Elder Benjamin De Hoyos
This July, Elder Benjamin De Hoyos Estrada of the First Quorum of the Seventy and his extended family will celebrate 100 years since his great-grandmother on his mother’s side joined the Church in 1905.
But their long history with the Church is not the family’s only legacy—they are a family of teachers, having influenced countless lives.
Elder De Hoyos’s mother was a teacher. He has two uncles who taught at Brigham Young University. His three sisters are teachers. Now the profession has reached into a third generation with one of his daughters.
Elder De Hoyos planned on being an engineer, then graduated in pedagogy and spent 26 years with the Church Educational System. “The Lord’s hand was in my decision to change from engineering to teaching,” Elder De Hoyos says. “We are all teachers in the Church. My profession has been a resource to me to be able to serve better.”
Elder De Hoyos and his wife, Evelia Genesta Mendivil De Hoyos, have lived in almost every state in Mexico during his work for CES as a seminary teacher, CES coordinator, institute director, associate area director, and country director. During that time he has served as president or counselor in four stake presidencies, president of the Mexico Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mission, Area Seventy, and Second Counselor in the Mexico South Area Presidency.
He and Evelia were married on June 4, 1975, in the Mesa Arizona Temple. They and their six children maintained their unity during all of the moves and all of the hours of Church service through family scripture study and planning time to be together.
Though he will give up his employment to serve full-time, he won’t be giving up teaching. “One is never finished teaching or learning,” Elder De Hoyos says. “Being a teacher is a great privilege.”
Elder De Hoyos was born on February 20, 1953, in Monterrey, Mexico, to Alfredo De Hoyos and Sarah Estrada De Hoyos. He served in the Mexico Hermosillo Mission.
Elder David F. Evans
“Do the best you can for as long as you can.” Elder David Frewin Evans of the First Quorum of the Seventy has always remembered these words of wisdom, shared by his father during a challenging time near the end of his father’s life.
We all have trials and challenges, but “the key is to have faith in the Lord,” says Elder Evans. “He has opened the door to all of us, not only to eternal blessings but to wonderful blessings of peace and happiness and opportunity today.” And once we have a testimony of the gospel, “we ought to share it!” he encourages.
Missionary work has been a big part of Elder Evans’s life, beginning with his first mission to Japan in the early 1970s and again while serving as mission president in the Japan Nagoya Mission from 1998 to 2001. He, his wife, Mary Dee Shepherd Evans, and their eight children have continued their missionary endeavors since returning home to Salt Lake City.
In addition to missionary service, Elder Evans has served in a variety of callings, including stake president at the time of his call to the Seventy. He served previously as a counselor in a stake presidency, stake Young Men president, and bishop.
Born in Salt Lake City on August 11, 1951, to David C. and Joy F. Evans, Elder Evans is quick to credit them as exemplary parents. His wife, Mary, whom he married in the Salt Lake Temple on January 24, 1973, has also been a great source of strength.
Devoted to higher education, Elder Evans earned a bachelor’s degree in community health education and a law degree. He has been a partner and practicing attorney with a number of Utah law firms and is also an executive in an investment banking business.
Elder Evans knows that blessings will follow any trials that may come in life. But he plans to “go forward with faith,” as President Hinckley has taught. When we do that, he says, “we then ultimately recognize that the Lord has been with us and is with us” after all we can do.
Elder C. Scott Grow
Elder Cecil Scott Grow of the First Quorum of the Seventy says his testimony began to blossom as a seven-year-old in Sunday School. While singing “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” (Hymns, no. 26), he received a witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.
Since that time Elder Grow’s understanding of gospel doctrine has flourished, strengthening his testimony and giving him a firm foundation. “I have never had any doubt that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer,” Elder Grow says.
Elder Grow and his wife, Rhonda Lee Patten Grow, were married on October 10, 1969, in the Salt Lake Temple. Although they were both raised in the city, the couple followed advice given to them by Elder L. Aldin Porter (then a regional representative). They built a home on a five-acre (two-ha) property where they could raise horses, cows, chickens, and sheep in order to help their children cultivate an appreciation for work.
