“The Sweetest Experience in Life”

By Heidi Swinton

On October 6, 1963, Thomas Spencer Monson, age 36, stood at the pulpit in the Salt Lake Tabernacle at general conference. Newly called to lifelong service as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the youngest in 53 years, he bore testimony, saying, “I know that God lives, my brothers and sisters. There is no question in my mind. I know that this is His work.”1



Elder Thomas S. Monson was called to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1963 at the age of 36.

He brought capacity, energy, loyalty, diplomacy, and diligence to the work. But he was beloved by members and nonmembers alike for his true Christlike living. In His ministry, Jesus of Nazareth “went about doing good … for God was with him.”2 President Monson took that example to heart and did the same.

His life, not just his years of service in the highest quorums of the Church, were marked by his constant attention to those in need. For more than 50 years, President Monson reached out to rescue the lonely, bereft, unnoticed, and unrecognized. He gave the clothes off his back and the shoes off his feet; he spent countless hours with widows and those in care centers and hospitals; he gave comfort and encouragement to those discouraged, lacking faith, or far from home; he shared his cheerful nature with anyone in his path; and to the delight of youth, he wiggled his ears.

“I know that the sweetest experience in all this life is to feel His promptings as He directs us in the furtherance of His work.”3 Familiar to so many of his visits to the elderly, sometimes late in the evening, was their welcome, “I knew you’d come.”

Thomas S. Monson spent countless hours with widows and those in care centers and hospitals, giving comfort and encouragement. On the left he visits with Pat Davies, who was called as the first patriarch of the Toronto Ontario Stake, which President Monson organized in 1962. On the right he meets with Thelma Wooley Fetzer, a friend who turned 100 that day. Photos by Gerry Avant, Church News.

Each of us can do something to help someone was his theme for decades. He taught, “Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives.”4 His reminder of the Lord’s service is clear: “He is our Redeemer; He is our Mediator with the Father. He loves us with a love we cannot fully comprehend, and because He loves us, He gave His life for us.”5

“We seek after Jesus and so it has ever been,” President Monson has explained. “No search is so universal. No undertaking so richly rewarding. No effort so ennobling. No purpose so divine.”6

“He is our Master. He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the Author of our salvation. He beckons, ‘Follow me.’ He instructs, ‘Go, and do thou likewise.’ He pleads, ‘Keep my commandments.’ Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His words.”7

His words were telling: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.”8 “This is the Jesus whom we seek,” President Monson has said. “This is our brother whom we love. This is Christ the Lord, whom we serve. I testify that He lives, for I speak as one who has found Him.”9

  1. Thomas S. Monson, Oct. 1963 general conference.
  2. Acts 10:38.
  3. Thomas S. Monson, “Looking Back and Moving Forward,” Apr. 2008 general conference.
  4. Thomas S. Monson, “What Have I Done for Someone Today?” Oct. 2009 general conference.
  5. Thomas S. Monson, “Looking Back and Moving Forward,” Apr. 2008 general conference.
  6. Thomas S. Monson, Lethbridge, Canada, Centennial Service, June 11, 1967.
  7. Thomas S. Monson, “The Divine Gift of Gratitude,” Oct. 2010 general conference.
  8. 3 Nephi 11:10.
  9. Thomas S. Monson, “The Search for Jesus,Ensign, Dec. 1990.