It seems that every General Conference, I hear another inspiring story from President Monson about listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This is a beautiful one, told by Elder Holland, about then Elder Monson:
“One weekend in August 1974 an unexpected change of conference assignment came, sending Elder Monson to the Shreveport Louisiana Stake. The Saturday afternoon schedule was filled with a busy slate of meetings. Rather apologetically, the stake president asked Brother Monson if time would permit him to provide a blessing to ten-year-old Christal Methvin, who was afflicted with cancer. Brother Monson said he would be pleased to do so and then asked if she would be coming to the conference meetings or if she were confined to a Shreveport hospital. Almost reluctantly, the stake president said Christal was unable to leave her home many miles from Shreveport.
Elder Monson examined the meeting schedule and found that there simply was no available time. As an alternative, he suggested that she be remembered in the public prayers which would be offered throughout the conference. Surely, he consoled, the Lord would understand and bless the Methvin family accordingly.
Prior to the stake conference, and unbeknown to Brother Monson, Christal had lost her leg to surgery, only to discover later that the cancer had spread to her tiny lungs. A trip had been planned to Salt Lake City, where she might receive a blessing from one of the General Authorities. The Methvins knew none of the Brethren personally, so they placed before Christal a picture of all the Church leaders. She pointed to the photograph of Elder Thomas S. Monson and said, “I would like him to give me a blessing.”
But Christal’s condition had deteriorated so rapidly that the flight to Salt Lake City had to be cancelled. She was growing weaker in body but not in faith. She said, “Since a General Authority is coming to our stake conference, why not Brother Monson? If I can’t go to him, the Lord can send him to me.” At about the same time, Brother Monson received the unexpected change in his stake conference assignment which sent him to Shreveport.
As one final favor to Christal, the family agreed to kneel by her bedside and ask for just one more blessing; the chance to enjoy Brother Monson’s personal visit.
After receiving word from the stake president that Brother Monson would be unable to visit Christal because of the extremely tight meeting schedule, the Methvins were understandably very disappointed. They knelt again around Christal’s bedside, pleading for a final favor on her behalf: that somehow her desire for a blessing at the hands of Brother Monson would be realized.
At the very moment the Methvin family knelt around Christal’s bed, Elder Monson was shuffling his notes, preparing to speak at the concluding portion of the Saturday evening session. However, as he began his move to the pulpit, a voice whispered in near-audible tones a brief but very familiar message: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
His notes became a blur. He attempted to pursue the theme of the meeting as outlined, but the name and image of Christal Methvin would not leave his mind. Then, ever faithful to the precious gift so demonstrably his, he responded to the spiritual message. He instructed that changes in the next day’s conference schedule be made, whatever the cost in confusion and disruption. Then the meeting continued.
After a very early Sunday drive over many miles, Elder Monson gazed down upon a child too ill to rise, too weak to speak. Her illness had now rendered her sightless. Deeply touched by the scene and the Spirit of the Lord which was so prevalent, Brother Monson dropped to his knees and took the child’s frail hand in his own. “Christal,” he whispered, “I am here.”
With great effort she whispered back, “Brother Monson, I just knew you would come.”
A blessing was pronounced commending a sweet child’s body and spirit to the loving watchcare of her Heavenly Father, who surely must have been observing that tender scene. Her barely audible “Thank you” gave eloquent benediction to the blessing and to the sweet life of faith she had lived. The next Thursday, as she was being remembered in the prayer circle of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve where Elder Monson had placed her name, Christal Methvin’s pure spirit left its disease-ravaged body and entered the paradise of God.