The 45-Year Tithing Account

When President Richard Winder of the Czechoslovakia Prague Mission handed me a letter addressed simply to the “Mormon Mission,” I noticed that it was postmarked in Ceská Trebová, a small Czech railroad town where I had served as a young missionary in 1948. Now, 45 years later, I was again serving in Czechoslovakia, this time in Bohemia with my wife.

The name Ceská Trebová brought to my mind Sister Lukasova, the sole member of the Church in that town in earlier years. In 1948, she requested that missionaries come to her area. My companion and I tracted in Ceská Trebová for many weeks, and Sister Lukasova helped us arrange several informal gatherings. When the police disrupted one of our meetings and subjected us to intense questioning, the mission president called us back to Prague. Sister Lukasova’s contact with the Church was cut off.

Sister Lukasova has probably passed away by now, I thought as I opened the envelope. Then I read the following letter:

“My aunt has been a member of your church since 1930. She is now 87 and is not in good health. She has had no contact with your church since two missionaries were here in 1948, an Elder Glauser and an Elder Hill. May I please ask that you send someone to see her? She would appreciate it so much.”

When I finished reading, President Winder met my gaze and said, “I thought this letter would mean something to you.”

Two young elders accompanied us to Ceská Trebová. Wearing a bright pinafore, Sister Lukasova sat with quiet dignity on an old, overstuffed chair in her modest home. Her eyebrows still showed traces of raven, and her black eyes shone with mirth, kindness, and deep understanding. In her beauty and serenity, we sensed strength that belied her age.

We exchanged hugs and then discussed ideas and memories for a long time. Sister Lukasova still had photos of me from 45 years ago. At a certain point, she asked her niece to go get something. The niece returned with a small booklet, which Sister Lukasova handed to me, saying, “Here. Take this. It belongs to the Lord.”

I saw that the book was a savings passbook. “It is my tithe,” Sister Lukasova said.

Flipping through it, I marvelled at the columns of monthly deposits going back to 1948. This savings account represented nearly five decades of faithful obedience through illness, loneliness, and uncertainty. With nothing to sustain her but her own testimony and the Spirit, Sister Lukasova had kept her baptismal covenant to pay tithing.

We held a sacrament service for her and listened to her fervent testimony, then made plans to return soon. Recently, Sister Lukasova received her endowment at the Freiberg Germany Temple. She continues to lay up treasures that will bless her life forever.

[photos] Opposite page: In 1993, Sister Lukasova and Vernon L. Hill reminisced with a photograph she kept of him as a young missionary. This page: No longer isolated from other Church members, Sister Lukasova attended the Freiberg Germany Temple in 1994 with a group of Czech Saints. (She is seated, second from right.) (Photography by Marvin K. Gardner.)