon arriving in Canada, Gary Bell recalls encountering President Thomas S. Monson, his mission president, at the Toronto train station. "I still remember him saying in a big booming voice: 'Hi. I'm Tom Monson. Welcome to the Canadian Mission.'

"I was always impressed with him as an individual and for his enthusiasm. I never met a missionary (in Canada) that wasn't really convinced he was someday going to sit in leading counsels of the church.

"I remember his capacity for leadership, setting goals and meeting them. I don't think he ever set a goal for his missionaries that we didn't met them."

There were many experiences where he would show up at a missionary's apartment or get an impression to go see them before they did something that was wrong. "He had this goal that he would never send a missionary home early, and he did everything he could to keep every missionary there."

Annual mission reunions in October before the church's general conference each year have been a highlight in Bell's association with President Monson. "President Monson always kids his missionaries that 'when I look at you I have to add on 30 pounds and subtract hair so I can identify who you were."

Another of his missionaries Floyd Max Widdison also told Fidel about his mission: " Widdison and three other new missionaries arrived in Toronto by train, where they were told someone would be there to meet them. "This fellow said, 'Down here, elders,' beckoning us. I thought he just looked like a little older missionary, but it was President Monson.

"He was a very vigorous, energetic fellow at that time. Missionaries loved him. He's a great motivator. He knew every missionary's name."

"He would speak extemporaneously. I'm sure he had some thoughts he wanted to convey to us, but a lot of his talk to us was straight from the heart — from him to us. He was a great missionary president. There was no doubt in any of our minds that some day he would be a general authority."

Widdison noted that President Monson continued to preside at mission reunions each October, including last year when the missionaries also celebrated the 80th birthdays of both President Monson and his wife, Frances."

In a Ricks College devotional 13 April 1993 recounted in the Church News Elder Monson shared this story: "President Monson and the missionary's father gave him a blessing. The day of the surgery, the five other patients in the six-bed ward in which the missionary was staying refused to eat. The reason they gave, although they were not members of the Church, was that they were fasting for the missionary, having learned the principle from him during their hospital stay.

"I might tell you that the operation was a success," President Monson said. "In fact, when I attempted to pay the surgeon, he countered, 'Why, that would be dishonest for me to accept a fee. I have never before performed surgery when my hands seemed to be guided by a power which was other than my own.

' "No,' he said, 'I wouldn't take a fee for the surgery which someone on high helped me to perform.' " ("Master Builders of Eternal Houses," Church News [Saturday, April 24, 1993]: 3).

On December 20, 2005 Reid Robison, President of the West Indies Mission recorded in his journal some memories President Thomas S. Monson shared with him when extending his call: "President Monson discovered they were born in Toronto and then began to tell us his experiences in Toronto as mission president. He came around from behind the desk and showed us his report to the First Presidency of his mission. He turned the pages slowly and quoted from each page. He pointed out the progress going from 2.16 baptisms per missionary to 5.63. When he completed the mission, they baptized 1000 souls -- up from 300 the first year. The 300th Stake of the Church was created in Toronto while he was mission president. He and his wife had signed the report he showed us.

He told us stories of his children in Canada--a sister (nonmember) who taught his little daughter and was impressed that she could bear her testimony of the Church after reading her an article from the Friend magazine. The lady's name was Mrs. Pepper. She visited the Salt Lake Temple Square before she died and left them a note of her impressions. His daughter did Mrs. Pepper's temple work after she passed on. President Monson's son had his first paper-route in Canada. Their cook mixed chocolate cake in with the soup to make it edible. (She was not a good cook). He spoke of a special, private spot behind the mission home at 123 Loma (next to Casa Loma) in a ravine--where he would retire to pray. He made a promise to the Lord to do everything he could to magnify his calling as a mission president and asked the Lord one thing in return--that he wouldn't lose one missionary. One died of lung cancer six weeks after the mission and two or three tried to run off from the mission but came back. He "rescued" one from Arizona (where H. Burke Peterson was the bishop of the boy). He plotted out a route where the elder had a different bishop to feed him and had him fuel his car every 400 miles back to Toronto. He also got a boy who escaped to Ogden to come back. When President Monson told us about the fact that Jamie flies to our mission enroute to BYU, he told of two twins who served in Asia and stopped in Iceland, where their parents served (their heritage)as a mission president couple and completed another mission. We don't think Jamie will want to do that."

Stephen Hadley told Fidel about his prodigious memory: " "Many have mentioned over and over gain his remarkable memory. That I think is a significant attribute of President Monson's. He seems to recall events and people, not just their names but something about them.

"He seems to find spiritual things that the normal person might not see as spiritual. When he tells you about it you recognized what you're missing, what you've missed in that event.

"He's always been guided by the Spirit in the things that he says and the things that he does. He's mentioned many times how he's about to go some place and is promoted to go to the hospital, go to a person's home, go to a person's activity, that he hadn't planned on. When he arrived he saw the need that was there. To me it's like he's been guided by an unseen hand to help someone who's in need, to someone who needs to be lifted.

"When you talk to him, it's like you're the only person in the room. His undivided attention is what it's all about.

"I don't think it was as obvious to his missionaries how young he was. When you first saw him you may have gotten the idea that he's another missionary, because of the youthfulness of his age and his looks. But the minute you stepped into his presence, the minute he spoke, then there was a great divide. You recognized that he was special and he was somebody different.

"When he talked, there was always a great spirit about his talk. There was always a point about his talk, and there was always a lively comment. He had a great tendency to boost missionaries' morale. We also recognized his wife (Frances) as a great help meet to be by his side with the challenges that were ahead and the challenges that were there immediately."

"He gave me some advice, which he's given quite a few times over the pulpit. But as I left the mission, he said, 'Never seek a job in the church; never reject a job in the church, unless it's something for health or otherwise; and don't quit when the going gets tough."

A year after he returned from his mission at the age of 36 in October 1963, he was made an apostle. He served on the Missionary Executive Committee in the 1970s. For forty-one years he has served on the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America.

A few years after his return as mission president a few of his missionaries were unmarried so he set them up. "President Monson recalled a time he and Sister Monson planned with a purpose to help some still-single sisters who had served under his direction when he was a mission president in Canada. They invited the four sisters to their home and let them go through photos of elders from the mission to find one each to invite to a special "fireside." Choices were made.

We went forward and invited the chosen four young men to join these four young ladies in our home, and we had a glorious evening," he said.

Out of that evening, one of the couples fell in love. He said, "They have now been married for 42 years, have five children and many grandchildren." (Report by Greg Hill, "Aspire to ideals, valuable guides in life,' Church News [Saturday, November 12, 2005]: 3).

In 2007 he related one of his first experiences as an apostle: "I suppose every one of us in this congregation has had a few “heart-stoppers” in his or her life. I know that I have. Before going forward with my general theme, I might mention one or two of them.

This past general conference marked 44 years since I was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in October of 1963. A few days following that conference, I met with my colleagues for the first time in the fourth-floor room of the Salt Lake Temple. Everything was so new to me. We were to partake of the sacrament that day. As we prepared to receive it, President David O. McKay said, “Before we partake of the bread and water, I would like to invite our newest member, Brother Monson, to instruct the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve on the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will hear from you now, Brother Monson.” That was a heart-stopper for me.

At the conclusion of the meeting, we moved to the lunchroom reserved for the First Presidency and the Twelve, where we were to eat. As we sat around the table, President McKay said, “Brother Monson, do you believe that William Shakespeare really wrote the sonnets attributed to him?”

“Yes,” I responded, “I do, President McKay.”

He then exclaimed, “Wonderful! So do I; so do I.”

I thought to myself, “I hope he moves away from Shakespeare.” I was a business major.
However, he turned again to me and said, “Brother Monson, do you read Shakespeare?”

I said, “Occasionally.”

“Fine,” he said. “What is your favorite work of Shakespeare?”

I thought quickly—perhaps more a desperate prayer than a reasoned thought—and replied, “Henry the Eighth.”

“Which is your favorite passage?” he asked.

