Reunions enable former missionaries to keep in touch, renew friendships

The missionaries who served under Pres. Gustive Larson in the Swedish Mission in the late 1930s built strong bonds, bonds that continue to be renewed each year.

For the 49th consecutive year, Pres. Larson's missionaries met in a reunion prior to April general conference.Missionary reunions have become a big part of the general conference weekend as former missionaries meet to renew acquaintances and rekindle the spirit of their service.

The reunions, usually held the Friday night before conference or Saturday after general priesthood meeting but other times as well, come in several varieties, from small (one mission president's group) to large (several mission presidents' groups meeting together) and from long-running, like Pres. Larson's Swedish group, to reunions just beginning.

At reunions, former missionaries again see companions, fellow missionaries, mission presidents and their wives, and often members from those areas. They get caught up on each others' lives, exchange memories of their missions and once again share testimonies of the gospel.

Sixty-three attended the most recent gathering of the Swedish missionaries who served from 1936-39. Pres. Larson passed away several years ago, but his wife, Virginia, continues to attend. She now lives in Provo, Utah.

What has kept the Swedish missionaries together for so many years? One of them, Claudell Johnson, answered, "We love one another, and we especially love Sister Larson." He said members of the group feel a closeness because of the gospel they share.

Several of their fellow missionaries have died through the years, but those who remain are dedicated enough to travel from as far away as Arkansas to join in the reunion.

The success of missionary reunions is often left up to individuals. One of the most dedicated is Sister Loree Brown who served a mission in Mexico during 1949-51. She just retired as secretary of her mission group after serving since 1965.

She served unofficially for three years prior to that. She has handled announcements and newsletters, and has kept track of former missionaries.

Many other former missionaries share that devotion, doing what is necessary to keep mission associations alive and to ensure the continuation of reunions.

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