Couples Hastening the Work

  By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 24 January 2014

Couples attending the 2014 Seminar for New MTC Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors sing a hymn as part of the congregation at a Provo Missionary Training Center devotional.  Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Article Highlights

  • Many senior couples give up a leisurely retirement and respond to the Lord’s call to serve.
  • These couples come from various places and circumstances, but they all love the Lord and have responded to the call to serve whether it is near or far.

“What I would tell every one of you is that you are going to the place where the Lord would have you go.” —Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy

Hastening the work of salvation is much on the minds of Latter-day Saints these days, and mature couples are certainly no exception.

At a time in life when many people settle in for a leisurely retirement, many Church members are called to fill roles and complete tasks for which many years of experience and dedication have qualified them.

Such was the case with the couples at this year’s annual Seminar for New Missionary Training Center Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors, held on January 14–16 and organized by the Missionary Department. Nine of the couples are bound for missionary training centers in various locales, and 21 have been assigned to Church visitors’ centers or historic sites.

“You are here because this is where the Lord wants you,” Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy, Executive Director of the Missionary Department, assured them prior to introducing each couple. “What I would tell every one of you is that you are going to the place where the Lord would have you go.”

For Robert and Julie Swensen, bound for the Brazil MTC, the call was an emotional experience.

“[Sister Swensen] burst into tears when the call was extended,” Elder Evans told the group. “I was grateful to learn they were tears of joy.”

“We served in Brazil before,” Sister Swensen said later in an interview. “Our children were with us, and our sons went back and served missions, two in Brazil and one in Portugal. But Brazil just took hold of our hearts. And missionary work took hold of our hearts. When we received this calling, our children said, ‘You’re going home,’ and that’s exactly how we feel.”

President Swensen, who presided over the Brazil Curitiba Mission from 1986 to 1989 and served in Brazil as a young missionary, has had a career with missionary work that extends over four decades.

“He was the chief operations officer in the Missionary Department and the glue that has held the department together and has given it continuity,” Elder Evans said in introducing the Swensens. “He has held essentially every assignment one can hold in the Missionary Department.”

Sister Julie Swensen and President Robert Swensen are thrilled to be returning to Brazil, where he will preside over the MTC. They served in Brazil when he presided over the mission in Curitiba; he has had a 40-year career with the Missionary Department. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

“The difference I have found is sitting on the other side of the table, receiving the instruction, we now have a different context, and the information that has become very familiar has a totally different meaning as it now relates to the assignments we have going out to serve with missionaries in a missionary training center,” President Swensen said. “It’s a wonderful capstone to a career to be able to go back to these wonderful people whom I love and to serve with them and to serve them.”

Other couples bring unique backgrounds to their new assignments and are in a variety of circumstances.

Elder Duane Cardall was on the news staff of KSL-TV in Salt Lake City for 40 years. Part of that time he spent covering religion, including news of the Church. He will now serve the Church as director of the Hyde Park Chapel Visitors’ Center in London, England. It is the second mission he and his wife, Sister Margaret Cardall, will serve together; previously, they were at the Washington D.C. Visitors’ Center.

Elder Kerry Morgan, who will serve with his wife, Sister Irene Morgan, at the Portland Oregon Temple Visitors’ Center, played on the 1974 U.S. soccer teams at the high school world cup tournament in Vienna, Austria, and later played soccer for Brigham Young University.

Elder Bruce Crockett and Sister Layne Crockett will not have far to travel. Residents of Shelley, Idaho, they will serve in the Idaho Falls Temple Visitors’ Center just a few miles away.

President Robert Cox and Sister Rebecca Cox, bound for the Guatemala MTC, are both converts to the Church.

President David Poulsen and Sister Adriene Poulsen might have the smallest mission in the Church area-wise: the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission. It is just 10 acres, but it receives some 5 million visitors a year.