I had a heart-stopping situation right there. Then I thought of Cardinal Wolsey, that man who served his king but neglected his God. I recited to President McKay what Cardinal Wolsey lamented when he was shorn of all his power:

Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.

President McKay said, “Oh, I love that passage, too.” Then he changed the subject, for which I shall be eternally grateful.

As we journey through mortality, heart-stoppers will come to each of us. (Thomas S. Monson, “Guideposts for Life’s Journey,” 2007 BYU Devotional Address, 13 November 2007, Provo, UT.: BYU University Press, 2008).


Elder and Sister Monsons with Dieter Uctdorf and wife April 27 1975

Elder Monson supervised several mission areas of the Church: "As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he supervised the missions in western America, the South Pacific, Mexico and Central America, and supervised the work in Europe. After a number of years and following the policy of rotation, the European missions were transferred to another member of the Twelve; however, Elder Monson retained responsibility for all countries behind the Iron Curtain.



Francis M. Gibbons wrote: "Four years later [1989], following contacts by President Monson with government leaders at the highest level, LDS missionaries were allowed to enter East Germany for the first time in fifty years. Also, LDS missionaries from East Germany were allowed to work in other countries."



On 22 June 1986, the 1,600th stake of the Church, the Kitchener Ontario Stake, was organized by President Thomas S. Monson and Elder M. Russell Ballard. President Monson announced the Toronto temple would be built in nearby Brampton. On 10 October 1987, President Thomas S. Monson and Elder M. Russell Ballard broke ground for the Toronto temple. On 25-27 August 1990 the Toronto Ontario Temple was dedicated in 11 sessions, which were presided over by President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson and attended by more than 17,000 members. Previous to its dedication, the temple was open to the public during a 16-day open house. A total of 61,285 visited the temple.

President Monson and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve officiated at the groundbreaking for the Toronto Temple in 1987. Both had served as mission presidents in Toronto. The construction of a temple, President Monson said during those ceremonies, “is the ultimate mark of maturity of an area pertaining to the establishment of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

He told Canadian members of the penetrating question put by President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, as the question of constructing a temple in Eastern Canada was considered by the Council of the Twelve. President Hinckley turned to President Monson and Elder Ballard and asked: “Can you guarantee we’ll have enough members in Ontario to keep a temple busy?”

President Monson responded, “Brother Hinckley, we’ll have more than enough members in the city of Toronto, without considering Ontario. I’ll guarantee it, and Brother Ballard will second the matter.”

President Monson's recollections of the Toronto Temple dedication were given in 1990:

Another transcendent blessing came the last weekend of August when a magnificent temple of the Lord was dedicated in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In its gleaming glory, the temple seems to beckon to each who views its splendor, “Come! Come to the house of the Lord. Here is found ‘rest for the weary and peace for the soul.’ ”

And how the people did come! First they thronged to the public open house, where reverently and quietly they viewed the interior of the temple and learned the purpose for its erection and of the blessings which the temple can provide. One visitor described the temple’s beauty with the words, “This is a center of serenity.”

As she was about to leave the temple, a young Asian girl said, “Mommy, this is beautiful here. I don’t want to go.”

One woman surprised an usher with her request: “I have been so impressed with what I have seen. How do I join your church?”

Then came the faithful membership of the Church to the dedicatory sessions. From Ontario and Quebec they came. Others traveled from those cities in the United States which are a part of the temple district. Some journeyed to Toronto from the distant Maritime Provinces of Canada. None who came returned home disappointed.

A boy of tender years viewing the cornerstone-laying ceremony was, by the spirit of inspiration, called to take trowel in hand and assist in the sealing of the cornerstone.

Dora Valencia, who had lain four years in the Ajax Ontario Hospital, mustered her courage and fulfilled the desire to attend. From her hospital bed, which was wheeled into the celestial room, she not only basked in the spirit found there, but she also helped to provide that spirit. As I walked past her, upon leaving the room, and gazed at her expression of profound gratitude to the Lord, I bent low and took her hand in mine. Heaven was very near.

Angelic choirs lifted spirits heavenward as they sang the beautiful “Hosanna Anthem.” When the congregation joined with the choir to sing “The Spirit of God like a fire is burning,” no eye remained dry and no heart untouched.

Speakers recounted the history of the Church in the Toronto area, and the beautiful dedicatory prayer given at each session whispered peace. The words of Oliver Cowdery, spoken of another time, seemed to capture the spirit of the dedication: “These were days never to be forgotten.” (JS—H 1:71, note.)

As we recount the history of the Church in eastern Canada, we come to appreciate the tender feelings of the members of the Church on having a temple in their midst."

In August 1987 Thomas S. Monson when he went to Canada for the dedication of the Toronto Temple also dedicated a marker to commemorate the opening of missionary work in Canada. Gerry Avant of the LDS Church News wrote of the ceremonies: "On a calm summer morning of blue skies and sunshine capped by a gentle breeze blowing inland from the northern shore of Lake Ontario, President Thomas S. Monson dedicated a marker honoring Latter-day Saints who brought the message of the restored gospel to eastern Canada. The geographical area is commonly referred to here as "Upper Canada."

The dedication of the marker, placed on a native limestone slab about seven feet high, was the highlight of events Aug. 9 in the Trenton District, Canada Toronto East Mission. While linked to the sesquicentennial of the arrival of the pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley, the events placed appropriate emphasis on this area's rich LDS history.

The day's activities began with a parade through the village of Bath to Finkle's Shore Park, a distance of about two miles. Featuring some 500 people, it is likely that the parade had about as many participants as spectators.

The procession had just about everything one would expect of such an event honoring Mormon pioneers. Near its head was the Pioneer Brass Band, augmented by volunteers from the Trenton Citizen's Band. Following were a bagpiper, floats portraying various phases of early Church history, a contingent of handcarts and covered wagons, youth carrying banners and placards with values-based themes, and young children toddling along with red wagons or pedal cars that were covered with bits of white cloth to make them look like little covered wagons. Missionaries serving in the Trenton District carried a giant Canadian flag.

At the end of the route, parade participants and spectators settled down on the park's dry, sun-scorched grass or lawn chairs to witness a new event in eastern Canada's Church history. The event was an outdoor meeting featuring an address by President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency.

He spoke of the mission call that brought him, his wife, Frances, and their two young children to Canada in 1959. He proudly acknowledged that their third child, a son, was born in Canada, and that their daughter began Primary and kindergarten in Canada. He affirmed, "Our roots have gone down deeply in the soil here."

As president of the Canadian Mission, President Monson had responsibility over the entire provinces of Ontario and Quebec, with seven member districts, 55 branches and more than 5,000 members. The only Church-built meetinghouses were a chapel on Ossington Avenue in Toronto and a modest building at Hamilton, Ontario. All other units met in rented quarters or in chapels purchased from other denominations. The geographical area that was then the Canadian Mission now incorporates three missions: Canada Montreal, Canada Toronto East and Canada Toronto West.

President Monson said that wherever he goes in the world he finds that the spirit of the Latter-day Saints is one that "brings joy to our life and comfort to our soul. We recognize that each one of you is a pioneer in your day, in your time, in your own right."

President Monson told of having attended a Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort AP Hill, Va., recently. He recited the Scout motto, which begins, "On my honor I will do my best. . . . "

"I would like to leave that as a challenge to each one of us here today—-to do our best in all our endeavors. In the true meaning of the word 'pioneer,' which, according to the dictionary, is 'One who goes before showing others the way to follow,' every one of us can be a pioneer. We can go before and show others the way to follow. The apostle Paul said to Timothy, 'Be ye an example unto the believers.' That's our role: to be an example of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ will do for any person who kneels to pray, opens the scriptures to read, and who, in his heart, comes to the conclusion, with the inspiration of God, that this 'is where I should be, this is what I should be, this is what I should be doing.' . . .

"We're going to dedicate a plaque in honor of those stalwart early missionaries who came to this land," President Monson said. "I've done some research about those early pioneers. I know it must have been difficult for them to make the journey. . . . But come they did because they loved the Lord and because their faith motivated them to go before and show others the way to follow. I pay tribute and honor to their names and to all that they did."

