24 August 2007

Eldruhjónin (The Senior Couple)

The Senior Couples. I mentioned before that Byron & Melva Geslison were the senior couple who were in Iceland when I arrived. The senior couples only served for 18 months in Iceland then and now. This first picture is of Byron about a year before I arrived. I like it in particular because it depicts the man I remember. Byron was a man who loved the Lord first and foremost. He loved his family and he loved Iceland, the land of his ancestors. He was always happy. This picture was taken during his second mission of the three. I had four months working with him and Sister Geslison and then they went home again. I really looked up to him and can remember vividly certain situations I was in with him and things he said to encourage me and strengthen my faith and desire to master the language and love the people. Sister Geslison was always at his side. Quiet, supportive, consistent.
I didn't know what to expect with the next senior couple who would be coming to Iceland. I was happy when they arrived though. They were Austin Gudmundur and Geniel Loveless from northern Utah. This picture of them was taken in the Skólavörðustíg chapel during their mission. I remember them being very hard working. Sister Loveless tried to get to know everyone and was especially good with the sisters. Elder Loveless was made District President upon his arrival and was very busy at the church coordinating and presiding. They both cared very much about the missionaries and wanted them to do their best. Elder Loveless has since passed away, but Sister Loveless still lives in northern Utah and came to our mission reunion in Provo last April with some of her family. It was great to see her again. I had only seen her once or twice since my mission, the last time being over 10 years ago. She told me the Brother Loveless had passed away on Christmas day years before. I asked her if Christmases were hard for her now because of it and she just smiled and said it was okay and that on Christmases now she pictures him teaching the gospel and doing all this work of redemption which was made possible because Jesus was born, lived, died and was resurrected. I wish I lived closer so I could take my wife and kids over to know her better.

Just a few short month before I came home, Don and Mary Dilworth came from Idaho to replace the Lovelesses in Iceland. I don't remember what Brother Dilworth did for a living, but I do remember quite well the stories he told us shortly after arriving. He apparently almost didn't make it on a mission because of some medical problems just a few weeks before they were to start their mission. The stories about the medical problems were quite graphic, so I won't go into them here but the way he told them made us laugh our heads off. Then there was the story he told us about when he was up on the mountain with his horse and he had stopped to "take care of business" and a bear came out of the trees and had him running. He told the stories as if they were just happy times from a bygone era, but we were dumbfounded at some of the things he had faced and then lived to tell about it. Sister Dilworth came with a suitcase full of vitamins and made sure we took handfuls each time we were at their apartment so we would stay strong. Some of those vitamins looked like only Brother Dilworth's horse should have been taking them, but we dutifully swallowed full handfuls.

I was not around the Dilworths much in my last few months of my mission. I was up in Akureyri and they were down in Reykjavík, so when I started hearing about Elder Dilworth's driving, the laughing ensued once again. Apparently, Elder Dilworth had a hard time with the "roundabouts" in Iceland. There was only one in Reykjavík that he faced with any regularity when driving the missionaries around occasionally in the mission van. Usually the missionaries would try to get him to take roads in a different part of town as to avoid this life-threatening spot. The roundabout had two lanes and poor Elder Dilworth could not for the life of him understand the rules of that perplexing part of the road. The end result was to watch him and the rest of the missionaries tense up as we approached it and then hope the Icelanders would be attentive enough to stay out of the way. Many of the cars in Iceland at that time had horns with different sounds. I think I learned them all in just two or three trips through that roundabout

After my mission I was blessed to teach at the MTC for two years. I was able to teach one senior couple in the MTC. They were Joe and Alene Felix. Elder Felix and my dad had known each other for years from working for CES down in southern Utah. I can't remember if this was their first or second mission, but they ended up serving a mission in Iceland, the Philippines, Hawaii (teaching at BYU-Hawaii) and New Zealand (where my sister was on a mission at the time). They then went home to southern Utah and did service missions closer to home. This picture is of them and all but two of the missionaries I taught in the MTC during the two or so years I was at BYU doing my bachelors degree. Elder Felix had some pretty funny stories to tell me in the MTC too. On occasions, Sister Felix would not be feeling well and would stay in her apartment during the evening class and he and I would talk about all kinds of things (often involving Iceland, but not always). They, too, were Saints in my eyes and I felt they should be my teachers. I just happened to know a language (to a degree) that they needed.

All fun and funny memories aside, all these senior missionaries were salt-of-the-earth people who had put everything on hold and went to serve the Lord. The senior couples I knew were only three couples of the 21 who have served there since the mission began. I met another 7 couples at the reunion in April of 2007. I'll include more photos of other couples in the future.


Dale T. said...


Keep up the awesome job here. This is a labor of love. How can we steer the guys to come here?

This is a great picture of Byron. Just the way I remember him. The pants were surely left in his closet from the first mission....;-)

I loved Byron, and still go back to my scrapbook and read letters that he wrote to me. They were so inspirational. You could feel his patriarchal voice in all of his letters. I'll not soon forget the impact he left on my life.


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