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Service-driven life lauded by Rotarians

Recognized as a servant leader and humanitarian President Thomas S. Monson first counselor in the First Presidency was honored Jan. 20 by the Utah district of Rotary International.
Photo by Keith Johnson Deseret Morning NewsPresident Thomas S. Monson center receives Rotary Internationals Special Worldwide Humanitarian Award from Rotary District 5420 Governor Gene Banks left and Rotary International President William B. Boyd.
President Monson received the organizations Special Worldwide Humanitarian Award — an honor presented annually to one who has given significant humanitarian service throughout the world for a period of many years. The Church leader accepted the award following a standing ovation at the Rotary Internationals District 5420 Rendezvous Banquet in Salt Lake City.
Charles Dahlquist II — the banquets chairman and the Churchs Young Men General President — introduced President Monson as a sterling example of one who has spent his entire life lifting the widow the fatherless and the downtrodden all over the world. Brother Dahlquist added that the award recipient is often found in a hospital room visiting the sick in the home consoling one who has lost a loved one or speaking at the funeral of a friend.
In fact right after this meeting he will go to American Fork to speak at the funeral of a friend Brother Dahlquist said.
After accepting the award President Monson spoke of his respect for Rotary International and the organizations global humanitarian efforts. You Rotarians have a phenomenal dedication to your club and its altruistic by-laws. Why? Because you have a desire to help those in need.
President Monson said he first became acquainted with Rotary as a young boy. One summer his parents decided to take the family camping at Rotary Park at the top of City Creek Canyon in Salt Lake City. Years later I became well acquainted with Rotary and its objectives when the company I managed printed the Rotary Bee publication for the Salt Lake Rotary Club.
As a service-oriented organization Rotary International is driven by the wonderful motto Service Above Self said President Monson adding that the Church has been privileged to partner with Rotary in many humanitarian efforts worldwide.
I have always taken most seriously the admonition from the Lord found in the New Testament in Matthew chapter 25 and I know you do too: For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in: Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me….Verily I say unto you Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:35-36 40).
In the 1950s President Monson presided over the Sixth-Seventh Ward whose boundaries included much of Salt Lake Citys downtown area and included some 1080 members and 87 widows. It was a challenging transient ward that sharpened the young bishops sensitivity to the struggles of others. I have seen hunger and want and I have watched wonderful people grow old and infirm he said. I developed very young in life a spirit of compassion for others who might be in need regardless of age or circumstance.
President Monson spoke of one holiday season when he was about 11 years old. He was eagerly anticipating his familys savory turkey dinner when a neighborhood pal asked a startling question: What does turkey taste like?
Young Tom Monson responded Oh about like chicken tastes. Again another question: What does chicken taste like?
It was then I realized that my friend had never eaten chicken or turkey President Monson said. He learned his friend and his impoverished family would have little that year that resembled a holiday feast.
He pondered a solution. There seemed to be none. He had no turkeys no chickens no money. Then he remembered his two pet rabbits. Immediately he took his friend to his rabbit hutch placed the animals in a gunny sack then handed the sack to his friend commenting: Theyre good to eat — just like chicken.
He took the gunny sack climbed the fence and headed for home a holiday dinner safely assured President Monson said. Tears came easily to me as I closed the door to the empty rabbit hutch. But I was not sad. A warmth a feeling of indescribable joy filled my heart. It was a memorable experience for I learned the truth spoken by an ancient prophet who said When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
E-mail to: jswensen@desnews.com

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