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Milton L. Weilenmann

President Milton L. Weilenmann

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Served: 1960 - 1963
Associated Alumni
Comments:
First President of the Alaskan - Canadian Mission

No Gifts?

By Milton L. Weilenmann

From the vantage point of one’s middle years, it is exciting and stimulating
to look back at the Mount Everests in our lives—the high points of our
existence—the lesson-makers of our mortality.

In 1960 our family experienced one of these high points. During the month of
October I was called by President David O. McKay to preside over the
Alaskan-Canadian Mission. It was newly organized, and no mission home
existed. I was asked to find a suitable home, and a prayerful search of the
great city of Vancouver, British Columbia, led me to a stately mansion on
Connaught Drive. Built by a family prominent in the lumber and fishing
industries in Canada, it was now unoccupied and darkened. Constructed along
the lines of a great English manor house, the home had a ballroom that had
witnessed receptions for two presidents of the United States and many prime
ministers of Canada. Royalty had entered through its massive oak front door.

Yes, the family who owned it would sell it to the Church, but with one
stipulation—it could not be occupied by its new owners until Christmas Eve,
because on December 23, the family who had built the home wanted to come
back and hold one final great dance in its ballroom.

Such a plan for purchase was agreeable to the Church, and on the night of
the day before Christmas Eve, the great ball was held. Five massive
Christmas trees were place in the home.

On the day before Christmas we moved in—my wife, six children, and I. Save
for those five trees, a great dining table with eighteen chairs in the
dining room, and four beds in the bedrooms, the house was vacant. Our
furniture, together with gifts we had purchased for each other—all the usual
things one has for the celebration of Christmas—were on a moving van
somewhere between Salt Lake City and Vancouver.

When we awoke Christmas morning there were no presents under the trees. That
day we learned a lesson—and a great truth dawned. We conquered another Mount
Everest and witnessed another high point in our lives. No gifts—yet we
shared the greatest gift of all, and more than any one of us could open,
hold, have, or enjoy in a single day. And what was it? It was ourselves, and
the joy of being together.

We left the house and skipped together in a beautiful park, and looked up to
a lazy sun that filtered through majestic pines. We even took our shoes off
and dipped our feet in the Straights of Georgia, whose chill had been
tempered by the warming Japanese current.

In the afternoon, when the missionaries and Saints came, we sliced a big ham
and enjoyed good food with our new friends. Afterwards, we sang again, and
talked again, and prayed again!

Never in its most glittering days, never even in the presence of a prime
minister, had that great old home known such joy or happiness. Never in its
fifty or more years had the house seen such a marvelous Christmas . . . nor
had we! And it was done without gifts, with nothing but each other, our
friends, and the missionaries.
 
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