He said that, as president of the Canadian Mission, he enjoyed assigning missionaries to labor in towns and villages where Joseph Smith preached his first sermons outside the United States; where Parley P. Pratt walked as he took the gospel message to John Taylor, who became third president of the Church; where Brigham Young baptized 45 people in 30 days; and where John E. Page preached to and was instrumental in converting some 700 people.

President Monson explained that when the Prophet Joseph Smith called John E. Page to go on a mission to Canada, Brother Page said he could not go because he did not have a coat. President Monson declared, "If you've spent any time in Canada in the winter, you'll realize what Brother Page meant by that." He said that the Prophet removed his own coat, handed it to Brother Page and told him to go to Canada on his mission and promised, " . . . do this, and the Lord will bless you."

"Those last words are the ones I want to emphasize," President Monson said. 'Do this and the Lord will bless you.' Live a good life. Keep the commandments. Be an example, and the Lord will bless you in your own life, in your own time.

"We have a plaque that we will dedicate. The honor that we pay those pioneers is going to include all the pioneers who have lived in this land, some who are members of the Church and some who aren't. We recognize we're part of a great community, and there is room for every person's faith and every person's service, wherever that might be given. I believe that we have seen in our lifetime a great movement toward an understanding that we're all God's children, whatever our color, whatever our faith, whatever our background. We're not all pioneers historically, but we can be pioneers today.

Before the program began, a town crier, Scott Fraser Jr., dressed in 17th-century knickers, vest and top coat, and sporting a tri-corner hat, vigorously clanged a hand bell and called out "Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!" or "Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye!" to capture the crowd's attention. Brother Fraser, town crier of the city of Woodstock, Ontario, since 1992, is believed to be the only Latter-day Saint in North America to hold the honored office. He was instrumental in getting the traditional post of town crier restored to villages in Canada.

Certainly his proclamation is unique in the chronicles of town criers: " . . . As we commemorate the migration of the faithful to Utah, we as Canadians can claim our pioneer heritage from this region. May we forever preserve their courage and sacrifice in our hearts. May the same be done for all who have been pioneers in their own right in wards, branches, stakes and families in the years since the Church was restored. May we all have faith in every footstep in our journey home to the Giver of all life."

During the program Carma Prete, who chaired the Trenton District's sesquicentennial committee, presented a brief history of the Church in Ernestown Township, which incorporates the village of Bath. She spoke of early converts, including James Lake of nearby Switzerville, who is mentioned in local history as a man who took all his family and went off with the Mormons. She said that the writer of the history wondered whatever became of him.

Sister Prete explained: "I can solve that mystery. This same James Lake and his wife, Philomela, were part of Brigham Young's group of immigrants in 1833 and eventually crossed the plains to Utah, where they remained faithful throughout their lives and raised a large posterity in the Church. I am their great-great-great-granddaughter."

In welcoming remarks, Paul Gilmore, reeve (elected head) of the Township of Ernestown, said, "This is an area that was first settled by a people called the United Empire of Loyalists who chose for different reasons that they did not want to live in the United States at the time of the Revolution. They were in a way like you folks—pushed out of a certain area, became refugees and had to find a new home. They came here and settled. We're proud of our heritage. We're honored that the early missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to this area, perhaps on this very shore, and started the first [LDS] church outside the United States. That, indeed, is a great honor. You folks are a credit to your communities, wherever you live. You are solid citizens."

Kelley Hineman, reeve of the village of Bath, spoke of associations he and his family had with missionaries when he was a boy. "I've always had a great spot in my heart for your church. This village has a great spot in its heart for your church. We welcome you with open arms," he said.

The ceremony was conducted by Trenton Ontario District Pres. Daren Heyland. A Primary children's chorus sang songs about pioneers and a Relief Society chorus sang "Faith in Every Footstep." The opening prayer was offered by Beverly McKee, district Relief Society president. Clara Shepherd, an early convert in the area from the Belleville Branch, gave the closing prayer." ("Church in Upper Canada: rich history is celebrated," LDS Church News [Saturday, August 16, 1997]: 3).

At one of the sessions President Monson paid tribute to the early Church pioneers in the Toronto area "for they surely established the foundation for this work.'" He spoke of those who joined the Church as a result of missionary efforts, and said, ``I think there has not been a convert in Toronto and these environs who has not had an overwhelming desire to share the truth which they've found.

`Each of you is a miracle, for conversion to the gospel is miraculous for the person who has felt the burning in his bosom and has been witness to the truth.'" (Reported by Dell Van Orden, LDS Church News [Saturday, September 1, 1990]: 3).

In 1992 in an address to Family History workers in Salt Lake City, Elder Monson shared the following story about a young boy's sacrifice in donating to the Toronto Temple's Building fund: "He spoke of the crowning roles that temples play in the process of redeeming the dead, and of the desire of members everywhere to not only attend temples but also to contribute to their construction. He related the experience of a young boy in Canada who had such a desire. He recalled that while he and Sister Monson were attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the Toronto temple, he heard an account from the bishop of the Cornwall Ward, located near the St. Lawrence River.

"When it was announced that a temple would be built in Toronto for all of the saints of the northeastern part of the United States and the eastern part of Canada, Jacob Fortin, about 10 years of age, began to donate a few pennies, or nickels or dimes, and he would pencil in 'temple' as the designated fund," President Monson said. "His grandmother gave Jacob a twenty dollar bill for his birthday. Jacob had been planning all year what he might do with his birthday money. But without telling his mother or his father or anyone else, he just slipped that $20 in the donation envelope and marked it for the temple fund.

"His father was a member of the bishopric, and was going through the contributions that day to make an accounting of them. There he saw the contribution of his own son. Tears came to his eyes as he realized that here was a 10-year-old boy who had caught the majesty of the Spirit, the spirit of temple work. The boy gave it all—everything he had, like the widow's mite." (Report by Gerry Avant, "'TIME OF GREAT AWAKENING IN FAMILY RESEARCH'", Church News [Saturday, 25 January 1992]: 4).

On 5 May 1996 President Thomas S. Monson and Elder M. Russell Ballard went to Canada to form the Sudbury Ontario Stake. The Church News reported the remarks at the creation of the stake: "Returning to Canada where they both presided over missions, President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve had a nostalgic association with long-time acquaintances as they officiated in the creation of the Sudbury Ontario Stake on May 5.

The new stake, with about 1,800 members, was formed from the Northland District of the Canada Toronto West Mission and the Marquette (Mich.) District of the Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission. When President Monson presided from 1959 to 1962 over the Canadian Mission, with headquarters in Toronto, it was the North Bay District. By the time Elder Ballard was president of the Canada Toronto Mission from 1974 to 1977, the district name had changed to Northland.

"The Church has grown in Canada," President Monson told the Church News. "Toronto became the first stake in eastern Canada, in August 1960; it was the 300th stake of the Church. Toronto now has two missions—Canada Toronto East and Canada Toronto West missions. The Toronto stake has been divided many times. Stakes have come to Ottawa, Montreal, Kitchener, Oshawa, London and to Hamilton. But there was one remaining district, the Northland District. Elder Ballard and I were pleased to go there and create the Sudbury Ontario Stake from that great mission district.

"We found that the stalwart leaders of our time in Canada had grown older, and the current leaders were following in their footsteps in giving leadership and service to the Church," President Monson said. "Many of the current leaders are the children of members who were baptized when I was the mission president or when Elder Ballard presided over the mission. Not one single person could think of any reason why he would wish to or needed to decline a call to serve. Not one. When my wife (Frances) and I went to Canada in 1959, we met some of the most wonderful people in all the world. I was just 31 when I was called to preside over the mission. We had two young children accompany us and our youngest son was born in Canada. We are deeply rooted in Canada."

