President Thomas S. Monson speaking at a BYU devotional

President Monson’s life was truly one lived in constant service to others. He was a man who radiated love and kindness, encouraging us to be better while taking us as we are. His firm faith and stalwart testimony have inspired the lives of so many.

BYU has had the privilege of hearing from President Monson on 13 different occasions from 1966 to 2011. He spoke of decisions and destiny, light and truth. Perhaps the most beloved element of his discourses were the stories he told to teach us. In his memory, we have a selection of his stories from BYU devotionals.

The Sixteenth President

“Just last Thursday I was sitting in the room in the Salt Lake Temple where the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve meet once each week. I gazed up at the wall which faces the First Presidency, and there I observed a portrait of each President of the Church. As my gaze moved from the Prophet Joseph right down through President Hinckley, I thought, We have had great Presidents of this Church. Each one has guided us; his writings have stimulated us; his messages have inspired us. To show us the way, we have those whom the Lord has provided.

As the sixteenth President of the Church, my story is yet to be summarized by those who will follow. In the meantime, I pledge my life, my strength—all that I have to offer—in serving the Lord and in directing the affairs of His Church in accordance with His will and by His inspiration.

I invoke His blessings upon you. I bless you that you may follow the teachings of prophets, that your lives may thereby be enriched. I bless you that you may have joy in your hearts, that you will have peace within your souls, that you will have contentment in seeing the influence for good that each one of you has upon the lives of others, and I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Principles from Prophets,” 15 September 2009.

Love Reigned Triumphant

May I share with you an experience I had with a dear friend of mine, Louis McDonald. Louis never married. Because of a crippling disease, he had never known a day without pain nor many days without loneliness. One winter’s day, as I visited him, he was slow in answering the doorbell’s ring. I entered his well-kept home; the temperature in save but one room—the kitchen—was a chilly 40 degrees. The reason? Insufficient money to heat any other room. The walls needed papering, the ceilings needed to be lowered, the cupboards needed to be filled.

“I was troubled by Louis’s needs. A bishop was consulted, and a miracle of love, prompted by testimony, took place. The members of the ward—particularly the young adults—were organized and the labor of love begun.

“A month later, my friend Louis called and asked if I would come and see what had happened to him. I did and indeed beheld a miracle. The sidewalks which had been uprooted by large poplar trees had been replaced, the porch of the home rebuilt, a new door with glistening hardware installed, the ceilings lowered, the walls papered, the woodwork painted, the roof replaced, and the cupboards filled. No longer was the home chilly and uninviting. It now seemed to whisper a warm welcome.

“Louis saved until last showing me his pride and joy: there on his bed was a beautiful plaid quilt bearing the crest of his McDonald family clan. It had been made with loving care by the women of the Relief Society. Before leaving, I discovered that each week the Young Adults would bring in a hot dinner and share a home evening. Warmth had replaced the cold, repairs had transformed the wear of years, but, more significantly, hope had dispelled despair, and now love reigned triumphant.”

Three Gates to Open,” 14 November 2006.

Shaking Hands of the Children

“Many years ago, on my first visit to the fabled village of Sauniatu in Samoa, so loved by President David O. McKay, my wife and I met with a large gathering of small children—nearly 200 in number. At the conclusion of our messages to these shy, yet beautiful youngsters, I suggested to the native Samoan teacher that we go forward with the closing exercises. As he announced the final hymn, I suddenly felt compelled to greet personally each of these children. My watch revealed that the time was too short for such a privilege, for we were scheduled on a flight out of the country, so I discounted the impression. Before the benediction was to be spoken, I again felt that I should shake the hand of each child. I made the desire known to the instructor, who displayed a broad and beautiful Samoan smile. In Samoan he announced this to the children. They beamed their approval.

“The instructor then revealed to me the reason for his and their joy. He said, ‘When we learned that a member of the Council of the Twelve was to visit us here in Samoa, so far away from Church headquarters, I told the children that if they would earnestly and sincerely pray and exert faith like the Bible accounts of old, the Apostle would visit our tiny village at Sauniatu, and, through their faith, he would be impressed to greet each child with a personal handclasp.’ Tears could not be restrained as the precious boys and girls walked shyly by and whispered softly to us the sweet Samoan greeting ‘talofa lava.’ A profound expression of faith had been evidenced.”

Guideposts for Life’s Journey,” 13 November 2007.

Tour Bus Preaching

“Many years ago, before I was called to the Quorum of the Twelve, I had the opportunity to address a business convention in Dallas, Texas—known as ‘the city of churches.’ After the convention I took a sightseeing bus ride about the city’s suburbs. As we would pass the beautiful churches, our driver would comment, ‘On the left you see the Methodist church,’ or ‘There on the right is the Catholic cathedral.’ As we passed a beautiful red brick building situated upon a hill, the driver informed us, ‘That building is where the Mormons meet.’

“A lady’s voice from the rear of the bus asked, ‘Driver can you tell us something about the Mormons?’ The driver pulled the bus over to the side of the road, turned around in his seat, and replied, ‘Lady, all I know about the Mormons is that they meet in that red brick building. Is there anyone on this bus who knows anything about the Mormons?’

“I gazed at the expression on each person’s face for some sign of recognition, some desire to comment. I found nothing—not a sign. Then I realized the truth of the statement ‘When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.’ For the next 15 minutes I had the privilege of giving, as Peter declared, ‘a reason [for] the hope that is in you’ (1 Peter 3:15). At that time I developed a much greater appreciation concerning the matter of preparation.”

Great Expectations,” 11 January 2009.