Later, Elder and Sister Grow moved with their eight children to Uruguay, where Elder Grow served as president of the Uruguay Montevideo Mission.
“He has been given the gifts of optimism and enthusiasm,” Sister Grow says. “He is warm and loving with people, and people respond to that.”
Elder Grow was born to Cecil Wood Grow and Elsie May Lee Grow on May 5, 1948, in Moscow, Idaho. He was raised in Boise, Idaho, and resided in Meridian, Idaho. He graduated from Brigham Young University in accounting and worked with major accounting and business consulting firms before establishing his own accounting partnership. Before his recent call to full-time Church service, Elder Grow served as an Area Seventy and as President of the Idaho Area. He also served as counselor in the North America Northwest Area Presidency, stake president, counselor in two stake presidencies, mission president, high councilor, stake Young Men president, bishop’s counselor, and full-time missionary in the Southeast Mexico Mission.
Elder Richard G. Hinckley
Elder Richard Gordon Hinckley of the First Quorum of the Seventy says his feelings about his call as a member of the Seventy are not that different from how he felt as a shy deacon assigned to collect fast offerings or as a brand-new mission president.
“Collecting fast offerings was intimidating. But it was a great experience,” he says. “Being called as a mission president is something you just can’t totally prepare for. I felt like the boat was going to swamp for the first few months. But then it was wonderful.”
Now as he approaches his new calling, Elder Hinckley says he feels overwhelmed and inadequate. But he has learned some things from his earlier service. “You just don’t say no to these callings. You learn that when you say yes, the Lord is going to help you learn and grow. And along the way you will be able to make some small contribution.”
Elder Hinckley was born, raised, and continues to reside in Salt Lake City. As a mission president, he presided over the Utah Salt Lake City Mission.
With an economics degree from the University of Utah and an MBA from Stanford University in California, Elder Hinckley has been an executive or equity partner or served on advisory boards for a number of regional and national business ventures and organizations. He served a full-time mission in Germany, and he has traveled extensively.
As a mission president, he presided over missionaries from 42 nations and 46 states in the United States. “We felt like it was an international mission,” he says. Of that experience he says, “It gave me a tremendous confidence in the future of this Church.”
Elder Hinckley has also served as a sealer in the Salt Lake Temple, stake president, counselor in two stake presidencies, and bishop twice. He was born on May 2, 1941, to Gordon Bitner and Marjorie Pay Hinckley. He and his wife, Jane Freed Hinckley, were married on July 28, 1967, in the Salt Lake Temple and have four children.
Elder Paul V. Johnson
In college Elder Paul Vere Johnson of the First Quorum of the Seventy was preparing for dental school and planned to take over his father’s practice.
He was also teaching at the language training mission, the precursor to the Missionary Training Center. Elder Johnson does not remember a moment when he knew dentistry was no longer in his future, but he does remember the reaction from two important people when he told them seminary teaching was in his future.
First was his father’s: “If I had chosen something different, I would have become a teacher.”
The second was his fiancée’s. She began to cry. She had secretly wanted to marry a seminary teacher because of a family she once knew. She always loved the feeling in their home.
Elder Johnson was born in Gainesville, Florida, on June 24, 1954, to Vere Hodges Johnson and Winefred Amacher Johnson. He grew up in Logan, Utah, and married Leslie Jill Washburn in the Logan Utah Temple on August 18, 1976.
Elder Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology at Brigham Young University. He earned a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from BYU and a doctorate in instructional technology from Utah State University.
Elder Johnson taught seminary for 12 years in Arizona and Utah. He has since worked in a variety of curriculum development and administrative positions in the Church Educational System in Salt Lake City, including as administrator of religious education.
His years of working with youth and young adults has taught him at least one thing: the future of the Church is bright. “The prophets talk about this generation, and what they say is true. There are extremely strong young people in the Church.”