President Monson and Elder Ballard spoke of the geographical vastness of the stake. Its boundaries range from the U.S.-Canadian border to the North Pole. It goes east to the Quebec border, and west of Sault Ste. Marie, along Lake Superior. In the new stake are the Bracebridge, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie (which serves U.S.-Canada twin cities), Sudbury and Timmins wards, and the Temiskaming Branch. (Biographical information on the new stake presidency will be published later.)

"The stake encompasses huge tracts of geography. There are lots of trees and moose, with smaller population bases that are widely spread," said the new stake president, Boyd McGinn. "The geography presents a great challenge to keeping close to one another."

President Monson observed that while members in the new stake have faced many challenges, they've come a long way, and not just in distance. "They need not take second place to members anywhere in devotion, spirituality, commitment or testimony. If anything, the miles which separate them have brought them closer together in the work of the Lord."

Elder Ballard said returning to Canada to create the new stake "seemed like old-home week" as he saw many familiar faces among the 400 members attending a Saturday evening session of the conference in the Sudbury Ward meetinghouse and 750 members attending the general session in an auditorium on the campus of Laurentian University in Sudbury.

"As President Monson and I interviewed priesthood brethren, we noticed that many of them were our dear friends from years gone by. It was kind of like a reunion, as well as a meeting to create a new stake. Quite a few of the people we interviewed joined the Church when we were mission presidents. It was a great thing to see those converts now taking on leadership responsibilities of this new stake. There was a lot of nostalgia." (Nostalgia Fills Stake's Creation," Church News [Saturday, 18 May 1996]: 3).

On 19 August 2000 Thomas S. Monson went back to Toronto for the fortieth reunion for the creation of the Toronto Canada Stake. Gerry Avant summarized the proceedings in the LDS Church News: "The Prophet Joseph, accompanied by Sidney Rigdon and Thomas B. Marsh, visited Toronto in August 1837.

In addition to the early pioneers of the gospel in Eastern Canada, President Monson paid tribute to those of more recent times, particularly those he met when he served here as mission president. He described preparations for the formation of the Toronto Stake on Aug. 14, 1960, by Elder Mark E. Petersen, who was accompanied by Elder Alma Sonne. President Monson had the assignment of finding a building with an auditorium large enough to accommodate all who would wish to attend. In their search, President and Sister Monson went to a movie, "The Story of Ruth," at the Odeon Carlton Theater in Toronto. Instead of watching the movie, however, he ambled up and down the aisles, counting seats. Since the theater was closed on Sundays, he was able to rent it for the conference at which the stake was created. In attendance were 2,249 members, which constituted 92 percent of the new stake's membership.

At the anniversary meeting, President Monson read from notes he made 40 years earlier: "This foundation has been prepared by former mission presidents and even hundreds and thousands of missionaries over the years. In Toronto the gathering place for the world has already commenced. We have a wide divergence of nationalities in Toronto. The announcement that a stake would be created was met with glee by the young, with amazement by the new converts and with gratitude by the members who understood they had blessings to come from this long-awaited moment. Prayers of thanks were offered in many homes that night following the announcement."

Picking up on a comment made by Toronto Ontario Stake President Terry Harrison that 120 nationalities are represented in the stake today, President Monson said, "I'm glad to see that Canada has been a nation that has welcomed those from foreign countries." He mentioned several converts who had come to Toronto, where they found the gospel, including Jacob de Jager who had come from Holland, joined the Church here and later became a General Authority, serving in the Seventy from 1976-1993.

Returning to Toronto, President Monson said, was like going back in time. "In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Toronto Ontario Stake — the 300th stake of the Church — and the 10 years since the dedication of the Toronto Ontario Temple, a historical monument was dedicated Aug. 19 commemorating contributions of early missionaries and members who served and lived in Upper Canada. The monument was dedicated during a meeting in the Mississauga Ontario Stake Center Saturday afternoon; that evening a fireside was held in the Toronto Ontario Stake center. The plaque will be placed near the entrance of the Black Creek Ward meetinghouse, which is located a short distance from the site of the first baptisms of the Church in Canada in May 1836.

President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Frances, participated in the commemorative events, as did Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy and president of the North America Northeast Area and his wife, Jan. Also attending were two Area Authority Seventies, Elders Lawrence R. Fuller and Ross McEachran and their wives, Debbie Fuller and Linda McEachran.

While they paid tribute to early pioneers of the Church in this area, President and Sister Monson were honored for their own contributions to the growth of the Church in Eastern Canada. From 1959-1961, he presided over the Canadian Mission, a geographical area that now has three missions, and she oversaw work of the mission's Relief Society, Primary and Young Women Mutual Improvement Associations.

A meeting for missionaries in the Canada Toronto and Canada Toronto East Missions was held in addition to the plaque dedication ceremony and fireside.

At various times throughout the day and evening, President Monson spoke of the work accomplished by early missionaries who served in what is known generally as Upper Canada. He spoke of the missionary visit in New York in 1830 by Samuel Smith, the Prophet Joseph's brother. Samuel gave a copy of the Book of Mormon to Phineas Young, brother to Brigham Young. Phineas Young's was among the first testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ heard outside the United States after the Church was organized. The Prophet Joseph, accompanied by Sidney Rigdon and Freeman Nickerson, traveled to Brantford and Mt. Pleasant, Ontario, in 1833.

President Monson referred to Section 100 of the Doctrine and Covenants as "the Canadian revelation." In verses 1-3, the Lord counseled Joseph and Sidney, who were concerned about their families during their long absence while preaching in Canada: "Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands,... Therefore, follow me, and listen to the counsel which I shall give unto you. Behold,... I have much people in this place, in the regions round about; and an effectual door shall be opened... in this eastern land."

President Monson spoke of the visit in 1836 of Parley P. Pratt, who came to Toronto after Heber C. Kimball uttered a prophecy that he would find people waiting for him who would receive the gospel, and that from there the gospel would spread into England, where a great work would be done. In Toronto, Parley Pratt found John Taylor, an English immigrant, who would become the third president of the Church; and the Fieldings — Mary Fielding, who later married the Prophet's older brother, Hyrum, and became mother of one Church president, Joseph F. Smith, and grandmother of another, Joseph Fielding Smith; her brother, Joseph Fielding, who later accompanied Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde and others on their first mission to England where he was successful in opening the gospel in Preston, partly because he had relatives there; and their sister, Mercy.

We love Toronto. We're glad to be with you," he said. "It's hard not to have tears of gratitude. I keep my eye on Canada."

On Aug. 15, Elder Zwick became president of the North America Northeast Area. Both he and his wife were given an enthusiastic welcome in each meeting and delivered inspirational and motivational messages. Elder Zwick has Canadian roots. His fourth great-grandfather came to Canada in the late 1700s. "His son was here when Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt and others came to Canada, but it was five generations before the message of the gospel was heard by my family," Elder Zwick said. "Though I wasn't born in Canada, I got here as soon as I could." ("LDS stalwarts in Upper Canada are remembered," LDS Church News [Saturday, August 26, 2000]: 3).

In 2004 President Monson and Elder Ballard returned to Toronto to address the Eastern Canada Regional Conference, the first satellite broadcast in Canada. "The conference, held May 1-2, originated from the Brampton Stake Center, next to the Toronto Canada Temple. It was viewed by 12,951 people at 99 chapels in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. From 1959 to 1962 President Monson served as president of the Canadian Mission, which included the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

There were no wards or stakes in the vast area when he arrived, just branches in seven scattered districts. Some were more than 1,000 miles from Toronto. The nearest temple was Cardston, more than 2,000 miles to the west.

Today, there are 82 wards and 55 branches in 13 stakes and four districts, and temples in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax."

In September 2005 President Monson and M. Russell Ballard were included in a 59-minute film, titled Joseph Smith in Upper Canada, which celebrated the two hundredth year since he was there. The documentary premiered Saturday, September 17, to more than 3,000 members of the Church assembled in stake centers across Ontario. Both men shared experiences and quoted scripture. (See John Farrington, "LDS Canadians produce documentary," LDS Church News [Saturday, September 24, 2005]: 14).


