President Monson recounts his feelings, experiences, conversations, and meetings, presenting his journal entries that highlight Germany and its people in entries dating from July 12, 1968, to August 27, 1995. President Monson describes everything from early obstacles that were overcome through faith to blessings such as the dedication of the Freiberg Temple in East Germany in June 1985.I absolutely loved this! I read it because I've been planning to read President Monson's biography, but when I mentioned my plan to Jon (my husband) he insisted that I read this first. This book is a short collection (a scant 175 pages that fly by) of President Monson's journal entries from the period of time he spent overseeing the church in communistic East Germany. And the stories are incredible.
President Monson promises the saints that if they are faithful, eventually they will be able to receive all the blessings other members of the church enjoy. He makes so many promises that all seem impossible, but they are all fulfilled because of the people's faith. It was so uplifting to read this book.
East Germany was not a nice place to be a member. Sometimes they had to hold church meetings in cars to avoid listening devices. Church materials had to be smuggled in, and no one could leave the country to attend the temple. Sometimes people were allowed out, but often their families were held hostage as an incentive to make people return. So horrible. My favorite story, though, is when President Monson memorizes an entire handbook because he can't bring a physical copy past checkpoint Charlie - a story with a surprise ending that proves, in my opinion, that God has a sense of humor.
I loved watching the progression of miracles in this book. First a patriarch, then a branch here, a stake there. And miraculously, a temple is allowed to be built behind the Iron Curtain (and though there were only 3,700 members of the church, 90,000 people in East Germany went to the open house - some saying that they did it because it was a privilege to stand in line because they wanted to, not because they had to). And finally, the wall comes crumbling down. Another thing I loved is that several people are followed throughout the entire time period and we get to see young kids (who've been promised the impossible) grow up and become the first missionaries to leave Germany, the first people to get married in the Frieberg temple. I felt like I really got to know the saints there and came to love them and love their determination and faith. These are people very close to my husband's heart because these are areas where he served his mission.
Anyway, this is a motivating and inspirational collection of journal entries that I found incredibly moving. I'd recommend this to anyone who needs an uplift (and a reminder that life's really not so bad - especially here in America where we are blessed with a multitude of freedoms).
Incidentally, it was fun to read Dieter F. Uchtdorf's name mentioned in passing a couple times. Wonder if President Monson had any idea that someday he's be the prophet and Elder Uchtdorf would be one of his counselors?