Prior to his call to the First Quorum, Elder Johnson served as an Area Seventy, counselor in a stake presidency, stake high councilor, bishop, and ward Young Men president. He served in the Norway Oslo Mission.
Elder Paul E. Koelliker
It is no surprise that Elder Paul Edward Koelliker of the First Quorum of the Seventy, as the father of seven children and the former managing director of the Church’s Temple Department, believes that family is everything and that the temple is all about nurturing and sustaining the family.
“The Lord in His tender mercies has really blessed our lives,” says Elder Koelliker. “We have regular family gatherings, and we go to the temple. Our children have their grandfather’s gift for storytelling, and they keep us laughing for hours.”
Born on March 12, 1943, in Pittsburg, California, Elder Koelliker is the oldest of five children born to Edward C. and Lois B. Olson Koelliker. The family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1945.
Elder Koelliker attended high school with his future wife, Freda Ann Neilson, but they didn’t date until they were students at the University of Utah in 1964. By then, Elder Koelliker was back from his mission to Berlin, Germany. He and Ann married in the Salt Lake Temple on March 18, 1966.
Of his mission, he says, “We met with people who had been thrust out of their homes. The meaning of family became evident to me as we taught families whose parents were on the other side of the Berlin Wall.”
Grateful for his opportunities to serve in the Church as a stake president and bishop, Elder Koelliker acknowledges that those experiences helped prepare him for his work in the Temple Department.
“I love serving in the Temple Department,” says Elder Koelliker, who, with a degree in business administration, has worked for the Church in a variety of positions since 1966. “Sixty-nine temples have been built since I have been in this position. I have witnessed firsthand the mind and energy of President Gordon B. Hinckley. I believe his heart is with the work of the temples, and I sustain him in this sacred trust. He is a man for this season and a resource of truth. My witness of his prophetic call is strong.”
Elder Paul B. Pieper
Because Elder Paul Bowen Pieper of the First Quorum of the Seventy has spent much of his life working with developing units of the Church, he has a strong testimony of the Lord’s guidance in the growth of the kingdom.
“The Lord knows who and what is needed for the growth of His kingdom and prepares the way,” says Elder Pieper. “He gives us the privilege of participating if we have willing hearts and minds.”
When Elder Pieper served as a branch president, a prompting came to call a less-active man as a counselor. That man is now a stake president and has supported the reestablishment of the Church in Nicaragua. Elder Pieper has seen this pattern repeated in other countries where he has served.
For the past six years, Elder Pieper and his family have lived in the former Soviet Union. They have witnessed the emergence of the Church in Kazakhstan and other countries of central Asia. At the time of his call, Elder Pieper was serving as president of the Russia St. Petersburg Mission. “This is the Lord’s Church,” Elder Pieper says. “He loves it. He wants it to spread throughout the world.”
In addition to crediting his parents and grandparents, Elder Pieper credits his wife, Melissa Tuttle Pieper—to whom he was married on November 7, 1979, in the Salt Lake Temple—and their six children with having helped him develop as a worthy father and priesthood holder.
Elder Pieper was born on October 7, 1957, in Pocatello, Idaho, to Dee Meyers Pieper and Norma Bowen Pieper. He studied international relations at Brigham Young University, then completed his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Utah, where he also received a law degree. Elder Pieper worked as an attorney and an international development consultant.
He has served in a stake presidency, on high councils, in branch presidencies, and as a full-time missionary in the Mexico Monterrey Mission.
Elder Ulisses Soares
Faith and obedience—these two gospel principles have been paramount in the life of Elder Ulisses Soares of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Elder Soares and his wife, Rosana Fernanda Morgado Soares, traveled occasionally to the United States for training as director of temporal affairs for the Brazil South Area. Committed to attending church wherever they traveled, the Soareses remember one Sunday a good Samaritan friendshipped them at church. Grateful for this instant friendship, Elder and Sister Soares realized an additional blessing later that night when they needed his help again. An expectant mother, Sister Soares miscarried.