My Personal Experience with Thomas S. Monson


When I served a mission back in 1975-1977 Thomas S. Monson was the head of the Missionary Executive Committee. I had been assigned to the Italy Rome Mission where my own daughter is currently serving. Being a recent convert of only one year I had saved about $2000. When my money ran out after buying my clothes and getting to the Language Training Mission three months in to my mission my elder's quorum was suppose to help me out by contributing $160 a month. After about three months my mission president began to get concerned when the money didn't show up and contacted the Missionary Department.

I received a call from my mission president in March 1976 that I was to report to the mission office in Rome. He told me that he was very sad since he intended to make me one of his assistants but that I was reassigned to the Toronto Canada Mission. I boarded a plane which flew from Rome to Toronto. At the airport my new Mission President M. Russell Ballard greeted me. That day we discussed why I had been reassigned. I was told there were about a million Italians in Toronto and I was to work among that group. The interesting thing was that I wasn't assigned to one of the other Italian speaking elders. He also told me he knew my stake president James K. Seastrand who had served with him in the British Mission. Elder Monson knew that the two men had a connection so he was making sure that I receive my monthly payment.

I started out in Toronto when it was still a cold time. I had holes on the back of my feet that were so deep that blood pored into my shoes. I also got walking pneumonia because of the change in climate and was laid up in bed for a few days. After a while I was able to get back to normal and begin my missionary labors.

A few months went by and one day I was called in by Elder Ballard. He met me in one of the chapels. Elder Monson who was visiting Toronto was checking up on me. President Ballard knew that I was having a hard time so he had him give me a blessing. I can't remember much about that blessing other than his genuine concern that I should stay on my mission and finish it. It was because of his blessing that I hung in there and completed my mission. Elder Monson was a kind and gentle man.

After my mission we had a huge mission reunion where all the former mission presidents were invited to the Holladay Stake Center on the Friday before October General Conference. Lamont Toronto and his wife, and Elder Monson and his wife came. I'm not sure if Leland Davey, Raymond Russell came but I do know some of their missionaries came. It was great to shake Elder Monson's hand and bask in his presence. I enjoyed the two hours that he talked with all of us CTM missionaries and the great stories he told of people we all knew in common. I can honestly say there is a great bond between the CTM missionaries and the members. When he visited Houston Texas for a regional conference in 2005 he was kind and shook the hand of my ten year old son whom he encouraged to go on a mission.

A few years ago when the American Library Association held its annual conference in Toronto I was able to attend and I took in a session at the Toronto Temple. I met many old timers who I remembered as being young while at the temple. One of the members who remembered me drove me several miles out of his way to the Islington Subway Station to make sure I got back to my hotel on the lakeshore. We reminisced about the lives of many members who I hadn't seen in twenty-five years.

On many occasions I remember President Monson talking about some of these people who were elderly or dead that I knew. Even though forty years has passed there still is a bond between Elder Monson and the people of the Toronto area.

I want to share a few stories of Elder Monson memories of these great Canadian saints and former missionaries of the past and present who have meant so much to him over the years in his own words.

Past Days Stories

"An abiding faith, a constant trust, a fervent desire have always characterized those who serve the Lord with all their hearts.

This description typified the early beginnings of missionary work following the restoration of the gospel. As early as April 1820, Phineas Young received a copy of the Book of Mormon from Samuel Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph, and a few months later traveled to upper Canada. At Kingston, he gave the first known testimony of the restored church beyond the borders of the United States. In 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Freeman Nickerson traveled to Mount Pleasant, upper Canada. There they taught, they baptized, they organized a branch of the Church. At one time, in June 1835, six of the Twelve Apostles held a conference in that land.

In April 1836, Elder Heber C. Kimball and others entered the home of Parley P. Pratt and, filled with the spirit of prophecy, placed their hands on the head of Brother Pratt and declared: “Thou shalt go to Upper Canada, even to the City of Toronto, . . . and there thou shalt find a people prepared for the fulness of the gospel, and they shall receive thee, and thou shalt organize the Church among them, . . . and many shall be brought to the knowledge of the truth and shall be filled with joy; and from the things growing out of this mission, shall the fulness of the gospel spread into England, and cause a great work to be done in that land.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book 1985], p. 110.) In July 1987, the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the work in England was commemorated. We rejoice in the tremendous accomplishments of those early missionaries and those whom the Lord prepared to play such a part in the advancement of this latter-day work.

The call to serve has ever characterized the work of the Lord. It rarely comes at a convenient time. It brings humility, it provokes prayer, it inspires commitment, It brings humility, it provokes prayer, it inspires commitment." (Thomas S. Monson, Live the Good Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988, p. 13).

"We demonstrate our love by how well we serve our God. Remember when the Prophet Joseph Smith went to John E. Page and said to him, “Brother Page, you have been called on a mission to Canada.”

Brother Page, struggling for an excuse, said, “Brother Joseph, I can’t go to Canada. I don’t have a coat to wear.”

The Prophet took off his own coat, handed it to John Page, and said, “Wear this, and the Lord will bless you.”

John Page went on his mission to Canada. In two years he walked something like five thousand miles and baptized six hundred converts. He was successful because he responded to an opportunity to serve his God." (Thomas S. Monson, Live the Good Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988, pp. 105-106).

Present Day Stories

"Sometimes cities and nations bear special labels of identity. Such was a cold and very old city in eastern Canada. The missionaries called it "Stony Kingston." There had been but one convert to the Church in six years, even though missionaries had been continuously assigned there during the entire interval. No one baptized in Kingston. Just ask any missionary who labored there. Time in Kingston was marked on the calendar like days in prison. A missionary transfer to another place--any place--would be uppermost in thoughts, even in dreams.

While I was praying about and pondering this sad dilemma, for my responsibility then as a mission president required that I pray and ponder about such things, my wife called to my attention an excerpt from the book, A Child's Story of the Prophet Brigham Young, by Deta Petersen Neeley. She read aloud that Brigham Young entered Kingston, Ontario, on a cold and snow-filled day. He labored there about thirty days and baptized forty-five souls." (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, Press, 1959, p. 36). Here was the answer. If the missionary Brigham Young could accomplish this harvest, so could the missionaries of today.

"Without providing an explanation, I withdrew the missionaries from Kingston, that the cycle of defeat might be broken. Then the carefully circulated words: "Soon a new city will be opened for missionary work, even the city where Brigham Young proselyted and baptized forty-five persons in thirty days." The missionaries speculated as to the location. Their weekly letters pleaded to the assignment to this Shangri-la. More time passed. Then the four carefully selected missionaries--two of them new, two of them experienced--were chosen for this high adventure. The members of the small branch pledged their support. The missionaries pledged their lives. The Lord honored both.

In the space of three months, Kingston became the most productive city of the Canadian Mission. The grey limestone buildings still stood, the city had not altered its appearance, the population remained constant. The change was one of attitude. The label of doubt had yielded to the label of faith." (Thomas S. Monson, CR O'83, Ensign, [November 1983]: 19-20).

"When I served as president of the Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, there was a devoted family history worker in the mission by the name of Myrtle Barnum. Oh, she was faithful in this sacred work. She had accumulated a lot of data on the St. Lawrence River area. She had come to the end of her line. She did not know where she might turn. She studied. She searched. She prayed. But she never gave up. And though she was frustrated for month after weary month, because of her apparent inability to find that which was needed, she never lost hope.

One day she was walking by a secondhand store and felt compelled to go inside. Looking up and down the shelves, she noticed a set of books which drew her attention. Why, she will never be able to testify other than that the Lord was able to inspire her. The title of those two books: Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, volumes 1 and 2. They sound like novels. She reached up and took those two dusty volumes down from the shelf, and as she opened them, she was amazed. These books were not novels. These books were genealogical records of all of the people that had lived near the Bay of Quinte from the time records could be maintained. She hurriedly searched through page after page, and there she found the information which opened up her family history lines once again, that her research might continue." (Thomas S. Monson, “Happy Birthday,” Ensign, [Mar 1995]: 58–60).

