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Thomas S. Monson - Autobiographical Stories

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Many years ago I had a desperate call from the head of the Missionary Training Center. He said, “President Monson, I have a missionary who is going home. Nothing can prevent him from quitting.” I replied, “Well, that’s not singular. It’s happened before. What’s his problem?” He said, “He’s been called to a Spanish-speaking mission, and he’s absolutely certain he cannot learn Spanish.” I said, “I have a suggestion for you. Tomorrow morning have him attend a class learning Japanese. And then have him report to you at 12:00 noon.” The next morning he phoned at 10:00! He said, “The young man is here with me now, and he wants me to know he’s absolutely certain he can learn Spanish.” [1]

While the formal classroom may be intimidating at times, some of the most effective teaching takes place other than in the chapel or the classroom. Well do I remember that some years ago, members holding the Aaronic Priesthood would eagerly look forward to an annual outing commemorating the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. By the busload the young men of our stake journeyed 90 miles (145 km) north to the Clarkston Cemetery, where we viewed the grave of Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. While surrounding the beautiful granite shaft which marks the grave, a high councilor would present background concerning the life of Martin Harris, read from the Book of Mormon his testimony, and then bear his own witness to the truth. The young men listened with rapt attention, touched the granite marker, and pondered the words they had heard and the feelings they had felt. At a park in Logan, lunch was enjoyed. The group of young men would then lie down on the lawn at the Logan temple and gaze upward at its lofty spires. Often beautiful white clouds would hurry past the spires, moved along by a gentle breeze. The purpose of temples was taught. Covenants and promises became much more than words. The desire to be worthy to enter those temple doors entered those youthful hearts. Heaven was very close. Learning what we should learn was assured. [2]

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