When President Thomas S. Monson was a boy, people called him Tommy. Tommy loved to play baseball with his friends and his brother Bob. They didn’t have a grassy field for their games, so they used the dirt alley behind their homes as their ball diamond. The area worked as long as the hitter hit the ball straight to “centerfield.” But if he hit the ball to the right, it was headed for disaster.

Mrs. Shinas lived in a little house near “first base” of the ball field. She would watch from her kitchen window as the boys played. Every time a ball landed near her porch, Mrs. Shinas would hurry out of her house, limping because of her stiff leg. She would grab the ball and take it inside.

Finally the boys gave up playing ball in the alley—they had run out of balls. But the conflict continued when some of the boys picked Mrs. Shinas’s home for their pranks.

One day, Tommy decided to bring the conflict to a halt. As he did his daily chore of watering his family’s front lawn, he noticed that Mrs. Shinas’s lawn was dry and turning brown. He took a few more minutes and turned the hose on her lawn as well. He continued this all summer. When leaves started to fall, Tommy also raked Mrs. Shinas’s lawn.

Not once that summer or fall did Tommy see Mrs. Shinas. But he kept up his friendly gesture of watering her yard.

Then one evening Mrs. Shinas opened her front door and beckoned to him. She invited him into her living room and brought out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. Then she left the room and came back with a large box filled with baseballs—several seasons’ worth.

“Tommy,” she said, “I want to thank you for being kind to me.” For the first time, he saw Mrs. Shinas smile and heard in her voice both kindness and gratitude. The two became friends.

But more than that, Tommy learned one of the most important lessons the Savior taught: that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us (see Matthew 7:12).

Illustrations by Jim Madsen; photos by Randy Collier, except as noted; President Monson boyhood photo courtesy of the Monson family; dog © Photospin; bird’s wing © Getty Images; toy car by Mark Robison

Show References

  • 1) d; 2) a; 3) c; 4) c