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Fill Your Life with Service

Posted by imawheatwatcher on December 21, 2008

Octboer 2001 General RS meeting
Thomas S. Monson
First Counselor, First Presidency

To the third part of our formula—namely, fill your life with service—I mention two separate examples. One features a teacher and the profound influence she has had in the lives of those whom she taught, while the other pertains to a missionary couple whose service helped to bring the light of the gospel to those who had lived in spiritual darkness.

Many years ago there was a young woman, Baur Dee Sheffield, who taught in Mutual. She had no children of her own, though she and her husband dearly longed for children. Her love was expressed through devotion to her special young women as each week she taught them eternal truths and lessons of life. Then came illness, followed by death. She was but 27.

Each year, on Memorial Day, her Mutual girls made a pilgrimage of prayer to the graveside of their teacher, always leaving flowers and a little card signed “To Baur Dee, from your girls.” First there were 10 girls who went, then five, then two, and eventually just one, who continues to visit each Memorial Day, always placing on the grave a bouquet of flowers and a card, inscribed as always, “To Baur Dee, from your girls.”

One year, nearly 25 years after Baur Dee’s death, the only one of “her girls” who continued to visit the grave realized she would be away on Memorial Day and decided to visit her teacher’s grave a few days early. She had gathered flowers, tied them with a ribbon, attached a card, and was putting on her jacket to leave when her doorbell rang. She opened the door and was greeted by one of her visiting teachers, Colleen Fuller, who said she had experienced difficulty getting together with her visiting teaching partner and so had decided to come alone and unannounced in an effort to complete her visiting teaching before the end of the month. As Colleen was invited in, she noticed the jacket and flowers and apologized for obviously interrupting whatever had been planned.

“Oh, no problem,” came the response. “I’m just on my way to the cemetery to put flowers on the grave of the woman who was my Mutual teacher, who had a profound influence on me and the other girls she taught. Originally about 10 of us visited her grave each year to express our love and thanks to her, but now I represent the group.”

Colleen asked, “Could your teacher’s name have been Baur Dee?”

“Why, yes,” came the answer. “How did you know?”

With a catch in her voice, Colleen said, “Baur Dee was my aunt—my mother’s sister. Every Memorial Day since she died, my family has found on her grave a bouquet of flowers and a card inscribed from Baur Dee’s girls. They’ve always wanted to know who these girls were so they could thank them for remembering Baur Dee. Now I can let them know.”

Said American author Thornton Wilder, “The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.”

The second example of lives filled with service, with which I shall conclude, is the missionary experience of Juliusz and Dorothy Fussek, who were called to fill an 18-month mission in Poland. Brother Fussek was born in Poland. He spoke the language. He loved the people. Sister Fussek was born in England and knew little of Poland and nothing of its people.

Trusting in the Lord, they embarked on their assignment. The living conditions were primitive, the work lonely, their task immense. A mission had not at that time been fully established in Poland. The assignment given the Fusseks was to prepare the way so that the mission could be expanded and gain permanence, that other missionaries be called to serve, people taught, converts baptized, branches established, and chapels erected.

Did Elder and Sister Fussek despair because of the enormity of their assignment? Not for a moment. They knew their calling was from God, they prayed for His divine help, and they devoted themselves wholeheartedly to their work. They remained in Poland not 18 months, but rather served for five years. All of the foregoing objectives were realized. Such came about following an earlier meeting where Elders Russell M. Nelson, Hans B. Ringger, and I, accompanied by Elder Fussek, met with Minister Adam Wopatka of the Polish government, and we heard him say, “Your church is welcome here. You may build your buildings, you may send your missionaries. You are welcome in Poland. This man,” pointing to Juliusz Fussek, “has served your church well, as has his wife. You can be grateful for their example and their work.”

Like the Fusseks, let us do what we should do in the work of the Lord. Then we can, with Juliusz and Dorothy Fussek, echo the Psalm: “My help cometh from the Lord.”

Dear sisters, you indeed are “examples of the believers.” May our Heavenly Father bless each of you, married or single, in your homes, in your families, in your very lives—that you may merit the glorious salutation of the Savior of the world: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” For this I pray, as I bless you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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