Archives for posts with tag: President Monson

Um Samwael’s tales of the Church in the Middle East continue. This one has a really interesting significance, since I had always heard that all of our temples face east, where the sun rises. Or was it the direction that people also tell me that Christ will come from? Either way, in this story, our current (at the moment I’m writing this) prophet avoids confrontation by thinking outside of the box:

When President Monson traveled to Jordan to dedicate the land, everyone wondered if he would face west during the prayer, towards Jerusalem, or East, towards Mecca. Both directions have a lot of social, emotional, and religious significance. It was the topic of much speculation. He faced North.


My friend Dustin told me this story last night about President Monson:

Rumors have it that President Monson is from the tribe of Levi. The fact that he became a bishop so early in his life is proof of this, according to some people. When he became prophet, there was a lot of talk that he would be the last prophet before the Second Coming because in section 13 of the Doctrine and Covenants, John the Baptist gives Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey the priesthood and says:

“…and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.”

And so, the fact that we may or may not have a Levite prophet has sparked the imagination of many people concerning the Lord’s timeline and Christ’s return. Any minute now, President Monson will re-institute Levitical sacrificial rites in the temple and “offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness,” sparking the Second Coming.

According to the rumors, anyway.


Mission Presidents preside over their respective missions for a term of three years.  Individual missionaries serve for two years.  It is not uncommon for missionaries to have two different Mission Presidents during their mission as their time coincides with one Mission President’s release and the calling of a new one.  As newer missionaries enter the mission they have only known the one Mission President, but they may have companions who remember the old one, and who may share stories about what he said or did.  These stories about the former Mission President are wonderful examples of Mormon Folklore as they are entirely hear-say and they deal with a person greatly respected by the one missionary but completely unknown to the other, so these stories can often be embellished and enhanced as they are retold.

In my mission there were many stories that I heard from senior companions and older missionaries about the former Mission President.  They said that he had worked for the CIA.  It was said that he had gone into the Soviet Union back in the ’80s as a spy and that one of the senior office Elders had been his driver.  They would drive into Russia, take pictures of secret bases and then narrowly escape amid a hail of gunfire.

It was also rumored that his original call had been as Mission President of a Russian mission, since he spoke fluent Russian, in addition to German, Dutch, English and Swedish.  But when President Monson was on the phone with him extending the call, he explained that there were still those in Russia who wanted him dead and that Russia would not be a good place for him.  His call was then changed to Germany.

What is fun about these stories is that I have had the opportunity of meeting this former Mission President since I have come home.  The German department at BYU invited him to give a lecture about his experiences in Germany, especially about his role in the negotiations that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I attended, partly because I was interested in the fall of the Berlin Wall, but also because I was eager to hear all of the amazing CIA stories I had heard during my mission.

He explained that he had been in the USAF (not the CIA) and had been stationed in Germany.  He did tell about a couple experiences where he snuck into East Germany and photgraphed East German military bases  and barely escaped, thanks to his driver (there was some truth to some of the stories).

He also talked about how he had been in the negotiations with the East German government, with the Russian government about the Berlin Wall.  From what he described he was somewhat influential, being one of the few Americans who knew English, German, and Russian, and had been anywhere near German and Russian military bases.  He had unique experiences that allowed him to be helpful in the negotiations.  But the impression I got from his presentation was that he was less of a James Bond spy-type character, and more of an ambassador.  Still it was interesting comparing the stories I had heard about this man, with his actual accounts.