When I served as mission president in eastern Canada, there was a lovely lady who served as the secretary of the genealogy committee in one of our fine districts. How she labored in her assignment! This dear woman was responsible for much of the genealogical research that had been done in her area of Canada. But she had come to a seemingly insurmountable barrier which she could not penetrate. She went to her Heavenly Father, poured out her soul to Him, and literally made a plea that somehow He would intervene, somehow the way would be opened. Without waiting for a specific answer, she continued her research.

One day she was traveling down the main street of Belleville, Ontario, and came to an old bookstore. She felt compelled to enter the bookstore, and as she perused the countless array of books, her eye caught a two-volume set on a top shelf, and she knew she had to see those books. She asked the clerk for assistance, and when he handed them to her, she read the titles: Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, volumes 1 and 2. She turned to the first page, the second, and the third. Those two volumes contained nothing but family history from the first page to the last. One volume supplied the key which opened the lock to the mystery which had frustrated her work.

She was elated until she asked the price, and then her elation turned to doubt. “Two hundred dollars for the two rare volumes,” said the clerk. However, the quorum of elders in the district was able to purchase those two volumes after their worth had been verified. The books were sent to the genealogical archives in Salt Lake City, and it was reported that they also provided some of the missing keys to the research of President Henry D. Moyle, for some of his forebears had come from the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ontario. A great blessing had been realized because a dear woman with “faith, nothing wavering,” had performed her duty. (Thomas S. Monson, “The Key of Faith,” Ensign, [Feb 1994]: 2).

"During the period 1959 to 1962, I had the privilege of presiding over the Canadian Mission, with headquarters in Toronto, Canada. There we had the wonderful opportunity of working with 450 of the finest young men and young women in all the world. From that particular experience, I should like to relate an account that came to Sister Monson that had far-reaching significance. One Friday she was the only person in a usually busy mission home. The telephone rang, and the person who was on the other end of the line spoke with a Dutch accent and asked, “Is this the headquarters of the Mormon Church?” Sister Monson assured him that it was as far as Toronto was concerned, and then she said, “May I help you?” The party on the line said, “Yes. We have come from our native Holland, where we’ve had an opportunity to learn something about the Mormons. We’d like to know more.” Sister Monson, being a good missionary, said, “We can help you.” Then the gentleman who had called said, “We have chicken pox in our home; and if you could wait until the children are better, we’d love to have the missionaries call.” Sister Monson said that she would arrange such, and that terminated the conversation.

Excitedly she told the two missionaries on our staff, “Here is a golden referral,” and the missionaries agreed. Then, as some missionaries do, they procrastinated calling upon the family. Days went into weeks, and the weeks became several. Sister Monson would say, “Are you going to call upon that Dutch family tonight, elders?” And they would respond, “Well, we’re too busy tonight, but we’re going to get around to it.” After a few more days Sister Monson would say, “What about my Dutch family? Are you going to call on them tonight?” Again the reply, “Well we’re too busy tonight, but we’re going to work it into our schedule.” Finally Sister Monson said, “If you aren’t going to call on the Dutch family tonight, my husband and I are going to call on them,” and they replied, “We’ll work it into our schedule tonight..” And thus they called on a lovely family. They taught them the gospel. Each person in the family became a member of the Church. The family was the Jacob de Jager family. Brother de Jager became the president of an elder’s quorum. His employer, the gigantic Phillips Company, then transferred him to Mexico, where he served the Church with distinction. Later he became the counselor to several mission presidents in Holland, then a Regional Representative of the Twelve, and then a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Today he is serving as the executive administrator of the work in Southeast Asia.

I ask, Was it an important decision that was made on the part of the missionaries to call on the de Jagers? Was it an important decision for Sister Monson to say, “Tonight is the night or else?” Was it an important decision for the de Jagers to telephone the mission headquarters in Toronto, Canada, and say, “Could we have the missionaries come to our home?” I bear testimony that these decisions had eternal consequences, not only for the de Jagers, but for many other people as well, for here is a man who can teach the gospel in English, in Dutch, in German, in Spanish, and in Indonesian, and now is learning to preach the gospel in Chinese. I ask, “What will be our faith?

Our conversation may not be as dramatic as Brother and Sister de Jager’s happened to be, but to each it will be equally as vital and equally as long-lasting and equally as far-reaching. That which we believe is a very important matter. Let us weigh our responsibility to search for the truth." (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, pp. 129-130).

"During the teaching process investigators can be benefited by the strength of a member couple’s testimony who have in recent years made the step to baptism and membership. In the Canadian Mission in Ontario and Quebec, where our family lived when I presided over the mission, we found that the majority of the population belonged to perhaps three dominant faiths: Roman Catholic, Anglican, and the United Church of Canada. In every city of the mission we arranged for a newly baptized family from each of these faiths to be available to the missionaries who were in the process of teaching new investigators so that such a member couple could accompany the missionary team on perhaps the second or third visit.

Can you appreciate, for example, when missionaries are working with those from the United Church of Canada, the strength of testimony of Brother and Sister William Stoneman, who had come from the United Church of Canada. Brother Stoneman, a printer, would say, “When I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was the lead printer for the United Church. I lost my job. But I found a better job. Even more, I found the truth in its entirety. You too can make the adjustment. You too can make the same decision. In fact, let us pick you up on Sunday morning so that we can sit together in church. Then you can hear and feel for yourself. We’ll be right by your side.”

Anthony and Edith Belfiglio became such a fellowshipping couple to those who had Roman Catholic roots. The result was the same. It can be done. And such converts stay converted. In addition, the couples chosen to fulfill this assignment put their own roots even deeper in the rich soil of the gospel. Both Brother Stoneman and Brother Belfiglio became ordained patriarchs. The combined efforts of members and missionaries in such specific cooperation yield an abundant gathering of precious souls." (Thomas S. Monson, Missionary Training Satellite Broadcast, 25 April 2003). (Preach my Gospel: A guide to missionary service. Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2004, p. 179).

"I think I can best demonstrate the significance of member involvement in preparing nonmembers for the missionaries by simply giving some facts. On the average, a pair of missionaries knocks on 1,000 doors in straight tracting to find one convert. If a member prepares a person or family and then, with the nonmember's approval, refers him to the missionaries, we baptize one out of twelve. But if the member prepares a person or family and invites him to Church or to an open house where perhaps the film "Man's Search for Happiness" is shown, and then invites the person or family to hear the gospel taught in his home where the member can bear his testimony to the friend, we baptize one out of three. When you compare three-to-one with a thousand-to-one, you can see why we pray for energetic member involvement in this kind of member missionary activity.

And all of us can do it! I remember a fine young couple who were contacted by the missionaries when I was presiding over a mission in eastern Canada. Prior to their baptism the young woman wrote her nonmember parents in western Canada to tell them what was taking place in her life and that of her husband and to ask them to consider welcoming the missionaries. A day after she wrote and before her letter arrived, her parents wrote her a letter telling her that they had been visited by the missionaries and were contemplating baptism and asked that she and her husband consider welcoming the missionaries. You can imagine the joy when each received the letter and subsequent telephone calls! But the point here is that both were preparing, hoping, and asking someone else to receive the missionaries." ("Status Report on Missionary Work: A Conversation with Thomas S. Monson," Ensign, [October 1977]: 10-11).

"A few years ago I was afforded the privilege of serving as a mission president and became intimately acquainted with almost four hundred missionaries. We had one young missionary who was very ill. After weeks of hospitalization, as the surgeon prepared to undertake an extremely serious and complicated surgery, he asked that we send for the missionary’s mother and father. He said that there was a great likelihood that Elder Davidson could not survive the surgery. The parents came; and late that evening, his father and I, in the hospital room in Toronto, Canada, placed our hands upon the head of the young missionary and gave him a blessing. What happened following that blessing was a testimony to me.

Elder Davidson was in a six-bed war in the hospital. The other beds were occupied by five men with a variety of illnesses. The morning of Elder Davidson’s surgery, his bed was empty. The nurse came into the room with the breakfast these husky men normally ate. She brought a tray over to bed number one and said, “Fried eggs this morning, and I have an extra portion for you.” Bed number one was occupied by a man who was lying on his bed with his toe wrapped up in a bandage. He had suffered an accident with his lawnmower. Other than his injured toe, he was well physically. He said to the nurse, “I’ll not be eating this morning.”

