For many years, then-Elder Thomas S. Monson was the general-authority contact for areas behind the Iron Curtain, where the LDS Church had some strong branches before World War II but whose members became isolated in the communist takeover of many countries.

In February 1982, Elder Monson reported a meeting with Dresden Mission President Henry Burkhardt, the top LDS leader for all of East Germany.

Sister Monson "has sent a lovely new skirt to Sister Burkhardt, as well as a beautiful little china plate bearing the image of a mother and son, a replica of a Relief Society monument."

"I brought with me a pocket calculator, which I gave the Henry Burkhardt's son Tobias. He was elated, there being nothing in East Germany similar to a pocket calculator. He is about 15 years of age. I also carried a large cashmere overcoat made in England, which I purchased in Canada during the years I served there as a mission president. It has been scarcely worn, being too heavy for use generally in Salt Lake City. They assured me there would be someone among our membership in the Dresden Mission who would be overjoyed to receive this beautiful coat."

Six months later, Elder Monson created the Freiberg German Democratic Republic Stake. He describes senior high councilor Werner Adler, who had been a district president for 19 years, as "a large man, both in heart and in size." Elder Monson noticed that Adler's clothes, while well-kept, were rather old.

"I struck upon the idea that perhaps my suit would fit him. I tried upon him the suit jacket. He was so pleased and said that it fit just fine, I then put on a pair of slacks and a jacket and left my suit with Brother Adler. I also left several ties and a shirt. He was overjoyed.

"I then turned to Brother Lehman, the patriarch, and placed my shoe along one of his and said, 'Would these shoes fit you?' He looked and then said sadly, 'No, they're a little large.' Then his eyes brightened, and he said in English, 'They will fit my son!' I then gave him the shoes for his son."

At the time, new clothes were not easy to come by in East Germany, particularly for a large person. So over the following decade, more than once Elder Monson left clothes with Adler.

In September 1994, President Monson presided at a stake conference in Dresden of the now-unified Germany.

"I mentioned a youth conference I had attended (in 1982) and how I had brought four or five cartons of Wrigley's gum and had given each one of the young people a stick of gum as a memento, they having never seen Wrigley's gun. A mother of two or three little children saw me in the foyer and said: 'I was one of those young people to whom you gave a stick of gum. I will never forget that meeting.'

"Also I went downstairs to speak to the missionaries after the conference, there was a large young man on the front row. ... As I had each one introduce himself, I said to him: 'You're a large man. I'd hate to guard you on the basketball court.' I noted he had a fine suit upon him which fit him very well. I later learned it was one of the suits I had given to Brother Adler, and he in turn had given it to the missionary, who did not have adequate clothing."


Source: LDS Church News archives; journal of President Monson, excerpts published by Deseret Book as "Faith Rewarded: A Personal Account of Prophetic Promises to the East German Saints"