Gus German is only 17 years old, but he cannot remember a time when he wasn’t visiting Church members with his father. In Delaware, members are spread out in different directions and in many cases they’re miles away from one another. With that in mind, members try to check up on each other. Of course, Gus didn’t become a home teacher until age 12, when he received the Aaronic Priesthood and was assigned by his bishop to be his father’s companion. But he’d already learned a lot about caring for people and about preparing and presenting meaningful lessons, so he stepped right into his home teaching role.
“Scripture stories were my staple home teaching lessons,” says Gus, a priest who grew up in the Wilmington (Delaware) West Ward. “I’d studied them in story books from the time I was five, so I knew those stories cold. Some people wonder who Nebuchadnezzar is. I know who he is.”
Over the years, Gus and his father regularly visited Sister Joyce Miller, at the time a less-active member of the Church who was battling cancer.
“The thing I remember most about Gus as a young boy was that whenever I asked him to say a prayer, he would stand up and do it,” Sister Miller says. “A lot of young boys and girls roll their eyes when you ask them to do something like praying. Not Gus.”
Now the young man who stopped by was a deacon with a priesthood responsibility. “I wasn’t active when they first started visiting me,” Sister Miller continues, “but their visits meant everything. I wanted to come back to church, but I was smoking and didn’t want to go because I was afraid people would smell the smoke on me.”
“All I knew is we always went to Sister Miller’s house and had fun when we home-taught her. I didn’t think any different of her when I found out she smoked because we were already really good friends,” says Gus. “I was pretty impressed and proud of her when she did stop smoking because I have heard how tough it is to quit.”
When she did stop smoking, Sister Miller began going to church again. “I was so glad because I liked seeing her. I would be able to see a smile on her face and be able to tell she really liked being at church,” Gus adds.
When Gus turned 16 and got his driver’s license, he was able to see that smile more and more. As her condition worsened, Sister Miller was unable to drive. Gus happily volunteered to pick her up and take her to church. “Sometimes she couldn’t stay past the sacrament in sacrament meeting so I would take her home.” Now, other ward members pick up Sister Miller when she’s able to go to church. And when she wasn’t, guess who went to her house to take her the sacrament.
“Sometimes I went with my dad, and sometimes I went with the Young Men president or one of the guys from my quorum,” explains Gus. “It’s something I did that helped her out. I liked doing it.”
Something else he did to help her out: Gus and his dad took Sister Miller to receive her patriarchal blessing.
“When we went for my blessing, Jack (Gus’s dad) took us in his car, the hot rod (a Chevy Nova). We laughed all the way down there. Gus was in the backseat laughing, and my face hurt from laughing,” Sister Miller remembers. “When I had my blessing, Jack and Gus were as quiet as church mice. After all that laughing we did on our way down, it was pretty quiet on the trip back. That is very memorable. We always have a good time, the three of us.”
Last September, Gus left Delaware to attend BYU. He saw Sister Miller at Christmas when he went home, and he still stays in touch, even though she’s living at one end of the country and he’s 3,000 miles away. She misses his visits, but is happy Gus is going to college. In Gus’s place as Jack German’s home-teaching companion is Lance, Gus’s 12-year-old brother.
As for Gus, some things never change. No sooner had he settled in his new ward in Provo than he was called to be a home teacher.