If people wore product labels, then Elder Mervyn Bennion Arnold, age 54, a new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, would proudly wear one that says, “Homemade in Granger, Utah.”
Born in Salt Lake City on 19 July 1948, Elder Arnold grew up in a farming area on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. “We had a thousand chickens,” he recalls, “and a cow that we kids had to milk. We also hoed a lot of sugar beets.” His parents, John Everett Sorensen Arnold and Jasmine Bennion Arnold, reared five sons and two daughters with a strong work ethic, gratitude for what they had, and a love of family and of the gospel. Family prayer was always followed by the children hugging and kissing their parents. Elder Arnold’s parents frequently read the Book of Mormon to their children. “I learned to love the doctrines of the Church,” says Elder Arnold, “and I love the Book of Mormon.”
Asked how he has gained his testimony, Elder Arnold replies that “it is a gradual process. People enter into your life, starting when you are at a very early age. And they help you get that testimony ingrained in you.” He can name practically every teacher and priesthood leader he has ever had and how he or she influenced him.
Elder Arnold served a mission in northern Mexico. Then he attended Brigham Young University, earning a bachelor’s degree in business and a master of public administration degree. In 1971 in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple he married Devonna Kress, who was raised on a farm in Rockland, Idaho. He describes her as “a wonderful lady with a very strong testimony of the gospel, a great wife and mother.” They are the parents of six children and the grandparents of four. Their family, they say, is “the joy of our life.”
Elder Arnold worked in real estate development and later in banking. From 1985 to 1988 he served as mission president in Costa Rica, Panama, and the San Blas Islands. Most recently, Elder Arnold was director of training and field services in the Church Missionary Department.
As he begins his new calling, Elder Arnold expresses love for the One who has blessed his life most of all: “I know the Savior lives! I love Him so much.”