“All right, we shall give your breakfast to your partner in bed number two!” As she went over, he said, “No, I think I’ll not eat this morning.”

She said, “That two in a row. I don’t understand you men, there is no one this morning in bed three.” She went on to bed four, bed five, and bed six; and the answer was the same. “No, this morning, we’re not hungry.”

The young lady put her hands on her hips and said, “Every other morning you eat us out of house and home and today not one of you wants to eat. What is the reason?”
And then the man who occupied bed number six came forth and the answer. He said, “You see, bed number three is empty. Our friend, Davidson, is in the operating room under the surgeon’s hands. He needs all the help he can get. He is a missionary for his church; and while he has been lying on that bed while we have been patients in this ward, he has talked to us about the principles of his church—principles of prayer, of faith, of fasting wherein we call upon the Lord for blessings.” He said, “We don’t know much about the Mormon Church, but we have learned a great deal about Davidson; and we are fasting for him today.”

I might tell you that the operation was a success. In fact, when I attempted to pay the surgeon, he countered, “Why, that would be dishonest for me to accept a fee. I haven never before performed surgery when my hands seemed to be guided by a power which was other than my own. No, “ he said, “ I wouldn’t take a fee for the surgery which Someone on high helped me to perform.” (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways of Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, pp. 249-251).

"Now, a word about the mission itself. Build an esprit de corps in your mission. It doesn’t matter which one it is or where it is. We were in Canada. I didn’t know anything about Canada, but I did a little reading. I found out that Canada was the only place the Prophet Joseph Smith ever went outside of his own country. That’s also where the early elders of the Church went to prepare for their mission to Great Britain. I let our missionaries know that. Sister Monson pointed out that Brigham Young went to Kingston, Ontario, and labored 30 days, walking through snow hip deep, and converted and baptized 40 people. I made sure our missionaries knew that. Parley P. Pratt, in answer to a referral, finding a man from England named John Taylor no more than 20 miles from Toronto, brought him into the Church, and be became the third President of the Church. All of those things we would weave into the history, the goals and objectives of our missionaries." (Thomas S. Monson, “The Five M’s of Missionary Work,” New Era [March 2007]: 45).

"Remember our boy from the rural community who marveled at the size of Toronto? He was short in stature, but tall in testimony. Together with his companion, he called at the home of Elmer Pollard in Oshawa, [Ontario] Canada. Feeling sorry for the young men who, during a blinding blizzard, were going from house to house, Mr. Pollard invited the missionaries into his home. They presented to him their message. He did not catch the spirit. In due time he asked that they leave and not return. His last words to the elders as they departed his front porch were spoken in derision: "You can't tell me you actually believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God!"

The door was shut. The elders walked down the path. Our country boy spoke to his companion: "Elder, we didn't answer Mr. Pollard's question. He said we didn't believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet. Let's return and bear our testimonies to him." At first the more experienced missionary hesitated, but finally he agreed to accompany his companion. Fear struck their hearts as they approached the door from which they had been turned away. A knock, the confrontation with Mr. Pollard, an agonizing moment, then with power, a testimony borne by the Spirit: "Mr. Pollard, you said we didn't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Mr. Pollard, I testify that Joseph was a prophet. He did translate the Book of Mormon. He saw God the Father and Jesus the Son. I know it."

Mr. Pollard, now Brother Pollard, stood in a priesthood meeting some time later and declared: "That night I could not sleep. Resounding in my ears I heard the words: "Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know it. I know it. I know it." The next day I telephoned the missionaries. Their message, coupled with their testimonies, changed my life and the lives of my family." (Thomas S. Monson, Conference Report, October 1969, pp. 95-96).

"As a mission president, I was afforded the privilege to guide their activities of precious young men and women, even missionaries whom he had called. Some had problems, others required motivation; but one came to me in utter despair. He had made his decision to leave the mission field when but at the halfway mark. His bags were packed, his return ticket purchased. He came by to bid me farewell. We talked; we listened; we prayed. There remained hidden the actual reason for his decision to quit. As we arose from our knees in the quiet of my office, the missionary began to weep almost uncontrollably. Flexing the muscle in his strong right arm he blurted out, “This is my problem. All through school my muscle power qualified me for honors in football and track, but my mental power was neglected. President Monson, I’m ashamed of my school record. It reveals that “with effort” I have the capacity to read at the level of the fourth grade. I can’t even read the Book of Mormon. How then can I understand its contents and teach others its truths?”

The silence of the room was broken by my young nine-year-old son who, without knocking, opened the door and, with surprise, apologetically said, “Excuse me, I just wanted to put this book back on the shelf.” He handed me the book. Its title: A Child’s Story of the Book of Mormon, by Dr. Deta Peterson Neeley. I turned to the foreword and read these words: “This book has been written with a scientifically controlled vocabulary to the level of the fourth grade.” A sincere prayer from an honest heart had been dramatically answered.

My missionary accepted the challenge to read the book. Half laughing, half crying, he declared: “It will be good to read something I can understand.” Clouds of despair were dispelled by the sunshine of hope. He completed an honorable mission. He became a finisher." (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways of Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, pp. 241-242).

"One situation featured the Donald Mabey family. Brother Mabey had moved his family from Salt Lake City to North Bay, Ontario, because of a business transfer by his company. Don was an elder in the Church but had been less than fully active in priesthood callings. He was about thirty-five years of age at the time and had a lovely family. The North Bay Branch was a struggling unit desperately in need of priesthood leadership. When I attended that branch and recognized this fact, I held an interview with Brother Mabey and said to him, “I am calling you to serve in the presidency of the North Bay Branch.”

He replied, “I can’t do it.”

I asked, “Why?”

He answered, “I have never done it before.”

“That’s no hindrance,” I responded. I took fresh hope from Don’s name, Mabey, and the words of a once-popular ballad, “Please don’t say no—say maybe.”

Brother Mabey said yes. Today he is a high priest living here in the West. All of his family members have entered temple doors and have received temple blessings." (Thomas S. Monson, “Days Never to Be Forgotten,” Ensign, [November 1990]: 67).

"Another evidence of faith took place when I first visited the St. Thomas Branch of the mission, situated about 120 miles from Toronto. My wife and I had been invited to attend the branch sacrament meeting and to speak to the members there. As we drove along a fashionable street, we saw many church buildings and wondered which one was ours. None was. We located the address which had been provided and discovered it to be a decrepit lodge hall. Our branch met in the basement of the lodge hall and was comprised of perhaps twenty-five members, twelve of whom were in attendance. The same individuals conducted the meeting, blessed and passed the sacrament, offered the prayers, and sang the songs.

At the conclusion of the services, the branch president, Irving Wilson, asked if he could meet with me. At this meeting, he handed to me a copy of the Improvement Era, forerunner of today’s Ensign. Pointing to a picture of one of our new chapels in Australia, President Wilson declared, “This is the building we need here in St. Thomas.”

I smiled and responded, “When we have enough members here to justify and to pay for such a building, I am sure we will have one.” At that time, the local members were required to raise 30 percent of the cost of the site and the building, in addition to the payment of tithing and other offerings.

He countered, “Our children are growing to maturity. We need that building, and we need it now!”

I provided encouragement for them to grow in numbers by their personal efforts to fellowship and teach. The outcome is a classic example of faith, coupled with effort and crowned with testimony.

President Wilson requested six additional missionaries to be assigned to St. Thomas. When this was accomplished, he called the missionaries to a meeting in the back room of his small jewelry store, where they knelt in prayer. He then asked one elder to hand to him the yellow-page telephone directory, which was on a nearby table. President Wilson took the book in hand and observed, “If we are ever to have our dream building in St. Thomas, we will need a Latter-day Saint to design it. Since we do not have a member who is an architect, we will simply have to convert one.” With his finger moving down the column of listed architects, he paused at one name and said, “This is the one we will invite to my home to hear the message of the Restoration.”