Elder Soares tearfully recalls: “I didn’t know anybody; I didn’t know the medical system. But the Lord protected us.” Their newfound friend proved to be the Lord’s answer to their prayers, helping them to obtain much-needed medical care. “We were protected,” Elder Soares testifies, “because we went to church that day.”
He has served in a variety of capacities, including mission president, stake president, high councilor, and missionary in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission. He has also earned an MBA and two bachelor’s degrees: business and accounting, and economics.
Born to Apparecido and Mercedes Carecho Soares on October 2, 1958, in São Paulo, Brazil, Elder Soares learned from them the importance of obeying the Lord’s commandments. His sweetheart, Rosana, was sealed to him in the São Paulo Brazil Temple on October 30, 1982, and they have been blessed to raise three children. Their family resides in Bountiful, Utah.
Elder Soares is ever grateful for the blessings he has received through obedience and faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. “It’s just a wonder to see how much we can progress through the Atonement. If we apply it with faith,” he adds, “we will have a happy life—forever.”
Elder Won Yong Ko
Almost since he joined the Church in 1962, Elder Won Yong Ko of the Second Quorum of the Seventy says he has struggled to fill his suits. But his challenges have not come from a telestial tailor.
“My callings have always been bigger than my capacity,” he says. “Each calling seems to be a bigger suit than I can fit in. But I have always tried.”
Elder Ko was born on October 15, 1945, to Chang Soo Ko and Sang Soon Lee in Busan, Korea. Belonging to the Church in Korea in the 1960s was not easy. There were many misconceptions, often perpetuated by the media. But Elder Ko learned that the Lord honors those who honor Him. Being a member of the Church helped him through a three-year military assignment and later as he advanced from systems engineer to president and CEO.
Elder Ko has served as a stake president, a regional representative, and most recently as an Area Seventy, where he has been assigned as Second Counselor in the Asia North Area Presidency since 2003.
Elder Ko and his wife, Eun Hee Kim Ko, were married on April 1, 1978, and sealed in the Seoul Korea Temple. He says his wife and two children have been an important support. He also credits the Savior for sustaining him through callings and challenges.
“He didn’t have to, but Jesus Christ lowered Himself to a level that no one else has experienced so He can understand our suffering, challenges, and difficulties,” says Elder Ko. “He is truly our Savior and Redeemer.”
Elder Ko says he must rely on the Savior as he steps into this new role and tries to fit into another suit that seems to be too big.
“I have not sought this call,” Elder Ko says. “It comes from the Lord, so He will help me if I will serve ‘with an eye single to the glory of God’ (D&C 4:5). I love that phrase. That is my commitment. That is my testimony of the last 40-some years.”
Elder Wolfgang H. Paul
Growing up in Germany as part of the only member family in his town, Elder Wolfgang Heinz Jürgen Paul of the Second Quorum of the Seventy developed an ability to hold strong to a position and stand for it.
While he served in the military, Elder Paul’s testimony was strengthened through a more intense study of the Book of Mormon and prayer.
“After I received my own testimony, I put a maxim in my life to always put the Lord first,” Elder Paul says. “I know that when I put the Lord first, the rest will fall into place.”
Elder Paul also says that this increased testimony helped him focus on the things that were important to him in life. He made a commitment to marry a young woman who was a member of the Church, raise his children in the gospel, and focus on the right things.
Elder Paul proved firm in those commitments. He married Helga Klappert on April 2, 1964, in the Bern Switzerland Temple, and they raised their three children in the gospel. His focus to do what is right continues.
Elder Paul has served as an Area Seventy in the Europe Central Area. He graduated from the German Federal Government Administration Academy and worked as a government officer. Recently retired, Elder Paul was also employed by the Church in a number of managerial and administrative positions in Europe.
His Church experience includes serving as Second Counselor in the Europe East Area Presidency, regional representative, mission president, counselor in a stake presidency, stake Young Men president, bishop, high priests group leader, branch president, and elders quorum president.
