I'm reading about Elder L. Tom Perry's life (1922 - 2015) and thought I'd share these two stories that I especially enjoyed.
When Tom and his family moved to the East Coast for work, they began searching for homes close to his place of employment. As house hunting continued, they started looking further away. At long last they found a house that the whole family fell in love with. It was a beautiful one-story home nestled in the deep woods of Connecticut. The final test was to try out the commute. Tom returned home discouraged. The commute had been an hour and a half each way.
He posed the problem to his family, saying they could have either the house or a father. Their response surprised him. “We will take the house,” they said. “You are never around much anyway.”
This was a turning point for Tom. “I needed to repent fast,” he said. “My children needed a father who was home more.” He took the lesson to heart. “I changed my work habits to allow me to have more time with my family.”
Elder Perry made friends wherever he went. A story from his life illustrates his ability to form friendships in virtually any setting. After he and his family moved to New York City for work, he noticed how people kept to themselves on the streets and in the subways.
Tom devised a plan in his morning commute to get acquainted with somebody. He watched a man at his subway stop who went through the same routine each morning. The man arrived at the same time, bought a newspaper, stood at the same spot on the train platform, and sat in the same seat on the subway each day without variation.
Tom wanted to shake things up and see if he could form a friendship. He showed up early one day and stood on this man’s favorite platform location. Then he sat in the man’s preferred subway seat. After two days of doing this, Tom showed up to find the man had arrived earlier than usual and had claimed his spot on the platform. The man gave a little sneer at Tom, who then walked over and started laughing as he explained what he’d been doing.
“He thought that was the greatest thing he’d ever heard of,” Elder Perry said. He and the man got on the train and rode together. They soon became great friends. Each morning it was a race to see who could reach the platform first. Soon the race expanded to three, then four, then ten commuters hustling good-naturedly to claim the prized spot.
“It livened up the whole platform,” Elder Perry said. Throughout the process, all involved became a close-knit group. One Christmas about ten of them stood on the platform singing Christmas carols together. “I developed some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had.”