“President Spencer W. Kimball,” Friend, Mar. 1984, 2
“Spencer was the kind of person you just knew was doing the right thing,” Henry Eyring once said of his brother-in-law. The twelfth President of the Church, Spencer W. Kimball has always tried to be kind to others, to make the right choices, and to be an example to those around him.
One time as he visited in a ward and sat on the stand, he noticed that five boys sitting on the front row would all do the same thing at the same time. They crossed their legs, put their hands on their faces, uncrossed their legs, folded their arms. After a while he realized that they were copying him—doing everything they saw him do. It reminded him to always do what is right, to be a good example in serving others.
One group of people he has especially loved and served in his lifetime are the descendants of Lehi.
“I do not know when I began to love the children of Lehi,” said Elder Kimball in general conference in April 1947. “It may have come to me at birth, because those years preceding and after I was born, were spent by my father on missions among the Indians in Indian territory. He was president of the mission. This love may have come in those first years of my childhood, when my father used to sing the Indian chants to us children and show us souvenirs from and pictures of his Indian friends. It may have come from my patriarchal blessing which was given to me … when I was nine years of age. One line of the blessing reads:
“‘You will preach the gospel to many people, but more especially to the Lamanites.’”
In 1945 the President of the Church, George Albert Smith, called Elder Kimball into his office. “I want you to look after the Indians,” he said. “They are neglected. Take charge and watch after the Indians in all the world.”
Elder Kimball traveled thousands of miles to visit the Indians, to teach them, and to bless them. Discovering they needed and wanted more schools, he tried to help. Finding them sick or sad, he blessed them and taught them how important they were to their Father in Heaven. Finding them cold and hungry, he went to those who could help.
In 1947 the Navajo Indians on the reservation needed help desperately. Many had little to eat and nothing warm to wear. Elder Kimball spoke to the Church Welfare Committee, and truckloads of food and warm clothing were sent. Then he called a newspaper. A reporter and a photographer were sent to check the situation. When the article they wrote was printed, an Indian Aid Caravan was organized. Elder Kimball wrote to a senator in Washington, D.C., as well. He wrote to service clubs and mailed out pamphlets asking for aid.
His friends were helped, and they were grateful. One said, “Thank you. I will not freeze now.”
Traveling throughout the world to help these people he loved, Elder Kimball also spent weeks and months visiting Lehi’s children in Central and South America and in the Pacific Islands. He taught them about the Savior, Jesus Christ, and helped them with their problems. No matter how tired he was, he was never too tired to help.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,” said Jesus, “if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Through his actions President Spencer W. Kimball has shown his love for his brothers and sisters. To follow him is to always be “doing the right thing.”