What LDS apostles love about their mothers

(Photo courtesy LDS.org Media Library.)

(Photo courtesy LDS.org Media Library)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a family-oriented organization that reverences and treasures the roles of mother and father.

Leaders of the Church have repeatedly expressed love and appreciation for the mothers in their lives. Here’s what current Church leaders have said about their mothers, grandmothers and grandmothers-in-law.

President Thomas S. Monson

In his signature storytelling style, President Thomas S. Monson once related a valuable lesson in charity that his mother taught him:

“The times were those of economic depression, yet Mother and Dad, through some sacrifice, I am sure, presented to me on Christmas morning a beautiful electric train. For hours I operated the transformer, watching the engine first pull its cars forward, then push them backward around the track.

“Mother entered the living room and said to me that she had purchased a wind-up train for Widow Hansen’s boy, Mark, who lived down the lane. I asked if I could see the train. The engine was short and blocky — not long and sleek like the expensive model I had received.

“However, I did take notice of an oil tanker car which was part of his inexpensive set. My train had no such car, and pangs of envy began to be felt. I put up such a fuss that Mother succumbed to my pleadings and handed me the oil tanker car. She said, ‘If you need it more than Mark, you take it.’ I put it with my train set and felt pleased with the result.

[pullquote]”Some remember mother for her rhymes recited, others for her music played, songs sung, favors bestowed, or stories told; but I remember best that day we together traveled our Jericho Road and, like the good Samaritan, found a cherished opportunity to help.” —President Thomas S. Monson[/pullquote]

“Mother and I took the remaining cars and the engine down to Mark Hansen. The young boy was a year or two older than I. He had never anticipated such a gift and was thrilled beyond words. He wound the key in his engine, it not being electric like mine, and was overjoyed as the engine and two cars, plus a caboose, went around the track.

“Mother wisely asked, ‘What do you think of Mark’s train, Tommy?’

“I felt a keen sense of guilt and became very much aware of my selfishness. I said to Mother, ‘Wait just a moment — I’ll be right back.’

“As swiftly as my legs could carry me, I ran to our home, picked up the oil tanker car plus an additional car of my own, ran back down the lane to the Hansen home, and said joyfully to Mark, ‘We forgot to bring two cars which belong to your train.’

“Mark coupled the two extra cars to his set. I watched the engine make its labored way around the track and felt a supreme joy difficult to describe and impossible to forget.

“Mother and I left the Hansen home and slowly walked up the street. She, who with her hand in God’s had entered into the valley of the shadow of death to bring me, her son, across the bridge of life, now took me by the hand and together we returned homeward by way of our private Jericho Road.

“Some remember mother for her rhymes recited, others for her music played, songs sung, favors bestowed, or stories told; but I remember best that day we together traveled our Jericho Road and, like the good Samaritan, found a cherished opportunity to help.”

President Henry B. Eyring

President Eyring remembered affectionately the differences between his mother’s and his father’s personalities:

“My father and my mother were very different from each other. My mother was a singer and an artist. My father loved chemistry. Once at a symphony concert, my mother was surprised when my father stood up and began to leave before the applause began. My mother asked him where he was going. His response was, in all innocence: ‘Well, it’s over, isn’t it?’ Only the gentle influence of the Holy Ghost got him there with her in the first place and brought him back to concerts time and time again.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

President Uchtdorf once related a story that illustrated his mother’s courage and strength in times of trial:

“Finally, during the cold winter of 1944, my mother decided to flee to Germany, where her parents were living. She bundled us up and somehow managed to get us on one of the last refugee trains heading west. Traveling during that time was dangerous. Everywhere we went, the sound of explosions, the stressed faces, and ever-present hunger reminded us that we were in a war zone.

“Along the way the train stopped occasionally to get supplies. One night during one of these stops, my mother hurried out of the train to search for some food for her four children. When she returned, to her great horror, the train and her children were gone!

“She was weighed down with worry; desperate prayers filled her heart. She frantically searched the large and dark train station, urgently crisscrossing the numerous tracks while hoping against hope that the train had not already departed.

“Perhaps I will never know all that went through my mother’s heart and mind on that black night as she searched through a grim railroad station for her lost children. That she was terrified, I have no doubt. I am certain it crossed her mind that if she did not find this train, she might never see her children again. I know with certainty: her faith overcame her fear, and her hope overcame her despair. She was not a woman who would sit and bemoan tragedy. She moved. She put her faith and hope into action.

“And so she ran from track to track and from train to train until she finally found our train. It had been moved to a remote area of the station. There, at last, she found her children again.

“I have often thought about that night and what my mother must have endured. If I could go back in time and sit by her side, I would ask her how she managed to go on in the face of her fears. I would ask about faith and hope and how she overcame despair.”

Elder L. Tom Perry

Elder L. Tom Perry once read from a letter he wrote his mother while he was away at war. His letter read, in part:

“But deeper is the feeling for you because of the example you set for me. Life was made so enjoyable for us as a family that we wanted to follow in your footsteps, to continue on through experiencing the same joy that had been ours in our younger days. You always found time to take the family into the canyon, and we could count on you to do anything from climbing mountains to playing ball with us. You and Dad were never going on vacations alone. The family was always with you. Now that I am away from home, I always like to talk about my home life because it was so enjoyable. I couldn’t turn from your teachings now because my actions would reflect on your character. Life is a great challenge to me to be worthy to be called the son of Nora Sonne Perry. I am very proud of this title, and I hope that I will always be worthy of it.”

