PROVO, Utah — On Wednesday, Jan. 10, Elder Neil L. Andersen drew upon lessons he learned from President Thomas S. Monson to teach couples called to direct missionary training centers and Church visitors’ centers.
“This will be my last chance to speak about President Monson” prior to Friday’s funeral for the Church’s 16th president, said Elder Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
His evening remarks at the 2018 Seminar for New MTC Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors focused on five key points. With each point, Elder Andersen cited actions of President Monson that doubled as key teaching moments.
Point #1 — Remember the keys.
President Monson remembered and respected the keys given to priesthood leaders — including those who preside over the Church’s many MTCs, missions, stakes and priesthood quorums.
On one occasion, a stake president who was facing a challenging decision regarding the worthiness of a member of his stake contacted Elder Andersen.
When Elder Andersen spoke to President Monson about the decision facing the stake president, the trusted Church leader reminded him that the stake president possessed sacred keys.
“The stake president has keys, and we trust them,” President Monson told Elder Andersen. “Whatever the stake president decides, we will follow.”
President Monson remembered the keys — and he knew the Lord blesses those exercising such keys in their calls of service.
Point #2 — Let each person serve in his or her own way.
President Monson and his wife, Sister Frances Monson, were devoted partners in life. But they possessed different personalities. President Monson was gregarious, while his wife was more reserved. Still, they allowed one another to be themselves.
“He never pushed her to try to copy him,” said Elder Andersen.
And Sister Monson always supported her outgoing husband.
On one occasion, the couple went to a local hospital where an acquaintance had requested a priesthood blessing from President Monson. Sister Frances waited in the lobby while her husband ascended the stairs to the patient’s floor. After performing the blessing, President Monson was asked to give several more blessings. More than an hour passed before he could return to his wife waiting in the lobby. When he began apologizing for the delay, Sister Monson simply replied, good-naturedly, “Oh ,Tom, I knew where you were.”
Point #3 — Never stop reaching for the one.
President Monson never allowed a meeting or an appointment keep him from his ministry of service. He made time to care for individuals. He followed the Shepherd’s example.
President Monson once asked Elder Andersen to discreetly assist a bishop who was struggling to lead a young man serving in a teachers quorum. His prayerful concern for both the bishop and the teacher helped guide Elder Andersen, even as he offered guidance to the bishop.
The bishop and the teacher would develop a strong relationship, and the young man later raised his own family in full Church activity.
President Monson was dedicated to helping the individual in need, said Elder Andersen. “Not because of his position — but because he was a servant of the Lord.”
Point #4 — Serve knowing your work is eternal.
Elder Andersen reminded the MTC presidents, the visitors’ center directors and their respective companions that their day-to-day individual interactions with the missionaries would forever impact lives.
In 1997, Elder Andersen was serving in France when President Monson visited to preside over a large member meeting in Lyon. As they were preparing to leave, Elder Andersen told the seasoned apostle that a couple in attendance at the meeting, Gerard and Astrid Charrut, had recently lost their son, Richard, in an accident.
President Monson insisted that they make their way back through the crowd and seek out the Charruts. When they located the grieving couple, President Monson put his arms around them and offered his condolences. Then he bestowed upon them a personal, deeply felt blessing, saying: “Brother and Sister Charrut, I give you my love and I promise you that as you are faithful, you will have your son Richard forever.”
For the remainder of their lives, the Charruts remembered President Monson’s blessing. They remained faithful, knowing they would be reunited with the beloved son in the eternities.
Point #5 — Always be anxious to testify of Christ.
“If ever you don’t know what to say, speak of Christ,” taught Elder Andersen.
President Monson is being appropriately honored and remembered for his many qualities and contributions. But his greatest legacy, said Elder Andersen, “was as a special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Prior to Elder Andersen’s teachings, his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, offered brief remarks. The death of President Monson, she said, signals “a tender time in the Church.”
“But there is comfort knowing the Lord continues to guide His Church through living prophets and apostles,” she said.