Elder Earl M. Monson has a strong testimony of temples. While serving as director of the Church’s Temples and Special Projects Division, he was responsible for temple construction and design, under the direction of the First Presidency. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that there are powerful forces on the earth that don’t want temples to be used or to be constructed,” he says. “But when the Lord wants them, he will help us find a way to build and to use them if we put our trust in him.”
Born on 26 July 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Elder Monson grew up in an active Latter-day Saint family. Even with that kind of environment, he says, “You still have to gain a testimony of your own.” One pivotal experience occurred when he received his patriarchal blessing as a teenager. “I prepared myself beforehand, and I sought for several important answers that the patriarch did address in the blessing,” he says. “It was a powerful experience.”
Two years spent in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, where he trained to be an infantry soldier, helped him appreciate the gospel and his family. “Suddenly there was an awareness of all that I had,” he says. “I hadn’t realized before how very blessed I was.”
Elder Monson earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Utah and his master’s degree in structural engineering from Iowa State University. In 1954 he married Donna Mae Hill in the Salt Lake Temple; the couple have 5 children and 12 grandchildren.
Elder Monson’s Church callings have included stake Young Men president, bishop, high councilor, stake president, and stake mission president. “Our lay leadership is one of the great things about the Church,” he says. “A calling can be a stimulus to learn and to seek for help, which strengthens our testimonies.”
Of his new calling, Elder Monson says, “My wife and I have had many blessings and wonderful people come into our lives. We share the feeling that any chance to further the work and tell people of the Savior is very exciting and is a way to show our gratitude to him.”