The Gift of Love
by Thomas S. Monson
When I was a very young bishop, in 1950, there was a tap at my door and a good German brother from Ogden, Utah, announced himself as Karl Guertler.
He said, “Are you Bishop Monson?”
I answered in the affirmative.
He said, “My brother and his wife and their family are coming from Germany. They are going to live in your ward. Will you come with me to see the apartment we have rented for them?” On the way to that apartment, he told me he had not seen his brother for something like 30 years. Yet all through the holocaust of World War II, his brother, Hans Guertler, had been faithful to the Church—an officer in the Hamburg branch.
I looked at the apartment. It was cold; it was dreary; the paint was peeling from the walls; the cupboards were bare. What an uninviting home for the Christmas season of the year! I worried about it and I prayed about it, and then in our ward welfare committee meeting, we did something about it.
The group leader of the high priests said, “I am an electrician. Let’s put good appliances in that apartment.”
The group leader of the seventies said, “I am in the floor covering business. Let’s install new floor coverings.”
The elders quorum president said, “I am a painter. Let’s paint that apartment.”
The Relief Society representative spoke up, “Did you say those cupboards were bare?” (They were not bare very long, with the Relief Society in action.)
Then the young people, represented through the Aaronic Priesthood general secretary said, “Let’s put a Christmas tree in the home and let’s go among our young people and gather gifts to place under the tree.”
You should have seen that Christmas scene, when the Guertler family arrived from Germany in clothing which was tattered and with faces which were drawn by the rigors of war and deprivation! As they went into their apartment they saw what had been in actual fact a transformation—a beautiful home. We spontaneously began singing, “Silent night! Holy night! All is calm; all is bright.” We sang in English; they sang in German. At the conclusion of that hymn, Hans Guertler threw his arms around my neck, buried his face in my shoulder, and repeated over and over again those words which I shall never forget: “Mein brudder, mein brudder, mein brudder.”
As we walked down the stairs that night, all of us who had participated in making Christmas come alive in the lives of this German family, we reflected upon the words of the Master:
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)