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President Monson celebrates with home ward

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Fifty years ago a young Thomas S. Monson was assigned by his bishop to serve as the building chairman coordinator of the Valley View 3rd ward. This meant that the then 30-year-old Monson needed to rally members to assist in the building of the new chapel. "The bishop gave me a list of members to know who would come and who wouldn't," said President Monson to a crowd of neighbors and friends gathered at the 50th anniversary celebration of the church building. "I told him, 'Just give me the list of bretheren, and they'll all come'... It was a testimony to me that I didn't have a turndown."President Monson spoke to old friends and neighbors of the Holladay North Stake where he has lived for the past fifty years — in the Valley View 3rd Ward, which with changes over time, is now the 9th Ward.A large crowd turned out to hear him speak on the back steps of the ward house and watch him lay mortar for the placement of a time capsule in the brickwork of the building, behind the cornerstone. President Monson's wife, Frances, assisted in the laying of the mortar."She does it better than I do," President Monson said with a grin. "She wants to do the whole thing."Among other things the time capsule contained the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith book, a copy of Preach My Gospel, a copy of today�s Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune, the testimonies of members, a Holladay North Stake Directory and hymn book, the World Wide Leadership Training on the family, the May 2008 Ensign (which reported on the solemn assembly sustaining President Monson as president of the Church), the edition of The Church News featuring President Hinckley and a state quarters guide. "Let us appreciate this house of the Lord," President Monson said. "Children, put it in your diaries, 'I attended the 50th anniversary of this building today, and I want to attend the 100th.'"

True to his nature, President Monson shared stories about gathering people to work on the building. He called one young less-active man and invited him to come work, saying that he, President Monson, would be working right along side him. The man came, hammered in nails, and subsequently returned to full activity in the church. President Monson quoted Doctrine and Covenants, section 88: 119 which calls the saints to "organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."

He shared other stories of leaving the ward after one and a half years of living there to serve as a mission president. He called his wife "a heroine" for leaving so soon the home she had grown to love.

David C. Marriott, president of the Salt Lake Holladay North Stake, remembers his feelings when President Monson was sustained in the 9th Ward, Monson's home ward, as prophet, seer, and revelator at a ward conference shortly after President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away. President Monson happened to be attending the ward that day for the sustaining from his neighbors and friends. It was the first sacrament meeting he had attended as prophet and president of the church.

"There was something different about him; a serenity," Marriott said. "There was a feeling about him. We knew he was a prophet; we'll always remember that." Another member, who moved into the area shortly after the Monsons, said of the occasion, "He said it was appropriate for him to be sustained to this high and holy calling first in his home ward of 50 years. He spoke with power and authority. We knew the mantle of a prophet had fallen upon him. He seemed different from anything we had experienced previously."

At the 50th anniversary commemoration of the ward building President Monson blessed the gathered congregation with the power of his apostleship. He blessed the families, and the leaders, but "above all" he blessed the children.

President Monson mingled with the people of his neighborhood, giving handshakes, hugs and even high fives.