President Wilson followed the same procedure with regard to plumbers, electricians, and craftsmen of every description. Nor did he neglect other professions, feeling a desire for a well-balanced branch. The individuals were invited to his home to meet the missionaries, the truth was taught, testimonies were borne and conversion resulted. Those newly baptized then repeated the procedure themselves, inviting others to listen, week after week and month after month.

The St. Thomas Branch experienced marvelous growth. Within two and one-half years, a site was obtained, a beautiful building was constructed, and an inspired dream became a living reality. That branch is now a thriving ward in a stake of Zion.
When I reflect on the town of St. Thomas, I dwell not on the ward’s hundreds of members and many dozens of families; rather, in memory I return to that sparse sacrament meeting in the lodge-hall basement and the Lord’s promise, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20.)" (Thomas S. Monson, “Days Never to Be Forgotten,” Ensign, [November 1990]: 67).

"When I think of righteous individuals, the names of Gustav and Margarete Wacker come readily to mind. Let me describe them. I first met the Wackers when I was called to preside over the Canadian Mission in 1959. They had immigrated to Kingston, Ontario, Canada, from their native Germany.

Brother Wacker earned his living as a barber. His means were limited, but he and Sister Wacker always paid more than a tenth as tithing. As branch president, Brother Wacker started a missionary fund, and for months at a time he was the only contributor. When there were missionaries in the city, the Wackers fed and cared for them, and the missionaries never left the Wacker home without some tangible donation to their work and welfare.

Gustav and Margarete Wacker's home was a heaven. They were not blessed with children, but they mothered and fathered their many Church visitors. Men and women of learning and sophistication sought out these humble, unlettered servants of God and counted themselves fortunate if they could spend an hour in their presence. The Wackers' appearance was ordinary, their English halting and somewhat difficult to understand, their home unpretentious. They didn't own a car or a television, nor did they do any of the things to which the world usually pays attention. Yet the faithful beat a path to their door in order to partake of the spirit that was there.

In March of 1982, Brother and Sister Wacker were called to serve as full-time ordinance workers in the Washington D.C. Temple. On June 29, 1983, while Brother and Sister Wacker were still serving in this temple assignment, Brother Wacker, with his beloved wife at his side, peacefully passed from mortality to his eternal reward. Fitting are the words, "Who honors God, God honors" (See 1 Samuel 2:30)." (Thomas S. Monson, “True to the Faith,” Conference Report, April 2006).

When I was a mission president in Toronto, Canada, we knew that investigators worry about the changes that are going to come into their lives. We had a practice of supplying teams of members to help the missionaries. For example, the missionaries were working with a Catholic family (and that was the majority faith in our area). About midway through the set of discussions they could call on Brother and Sister Anthony Belfiglio. They had been Catholics. They’d joined the Church and were a great help to the missionaries. When the missionaries had borne their testimony, Brother and Sister Belfiglio would say, “We know what you’re going through. We were in the same position, but when we heard the truth and realized that a prophet was on the earth at this time, there was no question what we must do, and we never looked back and we’ve never been sorry.” It buttressed the testimony of the missionaries.

Brother Stoneman from up in the north area had been a member of the United Church of Canada. He’d been employed by the United Church of Canada. He was their printer. He lost his job. He found another, better one. He and his wife would go to the investigator who has been a member of the United Church of Canada and bear their testimony. He said, “I lost my job. I lost many of my friends, but I found a wealth of new friends, and I found the truth. You will not regret it.”

We had others who had been members of the Anglican Church. In fact, we had three teams in every area where missionaries were laboring. And what did it do for those new members? It strengthened them. What did it do for the investigator? It helped convince him. It was a proselyting method; it was a fellowshipping method. It worked both ways." (Thomas S. Monson, "The Five Ms of Missionary Work," New Era, [March 2007]: 43.)

"In 1959, not long after I began my service as president of the Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I met N. Eldon Tanner, a prominent Canadian who just months later would be called as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, then to the Quorum of the Twelve, and then as a counselor to four Presidents of the Church.

At the time I met him, President Tanner was president of the vast Trans-Canada Pipelines, Ltd., and president of the Canada Calgary Stake. He was known as “Mr. Integrity” in Canada. During that first meeting, we discussed, among other subjects, the cold Canadian winters, where storms rage, temperatures can linger well below freezing for weeks at a time, and where icy winds lower those temperatures even further. I asked President Tanner why the roads and highways in western Canada basically remained intact during such winters, showing little or no signs of cracking or breaking, while the road surfaces in many areas where winters are less cold and less severe developed cracks and breaks and potholes.

Said he, “The answer is in the depth of the base of the paving materials. In order for them to remain strong and unbroken, it is necessary to go very deep with the foundation layers. When the foundations are not deep enough, the surfaces cannot withstand the extremes of weather.”

Over the years I have thought often of this conversation and of President Tanner’s explanation, for I recognize in his words a profound application for our lives. Stated simply, if we do not have a deep foundation of faith and a solid testimony of truth, we may have difficulty withstanding the harsh storms and icy winds of adversity which inevitably come to each of us." (Thomas S. Monson, “How Firm a Foundation,” Ensign, [November 2006]: 62, 67–68).

"Not only will your circle of friends greatly influence your thinking and behavior, but you will also influence theirs. Many nonmembers have come into the Church through friends who have involved them in Church activities. I share with you a treasured family experience which had its beginning back in 1959, when I was called to preside over the Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto.

Our daughter, Ann, turned five shortly after we arrived in Canada. She saw the missionaries going about their work, and she, too, wanted to be a missionary. My wife demonstrated understanding by permitting Ann to take to class a few copies of the Children’s Friend. That wasn’t sufficient for Ann. She also wanted to take with her a copy of the Book of Mormon so that she might talk to her teacher, Miss Pepper, about the Church. I think it rather thrilling that just a few years ago, long years after our return from Toronto, we came home from a vacation and found in our mailbox a note from Miss Pepper which read:

“Dear Ann:

“Think back many years ago. I was your schoolteacher in Toronto, Canada. I was impressed by the copies of the Children’s Friend which you brought to school. I was impressed by your dedication to a book called the Book of Mormon.

“I made a commitment that one day I would come to Salt Lake City and see why you talked as you did and why you believed in the manner you believed. Today I had the privilege of going through your visitors’ center on Temple Square. Thanks to a five-year-old girl who had an understanding of that which she believed, I now have a better understanding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Miss Pepper died not too long after that visit. How happy our daughter, Ann, was when she attended the Jordan River Utah Temple and performed the temple work for her beloved teacher whom she had friendshipped long ago." (Thomas S. Monson, “The Lighthouse of the Lord: A Message to the Youth of the Church,” Ensign, [Feb 2001]: 2).

A few years ago, Sister Monson and I were in the city of Toronto, where we once lived when I was the mission president. Olive Davies, the wife of the first stake president in Toronto, was gravely ill and preparing to pass from this life. Her illness required her to leave her cherished home and enter a hospital which could provide the care she needed. Her only child lived with her own family far away in the West.

I attempted to comfort Sister Davies, but she had present with her the comfort she longed to have. A stalwart grandson sat silently next to his grandmother. I learned he had spent most of the summer away from his university studies, that he might serve his grandmother’s needs. I said to him, “Shawn, you will never regret your decision. Your grandmother feels you are heaven-sent, an answer to her prayers.”

He replied, “I chose to come because I love her and know this is what my Heavenly Father would have me do.”

Tears were near the surface. Grandmother told us how she enjoyed being helped by her grandson and introducing him to each employee and every patient in the hospital. Hand in hand, they walked the halls, and during the night he was close by.

Olive Davies has passed on to her reward, there to meet her faithful husband and together continue an eternal journey. In a grandson’s heart there will ever remain those words, “Choose the right when a choice is placed before you. In the right the Holy Spirit guides.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Choose You This Day,” Ensign, [November 2004]: 67).

Those of us who have a love for Toronto Canada are proud to have Thomas S. Monson as our prophet. May he live long and serve well as he represents us.

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