Elder Russell M. Nelson

Elder Nelson once expressed how motherhood inspired his career path:

“During my professional career as a doctor of medicine, I was occasionally asked why I chose to do that difficult work. I responded with my opinion that the highest and noblest work in this life is that of a mother. Since that option was not available to me, I thought that caring for the sick might come close. I tried to care for my patients as compassionately and competently as Mother cared for me.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Elder Oaks’ widowed mother taught him many valuable lessons in patterns of priesthood leadership as well as eternal families. In the same talk, he related two different ways that his mother taught him by example:

“When my father died, my mother presided over our family. She had no priesthood office, but as the surviving parent in her marriage she had become the governing officer in her family. At the same time, she was always totally respectful of the priesthood authority of our bishop and other Church leaders. She presided over her family, but they presided over the Church.”

… “The faithful widowed mother who raised us had no confusion about the eternal nature of the family. She always honored the position of our deceased father. She made him a presence in our home. She spoke of the eternal duration of their temple marriage. She often reminded us of what our father would like us to do so we could realize the Savior’s promise that we could be a family forever.

“I recall an experience that shows the effect of her teachings. Just before Christmas one year, our bishop asked me, as a deacon, to help him deliver Christmas baskets to the widows of the ward. I carried a basket to each door with his greetings. When he drove me home, there was one basket remaining. He handed it to me and said it was for my mother. As he drove away, I stood in the falling snow wondering why there was a basket for my mother. She never referred to herself as a widow, and it had never occurred to me that she was. To a 12-year-old boy, she wasn’t a widow. She had a husband, and we had a father. He was just away for a while.”

Elder Richard G. Scott

Elder Scott grew up in a home with parents who were not active in the Church. However, his grandmother had a significant influence on him, as he once said:

“Grandmother was concerned that neither I nor my older brother had been baptized. I don’t know what she said to my parents about this, but I do know that one morning she took my brother and me to the park and shared with us her feelings about the importance of being baptized and attending Church meetings regularly. I don’t remember the specifics of what she said, but her words stirred something in my heart, and soon my brother and I were baptized.

[pullquote]”Most importantly, we knew Grandmother loved us and that she loved the gospel. She was a marvelous example! How grateful I am for the testimony she shared with me when I was very young. Her influence changed the direction of my life for eternal good.” —Elder Richard G. Scott[/pullquote]

“Grandmother continued to support us. I remember that anytime my brother or I was assigned to give a talk in church, we would call her on the telephone for some suggestions. Within a few days a handwritten talk would arrive by mail. After some time her suggestions changed to an outline requiring more effort on our part.

“Grandmother used just the right amount of courage and respect to help our father recognize the importance of his driving us to the church for our meetings. In every appropriate way, she helped us to feel a need for the gospel in our lives.

“Most importantly, we knew Grandmother loved us and that she loved the gospel. She was a marvelous example! How grateful I am for the testimony she shared with me when I was very young. Her influence changed the direction of my life for eternal good.”

Elder Robert D. Hales

Elder Hales also used the teachings of his mother as he delivered an address for bishops in the Church:

“I remember, too, my mother as she went through eight years of being paralyzed. The last year and a half she needed care around the clock, and my dear father cared for her. One night, a few weeks before she passed away, I knelt at her bed after a word of prayer and she said, ‘I would like to go to heaven to see Papa.’

“I said, ‘Mother, why have you gone through this pain?’

“She said, ‘To learn patience.’

“‘Mother, have you learned enough patience?’

“Then, with a mother’s kind way of teaching, she looked at me and said, ‘I have, but have you?’

“At such moments we begin to understand that the difficulties and problems of others, if we will feel them, will make us grow, if we will but lend a hand.”

Later, Elder Hales said:

“I appreciate being taught by the example of my mother and father. Mother, for fifteen years, was a Relief Society president. After I received my driver’s license, she had me drive her to deliver the welfare supplies and care for the needy. Father would always have me polish the sacrament trays when I was a deacon, and we would bring them home and wash the sacrament cloths and honor the priesthood. When he was in the bishopric, he took care of the outside of the building; and we, as Aaronic Priesthood boys, assisted him.”

Elder David A. Bednar

Elder Bednar emphasized the importance of tithing in one of his recent addresses. He used the example of his mother-in-law to illustrate the blessings that come from faithfully paying tithes:

“Sister Bednar’s mother is a faithful woman and an inspired homemaker. From the earliest days of her marriage, she carefully has kept the household financial records. For decades she has accounted conscientiously for the family income and expenditures using very simple ledgers. The information she has collected over the years is comprehensive and informative.

“When Sister Bednar was a young woman, her mother used the data in the ledgers to emphasize basic principles of provident living and prudent home management. One day as they reviewed together various categories of expenses, her mother noted an interesting pattern. The costs for doctor visits and medicines for their family were far lower than might have been expected. She then related this finding to the gospel of Jesus Christ and explained to her daughter a powerful truth: as we live the law of tithing, we often receive significant but subtle blessings that are not always what we expect and easily can be overlooked. The family had not received any sudden or obvious additions to the household income. Instead, a loving Heavenly Father had bestowed simple blessings in seemingly ordinary ways. Sister Bednar always has remembered this important lesson from her mother about the help that comes to us through the windows of heaven, as promised by Malachi in the Old Testament (see Malachi 3:10).”


Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.

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