“A Prophet’s Love,” Friend, Oct. 2009, 2–3
Some years ago, President Thomas S. Monson came to a regional conference in Hamburg, Germany, and it was my honor to accompany him.
President Monson asked about Brother Michael Panitsch, a former stake president who had been one of the stalwart pioneers of the Church in Germany. I told him that Brother Panitsch was seriously ill, that he was bedridden and unable to attend our meetings.
President Monson asked if we could pay him a visit.
I knew that shortly before his trip to Hamburg, President Monson had undergone foot surgery and that he could not walk without pain. I explained that Brother Panitsch lived on the fifth floor of a building with no elevators. We would have to climb the stairs to see him.
But President Monson insisted. And so we went.
I remember how difficult it was for President Monson to climb those stairs. He could take only a few at a time before needing to stop and rest. He never uttered a word of complaint, and he would not turn back. Because the building had high ceilings, the stairs seemed to go on forever, but President Monson cheerfully persevered until we arrived at the apartment of Brother Panitsch on the fifth floor.
Once there, we had a wonderful visit. President Monson thanked him for his life of dedicated service and cheered him with a smile. Before we left, he gave him a wonderful priesthood blessing.
President Monson could have chosen to rest between our long meetings. He could have asked to see some of the beautiful sights of Hamburg. I have often thought of how remarkable it was that of all the sights in that city, the one he wanted to see more than any other was a feeble and ailing member of the Church.
President Monson came to Hamburg to teach and bless the people of a country. But at the same time, he focused on the one.
When the Apostle Peter spoke of Jesus, he offered this simple description: “[He] went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). The same can be said of the man we sustain as the prophet of God.