Teaching Moment: President Monson's influential childhood Sunday School teacher

During his April 1992 general conference address, President Thomas S. Monson recounted an experience that illustrates the importance of an influential teacher:

“There was a Sunday School teacher — never to be forgotten, ever to be remembered. ... She had been a missionary and loved young people. Her name was Lucy Gertsch. She was beautiful, soft-spoken, and interested in us. ... She never raised her voice. She taught us that the present is here and that we must live in it. She made the scriptures actually come to life. We became personally acquainted with Samuel, David, Jacob, Nephi, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Our gospel scholarship grew. Our deportment improved. Our love for Lucy Gertsch knew no bounds.

“We undertook a project to save nickels and dimes for what was to be a gigantic party. Sister Gertsch kept a careful record of our progress. ... We converted in our minds the monetary totals to cakes, cookies, pies and ice cream. This was to be a glorious occasion. ...

“The summer months faded into autumn; autumn turned to winter. Our party goal had been achieved. The class had grown. A good spirit prevailed.

“None of us will forget that gray morning in January when our beloved teacher announced to us that the mother of one of our classmates had passed away. We thought of our own mothers and how much they meant to us. We felt sorrow for Billy Devenport in his great loss.

“The lesson that Sunday was from the book of Acts 20:35 — ‘Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ At the conclusion of the presentation of a well-prepared lesson, Lucy Gertsch commented on the economic situation of Billy’s family. These were depression times; money was scarce. ... She asked, ‘How would you like to follow this teaching of the Lord? How would you feel about taking your party fund and, as a class, giving it to the Devenports as an expression of our love?’ The decision was unanimous. ...

“Ever shall I remember the tiny band walking those three city blocks, entering Billy’s home. ... Always I shall treasure the tears which glistened in the eyes of each one present as the white envelope containing our precious party fund passed from the delicate hand of our teacher to the needy hand of a grief-stricken father. We fairly skipped our way back to the chapel. Our hearts were lighter than they had ever been, our joy more full, our understanding more profound. This simple act of kindness welded us together as one. We learned through our own experience that indeed it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

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