As a mission president, Shayne M. Bowen used to talk to his missionaries about having “their Moses experiences.”
"You'll recall that Moses, after he saw the creation of the world, made a very key statement. He said, 'For this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed' (Moses 1:10).
"It seems like I have had those Moses experiences throughout my life, and this is one of them," said Elder Bowen three days after he was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy during April general conference. "I certainly can't do this without our Father in Heaven. If He's called me to this calling, and I know that He has, with His help, I'll be able to do everything that He wants me to do."
That reliance and trust on the Lord has been part of the new General Authority's family since he can remember. Elder Bowen, 51, was an Area Seventy in the Idaho Area at the time of his new calling. The former president of the Spain Barcelona Mission (2000-2003), stake president and Varsity Scout coach was born in a maternity home in Rigby, Idaho, to Lyle and Jacqueline Neeley Bowen and spent most of his growing up years in Idaho Falls.
And from the time he was a boy, he watched the examples of his father, a bishop, and his grandfather, Grant Reese Bowen, who died at age 95 in 1995. "I knew him my whole life and my children got to know him."
As a small boy, Shayne Bowen heard the account of his grandfather's mission call that came when he was a young married man. Through a misunderstanding, Grant and Lucy Bowen believed they would be able to serve a mission together. But when they got to Salt Lake City, they met with Elder James E. Talmage, who explained that — at that time in the Church — couples did not go on missions together.
"They had just been married a short time, just a matter of months," Elder Bowen related, but they agreed he would still serve a mission. "Elder Talmage promised them if they would be faithful, that their posterity and their family would be blessed."
Elder Bowen believes he has seen the fulfilment of many of those blessings. As a bishop, his dad was “always anxiously involved. There was never a question about what was right and what was wrong, and he loved us and he taught us how to work.”
His mother was always there, he continued, and always ready to talk when he returned from youth activities at night. "They instilled in us a desire to keep the commandments," he said, recalling how, as a 10-year-old, he made a pact with his 12-year-old brother, Travis, that they would never break the Word of Wisdom. "That brought great strength, too. I have never tasted tobacco or alcohol.
"I've just had so many good influences in my life," Elder Bowen continued, speaking especially of his wife, Lynette Mortensen Bowen, whom he met about a year after his return from the Chile Santiago Mission (1973-1975).
"Our fathers grew up together," Sister Bowen said. "His dad was in the insurance business and stopped in my dad's business one day. I was there working in the potato warehouse. He said, 'I have a son, Shayne, who's getting home from his mission in a week, and I'm going to have him call you.' "
That call finally came a year later. "He took me on a date. It was pretty much love at first sight," Sister Bowen recalled. They were married Dec. 28, 1976, in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. From their marriage have come seven children and five grandchildren. Being his own boss in the Bowen Insurance business in Idaho Falls has allowed Elder Bowen to be a part of his children's lives, coaching them in soccer and Gridkid football, and even coaching some high school football. "Football has always been a great love of mine," Elder Bowen added.
But never so much as his love for his family and for the gospel. "I think that raising children is like an investment. You have to invest when they're young to receive any return later on."
Those “returns” come not only from the gospel teaching in the Bowen home, but also from the trips to Island Park near Yellowstone National Park for snowmobile rides, and vacations together. And, Elder Bowen continued, “Being together on the mission in Spain really drew our family close together, even though we only had three children with us most of the time.”
The three Bowen children who accompanied their parents to Spain were Trevor, Brecca and Devyn, who were 16, 13 and 8 at the time. Being the only Latter-day Saints in their schools gave them missionary opportunities. Sister Bowen added, it "gave us a great opportunity to teach them and to really (instill) the values that we know to be true."
Those values and beliefs have been the mainstay of the Bowen family through joy and trial. In 1990, 8-month-old Tyson, their sixth child, died after inhaling a piece of chalk he found on the floor. Despite the grief they felt, Sister Bowen said, "We had some wonderful spiritual experiences that just were a witness to us."
For Elder Bowen, "I know there is a hereafter, and that we don't end here."
All these influences — joys and trials — have prepared the new General Authority throughout his life, from his calling as a missionary, then as a bishop and now his calling to the First Quorum of the Seventy.