In 1988, Elder Paul was called to serve as president of the Germany Hamburg Mission. In March 1989 his call was changed, and he served on the other side of the Berlin Wall until 1991 as the first president of the Germany Dresden Mission. He was born on February 28, 1940, in Muenster, Germany, to Johann Paul and Berta Starbati Paul.
Elder Lowell M. Snow
Over the almost 10 years Elder Lowell Miller Snow of the Second Quorum of the Seventy has served as a full-time missionary, he has cultivated a testimony of the power of the Atonement and the importance of missionary work.
“Every good thing I have in my life is because of the Atonement,” Elder Snow says. “That’s why I like missionary work so much. I want others to experience the same blessings I have received.”
He is grateful for those who have blessed his life. “When I was growing up, my family taught and lived the gospel,” Elder Snow says. “My wife is a convert to the Church with a wonderful testimony. Priesthood leaders and teachers, older siblings, bishops, mission presidents, and stake presidents have all guided and lifted me.”
Though Elder Snow has served in many callings, the most important roles to him are being a “dad, a husband, and a disciple of Christ. The only things I’m interested in are being those things.”
Elder Snow was born on January 2, 1944, in St. George, Utah, to Rulon A. and Marian M. Snow. He met his future wife, Tamara Ann Means Snow, while both were students at Brigham Young University. The couple was married on September 8, 1966, in the Los Angeles California Temple. They have five children.
Elder Snow was serving as an Area Seventy in the Utah North Area prior to his call to serve as a member of the Seventy full-time. Elder Snow graduated from BYU with a degree in zoology and chemistry. He earned a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Wayne State University and a law degree from the University of Utah. He has worked as an attorney and a business consultant.
Elder Snow’s other Church service includes area executive secretary, Church hosting director, mission president, stake and ward Young Men president, counselor in a stake presidency, bishop, bishop’s counselor, branch president, and full-time missionary in the West German Mission.
Elder Paul K. Sybrowsky
Missionary work has always been a big part of the life of Elder Paul Kay Sybrowsky of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. As a young man, Elder Sybrowsky served as a missionary in the Great Canadian Mission from 1964 to 1966. Last year he was released as mission president of the Canada Toronto West Mission. Even now, Elder Sybrowsky’s love for missionary work is evident in the lives of his children.
Elder Sybrowsky and his wife, Lynne Prior Sybrowsky, are the parents of nine children. While two are still at home, seven have served or are currently serving a mission.
“I think if young men and women knew the value of missionary service, they would know that it is one of the most valuable things a person can ever do,” Elder Sybrowsky says. “My first mission was an anchor in my life. It was a foundation.”
He says it has been “marvelous” to see his children serve missions. He attributes a lot of their desire to serve to his wife’s commitment to having family prayer, scripture study, dinner, and family home evening together.
Although Elder Sybrowsky was raised in a less-active family, his testimony of the restored gospel has never wavered. “I have always known that Christ lives. That gift of a testimony was given to me at a very young age,” he says. “That testimony has been strengthened through many miracles and faith-promoting experiences.”
Elder Sybrowsky was born in Salt Lake City on August 22, 1944, to Paul H. Sybrowsky and Betty Ann Sybrowsky. He and his wife were married in the Salt Lake Temple on May 15, 1968.
He studied at Brigham Young University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social science. He has worked as an executive for several multinational information services and software development companies and is currently self-employed. Elder Sybrowsky has served the Church as a stake president, counselor in a stake presidency, stake high councilor, and bishop.
Cheryl C. Lant
The 11th Primary general president, Cheryl Clark Lant, knows how to work with children. “My whole life has prepared me,” she says, including her family, education, profession, and previous Church callings. She says the Lord knows what He has in store for us and “leads us throughout our life, if we’re willing, through experiences that prepare us.”
Such preparation came partly through raising nine children. “When our children were young, we would tell them fairy tales at bedtime,” Sister Lant says. The children would ask, “Is that story true?” It didn’t take long for the Lants to decide, “Let’s use this time to teach our children the truth” and share scripture stories instead.
