SALT LAKE CITY — President Thomas S. Monson, the 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, impacted thousands of people around the world.
He was known for being a good storyteller, and for his ability to use his life experiences as teaching tools.
Here are some of his most memorable teaching moments:
An unforgettable President Monson moment occurred in April 2008, when he wiggled his ears during the general conference priesthood session, a meeting for all male members of the church ages 12 and older. President Monson told the congregation the story of a boy copying his every move during a local church conference. He said he played along and eventually wiggled his ears for the boy during the meeting.
President Monson then surprised and delighted the entire congregation when he demonstrated his ear wiggling again during his conference talk. The boy could not mimic the behavior, and President Monson said, laughing, “I had him!” The act demonstrated his happy and playful nature.
President Monson was known for the emphasis he placed on serving others, and he shared many stories of helping the elderly in his community. During a talk given in the October 2009 general conference, a twice-annual meeting for all LDS Church members, he shared a story about an interview that took place before his birthday in 2008. A reporter asked him what he would consider “the ideal gift” members of the church could give to him for his birthday.
“Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely, and do something for him or her," President Monson replied.
He said that for his birthday in 2009, he received hundreds of letters from members of the LDS Church, who shared the acts of kindness they had performed in honor of his birthday wish. President Monson said that one very creative group of young Mormons from the church's Sunday School for children, called "Primary", sent him a jar of decorative pompoms that they called “warm fuzzies,” each of which represented an act of service the children had performed.
“My heart has seldom been as touched and grateful as it was when (my wife) and I literally spent hours reading of these gifts,” he shared in his talk.
In the April 2013 general conference, President Monson delivered a talk about obedience. To illustrate the importance of the principle, he shared a story about a near-disaster he caused when he was 8-years-old.
He and a friend were eager to clear a weed-filled field near their summer cabins at Vivian Park in Provo Canyon for a bonfire they had planned for that evening. Tommy, as he was known when he was young, had the idea to speed up the process by burning away the weeds.
He ran to his cabin, sneaked away some matches he was forbidden from using and returned to the soon-to-be scorched field, he said in his address. He struck the match, lit the fire and the two young boys "were thrilled" with their success, he said. Their joy at the quick clearing their patch of land soon dissolved when he and his friend realized the fire would not stop on its own. It quickly burned out of control, threatening nearby homes and pine trees. It took the men and women in the area several hours to extinguish the blaze, President Monson said.
While he spoke, his delivery made the story even more enjoyable for those listening; he used exaggerated eye rolls, animated gestures and a loud gulp to accentuate his points.
What are your favorite memories of President Monson? Share them in the comments.