“When you tell a scripture story at bedtime, the next day when a child is stretching his wings a little and not wanting to follow your counsel, you can say, ‘Do you want to be like Nephi or Laman and Lemuel?’ Children relate.”
Born to Charles Verl and Vivian Keller Clark on January 30, 1944, she was raised in Provo, Utah. She attended Brigham Young University and studied early childhood development. On September 17, 1963, she married her high school sweetheart, John Glen Lant Jr., in the Salt Lake Temple. Together they founded a large preschool and developed a successful phonics-based beginning reading program.
“I love children,” she says. “Their hearts are tender, but their spirits are strong.”
She believes that in teaching children the gospel, one simply reminds them of truth that is already familiar to their spirits. “Never underestimate the capacity of children to feel the Spirit and understand spiritual things.”
Sister Lant has served as a member of the Primary general board, stake and ward Primary president, counselor in a stake Relief Society presidency, ward Young Women president, and Primary teacher. She looks forward to serving in an organization that seeks to “bless the lives of children in such a way that they know they are children of God.”
Margaret S. Lifferth
A mother of seven, Margaret Swensen Lifferth emphasizes that parents need to be present for the small moments in the lives of their children. She recalls a time when one of her children, age four, came crying into the house after a disagreement with his playmates. “I just pulled him onto my lap and said, ‘What can we do?’ We figured out that he could take a plate of cookies to his friends, and the problem was solved.
“It is the small moments like these that are really the teaching moments, that set the example of how our children are going to address the world,” she says.
Sister Lifferth was born on March 30, 1947, in Washington, D.C., to Jenny Romney Swensen and Albert Swensen. She grew up in Provo, Utah, and earned her degree in English from Brigham Young University. On August 16, 1968, she married Dennis Lifferth in the Salt Lake Temple.
From the time she was a young child, Sister Lifferth has had a testimony of prayer, reinforced by simple experiences. Once, for example, her parents had gone to the temple, and young Margaret lay in bed, worried about their safety because of the bad weather. A cold had left her coughing and even more resistant to sleep. “I remember crawling out of bed, kneeling down, and praying that I would stop coughing and that my parents would get home safely,” she says. Her coughing did stop, and she was able to sleep peacefully. The next morning she found that her parents had indeed arrived safely at home.
“Heavenly Father loves children and will answer their prayers and strengthen them to meet the challenges of their day,” Sister Lifferth says. “Primary helps children know how to claim that understanding as they keep the commandments, make covenants, and follow Heavenly Father’s plan.”
Sister Lifferth has served as a member of the Primary general board, counselor in a stake Relief Society presidency, and counselor in a ward Primary presidency.
Vicki F. Matsumori
Sister Vicki Fujii Matsumori went to Primary even before she was a member of the Church. Her parents wanted her to attend a church when she was a child, and their home in Murray, Utah, was close to a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I always knew it was true,” says Sister Matsumori. When she learned about tithing, she wanted to pay it. When she learned about fasting, she wanted to fast. When she was about to turn eight, she wanted to be baptized.
However, when she asked for permission to be baptized, her parents, George Yasuyuki Fujii and Yoshie Matsumoto Fujii, told her they wanted her to know more about the church she was joining. Her father knew a little about the Church and told her that she should learn the Articles of Faith before the bishop interviewed her for baptism. So she did.
The bishop did not ask her to recite any of them, but Sister Matsumori still treasures the gospel knowledge she gained while she was in Primary.
Her parents continued to support her and her younger sister in Church attendance, and they eventually joined the Church when Sister Matsumori was in high school.
Sister Matsumori was born on December 15, 1950, in Murray, Utah. She attended Granite High School and later graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in journalism and English in 1973. She also earned her teaching certificate and went on to teach junior high school and to be an educator at other schools as well.
On June 6, 1973, she married James Matsumori in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of two girls and one boy. She says her calling as mother is the calling that best prepared her for her calling as second counselor in the Primary general presidency. Other callings that have helped her prepare include Primary teacher, ward Primary president, and Cub Scout leader. She also served on the Primary general board for more than five years.